Five pint-sized predators who fear nothing
Sunday, March 9, 2014, 10:16 PM -
Earlier in the week, we published a story about an epic four-hour struggle between a snake and a crocodile in Australia.
It rapidly became one of our most-viewed items, and no wonder. When thinking of the law of the jungle, it's usually predator versus prey, with the former usually being large and muscular and the other being weaker and/or smaller.
We had a hunt around, and came up with these five predator-prey relationships where the predator either punches WELL above its weight, or has the last diet you'd expect (reader discretion advised on some of these videos).
Wolverine versus bear
Long before it became the namesake of the iconic Marvel superhero, the wolverine, about the size of a dog, has a richly deserved reputation: A vicious predator that is apparently unafraid of anything else on Earth.
Take a look at this contest between one of these beasts, and a bear who seems to have invaded his territory:
Yep. A bear. Noticeably larger than the wolverine, and famously one of the most dangerous things in Canada's forests. At one point, its little challenger chases it right up a tree, then goes toe to toe with it on the ground.
The bear's occasional swipes at the wolverine seem almost to have an air of bafflement, like it seriously can't believe this is happening, before it finally ambles off.
It likely wasn't a fluke. The omnivorous wolverine only weighs around 15 kg, but it can run up to 24 km/h and its powerful jaws are equally useful against berries and nuts, right up to moose and caribou, according to some reports.
Honey badger versus puff adder
Looking like a larger and grouchier version of the common North American skunk, the honey badger is another pint-sized predator that will attack and eat almost anything ... even if its prey is one of Africa's staggeringly comprehensive variety of poisonous snakes.
If you've heard of this beastie's dietary habits, it's likely from this documentary:
The beast seriously attacks a puff adder, one of the most under-rated but deadly snakes in Africa. With its claws and jaws, of course it wins, but not before being bitten.
Rather than dying, it passes into a coma, and reemerges just a couple of hours later to continue its feast.
The puff adder is just one of the estimated 60 species of prey that make up this tough guy's diet. Including, incredibly, African rock pythons, one of the largest snake species on Earth, reaching lengths of more than 3 m in some cases.
Even its name has a horrible twist to it. It's called the "honey" badger because it's been known to raid beehives - not for honey, but to eat the larvae.
The species has a complicated conservation status, but in some countries, it is protected by law.
Octopus versus seagull
The title of this entry would have raised a shrug or two - "So? Seagulls eat basically anything" - until 2012, when a lucky amateur photographer encountered one of the tenacious and ubiquitous feathered creatures in the middle of a VERY uncommon reversal of fortune.
Ginger Morneau was strolling with her camera along Ogden Point in Victoria, B.C., when she happened upon the epic struggle:
No one is sure how the eight-armed creature managed to get its tendrils on the seagull, but by the time Morneau arrived on the scene, the battle lasted only another minute before the gull gave up the ghost.
Its foe, a giant Pacific octopus, was about a metre long, but they can get to around 3-5 m, with the record being a terrifying 9 m.
They live, as you'd expect, mostly on sea life (fish, shrimp and other small prey mostly, but apparently sharks too, if they can get them), but National Geographic also includes a vague reference to the occasional bird.
Morneau herself, it seems, wasn't super happy with all the attention she got after her photos went viral, but hoped the news of the incident would spark interest in conservation:
If nothing else, her photos showed the world even the famously fearless seagull isn't safe from the occasional peckish octopus.
NEXT: The spider that eats birds