6 of Africa’s Weirdest (and Sometimes Dangerous) WildlifeOctober 30, 2018
We dare you to read on about these sometimes dangerous, often scary and always fairly weird-looking creatures that belong to Africa.
As Halloween gets ready to knock on our door, we give offer you a treat in the form of six little gems from Africa, who may each have a trick or few up their ‘sleeves’. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
This is no cuddly, honey-loving Winnie The Pooh kind of badger. The honey badger (Mellivora capensis) is the Guinness Book of World Records title-holder for “World’s Most Fearless Creature” and have been known to take on Big 5 animals, like lions and buffalo, when threatened.
Their powerful bite, which is strong enough to break a tortoise’s shell, and loose skin, which enables them to wriggle out of any grasp, make the honey badger an incredibly fierce and scary little monster. Best not to meet one of these in the bush on a dark night!
The strange and prehistoric-looking Shoebill or Whalehead stork (Balaeniceps rex) has an unfortunate array of scary attributes that are sure to make you grimace. Shoebill chicks are real little terrors as the oldest and strongest of the two chicks are known to injure and sometimes even murder its sibling in order to get all its mother’s attention.
It doesn’t get any sweeter with age. Once it has fished out its prey, like lungfish or eel, in its beak, it will then open its beak just enough for its prey to poke its head out. Then, with a swift clamp together of its beak, the Shoebill decapitates its victim before swallowing it whole.
You might mistake an Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) for Yoda’s cousin or a furry little gremlin but it is actually a species of Lemur that wakes at night to roam the tropical rainforests of Madagascar for its next meal. While its appearance might make you shriek, it’s really quite harmless unless you’re a juicy termite or worm.
It uses its elongated middle-finger to tap dead wood in search of the hollow tunnels created by wood-boring grubs. Once detected, the Aye-aye gnaws a hole into the wood with its sharp front teeth before inserting its middle-finger into the hole to hook and extract the the grub with its claw.
Malagasy leaf-nosed snake
Another weird inhabitant of Madagascar is the Malagasy leaf-nosed snake (Langaha madagascarensis). So unique is the Langaha snake on a global scale, that the Malagasy leaf-nosed snake is one of just three species found in this special genus. And it’s quite obvious why!
The male Malagasy leaf-nosed snake has a particularly Pinocchio-shaped nose, however, the reason for this elongation in both sexes is still unclear. So too is the strange pose you might find this snake in. Looking up into the trees, it’s easy to mistake a Malagasy leaf-nosed snake for one of the long hanging seed pods of Madagascar’s native trees. Luckily, a bite from this snake is not fatal.
The scaly-anteater or pangolin (Manis temminckii) is another peculiar creature, of which eight species are equally divided between Africa and Asia. When a pangolin ‘pulls a tongue’, it can be up to 40cm longer than its entire body. It uses this incredibly long and sticky tongue to catch insects.
The pangolin’s keratin-based scales cover the entire top of its body and take up 20% of its body weight. These razor-sharp scales can slice through the skin of a threatening human or hungry predator, which together with the stinky fluid released from their anus glands, make them veritable little warriors! Sadly, the pangolin is threatened with extinction as it is one of the most illegally traded mammals globally.
With the longest legs of any bird of prey, the secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) can stand at up to 135cm in height. Apart from these long crane-like legs that are covered up to the knee in black-feathered pants, the secretary bird is easy to spot because of its large body and eagle-like head with a hooked bill.
Despite being categorized as a bird of prey, the secretary bird has rounded wings and prefers to walk rather than fly. In fact, they cover an average daily distance of about 20 to 30 km in their endemic home of sub-Saharan Africa.
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