It is estimated by scientists that there are 8.7 million species of animals on Earth. Some of these are aggressive (lions, sharks, tigers). Some of them are cute (rabbits, deer, otters).
While the other animals are, well, very strange.
Around the world, you will find rare species of animals that display truly extraordinary and bizarre characteristics and behaviours. Here are the 10 strange animals to add to your travel bucket list.
No surprise in this: the stork of shoebill, yeah… a bill shaped like a shoe.
Shoebills are unusually tall, with some individuals hitting heights of more than 4 feet. And, unlike many other birds living in similar swamp habitats, shoebills are highly successful predators. Their long legs are ideal for moving through deep waters, where snakes, rats and fish are prey to. They’re also known to be attacking juvenile crocodiles!
Shoebills use their strong beaks to grab and suffocate almost anything they see, but don’t worry – they’re not preying on humans. Find one in East Africa, where there is a concentration of their habitat.
2. Stick Insect
Trying to find a stick insect needs close observation; as the name makes it quite obvious, it matches a stick. This, coupled with the ability to remain completely still for long periods of time, offers the stick insect with”one of the most effective natural camouflages on Earth,” as “National Geographic” correctly puts it.
There are a number of types of stick insects. One of the best is a huge insect prickly stick. Native to Australia, it features an additional attribute of thorn-like spikes that further blends into its environment.
If, like many do, you suffers from insect phobia, the Phobaeticus kirbyi will haunt your dreams. At over 21 inches, with the legs spread out,
3. Glass Frog
Just like you can see through the glass, you can see through the incredible glass frog.
Most of these frogs have lime-green skin, but others lack any colour on their underside, allowing their organs transparent to the naked eye. Equally impressive are their marked backs, that scientists believe are supposed to resemble eggs – so predators going after their offspring get distracted.
Your greatest shot to spot this tree-dwelling frog is in Costa Rica or Panama. In general, Costa Rica’s Tortuguero National Park offers a fair chance of seeing one in all its transparent beauty.
4. Mantis Shrimp
Mantis shrimps are old, wild, and more than somewhat strange.
Different species of mantis shrimp have been around for an approximate 400 million years, but they’re not like any other shrimp surrounding them. They are so abnormally heavy that their appendages, named “clubs,” can crack crab shells and burst open clams. (Some types have spears instead of clubs that are similarly formidable.)
Such clubs can also be used to dishes about 500 punches in less than a second, giving enough power to break glass.
And this isn’t it. Since these shrimps have amazing eyesight (they can see in two opposite positions at once), they attack with pinpoint precision.
The waters of Costa Rica and Bali are especially rich in mantis shrimp; arrange a diving trip to see one up close.
You’ll definitely want to hug this amazing animal right away when you see a wombat – a fuzzy small marsupial with a cute face and a relaxed disposition. But don’t be fooled by the looks: Wombats have rodent-like teeth and may become aggressive if they feel unsafe.
Wombats are also interesting in other aspects. Unlike other marsupials, their pouches face backwards and their poops are cube-shaped. To defend the caves where they live, they plunge into them head first and stick up their rump, which is tough enough to stop predators.
You will see wombats in the San Diego Zoo, but they’re mostly seen in the wild. Travel to Maria Island, Australia, where they are widespread and easy to find.
The axolotl salamander appears to be both cute and frightening at once.
While it grows legs, it never touches ground, rather than spending time strolling through the underwater ground. Its nickname? The walking fish.
This remarkable creature, which appears in colours from creamy white to olive, is only native to Mexico. Your best opportunity to see one occurs near Mexico City in the lakes of Xochimilco.
The decline in population is mainly due to habitat loss, but is also due to the fact that axolotl is deemed a cuisine delicacy.
You will encounter parrotfish in tropical reef habitats where they use their external teeth – that appear like a beak – to tear algae away from rocks, coral and other hardened substrates. This capability allows them to live in environments where many other animals cannot survive.
Another fun (if a little embarrassing) fact? Parrotfish is defective of sand. As it turns out, plenty of the sand grains present on white sandy beaches are basically parrotfish poops.
Parrotfish is present in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, with an especially large population on the Seychelles Islands off East Africa.
Travel to Madagascar and, after sunset, concentrate your attention on the hunt for aye-yes.
These night time lemurs have a very strange structure, with huge ears and rat-like teeth. After touching on trees to find insects based on percussion input, they form a hole with their teeth and a long middle finger to capture and consume the insects.
With the behavioural markings of a woodpecker and the appearance of a primate combined with a mouse, the aye-yes is one of a kind and, oddly, kind of adorable.
With their sad-looking eyes, mostly smiling mouths, small ears, stubby tails, and the power to turn their heads 360 degrees, sloths are one of the most unique animals in the animal kingdom.
Famously lethargic, they can always be found in the tops of trees, where they lodge, sleep and graze. They move very little and it’s a very slow process. In reality, the sloth only defecates once a week!
But unless you think the animal is inherently lazy, this inertia is generally a well-honoured defensive mechanism. Sloths are so great at blending into the landscape that predators often zoom past without recognising their presence.
10. Red-Lipped Batfish
Talking about strange Galapagos species, check out the red-lipped batfish.
Often native to the islands, this fish resides on the ocean floor and is famous for its red lips, which makes it look like it has just consumed a bloody feast.
The second section of the scientific name of the fish, Ogcocephalus darwini, is a reference to Charles Darwin, who famously learned evolution while exploring Galapagos.