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Last sync:2023-01-14 16:00
Jessi shares some of her favorite animal adaptations and you can be sure they include some gross and some amazing abilities.

*Warning: photos of spiders and live snake in video*

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Hi guys.  I'm Jessi and we're here at Animal Wonders, where I love learning new, weird, and interesting ways animals have adapted to survive in all of the extreme environments of our planet, which is why I was so happy when frostmute19 asked me, "What is your favorite bizarre or surprising animal adaptation?"  Thanks for asking such a fun question! 

There are so many to choose from, and I can't pick just one, so here are nine ways animals are using their adaptations to survive that I think are both bizarre and amazing.


They become one with the poop.  The giant swallowtail butterfly is beautiful, but it only survives long enough to become a beautiful butterfly because as a caterpillar, they have a very interesting survival strategy.  They look just like bird poop.  If I was a bird, I would not eat that.  Another poop mimicker is the hill garden blue-eyed frog, also lovingly called the pied warty frog or known simply as the bird poop frog, which I think has a nice ring to it.  Yep.  They make very convincing poop.

Toxic explosions!  A species of French guinea termites spend their whole lives gathering toxins into a gland on their back.  If the colony is attacked, the oldest ones that have the most toxin stored up will explode, splatting their toxic goo onto the intruders to save the colony.

Playing dead.  Opossums are well-known for pretending to be dead.  They do it so often, we even have a saying named after them.  Instead of playing dead, we sometimes call it "playing possum", but they're not just really good actors.  They'll actually involuntarily lose consciousness.  When this happens, they release a terrible scent.  It's so bad that potential predators lose their appetite for opossum dinner.  While opossums are most well known for playing dead, hognose snakes like Wilbur here can do it, too.  When they play dead, they also smell terrible, but they have an epic performance.

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They turn upside-down and start to writhe.  They open their mouth and end with their tongue hanging out and their black belly up, and they smell rotten.  Gross.  

Eating without a mouth.  Zombie worms enjoy hanging out among the bones of dead whales at the bottom of the sea, which is pretty bizarre on its own, but what makes them even weirder is how they eat.  They lay on their meal and secrete acid to dissolve it.  Then, they absorb the bone smoothie through their skin.  Sounds horrible, but also sounds a lot like what fungus does and mushrooms aren't that scary.

Walking on water.  I guess sometimes running up a tree into a bush or diving underwater isn't the best way to survive.  Besides invertebrates, the basilisk lizard is the champion when it comes to moving on water.  Young basilisks can run as far as 20 meters to escape a predator before sinking.  Chinese water dragons like Loki here can do it, too, but not nearly as far.  Both lizards use this skill to hunt small invertebrates, but when gravity finally takes over, they are excellent swimmers and can hold their breath for nearly 20 minutes.  They're able to walk on water because they both have a light body, their legs are positioned on the side, and slap onto the water, creating air pockets that help them keep afloat.  They run really fast.  As soon as they slow down, they'll sink, and they have really long toes.  Basilisk lizards are better at this because they have extra skin on their toes that creates more surface tension, which allows them to stay on the water for longer distances.

Stabby eyes.  (?~3:33) are cute and all, but they're hiding a secret weapon just below their eyes.  They have retractable spines that can shoot out and stab anyone who's bothering them.  I'm not sure if that makes me like clowns more or not. 

Vomit showers.  Bright blue jackdaw chicks will throw up fowl smelling fluid when they feel threatened in their nest, hopefully making the intruder lose their appetite and leave them alone.  Scientists think that the vomit smells strong enough that even if it doesn't keep the babies from being eaten, it'll alert the parents to a potential threat and they'll be more cautious upon their return.

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Northern Fulmars are probably the most well-known vomiting bird.  The adults will readily puke up their stomach oils on potential threats.  Not only does the predator feel and smell awful after they're puked on, but they also lose any water-proof coating they had before the run-in.  
Tiny submarines...the diving spider uses their web to trap air into a bubble so they can spend all day under water.  They even hunt and eat in their bubble.   One of their prey items are mosquito larvae, so naturally everyone should be a fan of these spiders.  
Eating poison...hedgehogs -- like prickle here -- will seek out strange plants and pungent-smelling toxins to chew and lick on.  Sometimes they bite poisonous plants.  Other times it's things like turpentine.  They get the toxins into their mouth, and then they make a froth out of their own saliva.  Then they anoint their quills by licking the froth onto their back.  Hedgehogs are highly resistant to most toxins, including snake venom which allows them to safely chew and lick things that would harm other animals.  You'd think that having 5,000 sharp spikes protecting you would keep you safe enough, but I agree:  covering your spikes with poisonous frothy spit is definitely leveling up.  Prickle, thank you for being awesome!  
Thanks again to Frosty19 for asking this question, so that I could share my favorite awesomely bizarre animal adaptation.  
If you have any questions that you'd like me to answer in a video, leave them in the comments below.  Also I'd love to hear what your favorite animal adaptations are.
Thanks for watching and if you'd like to learn more about animals, or see how we care for over 80 rescued animals, subscribe to our YouTube channel AnimalWonders Montana, and go on an adventure with us every week.
Northern Fulmars are probably the most well-known vomiting bird [laughing].  The adults will readily puke up their stomach oils [laughing] ...I'm sorry but it's funny and I can't say the words and its awful...
 The adults will readily puke up their stomach oils [laughing] ...puke up their stomach oils on potential threats.  
[out of control laughter]...n'kay
...can you imagine taking a shower in vomit?  [off camera:  "I don't wanna!"]

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