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6 “Vegetarian” Animals that Will Give You Nightmares

6 “Vegetarian” Animals that Will Give You Nightmares


[♪ INTRO ] If I asked you to picture a forest, you might
envision a sunny grove with some deer gently nibbling on leaves as they mosey on through. But those deer could actually be searching
for a baby bird or two to munch on. Yes, deer can be carnivorous. In fact, many supposed plant-eaters sneak
the occasional fleshy snack, usually because some nutrients are just easier to get from
animal parts. So here are six so-called vegetarians that
regularly eat meat and bones—including ours. [1. Deer] Everyone knows that Bambi and his friends
are vegetarians. I mean, deer are quite literally built to
eat plants. As ruminants, they have the ability to ferment
plant material in their specialized stomachs, which allows them to live off a diet that
would be way too fibrous for most creatures. But lots of deer apparently missed that memo,
as they’ve been caught eating everything from baby birds to human bones. Yes, I said human bones. A 2017 paper suggested that deer might frequently
gnaw on bodies left exposed in their habitats. We don’t have any evidence that deer kill
people, outside of accidental encounters with vehicles. But they do most definitely kill birds. Like, a lot. Nest cameras in North Dakota have filmed white-tailed
deer snacking on chicks more often than traditional predators. And on an island in Scotland, red deer have
been seen biting off the heads of seabird chicks and chewing on birds’ legs. Scientists think these deer are specifically
targeting bones, since they’re rich in phosphorus, calcium, and other minerals that are less
common in plants. They need those nutrients to build strong
bones for themselves, as well as those impressive antlers that deer are so known for. Sure, a rich mineral lick would suffice, but
those aren’t always around … whereas baby birds are everywhere. You’d expect that other ruminants would
have similar dietary needs, and therefore might also snack on the occasional bone. And … yeah. They do. Sheep, cows, and even giraffes have been seen
sucking on bones or actively killing small animals—usually baby birds. Apparently they’re just a super convenient
source of minerals, if you don’t happen to have a salt lick at hoof. [2. Squirrels] Rodents are another group of animals that
are well known for their vegetarian diets—especially ones like squirrels and chipmunks. They just scamper along branches and stuff
their furry little cheeks full of yummy acorns, right? Well, it turns out when they’re not busy
stashing nuts and eating the cherries off my cherry tree, squirrels and chipmunks take
full advantage of their climbing ability to go after bird eggs and nestlings. They also seem to have no qualms eating frogs,
lizards, snakes, and even turtles. And they’ll kill and eat all sorts of small
mammals, including other species of squirrel … or each other. Maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising, since
rodents are notorious for eating their own young. But when they do, it’s usually considered
a sign something is going wrong. Squirrels will act as predators when completely
healthy, so there must be some other reason. Like with deer, one important clue is that
they seem to target bones. Forensic scientists note that squirrels frequently
gnaw on skeletons, for example—and their tiny teeth can cause enough damage to obscure
important clues about the cause of death. So, they might be looking for those extra
minerals like deer are. Or they could just be looking to grind down
their teeth. All rodents have continuously-growing incisors—you
know, those rodent-y things in front—so chomping on hard bones might keep them in
check. But in many cases, like with the baby birds,
squirrels definitely seem target flesh, which might mean they hunt for the most obvious
reason: Food. Just extra calories. Lab experiments have shown that hungrier rodents
are more likely to attack live prey. And other rodents like mice, beavers, and
bunnies will also make a habit of dining on meat if the option is available. Meat consumption is so widespread in rodents
that some scientists argue that they really should be thought of as omnivores, not herbivores. And given that about 40% of all mammals on
the planet are rodents, that go-with-the-flow approach to their diet might have helped them
conquer the world. [3. Butterflies] Anyone who has tried to grow their own veggies
is all too familiar with the leaf-destroying abilities of most caterpillars. But some moth and butterfly larvae have decided
plants are overrated, opting instead to snack on tasty flesh. Like inchworms in Hawaii with claw-tipped
arms, which will eagerly feast on flies. Or silk-weaving caterpillars that tie down
snails so they can slurp them from their shells. And all the caterpillars in the subfamily
Miletinae eat aphids. But eating snails and insects pales in comparison
to the moths and butterflies that dine on carrion. That’s right. There are scavenging butterflies. A lot of them, actually — especially when
they’re caterpillars. Most of these caterpillars normally eat plants,
but when the tastiest leaves are taken, they’ll go for decaying flesh. As the saying goes, this is life, and no one
gets out alive, so being able to eat dead things is a pretty good way to make a living. I’m not sure that was a saying, but it is
now. Caterpillars’ tough jaws—strong enough
to tear through starchy leaves—have no trouble with decaying meat. Some species are so common on corpses that
they’re used in forensics. Even adult butterflies get in on the scavenging
action at times, to get nutrients not found in nectar. They may flock to dead fish for the salts—the
same reason they hang out on mineral licks or sip turtle tears, which yes, is a thing. But some scientists think they suck down rotting
flesh for the amino acids—the molecular building blocks of proteins. The species caught using bait made of decaying
meat are known to be super mobile butterflies, and all that extra protein probably helps
them build and keep their flying muscles. [4. Duikers] Duikers are teeny little antelopes native
to Africa. They are really cute. There are almost two dozen different species,
each more adorable than the last. But don’t let their size or their cute features
fool you—duikers can be ruthless. Though they’re generally considered frugivores,
or fruit eaters, animal matter is frequently found in their stomachs… by people who cut
open their stomachs, apparently. Things like insects and carrion usually make
up about a tenth of a percent of their diet, which doesn’t seem like very much. But studies have found some stomachs with
10% or more of their contents animal-sourced. And … they don’t necessarily wait for
their meals to die. In Angola, the yellow-backed duiker’s taste
for flesh is infamous. According to locals, they’ve actually learned
how to eat tortoises, leaving behind empty shells wherever they go. And there are tons of scientific reports of
duikers and their relatives eating all sorts of small birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. More surprisingly, they seem to enjoy killing. Captive duikers appear to play with living
food, like a cat toying with a mouse. One bay duiker in the Zurich zoo earned a
reputation for stalking, killing, and eating pigeons that landed in its enclosure. But those behaviors might not be natural in
the wild. In fact, why duikers eat meat isn’t entirely
clear. It may be that, like their distant ruminant
relatives, they use meaty snacks as nutritional supplements. Studies of their wild diets suggest that the
plants and fruits they eat are relatively low in minerals and protein, even though the
animals fare better on a high protein diet. But some zookeepers have found they actually
do better when raw meat is excluded from their meals. We just don’t know enough about these shy,
adorable, savage little antelopes to say for sure. [5. Hippos] Hippos might look like gentle giants. But even though they’re considered herbivores,
they’re one of the most dangerous beasts in Africa. Their aggressive nature is legendary — it’s
said they kill more people every year than lions and leopards combined. And that’s probably not just because they’re
territorial. Recently, biologists have come to the conclusion
that they actually have a taste for meat. Hippos will scavenge carcasses they come across,
and they’ve been known to walk right up to a feeding crocodile and take a bite of
its kill. But much more direct and savage stories have
emerged over the years, including instances where hippos have definitely killed and eaten
antelopes. And that’s weird, because it’s been thought
for a long time that hippos simply don’t have the stomachs—or, more accurately, the
stomach bacteria—to digest meat. But a 2015 review argues that the only thing
limiting meat-eating in hippos — or most herbivores, really — is their ability to
catch and eat it. And that makes sense, considering all the
other supposed herbivores that eat meat when they have the opportunity. But hippos have a few meat-eating advantages
over other herbivores, like their big giant mouths and teeth that can more easily tear
apart hunks of flesh. And with their bulk—and surprising speed
and agility—they are more than capable of taking down large prey. Just how often hippos eat meat is uncertain,
though—most diet studies get their info from plant material found in feces, which
does not tell you whether or not the animal has consumed meat. And it’s hard to observe everything that
goes into the hippos’ mouths because they tend to eat at night. Also … it’s kind of tough to stay close
enough to a giant aggressive hippo to see what it’s nibbling on. You can’t really do a diet study if you
become a part of the diet study. If you know what I mean… [6. Primates] Obviously, we humans aren’t always vegetarians. And it’s no secret that chimpanzees wage
wars against one another, and will hunt, kill, and consume other animals, especially monkeys. But most primates have a more peaceful reputation. Take bonobos, for example. These chimp cousins were supposed to basically
embody the 1960s hippie movement—you know, making love, not war. Even though they’re basically the same size
and strength as chimpanzees, people thought they opted for a much more vegetarian diet. That is, until about a decade ago, when anthropologists
watched them hunt down monkeys and other, smaller mammals. And those observations are backed by DNA—fecal
DNA, to be precise. A 2010 study of 128 bonobo poop samples found
evidence for recent meat consumption in 16% of them. One reason that these and other primates might
eat the occasional steak is that it’s hard to get enough Vitamin B12 with a purely vegetarian
diet. B12 is essential for healthy blood and nerve
cells, and we mammals can’t make it ourselves. Some animals, like ruminants and other animals
with multiple stomachs, like hippos, have bacteria in their guts that produce this key
nutrient. So they get what they need because their weird
anatomy. We have some of these bacteria, too, but there’s
a catch—they live so far along in our digestive tract that we just poop out all the B12 that
they make. That’s probably why bunnies and some rodents
eat their own feces, and if they don’t, they get B12 by having a non-vegan diet — usually,
by supplementing with insects. So it makes sense that even the most vegetarian-leaning
primates might actually be somewhat omnivorous to ensure they get enough B12. Many primates probably eat insects for this
exact reason, but some—like bonobos and chimpanzees—clearly have no problem subbing
in a little red meat instead. And I do feel like mentioning you can get
B12 without meat, it’s just us humans have a lot more dietary opportunities than wild
chimpanzees. But in the end, even animals we thought were
super strict vegans might cheat a little more often—or a lot more often—than we ever
imagined. But if they do eat a little flesh now and
then, they probably have a good reason for it. Learning what animals eat and why can help
us take better care of them in captivity and understand our own dietary needs. If we want to go full vegan, we can just get
a B12 from pills or shots, or fordfied food, not from eating our own poop. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,
which could not exist without the support of our Patreon patrons like Matthew Brant,
our President of Space. Thank you Matthew for your continued support
of SciShow. [ ♪OUTRO ]

Comments (100)

  1. Even vegetarian animals eat meat. Kinda says something about the Vegan movement eh.

  2. Ha, take that crazy vegans.

  3. There’s no such thing as Herbivores, just specialized animals that take advantage of opportunity.

  4. These seems to be also an old myth about historical cases where horses suddenly started eating meat.

  5. Well, the animals won't give me nightmares, but running out of B-12 might!

  6. Old timers in rural Texas where I grew up used to set out cow and horse bones for sheep and goats to gnaw on.

    That was even with mineral blocks. The animals seemed to simply prefer bones.

  7. that B12 bacteria live too far down the gut, did those studies include strict vegetarians?
    nature adapting as it does i wouldn't be surprised if the gut pH, or whatever factors cause the B12 bacteria not to grow further up the gut, is different in a vegetarian's gut…allowing the bacteria to colonize a section of the guts ST the B12 is adsorbed.

    PETA should fund a study! 😊

  8. Ha!!! I knew dem dykers ate meat though they front like they jus munch carpet come eat sum o this manaconda

  9. No wonder birds are afraid of everything and fly off at the slightest noise or movement-everything's out to get them!

    I have deer all over where I live & I also keep out several bird feeders, after seeing this video I think that all I'm doing is fattening up the deer

    My poor birds

  10. I used to see flocks of butterflies on dogshit.

  11. I am eternally gratefull that I don't have to eat my own poop.

  12. hey man your prenounciation of duikers is perfect way to say the dutch word for diver.

  13. Almost any land mammal will eat baby birds. There's a reason my ecology teacher called them "nature's popcorn."

  14. Good you mentioned vitamin B12. Most don't now take intake to that vitamin.

  15. Locusts are another. Normally these ravenous insects consume lots of plant material, but it is thought that they swarm to essentially escape…each other. Because grasshoppers and locusts like to supplement their diet with protein and the closest source of protein to a hungry swarm of locusts are other locusts.

  16. Pretty much the story of human's remote ancestors.

  17. I dislike squirrels now

  18. almost al herbivores can eat meat but it doesnt work the other way around meat is easy to digest but plants are hard and though but on the plus side it doesnt run away

  19. Meat is murder…tasty tasty murder. Even among nature's vegans.

  20. Animals will potentially eat whatever fits in their mouths if it provides nutrients. Just because specific instances aren't commonly observed it doesn't mean that it hasn't ever happened.

  21. Aha, he finally made a mistake! He said bunnies are rodents at about 3:35. THEY ARE NOT. He does get it right, though, at around 10:00

  22. I worked with prairie dogs, which usually consume the stems of grass, but if one of them fell victim to roadkill, the others would feast on its carcass.

  23. So, vegans are basically following a totally unsensical dietary regime…

  24. Even herbivores know better than vegans LOL

  25. Meat is very nutrient-rich. The animals that vegans think are equal to us, would not hesitate to eat a vegan if given the opportunity.

  26. 1:09 we actually do have evidence that deer can and will kill people. During the rut the males get so territorial that they will tromp, bite, and gore someone in their area. It's been well documented.

  27. I learned about squirrels eating snakes a couple of months ago when I came across a video of a squirrel attacking, killing and eating a snake. It was definitely a WTF moment.

  28. Now dear remind me of grasshoppers.

  29. This just turned my world upside down 🤯😱😂 . Meat eating butterflies and deer!!

  30. Many, many things that I grew up with and consider to be commonly known facts seem alien to today's generation, but also to my peers who traded their curiosity for a safe career path. And now Youtube is filled with people who act like they discovered secrets and original thoughts worthy of sharing… Sigh.

  31. so there is no such thing as a true herbivore

  32. Rabbits are not rodents, they are lagomorphs, and rodents are frequently found to eat meat, or insects, whereas its vastly less common for lagomorphs.

  33. This just gave me the best come back to my vegan friends… "Go eat some of your own poop and leave me alone!"

  34. Herbivore… Vegetarian: A >>>person<<< who does not eat meat or fish, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons. Hope the Sci in the channel name isn't short for Science…

  35. This proves veganism is fake because all animals need some meat

  36. If You Ask Me To Picture A Forest, A Picture A Fairly Dark Place, With A Bunch Of Trees, Lots Of Moss, And Some Mushrooms, Maybe A Few Rocks Here And There.

  37. Triggered a feminist in school that loves Disney movies by proving to her that Bambi is in fact a bird serial killer and that life is not a Disney movie. Getting her angry felt so great 😉

  38. Shows vegans that even herbivores aren't herbivores

  39. Bunnies aren’t rodents.

  40. Baby birds : exist
    Several herbivorous animals : finally some good fu*king food

  41. This is 'gnawful' news for vegans. Bad gnus for vegetarians: animals are smarter than you, tsk tsk!

  42. "Little birds are natures snack"
    65 mil years ago
    Little bird:hum dum dum diddly dum doo doo da la….hm? hear stomping nvm… hum dum doodly dum dum dum…….can you get off me,a pterasaur just ate my sister!
    Trex: holding birds back feathers Jeez im sorry…its just that the trike over there just wont let me kill that turtle and when i go to it i get rammed in the leg…
    trike in corner :You better not touch my turtle! Its too bootiful…
    Little bird: sigh fine ill lead you to some food …. just dont eat me..
    5 mins later
    Little bird: Done! Theres your food now can you leave me alone?!
    Trex: K,thanks! Cya little snack walks over to a beach full of dodos coming from an island on fallen tree branches honking away to eachother now theres a snack im please with! But i do gotta say,these wont taste as nice…
    Little bird: should have let him eat me… starts falling from sky
    Pterasaur:Told ya i was gonna get yall!

  43. So, Snow White could be an effective military commander? We could have an army of Disney princesses who would strip the flesh from our bones?
    Also, I KNEW something was up with squirrels! I knew those furry art-building-invaders were up to something!

  44. Yup ive seen a cow eating little chickens

  45. moral of the story: everything eats baby birds. everything.

  46. I won't hesitate to chow down on meat even though my diet is over 90% bamboo

  47. Baby birds have it tough.

  48. Take that Vegans ! 😂

  49. Who wants to gnaw on human bones?

    Deer, apparently

  50. So, the killer bunny is real.

  51. kid: dad I got B12 deficiency

    dad: T H E N G O E A T S H I T

  52. TAKE THAT VEGANS I'm not against vegans but I'm against the people who force someone to be vegan and just do more damage then they actually try to save by being vegan

  53. See vegans? No one is a true vegan

  54. you ruined animals for me .

  55. Vegans about to be triggered.

  56. 1:59 oh… oh dear… ^///^ the innuendo is strong in this one!

  57. Uhhhh I regret buying a squirrel

  58. Vegan's gang want to know your location

  59. Furries and PETA can no longer complain.

  60. Maybe all plants are becoming less nutritious for some reason such as soil erosion or antinutrients

  61. Isn't nature beautiful!

  62. The fat chick at the coffee shop. I think, technically, she's genus hippodyke.

  63. It annoys me when people say 'erb instead of Herb

  64. So…they are not vegetarians…omnivorous behavior is kinda a norm.Makes sense.If anything goes,the chance of survival and reproduction is more likely.

  65. Our deer eat bird seed too… (They knock over the bird feeders in the yard to get at it). We have a lick in the yard for them too and corn feeders with mineral rich corn for them but they will always go after the bird seed too. Every time.

  66. Even herbivores eat meat. And vegans wants us all to only eat greens. Braindead PETA

  67. Well this is what happens with a lack of biodiversity in the world

  68. Among the ruminants section, I could only find one more or less credible source where the deer was picking up ribs of a skeleton. Leaving that none other were credible enough to be called "scientific". And yes picking up one such isolated incident out and painting a story out of it could make a good video, but not a good scientific study!! All the articles(non-scientific) have one commonality though, they use the word "might" too frequently, which suggests they haven't got a video or eye witness.

  69. Those deer need to come here and kill all the bloody seagull chicks then, the ones across from me that live in the golf course aren’t doing the job.

  70. I work at a library and we had to learn the caterpillar thing the hard way when we got some for the kids. Apparently the big ones will eat right through the little ones if they are in the way…I think my lowest moment this year was trying to tug a leaf with an egg away from a very hungry caterpillar. It held on surprisingly well for a caterpillar…

  71. Take that vegans!!!!!!!!!!!

  72. Great video! Do a part 2 please! Tortoises occasionally kill and eat birds…

  73. I can add another to the list for nightmares, the Quokka (yep that cute little selfie addict from Australia) has been photographed eating meat (and not being fed it by inconsiderate humans, but doing it by themselves)

  74. Deer, chimps and some catepillars eat meat but not the rest of the creatures on this list.

  75. The only PRETENDING vegetarian species are Jains and fundamentalist VegoRETARDED Sikhs who taught Hindus to kill for" Mamma" Cow's protection.

  76. Yeah when I was a child I saw a cow walk over and eat a chicken.

  77. Snake: I fear no man, but that thing.
    Squirrels walking around
    Snake: It scares me

  78. I know that mice eat meat. I get mice in my house at times have one at the moment. If you live in a rural area like I do it's pretty common. The bloody thing stole a raw chicken wing tip that was meant for my dog just a few days ago. I'd trimmed a few off some wings, turned around for a second to call my dog and turned back to see the damned thing scampering away with one. It was the first time I'd ever seen anything like it. It was a bizarre sight. I knew they were omnivorous but to see a mouse run away with a wing tip almost as big as itself in its mouth was unusual, to say the least.

    I've also seen donkeys eat chop bones someone threw into their enclosure after a barbeque at a petting zoo in an adventure park. That was weird too, although I assumed it was because they would have been salty.

  79. This video is embedded in my blog : https://www.hippohaven.com/are-hippos-omnivores/

  80. They’re Herbivores

  81. I know this kind of recording is normal in Today's You Tube world, but I find the collection of separate statements over 10 mins vs talking for 10 minutes extremely annoying. Everyone starts each statement at MAX Volume and then trails off, so it's a collection of Bursting out load statements that slowly quiet down. You end up with an Audio Saw tooth Wave.
    I'm not sure if I am conveying this properly, or how else I could (Other than film an example) but it's really annoying. Every Sentence starts at full volume and slowly decreases. And there is a new Sentence or point, every 5 seconds.

  82. Omnivore
    Its a word

  83. Reminds me of an episode of "The Invaders" from the 60s, where there were meat-eating butterflies in a fish tank.

  84. Even natural vegeterians need some meat occasionally

  85. I've seen a squirrel eat an entire slice of pizza on my campus

  86. Nature is not pro vegan. But go ahead and preach to me how it is the natural lifestyle.

  87. Vegans my plant eats bugs so plants eat meat too.stop being vegans.

  88. Are you watching, PETA?

  89. Take that vegans!😝 Even herbivorous animals enjoy the occasional steak!

  90. This is why I don’t like deer

  91. 2:35 so that is what keeps killing sneks in my yard

  92. Not even true herbivores agree with vegans.

  93. Rabbits are not rodents. Rodent= Rodentia. Rabbit= Lagomorpha. Just thought I'd throw that out there lol

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