In the wild, a hungry beast creeps through a forest, salivating while stalking its prey. Its mouth opens wide and it rips its prey apart, limb from limb. The eyes of the creature’s tiny prey open wide and pleading as if to say, “Mommy, don’t!” But mommy proceeds to eat her children one by one. This is a dark and harrowing truth about the animal kingdom that is seldom discussed. In a world where food shortages and climate change creep up, cannibalistic animals are becoming more and more common.
Cannibalism is just plain creepy. In some cases, crazy animal cannibalization can be the result of human interference, but that’s not always the reason animals eat their own kind. Cannibal animals eat their children, some children eat their own parents, and sometimes leaders are devoured by their own community members. Here are some crazy animal cannibalization facts you probably never knew.
Hamsters are furry, cute, cuddly little… baby eaters? Horrifically, this description is 100% accurate. If you happen to have a pet hamster and small children, you can rest easy though. Hamsters don't kill other people’s babies. They only kill their own young ones. The reasons they do this is because of scent confusion (for example if a human touches the babies), situations of extreme stress, and/or scarcity of food supplies. And sometimes mommy hamsters just don't feel like being parents.
This baffling circumstance is known as infanticide, and it truly takes the terror of cannibalism to a whole new level. While it is true that many animals kill their own young for sacrificial purposes, particularly if they seem to be deformed or diseased, hamsters are one of the few types of animals that kill them by eating them. Bear in mind the average hamster litter consists of seven pups. If hungry enough, mommy hamster will pick them off one by one or worse, she'll set a few aside to chow down on the next day while they watch with horror as their siblings get devoured first. When mommy’s merciless appetite returns, these second helping hamsters get to know their parent in ways we don’t even want to imagine.
Spiders are straight up scary. Our ancestors were so afraid of them that scientists now suspect they passed the fears down to us through our DNA (No, seriously). Possibly the scariest part about them? Spiders will eat each other after sex.
It's not at all uncommon for a female spider to dump her lover after engaging in sexual contact - right down her throat, that is. What a brutal way to end a relationship. And the motive isn't very noble at all. Scientists confirm female spiders eat their male lovers because they just don't feel like looking for food after their roll in the hay. The male spider is significantly smaller and he's already right there, so “win-win?"
For the sparse walleye fish, food competition and predation notoriously give way to cannibalism. In Minneapolis, cannibalism amongst these fish was so widespread it put an entire fishing town in decline. Needless to say, in circumstances such as these, the fish that live get large in circumference but their community as a whole is less robust. Multiple cannibal feasts sometimes caused fish to consume each other at the same time in a horrifying dead-eat-dead massacre.
Who knew polar bears were grizzly enough to eat their own kind? The answer is nobody. Not until now, anyway. Polar bear cannibalism is particularly disturbing because it didn’t used to happen. Scientists believe it may be related to global warming. The theory, as it stands, is that as the polar ice caps melt and seals become less and less accessible, male polar bears bloody the arctic sea, devouring their own cubs out of sheer, heartbreaking desperation.