Ten Creepy but Cool Animals

There are plenty of weird animals in the world but sometimes what makes them weird can also save their life. Whether it is the way they distract predators or how they eat, each animal has developed a strategy that helps them survive in their environment. We think that’s pretty cool! In this top ten list, we take a look at the creepiest, but coolest animals in Canada.

Greater Short-Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi)

Flickr Credit: Carla Kishinami

Flickr Credit: Carla Kishinami

Photo Credit: Wayne Lynch

Photo Credit: Wayne Lynch

 
 

The greater short-horned lizard is a rare sight in Canada. Not only is it endangered but it also camouflages into the sandy environment where it lives. If a predator spots one of these lizards, it had better be careful; the greater short-horned lizard has sharp spines on its head and along the sides of its body.

 
 

Creepy Factor: These lizards can squirt blood from the corner of their eyes when threatened. The stream of blood can reach up to a 1.5 m (5 ft) distance. Some scientists think that bad-tasting chemicals in the blood turn off predators.

Species at Risk Act Status: Endangered

Want to see a greater short-horned lizard in the wild or learn about Parks Canada’s role in their conservation? Stop by Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.

http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=279
Sherbrooke, Wade C. “Introduction to Horned Lizards of North America.” California Natural History Guides, 2003

Five-Lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus – Carolinian population)

Photo Credit: Thomas Kitchin & Victoria Hurst

Photo Credit: Thomas Kitchin & Victoria Hurst

Photo Credit: Thomas Kitchin & Victoria Hurst

Photo Credit: Thomas Kitchin & Victoria Hurst

 
 

Five-lined skinks are colourful lizards. They are black or grey with five cream coloured strips that run from the tip of their noses to their tail. When they are juveniles they have a bright blue tail, which fades as they get older. During the breeding season, the male’s jaw and chin turn orange. It’s no wonder these lizards are popular in the illegal pet trade.

 
 
Creepy Factor: When a predator attacks, the skink can detach its tail. This distracts the predator and lets the skink escape. Its tail grows back slowly, growing about 6 mm a week.
 

Species at Risk Act Status: Endangered

Want to see a five-lined skink in the wild or learn about Parks Canada’s role in their conservation? Stop by Point Pelee National Park in Ontario.

http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/lr/@mnr/@species/documents/document/stdprod_070899.pdf

Dromedary Jumping-slug (Hemphillia dromedarius)

Photo Credit: Kristiina Ovaska

Photo Credit: Kristiina Ovaska

 
 

It’s obvious why this large slug has “jumping” in its name – just look at the Creepy Factor below – but why is it called “dromedary”? The dromedary is a species of camel that has one hump on its back. This slug does too! This hump holds all of its internal organs and a small internal shell.

 
 

Creepy Factor: You might think of a slug as a slow moving creature, but not these guys. When threatened, the dromedary jumping-slug will wiggle and leap in order to get away from its predators.

Species at Risk Act Status: Threatened

Want to see a dromedary jumping-slug or learn about Parks Canada’s role in their conservation? Stop by Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in British Columbia.

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/nature/eep-sar/itm2/eep-sar2a.aspx
http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr_dromedary_jumping_slug_e.pdf
http://www.arkive.org/dromedary-jumping-slug/hemphillia-dromedarius/

Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)

Photo Credit: Ontley

Photo Credit: Ontley

Photo Credit: Parks Canada

Photo Credit: Parks Canada

 
 
 

If you’re in southern Ontario and you see something climbing a tree, don’t assume it’s a squirrel! It could be an Eastern musk turtle! Although these small turtles aren’t the best swimmers or even walkers, they are excellent tree climbers. In some instances, Eastern musk turtles have been known to climb up to 2 m (6.6 ft) high.

 
 
 

Creepy Factor: This turtle emits a musky odour from the glands on the edge of its shell to scare predators away. That’s why it is also called the stinkpot turtle. PEUW!

Species at Risk Act Status: Special Concern

Want to see an Eastern musk turtle in the wild or learn about Parks Canada’s role in their conservation? Stop by Georgian Bay Islands National Park in Ontario.

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/nature/eep-sar/itm3/eep-sar3z/2.aspx
http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=706

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)

Photo Credit: Wayne Lynch

Photo Credit: Wayne Lynch

Eastern Loggerhead shrike (small-crop)
The loggerhead shrike is a migratory songbird about the size of an American robin. It has a large head relative to its body, a hooked beak and is the only songbird adapted to prey on mice and other vertebrates. The loggerhead shrike is an amazing hunter. It waits until its prey is in just the right spot before swooping down, collecting it in its beak.

Creepy Factor: After breaking the neck of its prey, the loggerhead shrike stabs its prey on thorny trees, shrubs or barbed wire, making it easier for the shrike to eat. This behaviour gave them the nickname “butcher bird”.

Species at Risk Act Status: Threatened

 

Want to see a loggerhead shrike in the wild or learn about Parks Canada’s role in their conservation? Stop by Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.

http://www.hww.ca/en/species/birds/loggerhead-shrike.html

Pacific Hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii)

pacific hagfish (small-crop)

Photo Credit: NOAA

Pacific_hagfish_Myxine

Photo Credit: NOAA

 

The Pacific hagfish is definitely a peculiar creature. It looks a lot like an eel and can grow up to 63 cm (2 ft). They eat their prey, dead or dying animals, by slithering into its body and eating the inside first. Eating dead things might seem gross but in doing so, hagfish perform a vital role in the ecosystem by “cleaning up” the ocean floor and recycling nutrients back into the ecosystem.

 
 

Creepy Factor: The way the Pacific hagfish eat isn’t the only thing that’s creepy. They have glands on their sides that produce slime, which they use to ward off predators.

Species at Risk Act Status: Not currently listed

Want to know more about the Pacific hagfish? Check out the websites below.

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Eptatretus_stoutii/
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/14-fun-facts-about-hagfish-77165589/
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bta18FdkVcA#t=131

Sea Cucumber (Holothuroidea)

Photo Credit: National Museums Northern Ireland and its licensors

Photo Credit: National Museums Northern Ireland and its licensors

Photo Credit: National Museums Northern Ireland and its licensors

Photo Credit: National Museums Northern Ireland and its licensors

Sea cucumbers can range from 3 cm (1 in) to 1 m (3.3 ft) and look a little like a fat worm. They use five rows of tube feet to slowly move along the sea floor or to burrow. They eat by catching particles in their mucus covered tentacles, which they bring to their mouth. Sea cucumbers are hunted by sea stars, fish, crustaceans, gastropods (like snails) and humans.

Creepy Factor: When under attack, sea cucumbers will shoot out its internal organs to scare predators away. Don’t worry, the sea cucumber doesn’t die. Its organs re-grow within a few days.

Species at Risk Act Status: Not currently listed

Want to know what Parks Canada is doing to recover marine species such as the sea cucumber? Stop by Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park in Quebec.

http://www.pc.gc.ca/apprend-learn/parc-park/ele-stu/page05_e.asp
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Holothuroidea/

Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

Northern Fulmar Body (small-crop)

Northern Fulmar Face (small-crop)

Although it looks just like a big seagull, the Northern fulmar is actually more closely related to an albatross. However, like seagulls, Northern fulmars are scavengers. They follow fishing boats in hopes of catching discarded fish. The increased fishing activity in their habitat has helped the Northern fulmar population to grow significantly in recent years.

Creepy Factor: The name “fulmar” means “foul gull” – and it’s called that for a good reason. These birds will spit or vomit a jet of fishy oil up to 3 m (10 ft) if they are threatened while on their nest. This can be dangerous for other birds since the oil sticks to their wings and prevents them from flying.

Species at Risk Act Status: Not currently listed

Want to see a Northern fulmar in the wild or learn about Parks Canada’s role in their conservation? Stop by Prince Edward Island National Park in Prince Edward Island.

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Fulmarus_glacialis/
http://www.hww.ca/en/species/birds/seabirds.html

Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

Garter Snake Face (small)

Garter Snake Body (small-crop)

Garter snakes are highly adaptable reptiles that live throughout much of North America. They can survive in a wider range of temperatures than most snakes. When the temperature drops during the winter, garter snakes hibernate in large groups huddling together in tight coils to keep warm.

Creepy Factor: You probably don’t want to pick up a garter snake. When disturbed, they can release a foul-smelling musky liquid from the glands at the base of their tail. Stinky, but effective – it helps the snake escape from predators.

Species at Risk Act Status: Not currently listed

Want to see a garter snake in the wild or learn about Parks Canada’s role in their conservation? Stop by Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia.

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Thamnophis_sirtalis/

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Turkey Vulture Body (small)

Turkey Vulture Face (small-crop)

 

Unlike many other birds, turkey vultures have an amazing sense of smell (olfactory sense). Turkey vultures can pick up a whiff of carrion (flesh of dead animals) from great distances, even if it is covered by vegetation. By eating dead animals, they prevent the carcasses from spreading disease.

Creepy Factor: If they are approached by a predator, turkey vultures will regurgitate semi-digested meat that smells so bad, it keeps other animals away. And if they need to flee but are too heavy to fly, they will (you guessed it) vomit.

Species at Risk Act Status: Not currently listed

 

Want to see a turkey vulture in the wild or learn about Parks Canada’s role in their conservation? Stop by Thousand Islands National Park in Ontario.

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Cathartes_aura/

Which of these animals do you think is the creepiest?

Let us know by posting a comment.

 

Parks Canada

Parks Canada is proud to connect youth to Canada’s natural wonders and historical treasures. To learn more about Parks Canada’s species at risk work, click here.

 
 
Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At EarthRangers.com kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.
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Ten Creepy but Cool Animals, 4.6 out of 5 based on 9 ratings
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27 Comments

  1. Forest Friend
    Iamer says:

    The jumping slug video was awesome!

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    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  2. Rising Star
    Ranger56212899 says:

    the birds are cute.

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    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  3. Animal Admiral
    ReCha0917 says:

    all cool exept for the cucumber

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    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  4. Toadstool
    ashbal says:

    The hagfish go inside of the dead thing and eat it from the inside first. talk about losing weight fast.

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  5. Toadstool
    ashbal says:

    Hagfish is disgusting and creepy

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    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  6. Tree Hugger
    tlt1234 says:

    cool

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  7. Tree Hugger
    rangermateos says:

    We would like to have the shrike come to our bird feeder in the backyard.

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    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

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