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 ]

100 thoughts on “6 “Vegetarian” Animals that Will Give You Nightmares”

  1. Thanks for verifying what I saw one winter, a squirrel eating a dead squirrel, it was scarry, with blood on its chest and nawwing on a bone, I was shocked, and most people didnt believe me.

  2. Queens of the Stone Age did a documentary about dear in 2002. Its titled No One Knows. It shows the dear's martial arts prowess and their alliance with garden gnomes.

  3. Oh dear absolutely eat meat because they think it tastes good. They'll chase you down for your steak sandwich.

  4. I have counted 7 videos promoting meat and 2 leaning towards the use of pollutants in the last two years, the battle against the changing climate is not helped by this channel, only throughing fire on the burning flames of the earth. Actually disgusting

  5. Nature is so beatufully brutal. I love it. Humans are like a personification of nature if you think about it.

  6. Also a lot of people forget the fact of insects being animals, and a lot of "vegetarian" animals usually target insects to ate.

  7. Here's a story about a man who was almost eaten by a hippo: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/may/04/i-was-swallowed-by-a-hippo

  8. I have a question regarding the b12 vitamins that bacteria make in our digestive system. If it happens so late that we just poop it all out, could we theoretically change that, if we simply eat less, so the poop has more time to give off nutrients before exiting?

  9. Ah those sneaky deer they have such good PR that when they stalk their prey we automatically accuse something else as it couldn’t be those cute adorable deer. Deer tracks around a body they weren’t curious they where the perpetrators.

  10. Why do most people in this comment section seem to hate vegans and vegetarians so much? Like holy hell, just live and let live.

  11. I can't even see this video it's not coming in clear at all very small and to the left of my screen

  12. Even the Crocodile Hunter stayed as far away from hippos as possible. I saw an episode where he crossed a hippo-infested river. They were about 100 yards away from the hippos, but had to whisper so they didn't get noticed.

  13. Tucans will raid the nests of other birds and eat the hatchlings. They're not the cute fruit only eaters.

  14. Technically all animals Can and Will eat anything but just because they can eat it doesn’t mean it is good for them eg Dogs eating chewing gum, guinea pigs gnawing on plastic, humans eating sofas (or whatever messed up things they claim to be addicted to eating on reality TV).
    This video is saying that some, not necessarily all, individuals within these species have been found to consume things we wouldn’t normally consider part of their diet. One of my guinea pigs once ate a feather she found on the grass but she isn’t actively killing and eating my other guinea pigs or other animals. I think like Hank said, it is down to the body’s requirements at the time and what is readily available. As for humans, unless we are very impoverished, we have a lot of choice when it comes to diet and we shouldn’t be picking on others for their food choices unless it directly harms us or they are dying (though even then it is up to them). A lot of people and animals make poor choices, health wise eg my sister’s dachshund once ate a whole loaf of bread. 😂
    Great video 🙂

  15. Why didn't you add pictures and video clips? I believe that I can safely assume that most of your viewers are adults.

  16. It's so sad that after I googled if a squirrel eats birds after my pet squirrel ate the baby bird I rescued, YouTube recommended me this video.
    Hope it popped up earlier:(

  17. Why do people dislike these videos? These are literally facts… "I dont like the info so…. eh?" Vegitarians getting triggered? Mr Green you got some enemies? People just hating Hippos?

  18. Uhmm….I will never forget the sight of seeing doves eating chicken meat off of the bones……mind was blown that day.

  19. I have a story with unexpected animal diet. When I was a kid, I thought chickens only ate corn, then some day I went to my grandpa's house in the country and saw he shooting a pig in the face, then he cut the pig's throat and the blood from the pig poured reaching a hen house nearby and the chickens started eating the blood, so like any young kid would do, I thought those were vampire chickens and told my grandpa to shoot them too, but he said that was normal behaviour.

  20. I have pet rats and by far their favorite snacks are mealworms and waxworms. They also love chicken, turkey, and chicken bones.

  21. didn't know about the b12… i hardly eat meat anymore so handy knowledge. .. i think I'll need to pass on the poop dish though

  22. 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.

  23. 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! 😊

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

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