Critter Culture
Awesome Animals That Really Exist
In the WildKnowledge

Awesome Animals That Really Exist

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Mar 7, 2022

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You only have to look to your pet dog to know that animals can do the strangest things. But some animals can be peculiar. Whether it is strange hunting abilities, defenses to the max, or questionable eating habits, there's an animal that can do pretty much anything. If you're out on safari, trekking, or trying to take in some nature on your travels, be sure to keep an eye out to spot some fascinating animals. You never know—you might see something that surprises you.

1

Flying Snake

Golden tree snake on leave of tree Suttisak olari / Getty Images

It's a bird; it's a plane—no, it's a snake! It might seem like nightmare fuel, but there are, in fact, five different species of flying snakes are found in the jungles of South and Southeast Asia. These snakes take to the skies by propelling themselves into the air from branches and glide by flattening their bodies and undulating from side to side. Shockingly, they can fly for 70 feet using this technique.

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2

Climbing Perch

Anabas fish climbing perch fish Biswa1992 / Getty Images

The Climbing Perch is a small Asian freshwater fish known for its ability to walk on dry land. Shockingly, the fish can survive without water for 6-10 hours and uses its tail and spine-covered gills to walk around on dry land. Even though people often eat Climbing Perch in curries, they are also aggressive towards other fish, so if you find one in the wild, you'd best stay out of the way!

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3

Bearded Vulture

Lammergeier standing on the ground. AndreAnita / Getty Images

Found in mountainous regions in Central Asia, Eastern Africa, and Spain, the bearded vulture, is over 1 meter long and has a wingspan of 3 meters. What makes the Bearded Vulture interesting is its diet. The birds eat bone marrow, which they get by dropping bones from 80 feet in the air onto rocks. One bird recently appeared in the Peak District in England, drawing international attention for its super long migration.

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4

Northern White-faced Owl

Northern White Faced Owl / Ptilopsis leucotis Profile facing left Dodge65 / Getty Images

The Northern White-faced Owl normally looks rather fluffy. But this transformer owl has another form. When it is threatened, it has a remarkable defense. It pulls its feathers inwards, elongates its body, and glares at its attacker in a pose that makes it look a little like Dracula.

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5

Panaque

Royal panaque (Panaque nigrolineatus), also known as the royal pleco. wrangel / Getty Images

Panaques are found in rivers in Central and South America, and they have a very unusual favorite food—wood! These huge catfish can reach sizes of up to 70 centimeters and are known for the chewing sounds they make while they're chomping down on branches underwater.

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6

Maned Wolf

Maned Wolf Antagain / Getty Images

The Maned Wolf is often called a fox on stilts, and you can easily see why! These wolves' long legs have evolved, so they are perfectly adapted to their environment. Maned wolves live in high-grass savannahs in South America, and they are the largest canine in the region. Another unusual trait of the Maned Wolf is their diet, as they eat fruit and vegetables as much as they eat meat.

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7

Binturong

Lazy bearcat sleeping on the tree. green leaf background. Bangkokerz / Getty Images

With the face of a cat and the body of a bear, the Binturong would fit right into a Dr. Seuss book. These slow-moving creatures smell of popcorn. An oil gland makes the scent under their tail, and they leave a streak of scent wherever they go. Another fascinating ability of this animal is that the females can choose when their babies are born to time the birth with the best environmental conditions to raise the young.

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8

Potoo

Close up of a great potoo perched in a tree, Pantanal, Brazil. Dgwildlife / Getty Images

When you're in the American tropics at night, you might hear the distinctive, wailing cry of the Potoo. This bird sleeps during the day, using its feathers to blend in perfectly with the bark on trees. Often mistaken for a branch, Potoos are solitary birds, and instead of building nests, they lay a single egg in the crevices of trees.

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9

Glasswinged Butterfly

A Glass Wing Butterfly on a Leaf bahadir-yeniceri / Getty Images

You'd be forgiven for not spotting this next one. The Glasswinged butterfly has transparent wings, and the tissue between its veins is totally see-through. This camouflage is exceptional, meaning they can literally hide in plain sight. These tiny wonders are incredibly strong and can carry up to 40 times their body weight. You might think the extra weight would slow them down, but Glasswinged butterflies can really go the distance. They can migrate huge distances and are often found in Central America, Mexico, and even Florida.

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10

Hoatzin

The Hoatzin or Stinkbird, in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Connah / Getty Images

The Hoatzin has many names: reptile bird, skunk bird, stink bird. It's earned so many nicknames largely because of its smell. The bird smells of cow manure. The reason for this questionable smell is its digestive tract. Hoatzins feed on leaves, which means they need special digestive systems to ferment them. Not unlike cows chewing the cud, Hoatzins like to take time over their food. In fact, food can take up to 45 hours to pass through the system, leading to their strange odor!

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11

Star-Nosed Mole

Star-Nosed Mole myrrha / Getty Images

The star-nosed mole looks exactly like the name suggests. The center of the mole's face looks like a big star, and you can barely make out its eyes. These strange-looking creatures are excellent swimmers because of their front claws. Scientists have also concluded that the star-nosed mole can smell underwater. Although these animals aren't seen very often, you're most likely to see one in an area with moist soil near water. Despite looking like something from your nightmare, the star-nosed mole is not venomous, though it can damage the landscape.

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12

Okapi

Okapi Mark Newman / Getty Images

At first glance, the Okapi looks like a cross between a deer and a zebra. But it's most closely related to the giraffe. It stands about 5' tall and is about 8' long. The Okapi is only found in Central Africa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The hind legs up to the tail and the front legs are striped like a zebra. The rest of the Okapi has a chocolate brown coat. The mammal has a long neck and extremely flexible ears.

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13

Sea Pig

The Sea pig is a strange and mysterious creature that lives on the bottom of the ocean. Sea pigs have tentacles on their face that help them scavenge food. Interestingly, this creature doesn't breathe through its face. Instead, it breathes through its butt and also uses its butt like a second mouth. Its favorite snack is dead carcasses and other decaying material. Despite their small size and almost translucent bodies, most sea predators and fish leave sea pigs alone because their skin is poisonous. One deep-sea creature that doesn't leave the sea pig alone is juvenile king crabs. Young king crabs actually latch onto sea pigs and count on them for protection.

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14

Pangolin

Indian Pangolin or Anteater (Manis crassicaudata)

The Pangolin is the closest thing you'll see to a dinosaur in your lifetime. The creature, often called a scaly anteater, looks like it belongs in one of the Jurassic Park movies. Although the animal looks like an anteater or armadillo, it is most closely related to cats, dogs, and bears. Unfortunately, it is one of the most illegally trafficked mammals on the planet. Not only do humans hunt Pangolins, but they also hunt them because some cultures believe the scales are medicinal. The creature is native to sub-Saharan Africa. If you run across a Pangolin, you might be startled, but chances are the Pangolin will be too because they are very shy.

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15

Hummingbird Hawk-Moth

Hummingbird Hawk-moth butterfly sphinx insect flying on red valerian pink flowers in summer Gregory_DUBUS / Getty Images

The hummingbird hawk-moth looks and sounds like a hummingbird at first glance. The moth hums like a hummingbird and eats nectar from flower tubes. It flitters about and even looks like it has feathers. When you get closer to the hummingbird hawk-moth, you can see what you thought were feathers is actually long hair. It is most often found in Europe and Asia. Surprisingly, the hummingbird hawk-moth can tell the difference between different colors.

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16

Kinkajou

Adorable Kinkajou animal, sitting on the hand Lina Shatalova / Getty Images

The Kinkajou is a small, furry, tropical mammal with wide eyes and a long tongue. The creature is most likely found in the rainforest hanging upside down by its tail munching on fruit. Its tail is powerful, which lets it hang for hours upside down. In North America, the Kinkajou is also known as a honey bear. It has earned this nickname because it has a wicked sweet tooth. When the mammal isn't chilling in a tree, it can be found searching for beehives to raid for honey.

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17

Jaguarundi

Jaguarundi wrangel / Getty Images

Its name makes you believe it's related to the Jaguar, but actually, the Jaguarundi is most closely related to the mountain lion. However, the Jaguarundi is much smaller than its relative. It only measures about thirty inches long. It is most often seen in Central and South America, but there is a small population of Jaguarundis that live along the Gulf Coast in Texas.

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18

Glass Frog

GLASS FROG, COSTA RICA carlosdiazgar / Getty Images

When the tiny Glass frog leaps from one tree leaf to another, you can see its insides. The transparent frog's abdomen is completely see-through, but everything else is green. You can see each of its internal organs, and if you look closely, you can actually see its heart beating. The Glass frog hangs out in trees most of the time and only hops around in other locations during mating season.

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19

Goblin Shark

The Goblin shark is extremely rare and sometimes referred to as a living fossil because of its shocking, skeletal look. It has a flabby body with tiny fins, and isn't very fast. It lives in relatively deep water, around 330 ft. deep, with adults swimming lower than younger Goblin sharks. Some scientists believe the Goblin shark can dive up to 1000 ft. for short periods. Because of the depth at which this shark lives, it doesn't threaten humans.

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20

Blue Parrotfish

Blue parrotfish (Scarus coeruleus) swimming over the seabed with corals

The Blue Parrotfish is bright blue and is found mainly in the Caribbean Sea and the western Atlantic Ocean. Blue Parrotfish are born with a yellow spot on their head that fades with age, but they never lose their bright blue hue. The fish's large beak lets them scrape algae from rock, and pharyngeal teeth grind gravel into sand.

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Originally published on The Getaway: Awesome Animals That Really Exist

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