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33 Kinda Terrifying Animal Facts You Probably Never Knew

Fear the land-walking octopus.

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The Hunt, a new series on BBC America, documents some of the world's most fearsome predatory animals. Here are some of the wildest facts we learned from watching.


1. Cheetahs, the fastest known land predator, can only sustain their top speed for a few seconds.

2. Nearly 60% of their hunts end in failure, and 90% of cheetah cubs don’t reach their second birthday.

3. To catch its prey, a cheetah will sometimes trip them from behind.

4. Nile crocodiles can go a full year without feeding, waiting for migratory herds to return to their hunting area.

5. Since crocodiles can’t chew, they join in a group and spin their bodies to tear smaller pieces off their prey’s carcass.

6. Polar bears must eat two-thirds of the food they need for the whole year during the three months of spring.

7. They only succeed once in every 20 hunts during the warmer months of the year, because the sea ice they use to hunt seals melts.

8. The blubber of a small seal alone contains around 100,000 calories, enough to sustain a polar bear for a week.


9. The tiger is the largest of all forest predators, and weighs up to 200 kilos (440 pounds).

10. Tigers use the noise and darkness of storms to conceal their approach on prey.

11. The Parson’s chameleon has a tongue longer than its body.


12. A praying mantis’s arms can strike 10 times faster than the blink of a human eye.

13. And it’s the only insect known to see in 3D.

14. A Darwin’s bark spider, no bigger than a human thumbnail, can produce up to 25 meters (82 feet) of silk.

15. That silk is the toughest natural fiber on the planet. It’s stronger than steel.

16. The Portia spider can leap up to 50 times its own body length.

17. They can also eat other spiders three times their size.


18. Harpy eagles, with talons as long as bears’ claws and a 2-meter (6½-foot) wingspan, feed on monkeys and sloths.

19. Baby harpy eagles require the longest period of parental care of any bird of prey. Their parents feed them for up to two years, bringing the chick up to 200 monkeys and sloths to eat.

20. If the chick doesn't successfully learn to hunt for itself, even after years of rearing the chick, the parent may kill it to make way for a new chick.

21. Honey badgers have over 50 known prey, including scorpions (they’re immune to their stings) and ostrich eggs.

22. To flush out its rodent prey, an Ethiopian wolf will blow into the underground tunnels where it’s hiding.


23. The blue whale weighs 200 tons and is the biggest known animal to have ever lived.

24. They can travel over 100 miles a day for weeks at a time.

25. Opening their mouths takes so much effort, they only do so when their prey, krill, is gathered in a rich and concentrated enough group.

26. Spinner dolphins stun their fish prey with powerful blasts of sonar, then eat them.

27. Bottlenose dolphins can only hunt for three hours during low tide, when the mudbanks are exposed.

28. As a group, they drive schools of fish onto the banks and then temporarily beach themselves to catch and eat them.

29. A lionfish’s stripes make it visually confusing, so it’s difficult for prey to judge how close it really is.

30. The Abdopus octopus is the only octopus specially adapted to walk on land. It pulls itself along using the hundreds of tiny suckers that line its arms.

31. Bears have a sense of smell 2,000 times better than ours and can even detect prey out at sea.

32. Brown bears, the largest bears in North America, rely on salmon migration for nearly 90% of their year’s food.

33. Over 75% of the world’s top predators are now declining in population, mostly due to human influence.

To learn more, check out The Hunt, premiering Sunday, July 3, on BBC America.