Young animals are always cute to look at no matter the species. You wouldn’t think that they would have a lot of hate in their heart or the thought of murder in their minds, but Mother Nature can be cruel sometimes.
Even at such a young age, some types of animals have to take every chance they can get to ensure that they’re the one who comes out on top. Most of the time, that means taking out the competition — survival of the fittest! Here are a few animal offspring that will take the lives of other animals to ensure their own survival.
1. Golden Eaglets Have Sibling Rivalry
A golden eagle’s nest is pretty big, but it’s not big enough for the two to three eaglets that dwell within. Eggs are usually laid a few days apart, so whichever eaglet hatches first is already going to have a head-start in the nest.
Other than animals, hyenas pretty much dominate the plains. The cubs are already born with strong, sharp teeth and with their eyes already open so that they can fend for themselves.
That’s what makes them so dangerous to each other. Cubs will fight each other for dominance within the burrows to establish a pecking order, but often, the weaker cubs are so traumatized that they refuse to eat when good is brought back by the parents.
A species of parasitoid wasp creates offspring by laying two eggs into caterpillars, one male and one female. These eggs clone each other with the result being more female and male larvae.
Out of these, about 50 females will hatch that have smaller jaws and so reproductive organs. They work by eating the males, leaving enough alive to fertilize those females who can reproduce. This is so that there is enough food to go around for everyone. Cruel, but it works.
Sand Tiger sharks are pretty much harmless to humans, and what’s unique about them is that they’re one of the few sharks which give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. What’s even more interesting is that the females have two wombs.
It doesn’t take long for them to develop teeth while they’re still inside the womb and will resort to eating each other as well as any unfertilized eggs. This leaves two survivors in the end, one in each womb, that enter the world already killers.
You would think that the baby spiders would be the ones doing the eating, but it’s actually the mother that’s doing the chowing down. She’ll eat the father of her offspring or the offspring themselves if she’s hungry enough.
It’s no secret that black widows will eat the males right after mating, but they’re not the only spider that does this. But if the mother has been fasting while she’s guarding the eggs, she may get hungry enough to start chowing down on a few eggs to keep herself alive.
This leads to the birth of a weaker sibling, which the other two bully to death or push out of the nest. This third chick is a “just in case” baby: it only serves the purpose of being a replacement if something happens to the other two.
Tiger salamanders are similar to frogs in that they start off as tadpoles in the first stage of their lives. However, they can develop into two different kinds: standard and “cannibal.” The latter type has a more massive mouth and longer teeth and starts to form when ponds dry up, and food becomes scarce.
This makes it easier for them to eat the smaller tadpoles so that they can develop more quickly and morph into their adult forms before the pond completely dries up. They’ll eat brothers, sisters, and cousins; no one is immune from being on the menu. But they are courteous enough to eat non-family tadpoles first.
You’ve heard of sibling rivalry, but no one rivals the cuckoo when it comes to vying for all of the parent’s attention. And they’re not even their birth parents. Female cuckoos look for unprotected nests and will eat one of the eggs inside, giving the nest room to lay one of her own.
Then she flies off and leaves the real owners of the nest to take care of her baby for her. A baby cuckoo is usually the first to be born and will push out the other eggs so that it can get all of the attention.
9. Beheading for the Monarchy: How Queen Bees Thrive
Typically, a bee colony will consist of one queen, worker bees, and a few drones that serve the purpose of fertilizing the males. The worker bees – which are sterile females – produce Royal Jelly, which is used to feed the larvae.
However, as the queen bee gets older, they will pick out a few unique larvae, separate them from the rest, and give them more substantial doses of Royal Jelly to transform them into future queen bees. But queens don’t share the throne. Once the first one emerges, it goes on a killing spree and stings the others haven’t appeared yet or any others that have emerged until there is a clear winner.
We’ve all heard the story about female praying mantises biting the heads off their mates while they’re engaged in sex, but this isn’t where the buck stops. After she lays her 200 eggs and they hatch, then the real carnage begins.
They usually all hatch at the same time and it turns into a buffet frenzy. Their first meals often involve each other when there are no other insects around to eat.
It’s a familiar tale that female spiders eat their mates, but newly-hatched babies aren’t immune either. For crab spiders, dinner time involves everyone.
The mother will provide “nurse” eggs to their babies, which are unfertilized eggs. They’ll start to eat these and then slowly work their way through their own mother until she is completely gone. The ones that do ingest their mother actually have higher survival rates than the ones that don’t, so though it sounds gross, it’s actually quite beneficial.
You wouldn’t think fish would really engage in this kind of practice, but it’s actually not that common. Also known as yellow pike, these fish will eat each other tail-first.
What’s a little funny about this is that one fish will start eating another, and in turn be eaten themselves. It’s like one chain of cannibalism that doesn’t know where to stop. The biggest fish will usually triumph, however.
13. Polar Bears Aren’t Just for Smiling on Coke Cans
This has only been a recent development, but it has been reported that polar bears have been eating the smaller and younger members of their population.
This is likely due to the melting of ice blocks making it more difficult for them to traverse, leading to higher starvation rates. And when they can’t get to their food supplies, they have no problems resorting to eating their own kind to survive.
A mother scorpion is capable of having about 100 or so babies, which is a lot of mouths to feed. And when you’re out in the desert, that can be even more difficult.
But if push comes to shove and she can’t find enough grubs, the mother will have no problems eating a few of her own babies to survive. After all, she can just lay 100 more to replace the ones she’s eaten for breakfast.
Would you be surprised to learn that chickens, of all animals, have no problems with eating their young? We’re not talking about hatched baby chickens, however.
Hens who suffer from a calcium deficiency in their diet will ingest their own eggs to fulfill those needs. The shell itself is rich in calcium, so to keep themselves healthy, they will swallow them whole, whether they’re fertilized or not.
Crickets are known for their beautiful summer songs when they’re trying to catch a mate. It’s a wonderful thing to listen to when the sun is going down.
But crickets that don’t survive the season are an excellent food source for their own kind. Crickets have been seen feasting on the dead bodies of other crickets, whether they’ve died from natural causes or have been run over by cars.
Nematodes are naturally hermaphroditic, meaning that they have both sexual reproductive organs for self-fertilization. They’re also used as a food source for other animals, so in order to keep their numbers up, they self-fertilize hundreds of eggs at a time.
But instead of laying those eggs, they develop and hatch inside. These babies will eventually eat their way out, consuming the nutrients from their parents in order to survive.
People have come to believe that dolphins and porpoises are gentle creatures that don’t mean anyone any harm. But they would be sorely mistaken.
Male bottlenose dolphins have great memories and know which females they’ve mated with. When they meet a female they don’t know with a young calf, they will have no problems with separating them and killing the young so that the female can become fertile again.
Shrimp aren’t against eating a few of their own young on occasion, but this drive can be kicked into overdrive with a specific parasite. It’s no bigger than a human blood cell, but it can cause a lot of havoc.
This parasite demands more and more food, and the shrimp have to comply. This results in them eating hundreds and hundreds of their young, never feeling full. This can decimate shrimp populations, but thankfully the unaffected shrimp can make up for the loss of these numbers.
Rabbits like to keep themselves very clean, as well as their dens and nesting areas. This can be seen as both a good and a bad thing.
If a mother rabbit senses that a predator is near, she will ingest her stillborn or weak babies in order to keep the nest tidy and prevent predators from finding them. Being stressed out can also lead to babies being eaten, so if you plan on keeping them as pets, ensure that a pregnant mother is always kept in a good mood to prevent this from happening.
If you’ve never heard of black guillemot before, that’s okay. They’re a pretty small seabird that lives in the northern regions of the planet. They’re pretty docile already, but infanticide is pretty big for them.
One of the most giant rodents on the plains of Texas all the way to Canada, they’re a pretty common species to run into. They serve as prey for many other animals, such as badgers and coyotes, and even their own kind.
Both mothers and fathers are guilty of the practice. Females will kill off entire litters of other mothers when they can, and it’s believed that they eat the young to obtain nutritional value. Fathers, on the other hand, know which females they’ve mated with and will kill pups of the litter that they believe have different parentage than their own.
25. Meerkats of the Prairie Get Into Vicious Fights
The meerkat is known for living in large family packs that move and thrive together to survive. They’re actually very social animals that thrive on attention. So it’s a little confusing that they would actually resort to killing their own.
The alpha female of any pack will kill the offspring of lesser females when she gets the chance. Then, these females are forced to either become wet nurses for the alpha’s family or to leave the pack in exile. Not the most comfortable choice in the world to make, as being on your own means a higher risk of becoming someone else’s meal.
26. Chacma Baboons Commit Infanticide to Regulate Numbers
Apes have pretty stable social structures. Everyone knows their place, and it’s rarely challenged as it can lead to vicious fights that often result in lost numbers.
However, chacma baboons, despite their strong familial ties, will resort to killing babies. The alpha males will murder the offspring of a female that they haven’t sired. This act leads to the female no longer lactating and becoming fertile again so that she can be viable to produce babies for them.
The Hanuman langur is respected amongst Buddhists, as they’re considered to be the embodiment of their deity Hanuman. They’re used as a form of pest control in keeping unwanted monkeys away. But that’s where their cute antics stop.
In a troop of langurs, there is one dominant male that is defended by the other females. If a new male manages to oust him, this new leader will kill all the infants in the troop so that he can better establish his DNA within the group.
Chimpanzees are another ape species that can get pretty violent when it comes to ensuring that their genes come out on top. The males battle to be the dominant sex partner in the group, and gangs of males will battle each other for dominance.
These fights can get pretty brutal, and unprotected children often fall into their warpath. What’s even sadder is that at the end of it all, the mothers will side with the victors, also if they’re the ones responsible for the death of their children.
29. The Pride of the African Continent is Quite Ruthless
Dubbed the “kings of the jungle,” lions actually live on the plains of African countries. But even with this moniker, lions have been losing their prey and habitat with the encroachment of humans into their territory.
They’re also their own worst enemy. When a new male ventures into a pride, he will kill off any of the cubs that are alive after he ousts the alpha male. This makes the females fertile again so that they can mate and create new offspring of their own.
Bears are one of the dominant omnivores of the forest, capable of eating anything and everything they come across. With those big powerful teeth, they can defend themselves quite well against any other predator.
But those teeth are also perfect for eating their own young. Although a mother bear is fiercely protective, if she senses that her cubs are sick, she will eat them to put them out of their misery instead of trying to raise them to be healthy.
31. Cute and Cuddly Sea Otters Have Blood on Their Hands
Sea otters are some of the most treasured animals at the zoo. They look cute and cuddly like they don’t have a mean bone in their body. However, you would be dead wrong.
Although they’re not interested in killing their own kind, they have been seen drowning and killing juvenile seals. To make matters worse, researchers have witnessed sea otters keeping the dead bodies and mating with them. This is normal behavior when mating with the females, and researchers have argued that its sexual frustration to the declining female sea otter population. Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources: “10 Killer Animals That Commit Infanticide.” Nicollette B, ListVerse. March 28, 2016.
“Baby Animals That Kill Each Other To Reign Supreme In The Crib.” Hannah Irvine, Ranker.
“Tastes Like Chicken: 8 Animal Cannibals.” Animal Planet.