It’s hard being an animal. Imagine waking up every day, and realising that nobody is going to serve you breakfast in bed. While most of them get up and start looking for food, there are some lazy bums who just don’t want to put in any effort! So much so, that they end up eating themselves. To bring some of these lazy creatures to your notice, we have a list of animals who practice self-cannibalism.
#1. Short-tailed cricket
This little fellow practices self-cannibalism, by eating its own wings! Scientists who have been studying the behaviour of crickets are stumped (pun intended) as to why short-tailed crickets do so. Whatever the reason might be, we’re sure it’s not going to be good enough.
#2. King snake
You definitely didn’t see this coming. The king snake often mistakes its own tail as some other snake’s tail. This confusion makes it eat itself up. There have been reported incidents in which wild king snakes swallow up more than half of their own body. As you might have guessed, they don’t survive the self-cannibalism.
#3. Chinese mantis
Chinese mantis look really ugly. Really really ugly. And that’s why, in efforts to “groom” themselves, they eat parts of their claws. It’s pretty much like a manicure, though taken to an extreme level.
#4. Sea squirt
Sea squirts exhibit self-cannibalism, not because they need food. It’s simply a part of their life cycle! Sea squirts or tunicates begin life as swimming larvae. They attach themselves to rocks and undergo a metamorphosis, just like caterpillars. However, unlike caterpillars, they become lumpy bags after the metamorphosis. Since the structure of adult tunicates is very different from baby tunicates, it ends up digesting its swimming body, along with the brain, to make a more useful adult body.
While the instances of self-cannibalism are relatively rare, they do eat off their arms. But unlike the Chinese mantis, it does so not for grooming purposes, but simply because of stress. Octopuses take nail-biting to another level!
There are some animals that we can’t include in the list, since they do not show true self-cannibalism. However, it must be noted that most mammals (except humans, camels, seals and aquatic mammals) engage in placentophagy, or eating one’s own placenta after childbirth. It may gross you out, but they all have pretty valid reasons to do so. Such occurrences make us wonder about the mysterious ways in which nature works!