VitaminQ - a temple of trivia lists and curious words
Vitamin Q: the book!
~ Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Some whiffy creatures:
The hoatzin, a primitive Amazonian bird is notoriously stinky. This is due to a unique way of feeding which is similar to the ‘chewing the cud’ process utilised by cattle. Unfortunately, the poor bird smells very strongly of the dung-like whiff of fermented leaves.
The spadefoot toad, found in the South-West US, doesn’t like to be picked up by humans. If it is, it secretes a smelly substance which can cause stinging. What does this smell of? Bile? Faeces? No, peanuts.
The opposum, as part of its habit of ‘playing dead’ when threatened, releases a foul slime from its back passage which smells of decaying animal flesh.
Some snakes such as the grass snake play a similar trick to make themselves unpalatable to predators. The copperhead snake has an unlikely smell, that of sliced cucumbers.
Tasmanian devils when threatened let loose a nasty smell which some consider worse than that of the pungent yellow oil sprayed by a skunk.
The turkey vulture vomits up chunks of half-digested meat and leaves these mulchy deposits near its nest to ward off predators. If approached, it will vomit on its attacker, the acidic vomit stinging the predator's eyes.
Anyone tempted by the pursuit of whale watching should be warned that the beauty of surfacing whales has to be weighed up against the awful fishy stench of whale breath (actually the smell of the air and water forced out of their blowholes).
When I was a child, a slaughterhouse near my home kept a male fox in a small cage next to the field where tomorrow's condemned sheep were awaiting their fate. The strong scent of the unhappy fox kept away any of his cousins who might have been lurking nearby.
At mating time red deer and elk stags and other large deer dig out muddy wallowing hollows which they taint with urine and sperm. These stinking pools attract other deer, including receptive females.
The stink bug produces evil smelling secretions which it leaves behind as it creeps along, deterring hungry predators from following it.