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10 Scary Facts Behind the World’s Most Adorable Animals

They may look harmless, but these cute creatures have a dark side.

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the side of wild red ladybug coccinellidae anatis ocellata coleoptera ladybird on a green grass.
Serhii Hromov/Shutterstock

Ladybugs are cannibals

These brightly colored beetles aren’t afraid to turn on each other when food is scarce. If it’s a matter of survival, adult ladybugs will eat other freshly molted or newborn ladybugs. The beetles also have a wicked defense mechanism: When startled, ladybugs emit a foul-smelling fluid from their leg joints that helps scare away predators. These cute pictures of baby animals will make your day.

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Amazing colorful starfishes close up on the white sandy beach. Beautiful red starfish in crystal clear ocean water, travel concept on tropical starfish beach, Phu Quoc, Vietnam.

Starfish have ghoulish eating habits

It may come as little surprise that these unusual creatures have a few biological eccentricities—they see through tiny “eyespots” at the tip of each arm, for example. But their eating habits qualify as downright grotesque. To consume a mussel or clam, the five-pointed critter pries the shell open slightly, ejects its stomach from its mouth into the shell, digests the animal, then slides its stomach back into its own body. This video from the Vancouver Aquarium shows the bizarre eating technique.

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Snail brown at the green backgroud racing at the blue wood
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Snails have razor-sharp teeth

How terrifying can an animal really be if it moves at an average speed of 0.03 mph and leaves behind a trail of goo? One look into a snail’s mouth will tell you: Gastropods, including snails and slugs, have thousands of tiny teeth located on a ribbon-like structure called a radula. Depending on the species, they use these teeth as a poison harpoon, to cut prey, or, in the case of the ghost slug, to seize and devour earthworms. Find out more facts about animals you have wrong.

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slow loris monkey on tree

Slow loris monkeys have poisonous elbows

The doe-eyed slow loris is a popular exotic pet, but these little furballs are one of the only poisonous mammals in the world. Normally no more than 15 inches long, slow lorises produce a toxic secretion from the brachial gland in the upper arm that can cause a severe allergic reaction in other mammals. When threatened, the creatures lick the secretion and bite the predator, delivering the poison into the wound. Don’t miss the animal distinctions you might not know.

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Portrait of a polar bear. Close up a portrait of a polar bear.
Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

Polar bears are vicious predators

Polar bears may look cute and cuddly, but they are the world’s largest land predator, often stalking the breathing holes seals make in the ice. Using their excellent sense of smell, polar bears wait until they detect the seal’s breath, then reach into the hole and drag the seal out onto the ice. Male polar bears have been known to attack and kill prey twice their size, including walruses, beluga whales, and narwhals. Learn about these famous animals that changed history.

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Margay, Leopardus wiedii, beautiful South American cat
Vladislav T. Jirousek/Shutterstock

Margays are psychological manipulators

These jungle cats may appear to be friendly if you happen to spot them in the Amazon rainforest, but these kitties are nothing like your typical house pet. The way they survive is downright evil: when Margays are hungry, they will mimic the cry of their intended prey to lure them over. According to National Geographic, it’s the first documented case of a cat using vocal imitation as a hunting device.

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dolphin portrait detail of eye while looking at you from ocean
Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

Dolphins like to bully and torture others

We know what you’re thinking—how could such majestic, calm creatures like dolphins be so mean? Well, the unfortunate truth is that they can be actually quite violent when they’re in a playful mood. Dolphins have been observed using baby sharks like volleyballs and in one instance, ganging up on and killing porpoises in unexplained acts of aggression.

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Emperor Penguins with chicks

Female penguins will kidnap other’s chicks

Those adorable waddling penguins you love can actually be baby-stealing meanies if they lose their own chicks. While the kidnapping only lasts for anywhere between a few hours to a week, it’s not as if the kidnapper returns the baby chick when she loses interest. It’s actually worse—the kidnapping penguin will abandon her stolen chick, leaving it to fend for itself and likely perish. For a change of pace, don’t miss these 50 pictures of adorable animals that will make you say “aw.”

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The spider climbs on the web.
Vadym Lesyk/Shutterstock

Baby spiders eat their mom

Just like the ladybug is a bit of a cannibal, so are some species of spiders. The process is called Matriphagy, and it happens after the mother has depleted her resources by producing a nourishing fluid that they feed to their babies by mouth. Once the mother has no more fluid, the baby will crawl on top of her and start eating its mother. Talk about an ungrateful baby.

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Nick Fox/Shutterstock

Kangaroos are ruthless mothers

Don’t be fooled by the harmless seeming kangaroo that just hops around cutely. If in danger, a mother kangaroo will sacrifice its baby. The logical reason for this is because a baby can’t reproduce, so it’s up to the mother to keep herself alive so that the species can continue to thrive. A zookeeper from the North Georgia Zoo says that if a mother kangaroo has multiple babies, during times when the mom can’t support them all, she will keep one to be alive. Unlike humans, kangaroos definitely let their kids know who is their favorite. Next, check out 23 of the world biggest animals.