6 “Vegetarian” Animals that Will Give You Nightmares

[♪ INTRO ] If I asked you to picture a forest, you might
envision a sunny grove with some deer gently nibbling on leaves as they mosey on through. But those deer could actually be searching
for a baby bird or two to munch on. Yes, deer can be carnivorous. In fact, many supposed plant-eaters sneak
the occasional fleshy snack, usually because some nutrients are just easier to get from
animal parts. So here are six so-called vegetarians that
regularly eat meat and bones—including ours. [1. Deer] Everyone knows that Bambi and his friends
are vegetarians. I mean, deer are quite literally built to
eat plants. As ruminants, they have the ability to ferment
plant material in their specialized stomachs, which allows them to live off a diet that
would be way too fibrous for most creatures. But lots of deer apparently missed that memo,
as they’ve been caught eating everything from baby birds to human bones. Yes, I said human bones. A 2017 paper suggested that deer might frequently
gnaw on bodies left exposed in their habitats. We don’t have any evidence that deer kill
people, outside of accidental encounters with vehicles. But they do most definitely kill birds. Like, a lot. Nest cameras in North Dakota have filmed white-tailed
deer snacking on chicks more often than traditional predators. And on an island in Scotland, red deer have
been seen biting off the heads of seabird chicks and chewing on birds’ legs. Scientists think these deer are specifically
targeting bones, since they’re rich in phosphorus, calcium, and other minerals that are less
common in plants. They need those nutrients to build strong
bones for themselves, as well as those impressive antlers that deer are so known for. Sure, a rich mineral lick would suffice, but
those aren’t always around … whereas baby birds are everywhere. You’d expect that other ruminants would
have similar dietary needs, and therefore might also snack on the occasional bone. And … yeah. They do. Sheep, cows, and even giraffes have been seen
sucking on bones or actively killing small animals—usually baby birds. Apparently they’re just a super convenient
source of minerals, if you don’t happen to have a salt lick at hoof. [2. Squirrels] Rodents are another group of animals that
are well known for their vegetarian diets—especially ones like squirrels and chipmunks. They just scamper along branches and stuff
their furry little cheeks full of yummy acorns, right? Well, it turns out when they’re not busy
stashing nuts and eating the cherries off my cherry tree, squirrels and chipmunks take
full advantage of their climbing ability to go after bird eggs and nestlings. They also seem to have no qualms eating frogs,
lizards, snakes, and even turtles. And they’ll kill and eat all sorts of small
mammals, including other species of squirrel … or each other. Maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising, since
rodents are notorious for eating their own young. But when they do, it’s usually considered
a sign something is going wrong. Squirrels will act as predators when completely
healthy, so there must be some other reason. Like with deer, one important clue is that
they seem to target bones. Forensic scientists note that squirrels frequently
gnaw on skeletons, for example—and their tiny teeth can cause enough damage to obscure
important clues about the cause of death. So, they might be looking for those extra
minerals like deer are. Or they could just be looking to grind down
their teeth. All rodents have continuously-growing incisors—you
know, those rodent-y things in front—so chomping on hard bones might keep them in
check. But in many cases, like with the baby birds,
squirrels definitely seem target flesh, which might mean they hunt for the most obvious
reason: Food. Just extra calories. Lab experiments have shown that hungrier rodents
are more likely to attack live prey. And other rodents like mice, beavers, and
bunnies will also make a habit of dining on meat if the option is available. Meat consumption is so widespread in rodents
that some scientists argue that they really should be thought of as omnivores, not herbivores. And given that about 40% of all mammals on
the planet are rodents, that go-with-the-flow approach to their diet might have helped them
conquer the world. [3. Butterflies] Anyone who has tried to grow their own veggies
is all too familiar with the leaf-destroying abilities of most caterpillars. But some moth and butterfly larvae have decided
plants are overrated, opting instead to snack on tasty flesh. Like inchworms in Hawaii with claw-tipped
arms, which will eagerly feast on flies. Or silk-weaving caterpillars that tie down
snails so they can slurp them from their shells. And all the caterpillars in the subfamily
Miletinae eat aphids. But eating snails and insects pales in comparison
to the moths and butterflies that dine on carrion. That’s right. There are scavenging butterflies. A lot of them, actually — especially when
they’re caterpillars. Most of these caterpillars normally eat plants,
but when the tastiest leaves are taken, they’ll go for decaying flesh. As the saying goes, this is life, and no one
gets out alive, so being able to eat dead things is a pretty good way to make a living. I’m not sure that was a saying, but it is
now. Caterpillars’ tough jaws—strong enough
to tear through starchy leaves—have no trouble with decaying meat. Some species are so common on corpses that
they’re used in forensics. Even adult butterflies get in on the scavenging
action at times, to get nutrients not found in nectar. They may flock to dead fish for the salts—the
same reason they hang out on mineral licks or sip turtle tears, which yes, is a thing. But some scientists think they suck down rotting
flesh for the amino acids—the molecular building blocks of proteins. The species caught using bait made of decaying
meat are known to be super mobile butterflies, and all that extra protein probably helps
them build and keep their flying muscles. [4. Duikers] Duikers are teeny little antelopes native
to Africa. They are really cute. There are almost two dozen different species,
each more adorable than the last. But don’t let their size or their cute features
fool you—duikers can be ruthless. Though they’re generally considered frugivores,
or fruit eaters, animal matter is frequently found in their stomachs… by people who cut
open their stomachs, apparently. Things like insects and carrion usually make
up about a tenth of a percent of their diet, which doesn’t seem like very much. But studies have found some stomachs with
10% or more of their contents animal-sourced. And … they don’t necessarily wait for
their meals to die. In Angola, the yellow-backed duiker’s taste
for flesh is infamous. According to locals, they’ve actually learned
how to eat tortoises, leaving behind empty shells wherever they go. And there are tons of scientific reports of
duikers and their relatives eating all sorts of small birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. More surprisingly, they seem to enjoy killing. Captive duikers appear to play with living
food, like a cat toying with a mouse. One bay duiker in the Zurich zoo earned a
reputation for stalking, killing, and eating pigeons that landed in its enclosure. But those behaviors might not be natural in
the wild. In fact, why duikers eat meat isn’t entirely
clear. It may be that, like their distant ruminant
relatives, they use meaty snacks as nutritional supplements. Studies of their wild diets suggest that the
plants and fruits they eat are relatively low in minerals and protein, even though the
animals fare better on a high protein diet. But some zookeepers have found they actually
do better when raw meat is excluded from their meals. We just don’t know enough about these shy,
adorable, savage little antelopes to say for sure. [5. Hippos] Hippos might look like gentle giants. But even though they’re considered herbivores,
they’re one of the most dangerous beasts in Africa. Their aggressive nature is legendary — it’s
said they kill more people every year than lions and leopards combined. And that’s probably not just because they’re
territorial. Recently, biologists have come to the conclusion
that they actually have a taste for meat. Hippos will scavenge carcasses they come across,
and they’ve been known to walk right up to a feeding crocodile and take a bite of
its kill. But much more direct and savage stories have
emerged over the years, including instances where hippos have definitely killed and eaten
antelopes. And that’s weird, because it’s been thought
for a long time that hippos simply don’t have the stomachs—or, more accurately, the
stomach bacteria—to digest meat. But a 2015 review argues that the only thing
limiting meat-eating in hippos — or most herbivores, really — is their ability to
catch and eat it. And that makes sense, considering all the
other supposed herbivores that eat meat when they have the opportunity. But hippos have a few meat-eating advantages
over other herbivores, like their big giant mouths and teeth that can more easily tear
apart hunks of flesh. And with their bulk—and surprising speed
and agility—they are more than capable of taking down large prey. Just how often hippos eat meat is uncertain,
though—most diet studies get their info from plant material found in feces, which
does not tell you whether or not the animal has consumed meat. And it’s hard to observe everything that
goes into the hippos’ mouths because they tend to eat at night. Also … it’s kind of tough to stay close
enough to a giant aggressive hippo to see what it’s nibbling on. You can’t really do a diet study if you
become a part of the diet study. If you know what I mean… [6. Primates] Obviously, we humans aren’t always vegetarians. And it’s no secret that chimpanzees wage
wars against one another, and will hunt, kill, and consume other animals, especially monkeys. But most primates have a more peaceful reputation. Take bonobos, for example. These chimp cousins were supposed to basically
embody the 1960s hippie movement—you know, making love, not war. Even though they’re basically the same size
and strength as chimpanzees, people thought they opted for a much more vegetarian diet. That is, until about a decade ago, when anthropologists
watched them hunt down monkeys and other, smaller mammals. And those observations are backed by DNA—fecal
DNA, to be precise. A 2010 study of 128 bonobo poop samples found
evidence for recent meat consumption in 16% of them. One reason that these and other primates might
eat the occasional steak is that it’s hard to get enough Vitamin B12 with a purely vegetarian
diet. B12 is essential for healthy blood and nerve
cells, and we mammals can’t make it ourselves. Some animals, like ruminants and other animals
with multiple stomachs, like hippos, have bacteria in their guts that produce this key
nutrient. So they get what they need because their weird
anatomy. We have some of these bacteria, too, but there’s
a catch—they live so far along in our digestive tract that we just poop out all the B12 that
they make. That’s probably why bunnies and some rodents
eat their own feces, and if they don’t, they get B12 by having a non-vegan diet — usually,
by supplementing with insects. So it makes sense that even the most vegetarian-leaning
primates might actually be somewhat omnivorous to ensure they get enough B12. Many primates probably eat insects for this
exact reason, but some—like bonobos and chimpanzees—clearly have no problem subbing
in a little red meat instead. And I do feel like mentioning you can get
B12 without meat, it’s just us humans have a lot more dietary opportunities than wild
chimpanzees. But in the end, even animals we thought were
super strict vegans might cheat a little more often—or a lot more often—than we ever
imagined. But if they do eat a little flesh now and
then, they probably have a good reason for it. Learning what animals eat and why can help
us take better care of them in captivity and understand our own dietary needs. If we want to go full vegan, we can just get
a B12 from pills or shots, or fordfied food, not from eating our own poop. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,
which could not exist without the support of our Patreon patrons like Matthew Brant,
our President of Space. Thank you Matthew for your continued support
of SciShow. [ ♪OUTRO ]

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100 Responses

  1. Chris Russell says:

    I saw a deer eat a KFC chicken leg once.

  2. Gabby Mouse says:

    Here's a story about a man who was almost eaten by a hippo: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/may/04/i-was-swallowed-by-a-hippo

  3. Da Boss says:

    I learned rats were carnivorous the hard way…. Many, many, dead birds.

  4. nothing says:

    we must force them to be 100% vegans

  5. Mary Udomah says:

    Jeeze, poor baby birds! D;

  6. Dan says:

    Deer are what nightmares are made of

  7. Rokkiteer says:

    I have a question regarding the b12 vitamins that bacteria make in our digestive system. If it happens so late that we just poop it all out, could we theoretically change that, if we simply eat less, so the poop has more time to give off nutrients before exiting?

  8. TheTUNEKE says:

    vegetarian?? please they are herbivores. Go away with your clickbait titles

  9. Sandman says:

    explain that vegans! Vegans must eat their own poop!

  10. philip norris says:

    Everything has to eat to live, it's part of the natural order of things.

  11. Jessica Romo says:

    Seriously if they eat meat on a regular basis, how are they herbivores?

  12. Donald Gilson says:

    Ah those sneaky deer they have such good PR that when they stalk their prey we automatically accuse something else as it couldn’t be those cute adorable deer. Deer tracks around a body they weren’t curious they where the perpetrators.

  13. shafali gupta says:

    Why do most people in this comment section seem to hate vegans and vegetarians so much? Like holy hell, just live and let live.

  14. Amethyst & Obsidian says:

    I can't even see this video it's not coming in clear at all very small and to the left of my screen

  15. Waylen Edge says:

    Hank! U do such an awesome job on these videos. U make them fun to watch

  16. Rexx Bailey says:


  17. Freeda Peeple says:

    Even the Crocodile Hunter stayed as far away from hippos as possible. I saw an episode where he crossed a hippo-infested river. They were about 100 yards away from the hippos, but had to whisper so they didn't get noticed.

  18. GaryChap says:

    As a case in point…

    … the terrifying beast of Caerbannog

  19. Deirdre TeW says:


  20. Devon Boulden says:

    Tucans will raid the nests of other birds and eat the hatchlings. They're not the cute fruit only eaters.

  21. Home Projects TV says:

    I thought it was a common fact that all rodents are omnivores?

  22. Xibyth says:

    I have quite literally watched a squirrel raid a bird nest for the eggs.

  23. Douglas Tibbitts says:

    Vegans have just been owned by bambi.

  24. Heather Roche says:

    Technically all animals Can and Will eat anything but just because they can eat it doesn’t mean it is good for them eg Dogs eating chewing gum, guinea pigs gnawing on plastic, humans eating sofas (or whatever messed up things they claim to be addicted to eating on reality TV).
    This video is saying that some, not necessarily all, individuals within these species have been found to consume things we wouldn’t normally consider part of their diet. One of my guinea pigs once ate a feather she found on the grass but she isn’t actively killing and eating my other guinea pigs or other animals. I think like Hank said, it is down to the body’s requirements at the time and what is readily available. As for humans, unless we are very impoverished, we have a lot of choice when it comes to diet and we shouldn’t be picking on others for their food choices unless it directly harms us or they are dying (though even then it is up to them). A lot of people and animals make poor choices, health wise eg my sister’s dachshund once ate a whole loaf of bread. ?
    Great video ?

  25. Talmadge Bradley says:

    Why didn't you add pictures and video clips? I believe that I can safely assume that most of your viewers are adults.

  26. Gay _bitch says:

    Butterflies also drink a little blood here and there too

  27. FalconfromRF says:

    Vegetarian is just a very loosy hunter.
    For animal world is not a joke.

  28. Lori Luo says:

    It's so sad that after I googled if a squirrel eats birds after my pet squirrel ate the baby bird I rescued, YouTube recommended me this video.
    Hope it popped up earlier:(

  29. Hanz Ariza says:

    yep zombie deer is real

  30. Raptor draws says:

    Why do people dislike these videos? These are literally facts… "I dont like the info so…. eh?" Vegitarians getting triggered? Mr Green you got some enemies? People just hating Hippos?

  31. Perkita Seaman says:

    I love ? rats ????????⚡️❄️⚡️

  32. AngelKrystal says:

    aRe U gEtTing EnOuGh VitAmiN b -12?

  33. SunnyKittyKat says:

    Thanks for reminding me to take my vitamins ?

  34. Pensi Ring says:

    pure vegan gore

  35. AmericanRX says:

    Uhmm….I will never forget the sight of seeing doves eating chicken meat off of the bones……mind was blown that day.

  36. Seth says:

    Showing this to a vegan activist. xD

  37. Morgan Olfursson says:

    The only animal which gives me nightmares is the homo sapiens .

  38. Aaron Hackbusch says:

    Checkmate vegans

  39. José Jeová Zé says:

    I have a story with unexpected animal diet. When I was a kid, I thought chickens only ate corn, then some day I went to my grandpa's house in the country and saw he shooting a pig in the face, then he cut the pig's throat and the blood from the pig poured reaching a hen house nearby and the chickens started eating the blood, so like any young kid would do, I thought those were vampire chickens and told my grandpa to shoot them too, but he said that was normal behaviour.

  40. wes says:

    I saw a squirrel eating a chicken leg once. Also saw one eating a whole egg mcmuffin.

  41. BestosOf Asbestos says:

    Ah RATS RATS Rats rats ?

  42. Destiny Karst says:

    Poor baby birds

  43. Artificial Idiot says:

    New note: remember to feed the squirrels so no one needs to see a squirrel eat birds.

  44. Kelvin Broder says:

    I'll get my B12 from steak, thank you

  45. XalphYT says:

    The hippo build is one of the best in the meta.

  46. Jamie Acree says:

    I guess even the most devout salad eater will eat some jerky now and then.

  47. Rom says:

    So to the vegans and vegetarians our there, always remember to supplement! You can't get everything from plants!

  48. Brennan Kennedy says:

    I have pet rats and by far their favorite snacks are mealworms and waxworms. They also love chicken, turkey, and chicken bones.

  49. DiabloMinero says:

    3:35 "bunnies" aren't rodents. Rabbits are in Lagomorpha, not Rodentia.

  50. Andres Huertas says:

    Thanks hank I'll make sure to let my vegan girlfriend know she has to eat her own poop

  51. all3ykat79 says:

    didn't know about the b12… i hardly eat meat anymore so handy knowledge. .. i think I'll need to pass on the poop dish though

  52. Timothy A. Newton says:

    Vegans and vegetarians all over the world are posed right now.

  53. catty cat queen says:

    Everyone blaming us cats for killing off bird populations noooo it's the deer i say THE DEER

  54. Viper gaming 21 says:

    Thanks for ruining bambi

  55. Steven says:

    O.m.g. he said Turtle tears and i thought of Moscow Mitch McConnell!

  56. TaibaKitty 1996 says:

    Even vegetarian animals eat meat. Kinda says something about the Vegan movement eh.

  57. Spirit Song says:

    Ha, take that crazy vegans.

  58. Dead Humorous says:

    There’s no such thing as Herbivores, just specialized animals that take advantage of opportunity.

  59. PEACE says:

    These seems to be also an old myth about historical cases where horses suddenly started eating meat.

  60. Andrew Flowers says:

    Well, the animals won't give me nightmares, but running out of B-12 might!

  61. Shannon Love says:

    Old timers in rural Texas where I grew up used to set out cow and horse bones for sheep and goats to gnaw on.

    That was even with mineral blocks. The animals seemed to simply prefer bones.

  62. Dr. M. H. says:

    that B12 bacteria live too far down the gut, did those studies include strict vegetarians?
    nature adapting as it does i wouldn't be surprised if the gut pH, or whatever factors cause the B12 bacteria not to grow further up the gut, is different in a vegetarian's gut…allowing the bacteria to colonize a section of the guts ST the B12 is adsorbed.

    PETA should fund a study! ?

  63. James Bishop Blackmõn says:

    Ha!!! I knew dem dykers ate meat though they front like they jus munch carpet come eat sum o this manaconda

  64. berja says:

    No wonder birds are afraid of everything and fly off at the slightest noise or movement-everything's out to get them!

    I have deer all over where I live & I also keep out several bird feeders, after seeing this video I think that all I'm doing is fattening up the deer

    My poor birds

  65. roger komula says:

    I used to see flocks of butterflies on dogshit.

  66. Rolf Jander says:

    I am eternally gratefull that I don't have to eat my own poop.

  67. Animex says:

    hey man your prenounciation of duikers is perfect way to say the dutch word for diver.

  68. Tapirs are under-appreciated says:

    Almost any land mammal will eat baby birds. There's a reason my ecology teacher called them "nature's popcorn."

  69. Allen Tax says:

    Good you mentioned vitamin B12. Most don't now take intake to that vitamin.

  70. Snogard says:

    Locusts are another. Normally these ravenous insects consume lots of plant material, but it is thought that they swarm to essentially escape…each other. Because grasshoppers and locusts like to supplement their diet with protein and the closest source of protein to a hungry swarm of locusts are other locusts.

  71. LePage Channel says:

    Pretty much the story of human's remote ancestors.

  72. Farmer John says:

    I dislike squirrels now

  73. t84t748748t6 says:

    almost al herbivores can eat meat but it doesnt work the other way around meat is easy to digest but plants are hard and though but on the plus side it doesnt run away

  74. KatieandKevin Sears says:

    Meat is murder…tasty tasty murder. Even among nature's vegans.

  75. puirYorick says:

    Animals will potentially eat whatever fits in their mouths if it provides nutrients. Just because specific instances aren't commonly observed it doesn't mean that it hasn't ever happened.

  76. William Jordan says:

    Aha, he finally made a mistake! He said bunnies are rodents at about 3:35. THEY ARE NOT. He does get it right, though, at around 10:00

  77. Victoria Felt says:

    I worked with prairie dogs, which usually consume the stems of grass, but if one of them fell victim to roadkill, the others would feast on its carcass.

  78. TenorCantusFirmus says:

    So, vegans are basically following a totally unsensical dietary regime…

  79. Woodyrascel says:

    Even herbivores know better than vegans LOL

  80. David Knigge says:

    Meat is very nutrient-rich. The animals that vegans think are equal to us, would not hesitate to eat a vegan if given the opportunity.

  81. Josh Blick says:

    1:09 we actually do have evidence that deer can and will kill people. During the rut the males get so territorial that they will tromp, bite, and gore someone in their area. It's been well documented.

  82. Leland Lewis says:

    I learned about squirrels eating snakes a couple of months ago when I came across a video of a squirrel attacking, killing and eating a snake. It was definitely a WTF moment.

  83. Summer Lindeman says:

    Now dear remind me of grasshoppers.

  84. Ana J says:

    This just turned my world upside down ??? . Meat eating butterflies and deer!!

  85. cacauldr says:

    Many, many things that I grew up with and consider to be commonly known facts seem alien to today's generation, but also to my peers who traded their curiosity for a safe career path. And now Youtube is filled with people who act like they discovered secrets and original thoughts worthy of sharing… Sigh.

  86. Dave Dumas says:

    so there is no such thing as a true herbivore

  87. lizzle13a says:

    Rabbits are not rodents, they are lagomorphs, and rodents are frequently found to eat meat, or insects, whereas its vastly less common for lagomorphs.

  88. Pepins Spot says:

    This just gave me the best come back to my vegan friends… "Go eat some of your own poop and leave me alone!"

  89. Pankus says:

    Herbivore… Vegetarian: A >>>person<<< who does not eat meat or fish, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons. Hope the Sci in the channel name isn't short for Science…

  90. First Name Last Name says:

    8:36 lol no joke

  91. Cmama says:

    This proves veganism is fake because all animals need some meat

  92. rate eightx says:

    If You Ask Me To Picture A Forest, A Picture A Fairly Dark Place, With A Bunch Of Trees, Lots Of Moss, And Some Mushrooms, Maybe A Few Rocks Here And There.

  93. Farmer Frank says:

    Triggered a feminist in school that loves Disney movies by proving to her that Bambi is in fact a bird serial killer and that life is not a Disney movie. Getting her angry felt so great 😉

  94. Eric Williamson says:

    Shows vegans that even herbivores aren't herbivores

  95. Brent'sCardsAnd Coins says:

    Bunnies aren’t rodents.

  96. Komrade Kevin The Kommuneist Duck says:

    Baby birds : exist
    Several herbivorous animals : finally some good fu*king food

  97. Roger Jones says:

    This is 'gnawful' news for vegans. Bad gnus for vegetarians: animals are smarter than you, tsk tsk!

  98. Kraniumbrud says:

    hehehe….. poop

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