Astounding Animal Self Defense That Will Take You By Surprise!

Oluniyi Akande
Oct 31, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Dec 06, 2021
Animal self-defense techniques help them survive predator attacks.

The animals need to defend themselves against their predators.

Often animals are hunted by other animals for food. In order to save their skin, they develop certain defense mechanisms.

Sometimes, animals are hunted by humans for consuming their meat as food or for purposes like using their skin, tusks for making valuable items. Even though hunting of certain animals which are endangered is banned and when caught can be charged a huge penalty.

Thus, for factors as mentioned above the animals that are preyed upon need to protect themselves from being preyed on. Thus, the defense mechanism works in protecting them.

Some common methods of defending themselves include poisoning the predator, camouflaging, using sharp teeth and claws, and various adaptations like echolocating. Not all animals have the same defense mechanism. It works in different ways in different animals. All these are quite effective in their purpose. The defense mechanism works in two ways.

While in one way they use this mechanism to strike their predator and in the second mechanism they adapt themselves often camouflaging themselves to avoid being noticed by their predators. Often there exist various insects which spray fumes or toxic saliva which can cause harmful reactions.

Insects like potato beetles cover themselves or their entire body with their own toxic feces in order to keep predators away. After reading about self-defense mechanisms in animals, also check out facts about the rarest animals and scavenger animals.

How do animals use self-defense?

While every species main objective is to protect themselves including humans and therefore in order to defend themselves they develop certain mechanisms which are called defense mechanisms. Self-defense can work in many ways like countering the attack of a predator or using tactics to camouflage oneself in order to escape the eyes of the predator.

It is natural for the animal species occupying a high position in the food chain to hunt animals occupying a lower position. Henceforth, the animals must protect themselves.

Certain defense mechanisms include animals pretending that they are dead and this method is called thanatosis. Certain animals like snakes can give off a foul smell that makes the predator think that the animal is dead and is decaying.

Mimicry is another such feature that helps in protecting some animals. Often poisonless, snakes have bright skin color which makes predators think that it is a poisonous snake and thus avoids it.

Often certain animals mimic the call of other animals like the African fork-tailed drongo bird which can copy the call of a meerkat. The meerkat runs away and the drongo bird eats up the leftovers. Again there are animals that take advantage of their physical features.

Like the porcupine, which is covered with spines, can pierce the skin of a predator who attacks the animal. Similarly, a turtle has a hard shell that is difficult to be broken by predators.

Like physical features, certain animals exhibit some chemical features like the dart frog which can secrete a poisonous chemical that comes out of its skin to drive predators away. Animals consuming a dart frog will die or fall sick.

Pufferfish can inflate into a ball to escape its predators.

The Most Disgusting Defense Mechanisms In Nature

Different animals exhibit different types of defense mechanisms in order to protect themselves. While certain fowl odor chemical secretions are quite disgusting, there are other examples of defense mechanisms too.

According to recent research, a deep-sea squid after attacking its predator loosens its own arm away and thus loses its arm. While the arm continues to move for some time thus distracting the predator it also gives the squid an ample amount of time to escape.

Another example is the Texas horned lizard which has spikes all over its body and horns that can wave a predator away.

However, there can be times when the predator might not be scared of those and then the lizard shoots out blood from its eyes which can cover a distance of 5 ft (1.5 m) and is composed of a chemical that has a foul odor and drives predators away.

However, this can cause a decrease in the body mass of the lizard.

There also exists the hairy frog which breaks its own bones and uses it as a weapon to protect itself from predators. Quite similarly, a newt when facing a threat pushes its ribs in such a way that it forms a row of spikes that keeps away predators.

Startling The Predator

As mentioned, prey develops different methods to defend itself from the attack.

The most common method is developing certain signs all of a sudden. Certain animals have certain portions of their body that are not visible at once to a predator. In such cases, when these animals are attacked, they display their unrevealed parts which startle a predator and either keep them away or they are shocked and the prey escapes.

This type of method is used by an io moth living in North America. They will reveal certain spots which look like eyespots and drive the predators away.

Pursuit-Deterrent Signals

These are actually a bunch of signals that a prey uses for convincing the predators to not run after or pursue them.

In this type of mechanism, the prey tries to convince the predator by showing certain symbols and communicating with them. Signs like this are shown by them and it keeps the predator informed that it is not good to pursue them.

Frog can crack its own toe bones to form shark claws against predators.

Predator-Prey Relationship

Predators and prey exist coherently.

Without prey, a predator can't exist. Similarly, a predator is needed to keep the population of prey in check. It is a concept designed by nature and according to the food chain, the sequence is developed.

An animal having a higher position will always consume an animal obtaining a lower position in a food chain. Tigers hunt deer but a deer will never hunt a tiger. This type of relationship is needed to balance nature.

Anti-Predator Adaptation

Anti-predator adaptation is a method in which the prey passes without being noticed by the predators.

Also known as camouflaging, this method proves to be quite helpful. The animals that camouflage have a body designed in such a manner that they hide in leaves or in between grass so they can't be noticed by predators.

This method includes living underground, apostatic selection, masquerade, and many other features. The most common example is a chameleon which can change its skin color according to the color of the surface on which it lands.

Creatures such as insects (older worker bugs, bombardier beetles), protect themselves from other animals when threatened by using camouflage and distinctive body coverings. Besides insects, small fish use this to hide from big fish.

The majority of birds, fish, and mammals can detect danger signals when threatened. Monarch butterflies, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, central African species of frogs have their own defense mechanisms against potential predators.

These signals cause them to naturally seek higher ground or bunker down in harsh weather to keep safe when they feel threatened.

Some animals might attack when they feel threatened with a toxic chemical or a toxic liquid.

Animals with sharp spikes have a different defense mechanism to protect themselves, animals with thin strands have a different defense mechanism to protect themselves, sedentary creatures have a different defense mechanism to protect themselves, a hairy frog (especially male frogs) have a different defense mechanism to protect itself, a boxer crab has a different way to defend itself.

Some species play dead, whereas some species fight back.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for animal self-defense then why not take a look at savanna animals, or prey animals.

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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