As the festive season approaches, many of us will inevitably end up overindulging in the coming weeks, despite our best intentions! We humans are not alone however, for there are several members of the animal kingdom who are no strangers to seasonal excess or super-snacking!
As winter approaches, brown bears can consume up to 40 kilograms of food a day, but with good cause! Brown bears hibernate, sometimes for more than half a year at a time without any food or water, utilising stored fat for energy. In the spring, these bears may weigh half as much as they did going into hibernation.
The largest lizard in the United States, the voracious Gila monster feeds on eggs, young birds, rodents and lizards, with juveniles able to consume over 50% of their body weight at one time. Check out this video of a Gila monster feasting on a nest of eggs! When food is scarce however, Gila monsters are able to survive for months using the fat stored in their particularly large tails.
Despite being a large and bulky creature, the walrus predominantly feeds on small invertebrates on the sea floor. Feeding on such small prey means that the walrus needs to be a highly efficient forager to find enough food to sustain itself and maintain the thick layer of blubber needed as insulation from the cold Arctic waters. After all that foraging it seems this group have hauled out for a well-earned rest!
Feeding on fibrous and highly toxic eucalyptus leaves may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the koala readily consumes up to 500 grams of these leaves a day. This diet does not provide much energy, so the koala helps compensate for this by spending long periods sleeping. Nothing like a nice nap after a good meal!
A species almost as large as a Boeing 737 is always going to need a lot to eat, but in the summer feeding season, the blue whale really outdoes itself! Gorging on up to 40 million tiny krill, the blue whale can consume an astounding 4 tonnes or more each day!
Unlike most birds, the turkey vulture has a highly developed sense of smell, meaning it is often the first scavenger to arrive at a carcass and it can consume plenty of rotting meat before being driven away by larger birds. Should a predator arrive, this species has a rather unpleasant defence mechanism – it will vomit as a deterrent, and possibly to lighten the load - enabling it to take off more easily and escape!
Can you think of any other examples of overindulgence from the natural world? Get in touch and let us know!
Claire Lamb, ARKive Content Officer