In this article, titled “12 Types of Animals That Steal (Pictures),” Wildlife Informer explores the fascinating world of kleptoparasites – animals that steal food and resources from others. From burrowing owls that steal nesting burrows from other animals to hyenas that scavenge fresh kills, there are various examples of cunning thieves in the animal kingdom. Magpies are known for snatching shiny objects, while Rhesus macaques have learned to steal valuables from unsuspecting tourists. Surprisingly, even sperm whales and bumblebees have their own thieving strategies. This article dives into the environments and reasons behind these acts of theft, showcasing the remarkable adaptability and intelligence of these animals.
1. Burrowing Owl
The burrowing owl is a small species of owl that can be found in grasslands, prairies, and deserts. They make their nests in burrows underground, but interestingly, they don’t dig their own burrows. Instead, they rely on other animals, such as prairie dogs and burrowing rodents, to do the digging for them. Once these animals have built a burrow, the burrowing owl will simply move in and claim it as their own. This behavior of stealing someone else’s burrow has allowed them to adapt to their environment and find suitable nesting places.
When it comes to feeding habits, burrowing owls are carnivorous and primarily feed on small prey that they can catch from the ground, such as insects, small mammals, birds, and reptiles. They are active during the day and night, using their excellent hunting skills to locate and capture their prey. Despite their small size, burrowing owls are skilled predators and have been known to catch prey larger than themselves.
Hyenas are well-known for their scavenging behavior and their ability to steal food from other predators. They are opportunistic eaters and will feast on any available food, whether it’s a fresh kill from a lion or the leftovers of a meal. In fact, hyenas are often seen as nature’s thieves, taking advantage of the hard work of other animals.
Despite being considered thieves, hyenas play an important role in the ecosystem as scavengers. They clean up carcasses and prevent the spread of diseases by consuming rotting flesh. Their strong jaws and powerful teeth allow them to break through bones and consume the entire carcass, leaving very little waste behind.
Magpies are highly intelligent birds that have a reputation for stealing shiny objects. While it is true that magpies are attracted to shiny items, it is not because they have a particular affinity for them. In reality, magpies are attracted to objects that they can use to build their nests, such as string, straw, and other items. The misconception that magpies steal shiny objects may stem from humans noticing when these birds have taken items that are metallic and shiny.
Magpies are known for their problem-solving abilities and their excellent memory. They have been observed performing complex tasks in order to obtain rewards, which further showcases their intelligence. Despite their reputation as thieves, magpies have simply adapted to use available resources to build and maintain their nests.
4. Rhesus Macaque
Rhesus macaques, native to South Asia, have developed a unique strategy for obtaining food from unsuspecting tourists. These macaques will hang around tourist centers and steal people’s valuables, such as electronics and wallets. They then hold these items for ransom, only returning them when they are given food in exchange.
What makes rhesus macaques particularly interesting is their understanding of value and exchange. They will only steal items of high value and overlook empty bags. This behavior showcases their ability to negotiate with humans and highlights their knowledge of the concept of trading.
5. Sperm Whale
Sperm whales, the largest toothed whales in the world, have been known to steal fish from fishermen in Alaska. These whales have learned to follow fishing boats and snatch fish off the lines before they can be reeled in. This not only impacts the livelihoods of fishermen but also causes profit losses for the fishing industry.
Sperm whales are highly intelligent marine mammals that have developed this unique behavior to capitalize on the fishing activities of humans. While this behavior may be beneficial to the whales, it poses challenges for fishermen who are trying to make a living. Efforts are being made to mitigate this issue and reduce the impact on fishermen.
6. Bumble Bee
Bumble bees, like many other insects, have specific feeding behaviors that allow them to obtain nectar for sustenance. However, some bumble bees have developed a thieving behavior known as nectar robbing. These bees are unable to access the nectar of certain flowers due to their short tongues. Instead of giving up, they chew a hole at the base of the flower’s corolla to steal the nectar without providing any pollination services.
While nectar robbing may seem like a form of stealing, it is simply a behavioral adaptation that allows bumble bees to access the resources they need for survival. It is worth noting that not all bumble bees engage in this behavior, and many species still rely on natural pollination processes.
7. Blue Jay
Blue jays are known for their intelligence and territorial behavior. They aggressively defend their nest areas and are notorious for stealing other birds’ eggs, chicks, and even nests. Blue jays may raid the nests of other bird species, taking their eggs and chicks for their own purposes. Sometimes, they will also collect brightly colored objects to decorate their own nests.
While this behavior may seem opportunistic and even aggressive, it is a natural adaptation that allows blue jays to increase their chances of survival and reproduction. By securing resources and eliminating potential competitors, blue jays can ensure the success of their own offspring.
Seagulls are notorious food thieves, especially in coastal areas where they are commonly found. They are opportunistic eaters and will steal any food they can find, whether it’s leftovers from beachgoers or freshly caught fish. Seagulls have learned to take advantage of human activities, flocking to places where food is readily available.
One particular issue is the impact of seagull stealing on sea turtle hatchlings. During sea turtle hatchling releases, seagulls can swoop in and steal the baby turtles before they even reach the water. Efforts are made to deter seagulls during these releases to protect the vulnerable hatchlings from predation.
Chipmunks may not be as notorious as some of the other animals on this list, but they are well-known food raiders in camping areas. While campers often worry about bears, chipmunks are the true food thieves to watch out for. These small rodents are adept at raiding food stores and can easily infiltrate improperly stored food.
Campers in regions with chipmunk populations must take extra precautions to protect their food. Special containers and backpacks are designed to be chipmunk-proof, ensuring that campers can enjoy their meals without interruptions from these cunning little thieves.
10. Dewdrop Spider
Dewdrop spiders are known for their thieving behavior, both in terms of food and webs. These spiders commonly prey on other spiders, often stealing their webs to use for their own purposes. They can spin their own webs but prefer to take advantage of the work done by other spiders.
Dewdrop spiders are particularly fond of using orb weaver spiders’ webs as their own. They steal small food prey from their hosts and try to avoid detection as much as possible. However, if they are discovered, they become vulnerable and can be consumed by their larger host spiders.
In conclusion, the animal kingdom is full of fascinating and sometimes surprising examples of stealing behavior. From birds that snatch shiny objects to mammals that steal from unsuspecting humans, these animals have developed unique adaptations to acquire the resources they need. While their actions may be seen as theft in human terms, these behaviors are simply natural adaptations that have allowed these animals to survive and thrive in their respective environments.