The World’s 10 Smelliest Animals
Although it is first on our list, you’d be surprised to know that there are worse smells than that of the skunk. Some animals smell incredibly bad. But sometimes it is good to smell bad if that would get you a mate or protect yourself and the children.
There are several reasons why some animals are ‘blessed’ with an awful scent. Indeed, most animals use their offensive smell to defend themselves against predators, so let’s explore the creatures and the reasons why they qualify as the world’s 10 smelliest animals.
The skunk is probably the most popular smelly animal known worldwide. Famous for its noxious spray, the skunk creates the perfect cover for an escape. A frightened skunk’s tail jerks straight up and rigid as a spray of noxious gas is expelled from its anal glands. The mixture of sulphuric thiols would not only choke you with its acrid smell, but it will also burn your eyes. But don’t worry its only temporary to give the skunk enough time to weasel away leaving you smelling like one for a day or two.
The King Ratsnake
If you thought all you had to worry about was a poisonous bite and strangulating chokeholds from a snake then it’s time to revisit that thought – at least when it comes to the king rat snake. The king rat snake is also known as ‘the stinking goddess’ and it empties its post-anal glands whenever it is threatened. The result? The air is completely filled with a fetid, disgusting foul smell.
The Sea Hare
Even underwater, smell has a strong influence on marine invertebrates, and none squirts more toxically than the sea hare. This soft-shelled mollusc species would not hesitate to release a smoky purple gas when it feels vulnerable. This fog of choky knockout gas quickly short circuits the threats olfactory nerves which makes the predator go crazy and dizzy at the same time. The sea hare is also covered in a slimy poisonous substance which makes it the least choice of food for aquatic hunters.
Surprisingly, all these qualities do not prevent it from being a popular gourmet meal in China. It is a known delicacy which is served deep-fried in a sharp-tasting sauce.
The part where they left out in the movie is that real-life wolverines feature on the list of smelliest animals in the world. Additionally, it is in no way related to the wolf, maybe a little resemblance but that’s where the connection ends.
Unlike other animals, the wolverine does not bathe itself in its pungent smell to wade off intruders or discourage predators. The strong rancid secretion from its gland is used to signal sexual availability during the mating season. Sometimes it also uses this putrid smell to mark its territory.
The Musk Ox
The appropriately named ox exudes a kind of musk that may either get you excited or nauseated. The piquant odor is very heady during the mating season to entice interested females. In the early summer, the male musk ox baths itself with a foul liquid, secreted from a special gland near its eyes. It then proceeds to engage other males in a headlong battle whilst the females watch from the side-lines like southern belles – all flustered and excited from the unique smell and extreme sport.
The Tasmanian Devil
The fluffy rat-like creature is not so cuddly after you watch it eat or get close enough to catch a whiff of its scent. The flesh-eating marsupial native to the Australian island of Tasmania, would rather not have his territory challenged or invaded. When this happens, it releases a powerful evil-smelling gas to deter intruders. Although, the Tasmanian Devil does not smell when calm, its sloppy and loud eating habit of a fresh bloody kill is repulsive enough. Additionally, it makes very loud weird sounds which are very frightening.
Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t a skunk but a striped polecat. They do look a lot like the skunk but seven times smellier. This nocturnal creature native to the African continent is very aggressive and territorial. It marks its territory with poop and an anal spray. This anal spray is ejected in a similar way to how skunks attack their victims too. But this time, the chemicals are stronger, fouler and causing an excruciating burning sensation. And should it get into your eyes, be prepared to be blinded temporarily as your mucous membranes are irritated by the chemicals. The burn coupled with the smell makes a powerful combination.
The Wood Hoopoe
Ever wondered why these beautifully feathered birds are not sold in the pet shops or kept as pets? The long-billed medium-sized bird native to sub-Sahara African and Eurasia is notorious for throwing fecal bombs and spraying smelly fluid on annoying visitors. They are actually beautiful creatures when they are on good behavior and not trying to soil the air. When the female wood hoopoe is incubating her eggs, she secretes the smell fluid to then proceeds to rub it on her wing. This offensive chemical is produced in her ‘preen gland’ and it smells like a combination of rotten eggs and meat. Newly hatched wood hoopoe and nestlings are also gifted with these unique modified glands for absolute protection.
The Turkey Vulture
Unlike other smelly animals, the turkey vulture does not produce its own foul-smelling liquid or gas. Instead, it vomits out its recent dinner and spreads it around its nest to wade of attackers. The vomit of a turkey vulture also known as buzzards is typically repulsive because of its main diet which consists of carrion.
The repulsive smell from the regurgitated mass is enough to make up for the absence of specialized secreting glands. The buzzard can be found in the most in the South and Central America. It has a keen sense to find decomposing bodies from a long way off. If you see turkey vultures circling an area, then there’s a dead body close by.
The Stink Bird
The stench emanating from this bird could induce a strong gagging effect, so it’s best to leave it unprovoked. The vegan stink bird is fortunately blessed with a powerful stench that sends bird catchers gasping for breath.
The source of this rancid smell comes from its foregut which serves as the main digestive chamber. The action of the gut bacteria on its food emits the rotten smell as its by-product. And before all this takes place in the foregut instead of the hindgut, the smell easily escapes through its mouth, engulfing the bird in a cloud of decomposing gas.
It is quite surprising that the Hoatzin (another name for the stink bird) is so smelly considering its diet is mainly made up of leaves. But unfortunately, it’s this very same diet that causes their predicament.
So now we know the animals that are guilty as charged as the world’s smelliest animals, let’s now look at some of the reasons why mother-nature has given them this ‘blessing in disguise’ shall we say.
- The Best Defense Mechanism
Most animals who stink, use this unique quality to discourage predators from even thinking about attacking them. For some, the smelly chemicals are its only defense whilst others are also equipped with sharp claws among others. This can be said for the skunk, the King Ratsnake and the Sea Hare mentioned above.
- Attract a Mating Partner
Women say they love a man who wears cologne, well so does a few females of the animal species. Their choice of cologne though is a bit questionable to say the least. Smells have always played a huge role in finding a mating partner. Each individual has a particular scent that reflects our genetic makeup. Apparently, this is what we as humans are attracted to – a mate with good genes to ensure healthy offspring, but thankfully we humans do not literally sniff out our partners. Animals listed above that do sniff out their partners include the Wolverine and the Musk Ox.
- Mark Territory
Safe spaces for all please! Just like humans, animals also like to feel secure in a space they can call their own. So back off or be prepared to be sprayed with some foul-smelling gas! Animals that display this characteristic includes the Tasmanian Devil and the Stripped Polecat.
- Protect its Offspring
Well this goes without saying and the animals on our list whose scent serves this purpose are the Wood Hoopoe and the Turkey Vulture.
- No Apparent Reason – These Animals Stink Simply Because They Stink
Some animals don’t smell good because that is just the way that they are – plain and simple. And the unfortunate creature on our list that stinks for no good reason all is the Stink Bird.
Smelly animals are not terrible creatures and their stench should not be a reason why you should mistreat them. The best way to handle smelly animals is to let them be. Just leave them alone. When unprovoked they are fairly harmless. The wisest approach is to live and let live.
Although they are unlikely to be kept as pets (really not advisable), you can choose to admire them from afar. They are not so cute anymore when they release those noxious fluids into the air and on your person.
Sometimes these lethal smells may take a few hours to clear out of the air, other times a day or two to get it off your body. The Humane Society of the United States recommends a mix of hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing soap as the most effective way to get the skunk smell off you. You may also add baking soda to the mixture for quicker results.
Approach with caution and be safe.