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10 Animal Actions You’ve Never Seen (Caught on Camera)

by Jana Louise Smit
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

New animal behaviors are being discovered every day. Some of the most captivating scenes come from well-known species, mainly because seeing bears and badgers do something wild is surprising.

Now is the best time to witness these rarely-seen moments. Trail cameras, private photographers, and research film crews are everywhere, and this wide net of surveillance helps to catch jaw-dropping surprises from the animal kingdom.

From a grizzly running with wolves to a killer tortoise, here are ten things critters do that deserve a double take!

Related: Top Ten Misunderstood Animal Behaviors

10 A Drone Gets Kidnapped by Eagles

Phantom 3 get kidnapped by two eagles

Since the first drone was launched, a small army of these machines have been active around the world at any given time. They are used for surveillance, security, rescue operations, research, and wildlife conservation. Many people also fly drones to capture stunning aerial footage, but in 2015, one such drone was captured by wildlife.

Looking forward to a normal flight and stunning footage, a man called Patrick Pircher launched his DJI Phantom 3 drone in Austria over beautiful snow-capped mountains. Before long, the flight took an unexpected turn.

A pair of eagles began circling the drone and ultimately attacked it, striking so forcefully that the device was sent tumbling. The footage then shows one eagle gripping the drone in its talons before landing and examining the machine. The eagles abandoned their unusual catch after realizing it wasn’t a tasty snack.

It’s not clear from the film which species abducted Pitcher’s drone, but one contender is the large golden eagle, which is known to live in Austria.[1]

9 A Fox Heist

Fox snatcher: Footage shows furry intruder swiped cameras from Arizona backyard

In 2023, Esmeralda Egurrola of Tucson, Arizona, noticed that three of her motion-activated cameras were no longer online. Upon further inspection, the devices proved to be missing. Wondering who had stolen her property, she opened an app on her cellphone to check the final recordings of each device—and caught the thief red-handed.

The intruder was adorable. Armed with a fluffy tail and perky ears, a gray fox shamelessly carried out the heist, and this was no light accusation. A recording showed the fox standing with one of the missing cameras in its mouth, so it’s safe to assume the animal returned to steal the other two as well.

It’s a mystery why the fox went through all the trouble of pinching something that isn’t food or otherwise valuable to its survival. But one thing is certain: The fox put its best criminal paw forward, and the cameras remain missing to this day.[2]

8 An Elephant Peeling a Banana

An elephant’s self-taught banana peeling offers glimpse of elephants’ broader abilities

A pachyderm peeling a banana sounds boring. However, it’s a fantastic feat, considering that elephants do not have hands or fingers. Adding another layer of “wow” is that one elephant taught herself this skill after watching humans peel bananas.

Meet Pang Pha, an Asian elephant at the Berlin Zoo. Lacking thumbs, the elephant relies on a unique technique to get the job done. First, she wraps her trunk around the stem end and rips it off. The banana is then dropped on the floor where she carefully pinches at the broken peel to shuck the fruit.

Interestingly, Pang Pha doesn’t bother with green bananas and swallows them whole. But she’ll take her time with a riper banana and carefully open it up. The footage of her showing off her fruity skills is also the first time that any elephant has been filmed preparing bananas for themselves in this manner.[3]

7 Weaponized Whale Bubbles

Whales Team Up in Amazing Bubble-Net Hunt | National Geographic

Humpback whales are known for their warty snouts, graceful swimming, and beautiful songs. However, these majestic beasts have another trait that deserves special mention—they use bubbles as fishing nets to catch their dinner.

Researchers have known about this hunting technique for a while, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the bubbly behavior was filmed for the first time. The study followed a group of humpback whales along southeastern Alaska. They attached cameras to the animals with suction cups and flew drones above the pod.

The result was visually delightful as well as insightful. When the whales encountered tasty-looking fish or crustaceans, they started circling them. While doing so, the humpbacks exhaled strings of bubbles to create a wall of air around their prey. Once the tiny creatures were trapped, a whale would swoop through the fish-filled vortex and grab a mouthful of meat.[4]

6 Orcas Helping a Dying Friend

In 2023, whale watchers captured a first-of-its-kind video. They were drifting in the territory of an orca pod located north of Loppa, a Norwegian island, when they realized one orca was in trouble.

The tragic scene involved Hunchy, a roughly 35-year-old male who appeared emaciated and unable to swim. He wasn’t alone. Two young orcas huddled against him. Their efforts to keep him at the surface so he could breathe were described by witnesses as “desperate.” After almost an hour, the pair seemingly gave up, and eventually, Hunchy sunk into the depths.

While orca behavior following the death of a calf has been filmed, this was the first known footage of a dying adult orca and the effect it had on other orcas.[5]

5 A Badger Stealing a Cow

Watch a Badger Bury a Cow

In 2016, Utah researchers went to great lengths to find cow carcasses and haul them into the desert. The goal was to study the winter behavior of predator and scavenger species of the Great Basin area.

To the team’s dismay, one of their hard-earned cows vanished during the first week. One scientist, Evan Buechley, decided to have a look around and noticed disturbed earth where the missing carcass had been tied to a stake. To solve the mystery, Buechley downloaded footage from a nearby camera trap, and the film revealed never-before-seen badger behavior.

American badgers are known for burying small amounts of food (for example, a dead rat). But one critter decided that this bovine feast was just too good to pass by, and working around the clock, it buried the entire cow where it lay.

The images show the cow sinking deeper into the ground while the badger dug and pulled, never stopping until the carcass was completely buried. In a comic twist, one image shows the tired but satisfied-looking badger sitting on top of its handiwork and giving the camera a cheeky glance.[6]

4 A Grizzly Hunting Horses

Grizzly Bear Chasing Alberta Wild Horses || ViralHog

The Help Alberta Wildies Society (HAWS) is a volunteer group aiming to protect the wild horses in Alberta, Canada. Their work includes setting up trail cameras. This was how a terrifying reality was brought to the public’s attention—Alberta herds are on the menu of grizzly bears.

In 2023, HAWS released a clip showing horses fleeing past a trail camera with a bear hot on their heels. Since grizzlies can run 25 to 28 mph (40 to 45 kph) for up to 2 miles (3 km), these predators can and do take down horses. However, all the horses were later accounted for, meaning that this time, the grizzly’s hunt was unsuccessful.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. A year before, another HAWS camera filmed a similar scene. The footage depicts horses and foals running straight at the camera in a panicked state. Once again, a frighteningly fast grizzly was not far behind.[7]

3 A Grizzly and Wolves Hunting Together

Bear steals kill from wolves in Yellowstone park

In 2022, a herd of elk in Yellowstone National Park was being watched by park employees, a pack of wolves, and a bear. While the team filmed, a rare event involving the predators began to unfold.

The grizzly teamed up with the wolves, who appeared to accept the bear’s assistance during the hunt. But once the wolves killed a female elk, the partnership ended abruptly. The grizzly double-crossed its canine companions and swiftly vanished with the carcass.

It’s not unusual for bears to use their power and size to steal the food of wolves. However, it’s almost unheard of for the two species to hunt together. According to the National Park Service, they usually just ignore each other, and interactions are limited to bears trying to purloin prey that has been hunted down by wolves.[8]

2 A Croc-Killing Tiger Family

Tiger vs crocodile: all about the attack of the tigress Machli on the mugger crocodile

If a tiger and a crocodile squared off, which apex predator would emerge victorious? Many people might bet on the crocodile. However, one tiger family in Ranthambore National Park in India is known for killing these fearsome reptiles.

It started with a female called Machli, who shot to fame after park visitors witnessed her drawn-out battle with a 14-foot-long (4.3 m) crocodile. In the end, Machli walked away with a lot of crocodile meat and the title of the park’s resident crocodile killer.

Machli passed away in 2016 when she was 19. However, her granddaughter, a tigress named Riddhi, is passing the craft of croc hunting on to her own offspring. In 2024, the tigress and her trio of yearling cubs were filmed feasting on a massive crocodile they had ambushed and killed together.

The incredibly rare footage is fascinating to watch. It’s not every day you see a land mammal out-fight and eat a powerful prehistoric beast such as a crocodile.[9]

1 A Killer Tortoise

Tortoise eating a bird caught on camera – BBC News

In 2021, Anna Zora was on Frégate Island in the Seychelles archipelago. As the deputy conservation and sustainability manager of the Frégate Island Foundation, she was probably delighted when a large tortoise ambled into view. She started filming the Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea), unaware that the animal’s leisurely pace was a hunt in progress.

At one point, Zora noticed a bird sitting on a log. The chick was a lesser noddy tern (Anous tenuirostris), a flightless species. She watched in amazement as the attack unfolded in real-time slow motion. The tortoise pursued the chick for seven minutes, ultimately catching, killing, and consuming the bird.

The gruesome footage, the first to show a tortoise deliberately attacking and eating another animal, has left biologists and other researchers speechless. It’s definitely not normal tortoise behavior, especially coming from A. gigantea, which is largely herbivorous.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen
Jana Louise Smit

Jana earns her beans as a freelance writer and author. She wrote one book on a dare and hundreds of articles. Jana loves hunting down bizarre facts of science, nature and the human mind.

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