They may be fascinating — adorable even — but some animals seem to just plain have it out for us humans, whether they know it or not. Discover which creatures leave the most destruction and chaos behind as they have their way with our property and whatever else crosses their paths!
10. Blue penguin
It may be the smallest of its kind, but the blue penguin is a source of big trouble for folks in its native Australia and New Zealand. Oblivious to the fact that its generational nesting spots have been annexed into suburbia, the blue penguin continues to build its nests where it always has, even if those nests happen to be directly under one of those big rectangular “thingamajigs” we call houses. Its wailing calls during the mating season have been known to disrupt many a peaceful night in front of the television. Talk about hitting where it hurts.
9. Elephant seal
They say love is blind, and perhaps no animal is “blinder” than the male elephant seal. Maybe it’s the poor eyesight inherent in the species, or perhaps it’s simply impossible to see past that big inflatable balloon of flesh at the end of its nose. Whatever the reason, male elephant seals, or bulls, seem to be none too discerning about who they mate with. Take Humphrey, for example, a bull elephant seal famous for courting domestic livestock in New Zealand. The objects of his affection remain confused to this day about this strange and smelly suitor from the sea.
In the high slopes of New Zealand, a battle is waging between ski-loving vacationers and the world’s only mountain parrot: the kea. The kea has several weapons of war at its disposal. One such weapon is the ice found on ski lodge rooftops, which keas break apart and fling at their (semi-oblivious) human “enemies” down below. They also use their can-opener beaks to destroy rental cars — a modern variation on a strategy first popularized in Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.”
7. Grizzly bear
Who can blame the grizzly bear for ending up on our “Troublemaker” list? For starters, it’s the largest land carnivore on earth (along with the polar bear) and has certainly dealt with its share of trouble from humans. In order to bulk up for winter hibernation, an adult male grizzly needs to eat up to 20,000 calories of food a day. In national parks like Yosemite, some grizzlies find it easier to bum food from tourists rather than go through all the hassle of chasing it down. Grizzlies have been known to break into roughly 1,000 cars in a single year. That’s a lot of picnic baskets!
In the wild, the vulture is usually late to the party when it comes to causing trouble, preferring to reap the benefits of the trouble making of others. But put a vulture in a suburban setting and it becomes troublesome enough to soar to number 6 in our countdown. The sound of a flock of vultures landing on one’s roof has been compared to a herd of elephants suddenly dropping out of the sky. Wires set up to prevent the vultures from landing are turned into giant “banjo strings” by these industrious birds.
5. Red colobus monkey
This not-so-picky primate has saddled itself with a very unusual diet: toxic leaves. Yes, the red colobus monkey literally eats poison. For most animals, the leaves would prove nauseating or even fatal, but for red colobus monkeys there’s nothing more nutritious or tasty. Although toxic leaves are a staple of their diet, red colobus monkeys frequently seek out alternative food sources to neutralize that “queasy” feeling in their stomachs. Enter charcoal, one of their favorite treats. A valuable commodity in the rain forests of South America, this black, bitter, burnt material goes a long way toward satisfying the inner cravings of the red colobus monkey.
It must be hard NOT to cause trouble when you’re the biggest land animal in the world, and that goes double when your natural habitat has been wrestled away by people. In Sri Lanka, farmland has largely replaced the Asian elephant’s natural habitat: the forest. Because these creatures must consume 400 pounds of food per day, they often come in conflict with humans and their settlements. In their never-ending quest for food, Asian elephants often knock down walls and destroy human settlements to get at the edible tidbits inside, bringing them to number 4 in our countdown.
They may be domesticated, but that doesn’t mean dogs can’t be humongous troublemakers. The types of trouble that dogs get into run the gamut from peeing on the carpet to severely biting complete strangers. They also excel at tearing up your favorite pieces of furniture, barking incessantly when you’re not home, running away when you’re late for work, etc. Curiously, the more trouble they cause, the more we seem to love them.
The most industrious animal on our countdown, the beaver, is also one of the biggest nuisances in the animal kingdom. The beaver causes roughly $100 million in property damages every year. A beaver dam can reroute the flow of a river, thereby flooding farmland, destroying crops and drowning buildings in mud, river water and debris. And the path of destruction doesn’t end there: A beaver couple will cut down approximately 400 trees to construct their dam, even if those trees happen to be the world-famous cherry trees in Washington, D.C., which were almost destroyed by an industrious pair of beavers one year.
The smallest creature on our countdown, the termite, is also the biggest troublemaker. Its voracious appetite for wood causes over $2.5 billion in property damages every year. That’s more than floods, fires and earthquakes! A single colony can chew through 150 feet of wooden boards in a single year. With one out of every 30 homes in America infested with termites, there’s a chance these tiny troublemakers are in your walls right now.