By Animal Planet
The average American eats over 1,700 pounds of food every year, but that’s no match for the eaters of the animal kingdom. While humans may know when to say when, some creatures have no clue about the concept of moderation. Some critters like to create their own personal buffet with nature’s leftovers, or while others think the ultimate recipe for a home-cooked meal includes regurgitation (to put it politely). Gluttony may be one of the seven deadly sins, but for the top gluttons of the animal world, it’s just a way of life.
10. TIGER SHARK
With a nickname like “Garbage Can of the Sea” it’s no wonder that the tiger shark will eat just about anything in their path. What may be trash to humans is treasure as far as this shark is concerned — license plates, shoes, and parts of a suit of armor are just some of the things that have been found in their stomachs. Come to think of it, these sharks could probably do a lot to help keep our oceans clean. However, sometimes they bite off more than they can chew, forcing their binge to become a purge. By far, though, their most nasty eating habit starts before they’re even born — tiger-sharks-to-be have actually been filmed turning on each other as a tasty treat.
This one is seemingly a no brainer for the gluttons list, but actually despite their reputation, some of these porkers can be very picky eaters, thanks in part to a surprisingly small stomach.
The vulture is the ultimate carnivore. This poster child for the Atkins diet dines on meat, just meat, and only meat, though they’ll take their servings any which way — rare, medium or rotting. Vultures often have to dine and dash, so they tend to swoop in and eat as much as they can, and as quickly as possible, sometimes taking in up to 20 percent of their own body weight in one sitting. If rotten carcass happens to be on today’s menu, no worries — vultures are equipped with a digestive system that contains special acids that will dissolve anything — even anthrax!
7. TASMANIAN DEVIL
Good thing the Tasmanian devil can’t compete in the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every Fourth of July — Joey Chesnut and Kobayashi couldn’t hold a candle to this creature’s pace. The Australian outback native can swallow up to 40 percent of its body weight in just 30 minutes; that’s the equivalent of a human eating 216 hamburgers in the same amount of time! The Tasmanian devil will actually eat to the point that it can barely waddle around, and is particularly fond of anything that smells like flesh. So if you’ve got some old boots or smelly socks, pass them to your left, along with the salt and pepper.
6. VAMPIRE BAT
This tiny bat is only the size of an adult thumb, but its razor-sharp teeth can open a vein to lap up blood with its tongue, up to five teaspoons in one sitting! Fortunately, its preferred prey is the cow. Unfortunately for the cow, vampire bats start urinating almost as soon as they start eating. What’s even more disgusting is when vampire bats use each other as a food supply resource. Because these little critters need to eat every day or they’ll die, a hungry bat without other options will flick the cheek of a well-fed bat, which then vomits. The hungry bat then gladly ingests these sloppy seconds. Desperate times call for desperate measures!
Thanks to its set of independent jaws, a python can swallow food that’s larger than its own head, so there are few limits when it comes to what it can eat. With their slow digestive system, pythons can also go for long periods of times between meals — we’re talking days or even months. And just because this creature doesn’t have the luxury of using legs, arms or even feet doesn’t mean it can’t stuff its face. Pythons will take on an antelope that weighs as much as a human! Wait … does that mean they’ll take on a human as well? Let’s not find out.
4. ARGENTINEAN WIDE-MOUTHED FROG
Also sometimes known as the horned frog, the Argentinean wide-mouthed frog is fearless when it comes to food. These amphibians can eat almost anything they want, and while a typical diet usually includes rodents, small lizards and snakes, and insects, they’ll often attempt to super-size their meal and take on prey as large as themselves. This frog also doesn’t know when to say when, sometimes eating to the point of ripping its stomach open — sort of gives new meaning to the phrase, “I’m stuffed.”
Image credit: Max / Wikimedia Commons
The hummingbird has a perpetual case of the munchies — it needs to eat every 10 minutes, thanks to an incredible metabolism that’s more of a curse than a blessing. With wings that flap 200 times a minute and a heart that beats 1,200 times within the same 60 seconds, a hummingbird will burn up to 14,000 calories in the time it would take most people to run a marathon. Guess this is one animal that doesn’t need to go for a walk to burn off that second piece of birthday cake.
2. BLUE WHALE
Weighing 200 tons and measuring 100 feet long, the blue whale is not only the largest animal on the planet, but possibly the largest animal to have ever lived. You’d think a body that big would want to take on some pretty hefty prey, but the blue whale feeds almost exclusively on krill (a type of shrimp-like marine invertebrate less than an inch long for those of you not in the Krill of the Month Club). Of course, we’re not talking just one krill here and there — more like up to 40 million in one day. It’s sort of like their version of potato chips or popcorn. The only time blue whales take a break is during their eight-month breeding season, when they often withhold from eating.
It may be the smallest member on the list, but the caterpillar still earns the title of top glutton, thanks to its reputation for being an “eating machine.” Though strictly vegetarians — er, herbivores — caterpillars eat leaves voraciously, often consuming 1,000 times their weight in only two months. Their alarmingly strong appetite is based more on biology than portion control issues; their bodies are basically bags of blood with a huge gut that runs down the middle. The constant flow of food through their system helps them get through their first life cycle as quickly as possible so they can be reincarnated as butterflies. Maybe if constant eating meant beautiful makeovers for us as well, versus life-threatening obesity, we’d be embracing this meal plan with open arms!