Image: Jessica Leung, Flickr

Behind the docile eyes, the floppy ears, the wrinkly noses, bunnies – yes, bunnies – have a dark side.

According to reports out of New York City, a legion of “angry city rabbits hardened by life on the streets” has taken over an empty lot in Brooklyn. Some have even been seen scarfing down discarded chicken wings.

As you probably know, rabbits are herbivores. They possess neither the hardware nor the evolutionary inclination to hunt prey. The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog these are not. But the Brooklyn bunnies do seem to be more or less feral (if a little sensationalised) and wild animals will eat just about anything to survive – even if it’s deep-fried and lathered in hot sauce.

In fact, plenty of the cuddly creatures you’ve been led to believe are strict vegetarians will dabble in flesh from time to time. And unlike the rabbits above, the meat these herbivores eat doesn’t come from littering humans.


The panda is probably one of the world’s best-known veg heads. Though they belong to the order Carnivora with all of their cousins, pandas lost the gene that makes meat taste good around four million years ago. They now famously subsist on a nearly exclusive diet of bamboo.

Nearly exclusive, I said. Pandas will also nosh on honey, eggs and fish should the opportunity arise. And in 2011, an infrared camera in China’s Sichuan province snapped a few pics of a panda positively going to town on the spinal column of an antelope. 

It’s unlikely the panda actually killed the antelope, and there’s no way to know how common this behaviour might be, but it’s a good reminder that wild animals don’t always conform to society’s labels, man.


What, you don’t want to think about Bambi tearing into Thumper? Sorry, but deer eat meat, too. Though it’s not Thumper on the menu – it’s Faline.

Pete Squibb, a retired biologist in the United States, organised an informal study in which 120 trail cams were set up next to gut piles. (For you non-hunters, a gut pile is what’s left behind after you field-dress an animal. And the name describes its appearance perfectly.) According to Squibb, the cameras revealed that between 60 and 62 percent of the time, deer were among the scavengers who showed up to nibble on the viscera. 

But unlike pandas, deer have also been known to kill. In Canada, bird researchers were horrified to discover that deer would walk along their mist netting and gobble up trapped songbirds like grapes off a vine.


This one may not be so surprising given the fact that hippos are rumoured to kill more people in Africa each year than lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos combined. Just last November, a hippo in Niger flipped a boat and killed 18 people, most of them children.

But being aggressively territorial isn’t the same as being a carnivore, right? Well, you should know there’s also evidence that hippos chow down on impala, baby elephants and even other hippos.

Kind of makes that recent video of a hippo charging a boat all the more scary. If that’s even possible.

And while we’re on huge African animals, here’s a video of an elephant catching and eating fish!


“Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail!”

If the song we all learned in preschool was scientifically accurate, then the second verse would be about plucking defenceless chicks out of a nest and biting their heads off.

Because that’s a thing squirrels do.


On the Shetland Islands of Scotland, sheep will sometimes nip off the wings or legs of nesting seabird chicks. According to research published in the journal Bird Study, the wounds typically healed over and the chicks were able to survive these attacks. Though in some cases "the chick’s head had been cleanly severed".

Locals suspected otters or hedgehogs, until one day a crofter witnessed an ewe biting down on the head of a chick and shaking the body vigorously until "the severed body fell to the ground". The ewe then went back to grazing heather.

On another island in Scotland, red deer have been observed doing the same thing. In both cases, biologists suspect the herbivores may have been trying to make up for mineral deficiencies, namely calcium.

I’m not much of a religion guy, but when John the Baptist called Jesus the 'Lamb of God' he probably thought he’d chosen the most innocent of all the creatures (and thus the most worthy for sacrifice).

Clearly, John the Baptist knew nothing about the violence of the lambs.

Top header image: Rob Franksdad, Flickr