Oh, I see! moments
Travel Cultures Language

Traveling the World in Search of Weird Animals

by Meredith Mullins on October 30, 2017

Demonic eyes from one the weird animals found while traveling the world. (Image © Bastetamn/iStock.)

A parade of the weirdest Halloween animals
© Bastetamn/iStock

Creatures Destined for Halloween Fame

It all started with a Jerboa sighting . . .

This desert hopping rodent recently won the heart of the internet (and my heart as well). More cute than scary, Jerboas inspired me to expand my fauna horizons and begin virtually traveling the world in search of weird animals. And, apropos to the season, the results are creative fodder for last-minute Halloween costumes.

Four-toed jerboa, one of the weird animals found while traveling the world. (Image © Reptiles4all/iStock.)

The Jerboa—Who designed this fella?
© Reptiles4all/iStock

The Jerboa—An Experiment in Mix ‘n Match

Long-eared Jerboas are such a mixture of parts, it’s as if they were drawn by a halluncinatory cartoonist. A rat head, cat whiskers, owl eyes, jackrabbit ears, kangaroo back legs, prairie dog front legs, and an oddly long tail.

They are found in Asian and African deserts. When fleeing from predators (or hurrying to an appointment), the Jerboa leaps and lands and leaps and lands (up to 10 feet with each hop), with kangaroo precision, appearing to be flying. You can almost see the cartoonist’s words floating above—Boing! Boing!

I thought not much could be weirder than the Jerboa, but I kept searching.

Tarsier, one of the weird animals found while traveling the world. (Image © Haveseen/iStock.)

The Tarsier—Does it remind you of anyone?
© Haveseen/iStock

The Tarsier—The Eyes Have It

This wide-eyed, tiny primate is, like the Jerboa, more cute than scary. It’s also a jumper and can jump more than 40 times its body length.

The Tarsier is found in the forests of Malaysian, Indonesian, and Philippine islands. It has the distinction of being able to turn its head 180 degrees in each direction—a truly all-seeing creature.

Does it remind you of anyone? (Hint: Star Wars)

While some say Yoda was based on Albert Einstein or was born directly from the creator’s imagination, the similarities between the Jedi master and the Tarsier have sparked some interesting discussions.

A Wolffish, one of the weird animals found while traveling the world. (Image © Paylessimages/iStock.)

The Wolffish—What big teeth you have, my dear.
© Paylessimages/iStock

The Atlantic Wolffish—A Fish with a Fang

There’s something about a fish with teeth that’s a bit disconcerting, especially one with fangs.

The Wolffish, sometimes called a devil fish or seawolf, looks ferocious with its large canines, powerful jaws, and thick eel-like body.

It is an aggressive predator, with a particular penchant for crunchy invertebrates such as sea urchins, shellfish, and crustaceans.

Wolffish don’t get out much. They keep to themselves in rocky cracks and crevices primarily in the cold water of the North Atlantic. The good news: they are so shy, they rarely take a bite out of a human.

King vulture, one of the weird animals found while traveling the world. (Image © Miroslav1/iStock.)

The King Vulture—All the finery of royalty
© Miroslav1/iStock

The King Vulture—Look Out Las Vegas

Let’s move from scary to showy.

The King Vulture looks like a Vegas showbird, with piercing red-ringed eyes and all the flash and color that might appear at the festivals of their habitat in Central and South America. Their face looks as if it’s adorned with an array of military braided cord as well as other striking splats of color.

They are the ultimate scavengers in their tropical lowland forests, and are called King because their size allows them to win a territorial fight over other, lesser, vultures.

In Mayan mythology, King Vultures often carried messages between humans and gods, a fitting task as they can soar for hours on air currents with very little effort.

Aye-aye, nocturnal lemur, one of the weird animals found while traveling the world (Image © Javaman3/iStock.)

The Aye-aye—Wide-eyed and witch-fingered
© Javaman3/iStock

The Aye Aye—Just Another Wide-Eyed Weirdo with Witch-Like Fingers

The Aye Aye lemur from Madagascar just begs for jokes about its name.

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there?
Aye Aye.
Aye Aye Who?
Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai. Will you stop with the knock knock jokes. (Bad lemur joke)

Aye Aye look cute and cuddly, but they are actually the world’s largest nocturnal primate. When they’re full-grown, they are around three feet in length, including their long tail.

They spend most of their time in the upper canopy of the forest—eating, sleeping, traveling, and mating in tree tops.

A knock knock joke is not completely out of line since they use their extra long 3rd and 4th fingers to tap on trees to look for grubs and then extract them (a technique called percussive foraging).

They are endangered, primarily because the local people believe that an Aye Aye sighting will lead to the death of a villager. They also believe that the only response is to kill the animal as quickly as possible.

Hairy frogfish, one of the weird animals found while traveling the world. (Image © Atese/iStock.)

The Hairy Frogfish—Watch out for the big gulp.
© Atese/iStock

The Hairy Frogfish—A Fish that Fishes

One minute, the Hairy Frogfish looks like a sea monster having a bad hair day and the next it looks exactly like an ocean sponge or drifting seaweed near a coral reef. These pom-pom-like, spikey-haired creatures are masters of camouflage.

Hairy Frogfish are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. They are voracious carnivores, eating everything and anything that comes within reach of their lightening mouth. Size doesn’t matter. They’ll eat fish even bigger than they are. They will even eat one of their own.

Oddly, they don’t much like to swim. They use their fins like legs to amble along the ocean floor, looking a bit like prehistoric dinosaurs thundering through a forest. You can almost feel the ocean floor shake.

They plant themselves in a prime feeding location and dangle their built-in wormlike lure to attract innocent passersby. Then . . . the big gulp, one of the fastest strikes of any animal on earth.

If this video does not display, watch it here.

A Parade of Weirdos

Traveling the world in search of weird animals yields an endless supply of fascinating creatures. The “Oh, I see” moments come quickly as we marvel at the range of animal life on our great planet . . . and the wonderful ways the strangest species adapt and survive.

Are they creepy or cute? You be the judge.

And, on a Halloween note, which one of these peculiar creatures will inspire your Halloween costume?

Knock. Knock.

Who’s there?

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.


2 thoughts on “Traveling the World in Search of Weird Animals

  1. What fun! Thanks, Meredith! I’m going to forward this to another resident here at Canterbury Woods, David Powell, who designed all the habitats at the Monterey Aquarium, plus others around the US and the world. He often does slide shows of odd and/or beautiful critters, trees, flowers, et al. Next time you’re in Monterey, I’d love to introduce you!

    • Hi Barbara,

      Thank you! I am constantly amazed at the wonders of the animal kingdom. And … would love to meet David Powell.

      All best,


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