10 Animals that Explode

January 19, 2011 | Lists

Have you ever been strolling through your local zoo, aquarium or petting emporium and, upon seeing the sad, wide-eyed creatures imprisoned there, thought: Damn, would it ever be fun to blow that manatee to kingdom come? Or what it would be like if hack director Michael Bay had been in charge of the Free Willy franchise? You haven’t? What do you mean we need professional help?

There are innumerable urban legends surrounding exploding animals of all kinds apart from the bugs that are going in the opposite direction of your windshield – lighting cow farts to see Bessie blown to the moon is a popular one – so we are not alone in being strangely fascinated with nature when its matter is sent hurtling towards the stars.

Well, fortunately we don’t need to go out for any clandestine raids of Happy Ralph’s Petting Zoo and Bird Sanctuary with a keg of dynamite and a tub of nitroglycerine as there are already plenty of stories out there about exploding animals. Some of them meet their splattered fate the old-fashioned way via mother nature, and others in a way that could in no way be considered natural. Inspired by a recent Wikipedia category list making the rounds, and peppered with our own research (no animals were harmed in the making of this blog – none that didn’t have it coming at least), here are our Top 10 Exploding Animals!

Warning: Do not try this at home. Rent a room at a hotel that doesn’t require ID or a credit card and try it there. Wait, no, best not to try it all. Also, finish whatever you are eating before proceeding, because things are going to get real messy and real gross, real soon.

10) Exploding Rats: It was World War II and Britain was looking to do any damn thing it could to beat the Nazis. A roomful of strategists were presumably asked their thoughts at one point and a hand shot in the air: “We got all these dead rats lying around doing nothing. Why don’t we stick explosives in ‘em and send the whole lot Jerry’s way!” That might not have happened, but the plan did somehow come together.

The Brits stuffed plastic explosives into rat carcasses and shipped them to Germany. Agents there were to drop off the dead rats in boiler rooms at strategic points in the country. Your hapless boiler room man was then expected to fling the filthy dead creature into the boiler, thus setting off a major explosion that would severely damage the building and would certainly put a dent in the country’s pool of available boiler room attendants. Alas, the Germans intercepted the rat bombs and the project never got off the ground. We include it here because presumably many dead rats were blown to smithereens during practice rounds.

 9) The Exploding Testicles of The Honey Bee: The life of a bee when compared to, say, a dung beetle sounds pretty enviable. You fly around from flower to flower all day, sucking up the nectar and when you have to go to work you’re making honey all day and who but a diabetic doesn’t enjoy honey? Well it’s not all flowers and sweetness. If you are one of the male drone bees selected by the queen to fertilize her on her initial mating flight, you should not be high-fiving your friends and considering yourself as lucky as one of Cleopatra’s first line of gigolos.

Drones selected for this first flight will be called on to provide the loving at Her Majesty’s request, and when the deed has been done their testicles explode and the meat of the meat and two veg combination breaks off inside the queen. This acts as a genital plug and prevents other drones from doing the dirty with the queen. For many human men, marriage is not much different than the above scenario.

8) Bat bomb: We need a cheap Batman joke here, so no this was not a headline taken from the newspapers the day after the George Clooney Batman & Robin hit theaters, nor is it what Bruce Wayne leaves in the commode the morning after an all-night chili-thon at Wayne Manor. Bat bombs were, well, pretty much what they said on the can: bombs containing bats. This was World War II and, as evidenced with the Brits and their exploding rats, all bets were off and even a can of Velveeta could be turned into a weapon to bomb the Axis powers.

The bat bomb was actually a clever, if twisted, plan of attack by the Americans on Japan. Mexican Free-tailed bats were placed into dozens of tiny compartments along with an explosive inside of an overall container that resembled a bomb’s casing. The casings would be dropped from a bomber at dawn, a parachute would deploy mid-flight and the individual compartments would open, freeing the bats. The bats would follow their natural instincts at the break of day and seek out dark places such as attics and eaves of tall buildings. At a set time, all of the explosives attached to the bats would blow up, causing small fires in out of the way places that would spread quickly given the wood and paper construction of many buildings in Japan at the time.

The plan was approved by the president and testing began by the army. Testing went a little too well, resulting in an air base being set on fire in New Mexico, before the project was passed on to the Navy, who passed it on again to the Marine Corps. The Marines conducted the definitive test and the strategy was deemed a good one, however in the end the project ended up becoming too costly and the estimated completion date was too far off and operation bat bomb was shelved.

7) Randy Johnson’s Exploding Dove: Urban legends abound about birds combusting after having eaten something that expands inside their little bodies to the point that it causes them to go boom – much like the way we feel after a holiday meal. It is not however true that you can blow a bird up by feeding it a steady diet of rice thrown at weddings and Alka Seltzer. You can kill a bird that way, but it’ll be the boring, non-explosive kind of avian death.

We couldn’t in good conscience disappoint those who’ve read this far along in the list in the hopes of reading about an exploding bird, so let’s go back to spring training, March 2001, with fireballer Randy Johnson on the mound for the Diamondbacks and Calvin Murray batting. Johnson throws his fastball and in an amazing freak occurrence a dove – yes, the international symbol of peace and goodness – just happened to flying in the exact direction of the pitch. “It exploded, feathers and everything, just ‘poof!’” said Murray. “There were nothing but feathers laying on home plate. I never saw the ball, nothing but feathers.” As far as omens go, one would shudder to think what the exploding of a dove portends for Randy Johnson.

6) Malaysian Exploding Ants: It is a rare creature in the wild kingdom that can in effect will itself to explode. No matter how red in the face you might get when you return to your car in the parking lot and find that someone has blocked you in, it’s unlikely that your head will blow apart like something out of the cartoons.

The Camponotus saundersi, or as they are more commonly known, “exploding ants”, are evidence that mother nature can be a twisted mistress. These soldier ants take the defence of their colony seriously. Very seriously. When an ant colony is under attack, most of the ants will do the rational thing and get the hell out of Dodge, but these mean ass bastards will stay around. Once the enemy is close enough, these ants – like the more fanatical among their bipedal cousins – will release chemicals stored in their glands which once mixed cause their freaking heads to explode with the resulting splat spraying poison everywhere and taking out several enemies along the way.

5) Exploding Donkey: To paraphrase George Carlin, at one point in human history someone thought to themselves, “gee, I’d really like to set fire to that person over there”, and hence, the creation of the flame thrower. Well if you replace “set fire to” with blow into dandruff-sized smithereens, you have the animal here. We go from the natural explosions of ants genetically programmed to do it in defence of their colonies, to those involving some poor donkey that had the misfortune of being a donkey in a Mid East war zone, and not, say, a petting zoo in Iowa.

Donkeys were domesticated some 3000 years ago just so the phrase “and asses have spread all over the world” could be used by a couple of Canadian humorists. Bombing by burro has the advantage over a flame thrower in that, unlike that device, which, if someone intervened in time, they could wrap you up like a frat house rug on the first of the month and prevent any fatal burns, nobody sees these ones coming. You just stand around wondering why that horse is moving so slow and then it’s too late.

Donkeys as improvised explosive devices have never taken off (so to speak), but were employed with limited impact in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, so much so, that PETA (People Engaged in Tawdry Acts) wrote a terse letter to Yasser Arafat that seems to have taken effect (seances to his publicist have yet to be confirmed from the hereafter).


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