The Princess Backpacker in Peru - Animal Aside
As you can imagine, there were absolutely incredible animals all over Peru. It was like a biologist’s wet dream. It was a writer’s orgasm. It was a person who likes animals heavenly song. There were a couple of creatures, however, that probably shouldn’t exist – unless you are in like the 5th circle of hell. This doesn’t mean that they weren’t super cool. It just means, hello, evolution – what happened there?
The “Stinky” Bird (aka The Hoatzin):
Ok, first and foremost, this bird looks like some sort of messed up mix between a pheasant and a vulture. Hmmm, I wonder why the taxonomic position of this species is still being debated? Because it flew out of a witch’s nightmare, that’s why!
You know why it’s called a “stinky” bird by pretty much everyone? It gives off a smell somewhere on the range between baby poop and vomit. I’m sure perfume hunters the world over are collectively gagging. Special.
If that wasn’t enough, the damn bird doesn’t have a nice chirpy call to mitigate its appearance and smell. Oh no, stinky bird actually heaves or sighs. It can also grunt or hiss. When you are passing by these birds, it sounds like an actual apocalypse is happening around you. That’s just them saying, “Hey dude.”
But wait – there’s more! You wouldn’t expect stinky bird to be a good flyer when their young, would you? Well, of course not. Demon babies clearly need hooks on their elbows! Yes, CLAWS ON THEIR ELBOWS to help them scurry up trees or hold on to branches like bats.
This bird is definitely not endangered. No one wants to get close to it. You start to actually feel a bit sorry for them – until they turn their beedy eyes toward you and heave.
The Bullet Ant:
This little bastard has the most painful sting currently on the planet. The excruciating throbbing and stinging lasts for almost a whole day. It’s called a bullet ant because if one gets you, you feel like you have been shot. Fun. With a capital F U little demon bug! These little guys inhabit lowland rainforests, and we saw plenty of them creeping around in the jungle.
The old adage rings true, if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. There were times we were told not to hold onto railings, as the ants usually walked along them. Beware you don’t get shot by an ant. Not terrifying at all.
Now some of you might remember this ant from various documentaries by in which the Satere-Mawe people of a remote Amazonian village make young boys, sometimes starting at 10yo, wear gloves sewn with bullet ants for 5-10 min (up to 20 different times in their fledgling lives) as a part of the initiation into manhood. What seems absolutely horrifying (and is), actually serves to build up a resistance to the venom when later hunting in the jungle. These people also almost never get sick, live very long lives, and never get cancer. When ants can basically poison your veins, watch out, don’t try this at home.
Ah, let’s not forget the caimans, bugs and Isla Ballestas islands where birds think that area must be their personal toilet. There is so much poop here, they actually mine it for fertilizer. Told you it was interesting. People seem to think if it’s cute, eat it! The demon animals know what’s up and will probably survive long after the alpacas and guinea pigs.