By April Overall
Most of us are repulsed by the terrible acts that madmen and villains carry out. We hold candlelit vigils, and rack our brains trying to figure out what prompts someone to stoop to such a low. But others become inspired by their horrific actions, and, unable to quell the desire to carry out the deed themselves, become murderers themselves. They’re called copycats. And they don’t only exist in society, but in the animal kingdom too. Read on to find out which of the vilest murderers have copycats in the wild. Only, of course, if you think you can stomach it.
Vlad the Impaler
Copycat: The Shrike
Like Vlad the Imapler, a 15th century Romanian madman, the shrike also impales its victims (on branches), however, it does so because it lacks the talons that most birds of prey come equipped with to kill their next meal. Nevertheless, shrikes make do by impaling several prey at a time allows them to store food away, so when they’re feeling peckish, they’ll have an array of snacks to choose from. It also helps males attract females; it seems the bigger the stack of impaled prey a male collects, the more likely he is to be chosen as a mate! It’s also practical for some shrike species, like the loggerhead shrike, as these birds enjoy eating monarch butterflies. Since monarchs store poison in their systems which protect them from most predators, shrikes allow these prey to sit on a spike for days on end, allowing the toxins to degrade, until it’s safe to eat the butterflies.
Copycats: Eagles and Hawks
Hannibal Lecter ate some of his victims with fava beans and a nice Chianti, but others he ate alive. Eagles and hawks have also been known to consume their prey alive, unless, that is, they put up too much of a fight. Their victims generally die of massive blood loss or organ failure.
The Boston Strangler
Copycat: The Black-footed Ferret
The black-footed ferret has taken a cue from the Boston Strangler by strangling its primary prey, prairie dogs, to death. Studies show that after the ferret crawls into the prairie dog’s burrow, it will sneak on top of the rodent, paw at it to wake it from its slumber and then grip the dog’s throat with its jaws, strangling it to death. Strangling, you say? More like biting? Nope. Most prairie dogs do indeed die from suffocation. Creepy.
Copycat: The Killer Whale
Charles Manson led a group of followers which became known as the Manson Family, to carry out a series of gruesome murders – all in the height of the love-filled sixties. Killer whales also work in tandem to hunt larger prey, however, these mammals do so strictly as a means for survival. Remarkably, killer whales work silently in pods of up to 40 individuals, in order to hear larger prey like whales and sharks. It is only after they’ve gone in for the kill that they begin to vocalize with one another.
Copycat: The Lamprey
Dracula isn’t the only one who wants to suck your blood! Give the lamprey a chance and you’ll most definitely regret it. These jawless fish latch onto the flesh of other fish and marine mammals with a funnel like mouth and sucks the blood from their prey. They’ve been known to attach onto a host for months until they’ve either had enough or the host dies.