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Which animals are known to 'play dead'?

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asked Mar 28, 2013 in Wild Animals by (1,540 points)
recategorized Apr 9, 2013 by mamairis

1 Answer

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Best answer

The most famous animal that plays dead is the possum. In fact ' Don't play possum' is a famous phrase used when you want someone to pay attention to the situation and not appear appear dead and aloof.

Animals play dead for 2 main reasons:

  1. To ward off predators
  2. To hunt

It's not healthy for a predator to eat an 'already-dead' animal because the dead animal could be rotten, diseased or poisoned. (This is one why reason people are instructed to lay down and play dead when seeing a bear).

Examples of animals that play dead to ward off predators are:

  • Sharks - When a shark is flipped belly up it plays dead
  • Hognose snake -when in danger, the hognose snake flips belly-up, opens its mouth wide and  sometimes causes blood drops to drip off the sides. It then realeases a nasty, deatly smell.

Examples of animals that play dead to hunt are:

  • Fish - the Parachromis friedrichsthalii fish plays dead so that when smaller  fish swim passed it- Gulp! he eats them up!
  • Beetles- The pselaphid beetle plays dead and tricks ants to bringing it to the main nest. When inside the beetel springs to life and munches on all the ants.

Note: Playing dead can be caused by an involuntary reflex called tonic immobility – which is outside an organism's control – and thanatosis, where death is knowingly being feigned and is under an organism's control. .

answered Mar 28, 2013 by (1,540 points)
selected Apr 3, 2013 by mamairis