Nature’s Exotic Athletes: 12 Strange Animal Sports

Poison Blue Dart Frog, Parson's Chameleon, Bumble Bee, Rhinoceros Beetle
(Images via: Flickr, Flickr, Dances with Anxiety, Beetles for Sale)

Across college and professional sports, plenty of teams are nicknamed after animals. But do animals participate in sporting activities? And how are they as athletes? The answers: they certainly do play sports, and they are quite accomplished in their unique games. From participating in wrestling matches for reproductive purposes to making snagging catches for daily sustenance to just engaging in some good old fashioned horseplay, the follow animal athletic activities are a pure reflection of amazing skill, pure talent and sheer determination.

Wrestling for Love: Rhino Beetles and Poison Dart Frogs

Rhino Beetle and Poison Blue Frog

(Images via: Richard Seaman, That Pet Place)


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When it comes to impressing and hooking up with their female counterparts, blue poison frogs and rhinoceros beetles let their muscles do the talking. While singing to attract females, blue poison frogs engage in rough-and-tumble wrestling matches that include jumping on and flipping other males, all with the goal of establishing prime real estate to mate. In a similar fashion, the incredibly strong rhinoceros beetles battle on logs in an American Gladiator-like joust with the aim of being the last beetle standing. Man, the lengths some guys go to get the girl; make that what girls make some guys do.

What a Catch: The Amazing Parson’s Chameleon

Parson's Chameleon

(Images via: Photo Net, Encarta, Jungle Walk)


The ability of the parson’s chameleon to snag prey with its amazingly long and accurate tongue is analogous to many types of professional athletes: the shot-blocking big man, the sure-handed wide receiver and the home-run robbing center fielder. To parson’s chameleons, snagging prey is hardly a game (even if they have pinpoint control that would leave major league baseball scouts drooling); it’s a matter of survival. Equipped with tongues that are almost twice as long as the rest of their bodies, it’s safe to say that parson’s chameleons aren’t playing on a level playing field with the rest of the competition, especially those poor, tiny and unsuspecting insects.

Saturday Night Fever: The Bumble Bee Dance

Bumble Bees

(Images via: Flickr, Flickr, Bio Job Blog)


Maybe creative dance doesn’t fit your definition of sport, but it does take the right combination of athleticism and rhythm when busting a move. Just ask bumble bees, which engage in a unique, figure-eight dance that communicates everything from food supply to new home locations to other members of the hive. To borrow from the one-and-only Muhammad Ali, these graceful moves confirm that bees do in fact “float like a butterfly” and yet still “sting like a bee.”

A Game of Chicken: Turkey Football (Hobble, Hobble)

Turkey and Chicken Football

(Images via: Live Science, Animals Need Kisses, Healthy Birds)


Apparently chicken and turkeys get quite active when a ball is introduced into their circles, batting the object and scrambling around in a chaotic fashion similar to American football or European futbol. Makes sense, considering that turkeys and football are especially linked on Thanksgiving Day. As the above video shows, a game of turkey soccer is very reminiscent to the human game: a lot of stop and go, occasional excitement but mostly very little scoring. Still, you have to appreciate the effort and teamwork being demonstrated by these well-conditioned athletes, who play for the love of the game as opposed to the fame, glory and signing bonuses.

It’s All Downhill for Ravens, Crows and Alaskan Buffalo

Alaskan Buffalo, Ravens, Crows

(Images via: Flickr, A Critical Decision, Crow Facts)

According to the World Animal Foundation, ravens and crows have been known to have themselves some fun, specifically by repeatedly sliding on their backs down snow banks and church hills. Apparently, ravens and crows aren’t the only alpine skier wannabes, as Alaskan buffalo have also been caught charging down hills and sliding across ice, all the while bellowing out in fantastic approval. Unfortunately, no such video on the Internet could be found, as this sight is certainly one I would pay to see.

Usain Bolt of Lighting: Other Notable Animal Athletes

Mako Shark, Cheetah, Cow

(Images via: Mr. Barlow, Saving for Sesame, Cubic Politics)

While not participating in any specific sporting activities, some animals still boast some quite impressive athletic abilities. A Ferrari has nothing on cheetahs, which can accelerate faster than these machines by going from 0 to 68 mph in just 3 seconds. Mako sharks have been documented traveling as fast as 20 miles per hour and as much as 36 miles per day. And in a surprise, normally laid-back cows have jumped 6-foot fences to escape slaughter and traveled seven miles on foot to find calves that were sold in auctions. Apparently, some animal athletes just don’t have it in them to give up