You don’t have to watch The Walking Dead to catch some brain-eating action. In yet another example of truth being stranger than fiction, it turns out that the animal kingdom has produced some consummate noggin-nibblers … including a few that might surprise you!
1. Lumholtz’ Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumoltzi)
Adorable though they may be, these marsupials have been known to add a dash of protein to their predominantly herbivorous diets by horking down the occasional bird brain. Unconcerned with waste management, tree kangaroos generally discard the rest of the corpse after consuming the gray matter.
2. Great Tit (Parus major)
The great tit’s powerful beak is an excellent nut-smashing tool. It also doubles as a handy-dandy bat-skull-crusher. Seeds and insects are the favored cuisine, but this songbird is a devout opportunist. Specimens have been spotted scavenging corpses and breaking into milk bottles to get through the lean times, and when things get particularly desperate, they’ll even decapitate hibernating bats before eating their brains (along with a few other organs).
3. Sea Squirts
Enigmatic and often beautiful, sea squirts are a diverse group of filter-feeding marine invertebrates scientifically known as “tunicates.” Their life cycle is rather intricate, and at one point during this metamorphosis, they’ll literally devour their own brains. Luckily, this occurs after the creatures have stopped needing them.
4. Pork Tapeworm (Taenia solium)
One of the deadliest parasites known to science, pork tapeworm larvae sometimes invade human brains, consuming sizable chunks of mental tissue in the process.
5. Chipmunk (Tamias sp.)
Acorns don’t always cut it. Chipmunks also eat grass, mushrooms, insects, and even small frogs from time to time. For reasons unknown, mouse brains also periodically show up on the menu (though, curiously, the chipmunks tend to ignore the remainder of the carcass afterwards).