If you’re thinking about coming to our Predators event this half term, you’ll be relieved to know that the sharks, caimans and piranhas we have on show are safely behind glass. However, should you ever find yourself swimming in the sea, or splashing around in a river somewhere exotic, just remember you could be seconds away from a dinner-date with one of the following peckish predators. Don’t say we haven’t warned you…
Baby piranhas are born with rows of razor-sharp teeth, and spend their childhood chasing and eating tiny crustaceans in the Amazon River. Once they’ve proven themselves, they join a gang and start hunting for larger fish and have even been known to drag thirsty cattle into the water. Heck, they’ll even eat each other if there’s nothing else on offer.
These slippery creatures like to find a nice stretch of shallow water and wait patiently with their powerful jaws wide open. When a fish, toad or salamander stops by, thinking they’ve found a nice hidey-hole, the snake’s jaws snap shut, swallowing their poor prey whole… and still alive.
We don’t know much about the giant squid, because these huge bus-sized invertebrates prefer to stay in the darkest, deepest depths of the ocean. They use their huge dinner plate sized 10-inch eyes to spot their favourite snacks, such as fish, small whales and other species of squid. Not content with just eight tentacles for swimming about, they also have two hooked arms designed for dragging their prey towards their powerful, parrot-like beak.
They may look like a transparent umbrella, but don’t let that deceive you, the box jellyfish has a toxic venom that can stun and kill fish, and even put a human’s life at risk. In Northern Australia, they’re known as sea wasps. Much more sophisticated than your average drifting jellyfish, these creatures can glide through the ocean, and even have 24 clustered eyes all over their bell shaped heads. Their huge stomachs can eat as much unsuspecting fish, crustaceans and plankton as they can lure into their deadly tentacles.
In South America, Caimans stalk the rivers, streams and lakes devouring fish, capybaras and sometimes the odd human if they get the chance. Even though the biggest specimens can reach 5 meters in length, they’re very good at hiding just below the water’s surface, leaving just their eyes and nose peeping up. But don’t be fooled by their lazy demeanour. The caiman’s muscular tail can propel them along at 30 miles an hour, and their huge jaw makes short work of anything foolish enough to be hanging around the water.
Did you know a great white shark can smell a drop of blood in 10 billion drops of water? They can also sense movement from 250 meters away. This fearsome sea beast likes to prowl early in the morning, when the sun is low, so it can sneak up on unsuspecting prey from the darkness below. Their vice-like jaw and fifty jagged teeth are the perfect way to ruin any sea creature’s morning swim.
Go nose to nose with our impressive collection of predators from the safety of dry land this February half term, between the 16th and 24th. Meet sharks, poisonous dart frogs and Caimans as you follow our predator trail through each zone. Oh, and don’t forget to get take a selfie with our very own Megalodon.