Some of these creatures look like they’re straight out of a space alien movie.
Travelers pay thousands of dollars to go on safaris in other countries to see weird and wild new creatures. However, all of these amazing animals are all located in the continental United States. That’s right, no passport necessary to go on this safari!
10. The coatimundi
The coatimundi is a relative of the raccoon. Unlike their nocturnal cousins, coatimundi spend most of the day foraging for food. These curious looking creatures are found in the desert southwest.
9. The crested caracara
The crested caracara is a magnificent falcon that you would expect to see in the Serengeti. These birds inhabit southern Texas and Arizona as well as Florida. They will eat anything they can catch, but are big carrion feeders.
8. The gila monster
Gila monsters, relatives of komodo dragons, are actually venomous. Their venom is secreted by salivary glands and forced into their victims when they bite. Don’t worry, they are too slow to pose a hazard to humans, but are scary looking nonetheless.
7. The jaguarundi
While it looks like a cross between a weasel and a cat, the jaguarundi is a member of the feline family that live in far south Texas.
6. The sea lamprey
This creepy looking mouth belongs to a sea lamprey. These slimy parasites attach themselves to fish and feed on their blood, think of a giant leech with teeth. No need to fret, sea lamprey don’t attach to humans.
5. The nutria (or coypu)
If you thought the rats in New York City were big, check out this massive rodent. Fur farmers introduced nutria to North America. They now wreak havoc by burrowing and damaging ditches and levies.
4. The painted bunting
With all the creepy critters in this post, here is a bit of color. The painted bunting lives up to its name as one of the most colorful birds in North America.
3. The spiny water flea
These guys look like they are straight out of a Sigourney Weaver movie. Known as spiny water fleas, they are an invasive species found in the Great Lakes. They came from Europe and Asia in ballast water from ships.
2. The camel spider
Remember the camel spiders that everyone was sharing pictures of during the Gulf wars? They actually inhabit the desert southwest. Although nowhere near as large as the internet photos from the middle east, these little guys pack a painful bite. Don’t worry, they are not venomous, but you definitely don’t want to get bit.
1. The Mediterranean house gecko
Believe it or not, this is a Mediterranean house gecko. I know, you thought all geckos are green and walk around selling insurance. Native to southern Europe and Africa, several populations live in Texas and southern New Mexico.
Next time you are out in the field, keep an eye out for these and other strange creatures. You never know what exotic looking animals you will find at home.