In honor of Earth Day, we’d like to take a moment and appreciate just how special the other creatures we share our planet with really are. Animals are truly amazing and have some exceptional adaptations that help them survive and thrive. Believe it or not storage is one such adaption. There are many examples of animals with naturally occurring built in mobile storage (used to protect their bodies, food, and offspring). Here are five creatures that are lucky enough to have free self storage all the time!
Turtles carry their own storage unit on their backs. They retract into the durable shell whenever they feel threatened. When the danger has subsided, the turtle pokes its head, legs and tail outside the shell and proceeds on its merry way. The shell completely encloses all of the turtle’s vital organs, and in some species the entire head. Talk about protecting your valuables!
Pelicans carry fish in the gular skin that connects the lower jaw of their beak to their throat. This forms a large throat pocket that is used for both catching and storing fish. After diving down to capture a fish, they are able to drain out all the water from the scooped up contents before swallowing. This convenient take-home pouch is great for bringing the next meal to their offspring.
Kangaroos are famous for the cozy pouches they carry their infants in. Baby kangaroos, or joeys, are actually born as neonates (premature), only a few centimeters long, blind, and without fully formed limbs. They continue to grow and develop within their mother’s pouch for months before even sticking their heads’ out. Keeping their offspring right up against their own body is the safest and most secure way for female kangaroos to store their small and helpless young.
4. Toads & Frogs
4. Not unlike kangaroos, some species of toads and frogs store their offspring on and within their own bodies. For instance, there are various amphibians that carry their eggs on their back to keep them safe. This allows them to monitor and protect their many eggs. On a more extreme end, the eggs of the female Surinam toad are actually embedded into her back during reproduction. The larva form pockets in the skin where they go through their tadpole stage and eventually emerge as fully formed toads. We decided to spare you a photograph, as this very well may be the grossest form of storage ever (and we thought the belly button lint storage was bad) !
5. Hermit crabs
Hermit crabs weren’t born with their own storage space, but they are more than willing to improvise. Unlike most crustaceans that have hard, calcified abdomens, hermit crabs have soft exoskeletons that leave them vulnerable. To combat this, hermit crabs use salvaged materials to protect their bodies. They are fond of snail shells, but they have also been known to use drift wood or even a jar if they happen upon it.
All species can benefit from a little extra space and bit of protection for their essentials. To accommodate, nature has given numerous animals their very own storage units. Unfortunately we humans aren’t that lucky. Luckily anybody anywhere can rent a storage unit and make life easier.