You’ve heard of the Grinch who stole Christmas, but did you know critters could be thieves too? Below are the tales of these criminal creatures.

Woodrats

A shiny coin, a feather, a spoon, bottle caps, pieces of wire and glass, tools, and even plastic shotgun shell cases are up for grabs for the “pack rat.”  Woodrats are known to have a fondness for shiny and unique objects, and will drop whatever they’re carrying to collect a glittering object for their cache. Sometimes becoming a nuisance, the woodrat will steal its treasures from sheds, barns, or unsuspecting campers and make their homes in trucks, cars, basements, or mobile homes.

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Bees

For millions of years, bumblebees have been pollinating flowers in exchange for nectar, but more recently, there’s been evidence of nectar robbery! Nectar robbery is when a bumblebee carves a hole into the side of a flower to get nectar. By breaking in in this way, the flower feeds the insect without the bee pollinating the flower. Charles Darwin was the first to observe this behavior, but we’ve now discovered that bees aren’t born thieves, but instead learn this behavior from other bees.

Katarina Cain GNPA
Credit: Katarina Cain; GNPA

Bears

Ever heard of the Buckhead bear? On camera, bears look furry and cuddly. When they’re in your backyard tearing through your bird feeders? Not so much. Bears have good memories and a strong sense of smell. They can turn into thieves if your house has the “good stuff.” Secure your garbage cans, keep your pet food indoors, and clean your grills to ensure your neighborhood doesn’t fall prey to a burglar bear.

Buckhead Bear
The Buckhead bear was safely captured and released by Georgia DNR to Lake Russell Wildlife Management Area in 2017.

Cowbirds

A female Brown-headed Cowbird will stealthily search for other birds that are actively laying eggs. The cowbird will sneak onto the nest, typically damage or remove at least one egg, and then replace that egg with an egg(s) of her own. This is called “brood parasitism.” The “foster parents” then unknowingly raise the young cowbirds, along with what’s left of their own offspring.

{{Information Description={{en1=Eastern Phoebe nest with one Brown-headed Cowbird egg}} Source=Own work by uploader Author=Galawebdesign Date=June 2007 Permission= other_
An Eastern Phoebe nest with one Brown-headed Cowbird egg. Credit to galawebdesign; June 2007.

Tongue-eating Isopods

It sounds complicated, but it’s just a parasitic crustacean that lives in the mouth of a fish. Females will crawl into a fish’s mouth and attach to the base of the fish’s tongue. She’ll suck blood from the tongue until it withers and dies. Yes, this process is as unpleasant as it sounds, but it doesn’t kill the fish. Essentially, tongue-eating isopods are in the business of stealing fish blood and tongues!

infometrics
Credit: Infometrics