Some sport extra-long fangs, while others perform ghoulish acts. Some roam the deep sea, while others haunt the land. But if there's one thing all of the animals listed here have in common, it's this: They are ready for Halloween 365 days of the year. Here are 10 creepy critters to contemplate as you bob for apples, carve pumpkins and eat copious amounts of candy.
The long-fanged bat has impressively huge canines, but it doesn't use these fangs to suck blood out of victims. The bat feasts on insects, and it needs sharp teeth to break through the hard shells of its favorite prey. Discovered in 2014 in the Greater Mekong region of Asia, the long-toothed bat Hypsugo dolichodon can consume bugs that its closest relatives, bats of the genus Pipistrellus, have trouble eating. (Photo: Judith L. Eger)
Spiders are already the unofficial mascots of Halloween, but there's one arachnid that plays dress up better than most: Maratus sceletus. Better known as Skeletorus, this itsy-bitsy peacock spider doesn't seem very scary, but its white skeletonlike markings, which contrast sharply with its black body color, make it stand out from other peacock spiders. In addition to being-creepy looking, male Skeletorus spiders are really good dancers, engaging in an elaborate mating disco to woo females. The spider was first described in 2015 by researchers in Australia. (Photo credit: Jürgen Otto) [Real or Fake? 8 Bizarre Hybrid Animals]
Like a character out of the "Harry Potter" series, the dementor wasp (Ampulex dementor) sucks the "souls" from its favorite victims — cockroaches — after injecting them with highly toxic venom. The venom doesn't kill the wasp's prey; it just immobilizes the victim, which means that cockroaches are still alive when dementor wasps drag them off to a private spot and gobble them up. (Pretty spooky, right?) Like the long-fanged bat, the dementor wasp was discovered in 2014 in the Greater Mekong region of Asia, an area that encompasses parts of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. (Credit: Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde)
Any critter that can successfully combine vampire teeth, a pig nose and mouse ears into one ensemble clearly has a strong costume game. The hog-nosed rat (Hyorhinomys stuempkei), which resides on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, has all of these features, all year long. Although it may look cute at first glance, with its Miss Piggy-type nose and Mickey Mouse ears, keep looking and you'll notice the giant incisors jutting out from its bottom jaw. Those fangs might help the rat gnaw through hard foods, like seeds or plants, said the researchers who discovered the species back in 2013. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Rowe, Senior Curator of Mammals, Museum Victoria)
Goblin or elf?
Some think it resembles a goblin; others think it looks like an elf, but whichever creature the Mitsukurina owstoni takes after, one thing is clear: This deep-sea shark is weird-looking. The shark is rarely spotted by humans, but several specimens have been brought aboard fishing boats over the years, most recently off the coasts of Australia and Florida. The ghoulish shark uses a sense system in its snout, known as ampullae of Lorenzini, to detect food, and its nail-like teeth are perfect for munching on small prey items, such as shrimp, fish and squid. (Photo Credit: Carl Moore)
Vampire of the deep
Dracula himself would likely swim away from this cephalopod, the aptly named vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis). Although it appears to have an abundance of fangs, the spiny, tentacle-laden squid is not out for blood. This cephalopod is actually a scavenger, feasting on bits of dead crustaceans, larvae and fecal matter that float down to its deep-sea habitat. Those creepy looking spikes on its arms might serve as "fingers" that help the vampire squid stuff all that yummy debris into its mouth, said researcherswho study these animals. (Photo Credit: © 2011 Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)
A great Halloween costume is equal parts cute and terrifying, just like the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). Indigenous to Madagascar, this tiny primate is adorable, yes, but it also has a horrifying secret. Though the lemur usually chows down on fruits and insects, it's also been observed gobbling up members of its own species. Lots of other adorable animals are also secret cannibals, including domestic cats, dogs and certain species of frogs. (Photo Credit: David Haring of the Duke University Lemur Center)