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Catching a ride: take a look at these hilarious hitchhiking animals!

by Graeme Carey

There’s something irresistible about seeing two dissimilar animals together — especially when one’s hitching a ride on the other’s back. Symbiotic relationships found in nature remind us that, despite our differences, we’re all inhabitants of the same Earth. Here are 22 pictures of hilarious hitchhiking animals to remind us of that fact.

Stable cats on horseback

Catullus and Thaccus are working stable cats. In addition to keeping the horses company, these helpful felines play an important role in keeping stables vermin-free. According to Victor Pest, as few as two mice “can devour as much as four pounds [two kilograms] of grain and leave up to 18,000 droppings” over the course of just six months.

Niamh the Jack Russell and its Shetland pony pal

A pint-sized terrier and a piebald miniature Shetland stallion may seem like an unlikely pairing, but the two animals are surprisingly similar in demeanour, if not in stature. Much like the Jack Russell, Shetland ponies are friendly, loyal, and intelligent, but they also have a stubborn and downright cheeky side to them.

Odo the gibbon and Jake the Alsatian, Flamingo Land, North Yorkshire, England, UK

Odo the abandoned gibbon and Jake the Alsatian, who failed out of the army due to his behavioural issues, are a pair of castoffs who formed an unlikely friendship. Gibbons are a type of long-armed ape most commonly found swinging from trees in the tropical forests — or, in this case, hanging onto the fur of a German shepherd.

Friendship of a horse and goat, Presov, Slovakia

“Goats have a propensity to climb on basically anything,” says The Spruce Pets, from trees to small buildings to other animals. This is because, in the wild, they learned to develop incredible balance in order to traverse the steep terrains of southwest Asia and eastern Europe. And when there are no mountains, you go for the next best thing: a horse’s back.

Fallow deer and magpie, New Forest, Hampshire, England

Like all members of the crow family, magpies are a highly intelligent bird, capable of forming intense friendships with their fellow species members, as well as other animals and even humans. “A key reason why friendships with magpies are possible is that we now know that magpies are able to recognise and remember individual human faces for many years,” writes Gisela Kaplan, professor in animal behaviour.

Lazy monkey hitches a lift on back of parrot, San Agustín, Colombia

A parrot can grow to be as big as 100 centimetres (40 inches) tall and weigh up to 1.6 kilograms (56 ounces). Just big enough to carry a small monkey on its back, apparently. The world’s largest parrot is the Kākāpō, a flightless bird that can weigh up to 4 kg (9 lb.) and live as long as 90 years.

Monkey riding on goat’s back sneaks into farmer’s field to steal vegetables, Dongguan, Guangdong Province, China

Goats have a reputation for eating just about anything, including hay, grass, weeds, grains, and the occasional tree bark. However, their diet primarily consists of hay and grass, which are high in fibre and low in calories, which means they can eat plenty of it. In some zoos, goats are fed as often as seven times a day and consume up to 2 kg (4 lb.) of food.

Bird standing on deer’s head in Richmond Park, London, England, UK

The crow is considered one of — if not the — smartest birds in the avian kingdom. In fact, they may be the smartest animal aside from primates. One of the biggest indicators of their intelligence is their ability to make and use tools in order to aid in their foraging. For example, Oxford University scientists observed a New Caledonian crow bend a piece of wire from its cage in order to extract a small piece of meat from inside a plastic tube. This intelligence is also what allows them to interact and form connections with other types of animals.

Lizard riding on toad’s back, Tanjung, South Borneo, Indonesia

Though they may seem similar, reptiles such as the lizard and amphibians such as the toad are actually quite different. The biggest distinction is in their methods of breathing. Reptiles have lungs, while most amphibians are born with gills in order to breathe under water and don’t develop lungs until later.

Monkey rides on back of deer at Melaka Zoo, Malaysia

The long-tailed, or crab-eating, macaque is a cercopithecine primate most commonly found in Southeast Asia. The chital (or spotted) deer, on the other hand, is native to the Indian subcontinent. Macaques are accustomed to interacting with different species. In fact, in certain regions throughout Southeast Asia they live in close proximity with humans and are known for being kleptoparasites, so you better keep an eye on your personal belongings when you’re around them.

Black Hovawart with a chick on its head

Hovawart means “yard-” or “farm-watcher.” Highly attentive, deeply devoted, and all-around intelligent, these large German dogs make for great pets and excellent watchdogs. Here it can be seen keeping a very close eye on a chick.

Butterfly sitting on a chameleon, Kahramanmaras, Turkey

Though they couldn’t be any more different, the eastern dappled white butterfly (or Euchloe ausonia) and its chameleon counterpart in this picture bear a striking resemblance in terms of their colouring — the difference being that the chameleon can slightly alter its appearance by changing colour based on its environment. A common misconception is that they do this in order to camouflage themselves from predators, when in fact the primary function is to “send social signals to other chameleons” through their colour. For example, a darker colour could indicate that it’s angry.

Cat rides on back of sunglasses-wearing dog, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Despite the old adage, “fighting like cats and dogs,” canines and felines not only get along for the most part, but also have been known to form strong bonds with each other. “The majority of cats can happily coexist with a dog if they are given time to comfortably get to know each other,” says Nylabone.

Frog sits perched on end of crocodile’s snout, Jakarta, Indonesia

Either this is the bravest frog of all time, or it’s just completely oblivious to its surroundings. Either way, a crocodile’s snout probably isn’t the best resting place for the small amphibian. And in case you’re wondering, it got away scot-free, according to the lucky photographer who snapped the one-of-a-kind pic.

Tree frog clings to a snake, Jakarta, Indonesia

There are more than 800 different species of tree frogs around the world. Despite their name, they don’t all live in trees. “Rather,” explains the National Wildlife Federation, “the feature that unites them has to do with their feet — the last bone in their toes (called the terminal phalanx) is shaped like a claw.” The green tree python, on the other hand, catches prey by dangling its tail to lure in unsuspecting prey, so this particular frog may want to be careful.

Bird perches on warthog’s face at the Zimanga Private Game Reserve, South Africa

If not for its bright red bill, this oxpecker would completely blend in against the warthog’s brown snout. Strange as the pairing may seem, oxpeckers are commonly spotted perched atop much larger animals, including rhinos. The sociable bird will feast on any ticks and even “warn the nearsighted herbivores about approaching humans” with its distinctive loud call.

Grasshopper climbs over frog’s head, Tangerang, Indonesia

In case you’re wondering if frogs eat grasshoppers, the answer would be a resounding yes. In addition to Caelifera, tree frogs typically eat flies, ants, crickets, beetles, moths, and other invertebrates. However, they’re mostly herbivores until they reach adulthood.

Frog takes a ride on a snail, Sambas, Indonesia

No, that’s not a giant snail, but rather a very small frog. Frogs range in size from 0.6 cm (a quarter of an inch) to nearly 33 cm (13 in.). The largest frog in the world is the aptly named goliath frog, which can weigh up to a whopping 3.3 kg (7.2 lb.), while the smallest is the Paedophryne amauensis, discovered in Papua New Guinea, measuring in at just 7 mm (0.27 in.) long.

Frog rides a beetle like a rodeo cowboy on a bull, Sambas, Indonesia

It’s not quite a bull, but the rhinoceros beetle does have a horn-like projection of its own, which it uses not for thermo-regulation (as is the case with bulls) but “to dig themselves into leaf litter and soil to escape danger.”

Snail climbs on lizard

Snails are able to climb up all kinds of surfaces thanks to their layer of mucus-like slime secretions. That said, a common misconception is that they use their slime to move forward on flat surfaces as well, when in fact researchers from Stanford University discovered that they “propel themselves by generating a series of muscular pulses on their feet.”

Cats ride on donkeys, England, UK

According to PetHelpful, donkeys are surprisingly affectionate animals, capable of forming intense friendships with humans and other animals, including dogs, horses, and cats. In fact, they form such deep bonds with their fellow donkeys that the stress caused by grieving the death of a friend can make them become severely ill.

Cat rides on an elephant, England, UK

If it’s true what they say about elephants being afraid of mice, then the cat would be its natural best friend. In reality, however, there’s little evidence to suggest that the small rodent strikes fear in the much larger mammal. This myth may have originated as far back as 77 CE, when Pliny the Elder erroneously claimed that elephants “hate mice and will refuse to eat fodder that has been touched by one.”



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