Animals That Served in the Military
For as long as war has existed, humans have been searching for ways to get an advantage over the opponent.
Today’s modern tricks include tech & gadgets, but that wasn’t always the case.
All kinds of wild animals have been tamed solely for the purpose of serving in battle with us! In fact, some of the creatures on this list are even in service today.
What might come as a further surprise to you is that some military animals such as bears & pigeons have even been awarded medals for their heroic acts to protect us humans in extremely dangerous situations!
Our video version of this post includes fascinating footage of some of the creatures in combat.
You can watch that now by clicking HERE.
Alternatively you may download the podcast by clicking the download button above.
Here are some military creatures, and their uses in combat:
Transportation - Horses & Similar Animals
Kicking it off with the most obvious: horses.
In this list we won’t just include horses though. Oxen, elephants, camels, and other large creatures have been used for thousands of years to transport goods and armies long distances without exhausting humans.
Horses were also used in combat even in World War 1, but soon after fell out of favor as weapons became more sophisticated.
Horses have historically been great for quickly transporting information such as a report of the front line back to HQ, but also for an intense charge into enemy territory.
Elephants have been considered unable to be tamed, however there are some historical records of them being used in combat to attack enemies.
Most large creatures have historically been used for transporting goods & services, carrying things, etc.
It’s not common nowadays though, as our technology has advanced to be beyond this need (for the most part).
Some dogs are used for aggressive attacks, but they’ve always historically been best for defense.
Dogs are great for having at your camp, and it’s probable that early wolves evolved alongside humans because they provided protection to humans that shared food with them.
Dogs could alert people to a potential enemy raid before they knew what was happening!
Dogs have been used in forward-combat positions however; when Spain was conquering Latin America, they used a special breed of dogs to help attack the natives.
There are even historical counts of dogs being used in Greek civilization, and even the Roman Empire.
In modern times dogs are primarily useful for defense. While still used in a subtle combat position (ie. in the police force), they still excel in defense.
One of the best current uses of dogs is in identifying bomb threats or locating drugs and other illegal stuff.
Experimental: Exploding Creatures
Using small animals as explosive traps is not a recent phenomenon; it has been documented even in early Chinese conflicts.
In one historical count, small monkeys were dipped in oil and then set on fire near an enemy camp. The monkeys then of course started screaming and running around, setting the enemy camp on fire and burning many things down (poor monkeys!).
During World War 2, the United States Military experimented with bats, hoping that they could be used to set Japanese cities on fire. Bats would be set loose in Japan, and attached to eat bats in some incendiary devices.
The “bat bombs” were never used (as far as documentation states), however one accident release of the “bat bombs” led to United States Carlsbad Army Airfield Auxiliary Air Base being set on fire…
After this setback, the project shuffled around but was ultimately cancelled as the atomic bomb was already much further in development.
One mid-1900’s theory of “exploding creatures” was the idea (created by the UK) that dead rats could be implanted with explosives in factories, then when the Germans found the rats and threw them away, theoretically it would explode.
It is unlikely the above idea was successful.
In modern & recent times, some animals have been used for suicide-bombing. However, the modern and historical effectiveness of using self-exploding creatures is debatable, and of course, far from ethical.
Moving on, pigeons have long been used in combat and have actually played critical roles in World War 1.
Pigeons were always great at transmitting information across a battlefield. You would train a homing pigeon to find its way back to base, and then take the pigeon to the front lines.
Once you have critical data, you would write that information on a sheet of paper, then attach it to the pigeon and send it back.
Soldiers in World War 1 as well as other wars would try hard to shoot down pigeons- if you could shoot down an enemy pigeon, you would prevent extremely important information from getting back.
For example, one side might write artillery coordinates & try to send it back via pigeon. If you could stop all the messenger pigeons, you would prevent the artillery strike!
Some pigeons have received medals for their valor in combat.
Wojtek The Bear
One eye-watering story of a bear serving in World War 2 can be found. The story is about Wojtek the Bear, who joined a Polish unit.
Wojtek the Bear was gifted to a Polish military unit, and then from a young age started mimicking the soldiers.
Once during combat, he joined the soldiers in transporting extremely heavy artillery.
What would take 4 men to carry Wojtek could carry all by himself. He was eventually officially enlisted, and paid in alcohol & cigarettes.
We could write a whole story about him, but we recommend you watch the story on our YouTube channel by clicking right here. Included are some incredible pictures of Wojtek the Bear transporting artillery in combat, serving side by side with the Polish soldiers.
Dolphin Recon Units
Dolphins have been trained to search for submarines and perform recon, and some are in active military service right now!
It is believed that dolphins might actually be the second-most intelligent creature on Earth, more-so than apes.
While their bodies are far unlike our own, their brains resemble ours rather closely, though we have a slightly more developed prefrontal cortex, which gives us more intelligence.
Learn about the shocking truth about dolphins used in Russian military right now by clicking HERE.
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Thanks for reading!
-Wildlife x Team International