Can Animals Develop a Taste for Human Blood?
Some animal predators (ie. Leopards in Nepal) exhibit a pattern of hunting humans akin to that of a serial killer.
It’s been well documented all around the world that when a wild animal kills a human, it often goes on a rampage - not just ending with one human life, but many.
In some shocking cases that we may cover in future content, animals have killed hundreds of humans in their thirst for human blood.
However, that’s not all that common - wild animals, including fierce predators such as leopards and bears, typically fear us humans, and do not actively hunt us.
Why is it that when a wild animal gets a taste of humans, it often switches to hunting purely humans?
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In our last week’s content, we covered the 3 main reasons animals attack. The most common type of attack is “defensive,” and over half of all fatal animal attacks involve highly questionable behavior on the human’s part (ie. taking a selfie with a wolf, bear, etc.).
The other reason has to do with being agitated or sick (ie. contracting rabies).
One of the least common types of animal attacks is predatory, in which an animal wants to eat humans for food.
Many animals see us as top of the food chain, but that isn’t always the case!
In some cases, such as shark attacks of people stranded in the Ocean, sharks may realize a group of humans are particularly vulnerable, and attempt to get easy food.
When animals attack for predatory reasons, they typically attack small, young, old, or weak humans (or a combination of the above).
It is more rare to attack big, healthy individuals, but it has happened when animals became desperate enough.
The Serial Killer Pattern
A one-off predatory animal attack is understandable - perhaps the food supply is bad for the week, and a stray human is stepping in the wrong territory. These attacks are unfortunate, but not the biggest surprise.
However, sometimes a wild animal, after such a kill, will stop hunting other animals such as deer, and instead focus almost exclusively on us humans.
In less developed nations, this can be a HUGE problem, as bear attacks, leopard attacks, and other predatory animals focus on hunting humans at local villages.
Here are the 2 main theories as to why this serial-killer-type behavior happens:
Theory 1: They Lose Their Fear
Predators are naturally designed to hunt creatures that are significantly smaller than them (ie. rabbits), or have evolved for a very long time to desire certain food (ie. deer).
We are new and scary. Humans are typically found in medium-large groups. Our development is terrifying to these predators.
If a predator gets too close to a city, they will be hunted and killed. For this reason, most wild creatures are quite afraid of us humans!
Once they’ve had a taste of human blood though, they stop seeing us as these dangerous creatures, but more-so as a potential source of food.
Again, this is particularly a problem in less developed nations, where people can’t defend themselves as easily.
Suddenly these creatures realize that there’s a HUGE food source, and the average human (even a strong healthy adult male human) is not near as strong or as fast as they are!
After such a realization is made, humans are added to the potential food source, and these creatures can be observed by villages stalking them, waiting for a vulnerable human to reveal themselves or stray from the group…
Theory 2: Human Blood
Do you like eating salt? Salt & pepper can be found in nearly every restaurant across America.
We like making our meat salty, adding salt to chips n’ salsa, etc. - And as it turns out, animals like salty flesh also!
Human blood is significantly more salty than other animals, such as deer. The theory goes that when some creatures get a taste of human blood - which is way more salty & stimulating to their mouths - they suddenly crave it.
This theory is horrifying, but again, there’s the simple fact that we have salt on nearly every table of every restaurant across America (and the world), and that’s just the extra salt not already added from the kitchen!
It’s likely that there’s some truth to both of these theories. A creature afraid of humans that hasn’t tasted human blood is unlikely to hunt humans.
When times are tough, or an animal kills a human in defense (then decides to eat the human), it makes sense that animals would lose their fear while also getting addicted to our salty flesh (as horrifying as that sounds).
Many humans are also totally unprepared for the event of an animal attack. We are used to living in our modern cities, and the thought of getting attacked during a hike isn’t there.
Deer and other creatures are used to being hunted often, so they may put up more resistance than the typical human.
One way or another, the thought of a human-serial-killing wild animal is terrifying!
Note that the actual chances of being attacked by such an animal is rare, especially if you are with a group of people. It’s even more rare in the developed world, such as America/Canada/Europe.
You’re most likely to be attacked by an animal in defense than for predatory reasons, and most people are fine.
One of the biggest types of animal attacks we at Wildlife x Team International observe on a regular basis is small animal bites/scratches.
Animals that infest people’s homes such as raccoons, skunks, possums, and rats may try to bite and scratch people, as the home has been claimed as the animal’s territory!
If the animal has babies with them, they’ll be all the more aggressive in fighting as well.
If you think that you have a wildlife or pest-related problem, let the professionals handle the job for you.
If you are bit by a wild animal, it’s important to go to the hospital to get checked for rabies & other diseases that can be transmitted - though the bite itself will be unlikely to cause serious damage long-term.
Contact us by visiting www.wildlifexteam.com or by calling 855-WILDLIFE and we’ll be sure to help you out!
-Wildlife x Team International