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Dung beetle rolling a dung ball
© Tailor Made Safaris
SPONSORED POST by Tailor Made Safaris

Dung beetles are amazing creatures! They are unique insects that play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Even their name is very fitting as their life revolves around dung – they literally can’t live without it!

There are four broad categories of dung beetle: rollers, tunnellers, dwellers and stealers. Rollers shape dung into balls and roll them away from the pile, which they then bury to either munch on later or to use as a place to lay their eggs. Tunnellers dive into the dung pile, usually working in a male-female pair, and dig a tunnel beneath it. Dwellers, on the other hand, simply live inside the dung pile. Then there are the stealers – these lazy beetles will just steal the dung balls from the rollers for their own use.

Two dung beetles on a dung ball
© Rhino Walking Safaris Post Camp

So, why would an insect want to eat dung? Well, when an animal (such as an elephant or a rhino) munches on some tasty grub, there are always parts of the food that pass through its body undigested, and end up in its dung. Its these nutritious bits of undigested food that dung beetles tuck into.

Africa Geographic Travel

These cool critters may be small, but they are they mighty! The taurus scarab (Onthophagus taurus) – a species of dung beetle – is considered the strongest animal on Earth in relation to body weight to lift ratio. This insect can pull 1,141 times its own body weight – that’s the same as a human dragging six full double-decker buses!

Dung beetle rolling dung ball
© Tailor Made Safaris

Dung beetles use the polarised light of the sun and the moon to navigate. According to research, there are some nocturnal dung beetles that have been observed navigating using the Milky Way. Currently they are the only known non-vertebrate animal to navigate and orient themselves using this bright stripe of light generated by our galaxy.

As you can see, dung beetles are quite fascinating – so be sure to take some time to observe these little creatures the next time you’re on safari!

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