Dung beetle characteristics
Dung beetles are a type of beetles (order Coleoptera) that prefer dung as their food. As it is mentioned above, Under the superfamily Scarabaeoidea there are two families. These are:
- Geotrupidae (earth-boring dung beetles)
- Scarabaeidae (scarab beetles; not all species feed on dung)
There are two subfamilies under the Scarabaeidae family. These are:
- Scarabaeinae (true dung beetles)
- Aphodiinae (small dung beetles; not all species feed on dung)
There are more than 5,000 species in the subfamily Scarabaeinae.
These dung beetle species differ in size and colors. They also differ in body mass and leg length. However, the majority of dung beetles species are dark and they have a shiny luster in their elytra.
Dung beetles are arthropods. It means that a dung beetle has an exoskeleton or external skeleton and a segmented body. It has jointed legs.
Cambefort and Hanski (1991) have classified dung beetles into three categories based on their feeding and nesting style. Let’s have a quick look at each of them.
These dung beetles roll feces into round balls. They use it as a food source or use it in their breeding chambers.
These dung beetles bury the dung by creating tunnels.
These kinds of dung beetles aren’t like rollers or tunnelers. Dwellers think that it is useless to waste their energy in such rolling or tunneling. That’s why they simply live in dung. Dung sweet dung!
You can read more about the dung beetles under the roller category in the Behavior & lifestyle section.
Range & habitat
Dung beetles live in different habitats. This includes deserts, grasslands and savannas, native and planted forest areas, and farmlands. They don’t like the areas which are extremely cold or dry.
The range of dung beetles is too vast. They live on all the continents except Antarctica. But they are mostly found in the regions that have a moderate temperature.
Dung beetles as the name says, eat dung. They prefer the dung of herbivores or plant-eating animals and omnivorous animals. Mostly they like the dung produced by the omnivores.
Some of the species of dung beetles eat mushrooms, dead leaves, and fruits. There is a species of dung beetles in Central America, called Deltochilum valgum. It eats millipedes. So it’s a carnivorous dung beetle. Dung beetles get all the necessary nutrients from dung. They don’t have to eat anything else apart from dung.
Behavior & lifestyle
Dung beetles show some interesting behaviors. While talking about dung beetles, naturally, everything will revolve around dung. Dung beetles have an acute sense of smell. They search dung by using this sense. Some small species of dung beetles attach to the animals and wait for dung. After finding dung, a dung beetle (generally rollers) rolls it. Then follows a straight line confronting all the obstacles in its way. After reaching a safe spot, it either eats the dung or stores it to eat later.
Dung beetles steal dung balls from other beetles. They steal it from another beetle and quickly move away with it. For this reason, a dung beetle has to hurry while rolling dung into a ball. It does it quickly and then starts rolling the ball away from the dung pile to prevent it from being stolen.
Dung beetles have superposition compound eyes. Many scarabaeid beetles show this feature.
The roller dung beetles show an amazing feature. They roll and bury a dung ball as food storage or they use it like a brooding ball. After mating, the male and female prepare a brooding ball from the collected dung and the female lays eggs inside it. They store it as a future provision of their offspring.
Fun dung beetle facts
There are some cool and amazing facts about dung beetles. Those little creatures show some astonishing features, that will definitely amaze you. Here is a list of “Top 5 Fun Dung beetle Facts“. Read till the end to find some amazing facts about the dung eaters.
- Some species of dung beetles can bury dung 250 times their body weight in just one night!
- The nocturnal African dung beetle (Scarabaeus satyrus) navigates their path using the Milky Way.
- Dung beetles don’t drink or eat anything. They only eat dung.
- Dung beetles can roll dung up to 10 times their weight.
- A male dung beetle (Onthophagus taurus) can pull a dung ball 1,411 times of its weight. It is like an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people!
Meet the dung beetle
You can read about The Strongest Animals In The World here.
Did you enjoy learning more about the dung beetle? Have you ever met this unique creature face-to-face? Tell us about your dung beetle experience in the comments section below. Because those who care share!
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