The “Crappiest” Niche in the World

Excuse the poo puns from here on out. When it comes to the animal kingdom, no species belongs to a crappier niche than the Dung Beetle. These beetles live in many different types of habits like deserts, grasslands, forests, etc. They however don’t favor cold or very dry weather. The Dung Beetle also lives on every continent except Antarctica. Despite living on every continent though, you’ll barely catch a glimpse of the poo-loving Dung Beetle since they live their whole lives around piles of animal “waste”, which I doubt anyone wants to be near for too long.

The Dung Beetle is a very important little critter within it’s ecosystem do to their odd lifestyle and food preference. As their names goes of course, these beetles love to eat and use waste/animal excretes. The Dung Beetle will dig through the waste excretes from most large animals, roll a bunch of it into a sizable ball, and like some deranged sideshow act it will roll the dung-ball backwards with it’s back legs. A comical site no doubt. These beetles use the dung-ball for nourishment since it provides all the nutrients they need, or they use it as a “brooding ball” for their young. Yes, that’s right, the Dung Beetle uses dung-balls to house their eggs in and after a time their larvae hatches and eats through the poo. A wonderful life cycle no? Of course, the Dung Beetle has to be careful with it’s precious poo ball as other beetles will try to knock it away from them to steal for themselves.

How does this poo-loving beetle help its habitat then? Well that’s an easy question to answer. Because of the Dung Beetles unique relationship with the excretes of the animals within its habitat it helps a lot with agriculture and helping to keep its environment cleaner. By eating or burying their dung-balls, the Dung Beetle helps to improve the nutrient recycle and the soil structure. They’re like little fertilizer machines. They’re also incredibly beneficial for livestock since they remove and move away dung which could cause pests like flies to come about. Dung Beetles are also used as food sources and sometimes as medicinal aids in some regions.

Sources: http://dungbeetleexpert.com.au/what-are-dung-beetles
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dung_beetle

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