The weird and fascinating life of Dung Beetles

by jabulani

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Dung Beetles are one of the most interesting creatures you will ever come across in the wild! Not only do they have an incredible amount of strength, despite their size, but their way of living is something you could watch for hours. As their name suggests, they’re all about dung! They eat dung, lay their eggs in dung, roll their dung around…pretty much everything to them is about dung! As they are dependent on dung for both themselves, and their larvae, the can discover and remove most of the dung in just one day. It really is incredible to see. Once and elephant or rhino – for instance – defecates, the Dung Beetles will detect the exact site of dung by smell, in just a very short time and then start their process!


These creatures can be broken down into 4 distinct groups, depending on how they’ll dispose of their dung. Firstly there are Telecoprids. These guys will roll their dung ball away from original dung site and bury it elsewhere so competition can be avoided. The female will sit on the dung while the male will roll it to the desired site, with his hind legs. Seems chivalry is not dead after all!

Next you have Paracoprids. Or rather as I would like to refer to them – the Paranoids. They bury their dung directly underneath the original pile of dung, as a means of having a food supply for larvae. Well…maybe not so paranoid…Work smart, not hard – right? Endocoprids remain inside the dung – living and breeding in situ.

The last group are classified as Kleptocoprids. These guys are the naughty Dung Beetles! They steal the Telecoprids’ rolled balls in which they then lay their eggs.

Dung Beetles have a lifepspan of approximately 2 years and have complete metamorphism. What this would suggest is their life cycle starting with an egg laid by the female, larvae which then feeds and grows, adults which then mates and starts the cycle anew.

Where do they fit in the eco-system, guests often wonder. Do they really make a difference? Of course they do. I always stress to my guests how important each and every single creature and aspect in nature is and what an unbelievable role each and everything plays. Dung Beetles, in this case, are one of many examples of nature’s recyclers. Not only do they clean up everywhere pretty well during Summer seasons, but they also take care of removing the eggs of internal parasites, reducing pest populations.

As mentioned, these little guys are only around during the summer months in Africa – so be sure to look out for them on your next safari! It really is quite the sight to behold!”

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