For thousands of years, humans have been interested in fire-breathing animals.
Most of the time fire-breathing animals have been limited to just one species – dragons. And unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, dragons are just imaginary. There are no reputable sources that can prove their existence.
Although if we tried going around the question in a different way and ask ourselves if there are animals that can produce flames, or noxious fumes, or even poison, we could get some wild answers. There are also some animals, or rather birds, that use fire as a means to draw out their prey!
Rachel Keefe, a student of amphibians and reptiles at the University of Florida, has stated that there aren’t really any animals that are fire resistant or immune to it.
A dragon supposedly can only breathe fire, because it is impervious to fire itself. So, in reality, that is not possible. She further stated that there are certain worms that live in ocean vents – areas of extreme temperature, but that isn’t exactly breathing fire, right?
While this would serve as a disappointment for fans of Daenerys Targaryen of Game of Thrones, there are certain animals that display dragon-like characteristics in the way they spew poison.
For example, the spitting cobra is named such because it spits poison out of its fangs when they are threatened. There are also a few special of Afrotropical scorpions in the Parabuthus genus who shoot venom at predators.
There is a gecko of the genus Strophurus which expels a smelly cloud of goo that frightens of their predators. Rachel Keefe mentions that it isn’t toxic, but just gross.
There are a few other animals that have their defenses set in their butts. For example, bombardier beetles and skunks. In fact, bombardier beetles fart such a chemical mixture whilst in their predator’s stomachs, that the predator is forced to puke out its last meal. This ensures the beetle’s survival.
Now we come to animals that actually fight with fire. These include three birds found in the continent of Australia – the black kite, the whistling kite, and the brown falcon. These birds of prey lurk by forest fires, and when the time is right, snatch a smoldering branch and light up another part of the forest with it. This helps them smoke out their prey.
But if we strictly focus on animals that replicate the dragon, then sadly, there aren’t any. And even if you bring into conversation the ‘smoke-breathing elephant’ from India, elephant biologist, Varun Goswami, will tell you that the animal simply chomped on wood charcoal from the floor and then, they blew away the ashes.
While dragon-like animals may not exist, nature does have her miracles. And while they may not be as grand as a dragon, but are equally beautiful.