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12 Types of Animals That Steal (Pictures)

Animals that steal food and resources from others are known as kleptoparasites. Some steal from other animals, and some have learned to steal from humans.

Many animals in the animal kingdom have adapted to become thieves. These animals have mastered the art of stealing food and other necessities for survival.

In this article, we will discuss different kinds of animals that steal and examine their environments and reasons for stealing. You might be surprised at what’s on the list!

12 Animals That Steal

1. Burrowing Owl

Burrowing owls live on grasslands, prairies, and deserts. They make their nest in burrows underground and feed on small prey from the ground.

Despite the name, burrowing owls can’t actually dig their own burrows. They’re simply not equipped to dig holes in the desert sand. So they resort to stealing someone else’s burrow.

Prairie dogs and other burrowing rodents perform all the labor digging out a lovely home, only to have it stolen by a burrowing owl couple. That’s how these owls obtain their nesting burrows.

2. Hyena

Hyenas trying to escape
Hyena’s trying to escape | Image by Alexander Strachan from Pixabay

Hyenas are experts at scavenging, meaning they can feast on any available food. They’re also notorious thieves, stealing from the fresh kills of lions and other apex predators.

These opportunistic thieves will even steal prey from pythons and crocodiles. They are fearless in pursuing food and will steal every chance they get.

Hyenas aren’t as agile and fast as other predators like lions and cheetahs. That’s the main reason they take advantage of other predators’ hunting skills.

3. Magpie

Magpie perches on a log
Magpie perches on a log | image by Airwolfhound via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Magpies have a reputation for stealing shiny objects. They’re incredibly intelligent birds and perform complex tasks for reward, including remembering where things are hidden.

In reality, magpies are not attracted to shiny trinkets. In fact, they often avoid things that are metallic and shiny. Some theories suggest that humans notice when magpies have shiny objects, and really magpies steal all kinds of things that aren’t shiny for their nests, like string and straw.

4. Rhesus Macaque

Rhesus macaque sitting on rock
Rhesus macaque sitting on rock | Image by Rajesh Balouria from Pixabay

This native of South Asia has developed a strategy to get food from unsuspecting tourists. Rhesus macaques will hang out near tourist centers and steal people’s valuables.

They hold electronics and wallets for ransom and only turn over the stolen items when given food. Sometimes they won’t turn over the belongings until they feel their reward is sufficient.

Rhesus macaques will overlook empty bags and only steal items of high value. This is because they understand value and exchange and have mastered negotiating with humans.

5. Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale
Sperm Whale | image by Gregory Smith via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Alaska fishermen must contend with this thief stealing their fish right off the line. Sperm whales are brilliant and have learned to follow fishing boats for effortless hunting. As fishing boats reel in their deep-sea lines, the whales gather and snatch fish off the line before they reach the surface and onto the boats.

The thievery of these sperm whales leads to profit losses for Alaskan fishermen. It’s become a real problem that fishermen are working to avoid.

6. Bumble Bee

Bumble bee
A bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus) | image by John Baker via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Bumble bees are often nectar thieves! They will steal nectar from a flower without entering to help with pollination. Why would they do this?

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Bumble bees have short tongues but strong mandibles. As a result, their tongue can’t reach the nectar in some flowers, so they chew a hole at the base of the corolla to steal the nectar.

7. Blue Jay

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Blue jays are in the corvids family, including crows, ravens, and magpies. They’re known for being intelligent and also for stealing.

Blue jays are very territorial and aggressively defend their nest areas. They are also notorious thieves, stealing other birds’ eggs, chicks, and nests.

Jays will raid other birds’ nests, stealing eggs and chicks, sometimes to eat and sometimes to take over. They also snatch up brightly colored objects to decorate their nest.

8. Seagull

Seagull perched on a gutter
Seagull perched on a gutter | Image by Dx21 from Pixabay

If you’ve ever tried to eat something on the beach, you’ve likely battled seagulls. Seagulls will steal any food you leave lying around.

They will take off with chips, sandwiches, French fries, and just about any food they can carry. Some beaches display signs not to feed seagulls because they flock wherever there’s food.

During sea turtle hatchling releases, people will wave flag poles to keep the seagulls away. But unfortunately, the birds swoop in and steal baby turtles before reaching the water.

9. Chipmunk

Chipmunks
Chipmunk eating food | Image by 11417994 from Pixabay

Camping in some regions of the country requires special food storage because of these little thieves. Chipmunks will raid your food stores if you’re not careful.

Chipmunks are the most notorious camping bandits. Many campers worry about bears when they should really be more concerned with the mini-bears stealing their food.

There are backpacks and special containers that are chipmunk-proof. If you’re traveling in the Rocky Mountains, be sure to chipmunk-proof your food storage.

10. Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus underwater
Giant Pacific Octopus | image by Bill Abbott via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The clever octopus is the presumed thief of the deep. They will steal shells and shelter from other animals, sometimes just for fun.

Octopuses build shelters out of shells and coral. They’ll also kick residents out of burrows and holes to steal hiding places.

Sometimes octopuses take objects for seemingly no reason. Marine biologists are still trying to figure out octopus behavior.

11. Raccoon

Racoon in tree
Racoon in tree | image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr

This little bandit wears a natural mask and is known for invading residential trash bins. Raccoons are known for stealing food from the trash in human-occupied areas.

Anywhere there’s trash, there’s likely a family of raccoons stealing. Raccoons are also known to steal pet food. They’ll come on your porch and steal dog or cat food.

Raccoons are excellent thieves because of their hands and ability to grab. They can open trash bins and doors to get into places they shouldn’t. They’re master thieves.

12. Dewdrop Spider

dewdrop spider on web
Dewdrop Spider on web | image by Gee via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The dewdrop spider steals food and webs from unsuspecting spiders they find. They can spin their own webs but prefer stealing one from someone else.

The orb weaver spider is usually the host for dewdrop spiders. Dewdrop spiders steal small food prey from their larger host.

Most of the time, the dewdrop spider can avoid detection. If found, they become lunch for their host.