Welcome to the wonderful world of trail cam footage, where researchers and hunters use remote, motion-sensing cameras to study animals in their natural habitat. Unlike pristine, breathtaking wildlife photography – where each shot is carefully lined up and captured with crystal clear pixels – the footage from trail cams is usually messy, grainy, and on occasion, incredibly goofy.
Whether a bear is up to mischief or a deer is getting a bit too curious, trail cams capture some of the silliest, secret antics of various animals in their natural habitats. These photos showcase what goes on in the animal kingdom when they think no one’s watching.
There’s some impressive monkey business going on here at the local watering hole. Is this guy trying to show off for the ladies? Is he getting in a couple of upside-down pushups before rehydrating? Or is he just bored and monkeying around? Whatever the reason for his fancy antics, we give his acrobatics display a 10 out of 10!
Is This Thing On??
How thoughtful of Mr. Grizz here to double-check the equipment. Bears are more curious than you’d think, and in investigating this trail cam on his home turf, a classic trail cam selfie was captured. We’re just glad it was a remote camera taking this picture instead of a human being on the other side of the lens. Talk about an awkward (if not just plain terrifying) encounter!
Apparently, bears appreciate an excellent dining spot just like us. Yogi and Boo-Boo are just missing a tablecloth, some candles, and a picnic basket, and then they’d be all set for a delicious, outdoor dining experience!
Hopefully, however, no campers or hikers stumbled upon these two while they were having their make-believe mealtime. That’d be enough to make any faint-of-heart human lose their lunch.
Draw Me Like One of Your French Cats
Taking a quick rest right in front of a trail cam, this bobcat is the purr-fect drawing model. Looking cozy and right at home while practically posing in the snow, this kitty would be an excellent Miss or Mister January on any cat-themed calendar.
Also, disregarding the claws and sharp teeth for a moment, that fluffy belly is just begging to be rubbed! But seriously, don’t actually attempt to pet an animal in the wild, no matter how adorable they appear.
While this trail cam captured this beautiful red-tailed hawk either taking off or about to land, their wingspan is not unlike a best friend spreading their arms wide to welcome you to a big get-together. Something tells us this bird throws some fabulous parties, though you might want to pass on the hors d’oeuvres, as some of the animals common to the hawk’s diet include squirrels, mice, and snakes. Ick!
Posting an Embarassing Selfie With Your Buddie
Dude, you couldn’t wait until he finished?? Buck here was so curious about checking out a trail cam that he didn’t realize the motion sensor would capture his friend Biff behind him in a pretty unflattering pose. It turns out best buds doing goofy stuff on camera isn’t limited to just humans. Now Biff is going to be embarrassed all over the Internet, and Buck will officially be the worst friend ever.
Everybody needs cuddles now and then, especially these two foxes who are clearly in need of come critter companionship. We guess that they’re old friends who haven’t seen each other in ages, or perhaps a teenage fox hugging his mom goodbye before going out on a hunt. Either way, we can’t help but appreciate these adorable snuggles.
An Effortless Profile Pic
Admit it: this lynx is more photogenic than you and nearly every human you know without even trying. The cool look of feigned indifference. The breathtaking natural backdrop. The gorgeous natural lighting. It’s all so effortlessly stunning. Can you tell we’re jealous?
Also, the owner of this trail cam definitely got their money’s worth, as this is one of the clearest, most picturesque trail cam photos we’ve ever seen. #Flawless #NoFilter
Does This Trail Cam Make My Butt Look Big?
This greatly concerned bobcat probably isn’t as body-conscious as the pose in this photo would suggest. More likely, the bobcat passed by the trail cam, activated the motion sensor, and when the camera started taking pictures, the shutter sound made the bobcat turn back to look at the camera in fright. Startled or self-conscious, we hope this kitty got over their initial shock.
In a plot twist, this bobcat is probably a pro in taking “accidental” selfies. Few Instagrammers can rival such easy effortlessness while flaunting their curves.
Having a Meditative Moment
This bear is having some truly profound, what-is-my-place-in-the-universe thoughts.
Or it’s thinking about lunch. Either way, it doesn’t seem to mind using this hunter’s makeshift deer stand as a seat. While a pile of logs doesn’t look too comfy to us, we can’t say the same for the bear, as we don’t have bear butts.
A Ramen Noodle Rack
Ok, so whatever is tangled up in this buck’s antlers is most likely some kind of grass or weed instead of ramen noodles, but still, what a mess! While probably not the most strange or frightening thing caught on a nighttime trail cam (see any of our related slides in this post), the darkness sure adds an element of mystery around the odd substance tangled up in this young buck’s antlers.
If not ramen noodles or some type of vegetation, our next guess is that this buck is trying his hands – or antlers we should say – at macrame. Maybe he should try knitting instead?
Sun’s Down, Tongues Out!
Awww, just look at this midnight cutie being so cheery and playful! Also, who knew armadillos had such long tongues? While they don’t quite rival their cousins the anteaters’ tongues (giant anteaters can have tongues up to 2 feet long!), we definitely think that it takes this sweetie pie less than six licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
Try to name a cuter trail cam selfie, we dare you. This preciously adorable doe was probably just passing by when she heard the trail cam’s motion sensor shutter click. When investigating much, much closer, she ended up staring right into the camera. Her slightly stunned and bewildered expression is priceless, and so too are her flawless looks. Whatever mascara brand she uses on her lashes must be pretty durable to withstand the great outdoors, and we’d like to try some, please and thank you.
These bobcats sure are showing off their balancing act skills at this beautiful nature reserve’s watering hole. Follow the leader is definitely a more challenging yet exciting game when you’re a big cat climbing on stuff and balancing with your big fluffy paws and tail. While usually solitary animals, a group of bobcats is called a clowder, clutter, or pounce.
Pay Attention Gary!
You know that outtake picture that’s sometimes captured when a couple isn’t fully ready for their photo to be taken, but the camera goes off anyway? This picture of a young deer couple captures that moment perfectly. Jessica just wanted to have a nice photo with her husband Gary, but Gary wasn’t paying attention. Come on, Gary, she just needs you to smile and stand still for 10 seconds.
Hello, We’d Like to Talk to You About Your Car’s Extended Waranty.
Is it just us, or does this curious crane checking out a trail cam look exactly like a door-to-door salesperson peaking through your peephole? Is there a number you can call to keep birds and other critters from soliciting?
But in all seriousness, we think it’s fantastic that while this curious crane is investigating a trail cam, their buddy is acting as a dutiful lookout behind them. We’d be curious too if we noticed a random box just strapped onto a tree trunk, and it’s great that this particular crane has a buddy to watch their back while they investigate.
Who knew brown bears like an occasional soak in the tub? We didn’t, which is why we’re delighted that the owner of this water trough and trail cam shared a pic of this delightful bear taking a dip. Apparently, bears are really great swimmers, which is pretty convenient for them when hunting for fish like salmon.
SWOOP there it is!!
Not every camera can capture birds during their dive-bomb stage of flight, aka when their wings are tucked in tightly at their sides and they look like tiny feathery torpedos. By a stroke of luck, however, this trail cam captured this dark-eyed junco, a type of sparrow, perfectly mid-dive. Most small birds species such as this don’t dive into the water like the kingfisher, but if they did, we think they’d be chirping “cannonball!” every time.
A Glare From a Mountain Lion That Could Move Mountains
If looks could kill, we’d be in a cemetery right now. Clearly, you never, ever want to get a glare like this from a mountain lion, as that’s a whole lot of anger concentrated into one fierce, lightning-fast body. Native to the Americas, the mountain lion is also known as a cougar, puma, or panther. Note: these are not to be confused with black panthers, which are technically just jaguars or leopards with black coats.
Tag Team Takedown
In a rare photo of a trail cam being photographed by another trail cam, two young brown bears are caught in the act of investigating a trail cam they’ve discovered on their turf. We don’t know if these two cubs ended up tampering with the trail cam in various ways, but in the case of the onlooking camera, we hope it didn’t capture (and get traumatized by!) its fellow camera being damaged or dismantled.
You’ve heard of white-tailed deer, but what about white-spotted deer? Not to be confused with albinism, this buck is displaying a rare genetic trait known as piebaldism, where the deer’s coat is brown speckled with irregular patches of white. While you only have about a 1 in 30,000 chance of seeing a fully white albino deer, piebalds are a bit less rare. About 2% of the white-tailed deer population display some form of piebaldism, so your chances of seeing one of these are about 1 in 50.
Turn Off That Stupid Camera Carl
Someone clearly doesn’t like their picture being taken. If looks could kill, this martial eagle would have melted the trail cam down into nothingness. It’s both creepy and impressive how this bird somehow knew how to stare straight into the camera lens, glaring into our souls. With the sheer amount of aggression this eagle is giving off, we honestly think this might be a before picture, while the after picture is this eagle attempting to knock the trail cam off of its roost.
An Unlikely Pursuit
Skeptics will say it’s photoshopped, but if you’ve ever encountered a cranky dachshund, you know this situation is 100% possible. While elephants fearing mice may be a myth, we think rhinos and multiple other critters are completely justified in fearing dachshunds. It’s always the tiniest of dogs that have the most bark and bite. Always.
The Trick or Treat Thief
Oh deer. It looks like this doe got a little too curious (and/or greedy) on Halloween. We’re relieved to note that it seems like the trick-or-treat bucket might not have had any candy in it, so the doe was saved a massive stomachache.
We can’t imagine how the doe got the candy bucket in the first place, however. Was it an outdoor decoration that she swiped off of someone’s front porch? Or is there a child somewhere trying to explain to their parents that a deer stole all of their candy?
We never knew how much we wanted and needed a bobcat kitten until now. So small. So cute. So fluffy!!! We’ll take 6.
But seriously, please don’t actually try to raise a bobcat as a pet. They are wild animals, and domestication hasn’t been bred into their DNA over thousands of years like your average housecat. While this kitten is cute and cuddly now, a full-grown bobcat can take down a deer. Little whiskers here is best left alone then.
Neener Neener Neener!
While this young doe is most likely licking her lips after snacking on some tasty grass or berries, we can’t help but chuckle as this trail cam captured her unintentionally making a face. She might not be a young, peevish deer teen sticking her tongue out in defiance at her mom, or at her brother who won’t stop teasing her, but she certainly could have fooled us.
Terror of the Night
Move over vampire bats, there’s a new flying, furry terror taking over the night, and it’s none other than the seemingly adorable, fluffy flying squirrel. Witness one of these cuties at night, and you’ll have a new villain of darkness on your hands.
Hopefully, the trail cam owner didn’t get a jump scare when seeing this footage on their camera, while we definitely did. Flying squirrels can be unbelievably cute, though clearly not when depicted on a night vision cam. We’re relieved that they appear much less menacing in the daylight.
Wanna Play Ball??
It looks like Bambi here wants to shoot some hoops. Do you think he plays H-O-R-S-E or D-E-E-R on the court with his friends?
All joking aside for a moment, we all hope that bucks will eventually learn to be more careful with swinging their antlers around, especially since they’re so prone to getting them caught on stuff. You’ve heard the phrase “bull in a china shop?” Well, another version is “a deer rubbing his antlers against literally anything.”
Hey, I’m Flyin’ Here!
If this owl isn’t a Dustin Hoffman fan, another caption for this trail cam pic could easily be: “You darn kids need to get off of my lawn!!!”
By the initial looks of it, someone sure doesn’t like sharing their airspace. However, judging by the framing of this photo, it’s more likely that this seemingly grumpy owl happened to activate the trail cam’s motion-sensing feature when taking flight, and also happens to have a grumpy-during-takeoff face.
Welp, it looks like one hunter will have to find a new spot for their tree stand, as this one is clearly taken. Finders keepers has never been more of an essential rule than when a bear finds your stuff. However, it’s a good thing that the hunter checked their trail cam footage in advance before heading to this location. Otherwise, they would have been in for quite the frightful surprise.
Also, that’s one durable tree stand if it can comfortably hold a full-grown black bear. They can weigh over 600 pounds!
The One Where Rudolf Got Taken Out
Oh goodness. Remember how we said deer have an unfortunate habit of rubbing their antlers against objects and getting them stuck? In this unlucky buck’s case, it appears he was investigating a fake deer (either a hunter’s practice target or someone’s Christmas decoration) and now is caught in quite the awkward situation. Thankfully, deer shed their antlers at least once per year, so if this dude didn’t successfully shake the plastic Bambi off at first, it would eventually fall off.
Looks like these two are working on their waltz steps! While traveling on all fours is far more common, bears are known to get up on their hind legs when they’re curious, as standing upright helps them see and smell their surroundings better. Contrary to popular belief, this means that a bear isn’t necessarily asserting dominance or preparing to attack when standing upright. In the case of these two big boys, they might be about to fight, although they could just as easily be playing around or practicing their dance moves.
I’m growling at the cat in the mirror
You’re always in for some interesting sights when you set up a mirror in the forest and then wait to see how the local wildlife will react. We could tell this angry cougar that he’s just growling at his reflection and not a potential rival. But we see those big, pointy teeth, so instead, we’ll just let him figure it out for himself while we observe from a safe distance far, far away.
The 3 bears are unimpressed with Goldilocks’ new digs
No wonder Goldilocks sought out the three bears’ house in the original fairy tale. Hers was a mess! Still, that’s no excuse for breaking and entering, so hopefully Goldilocks has invited them over to apologize and will be serving up some porridge cooked just right. By the looks of things, however, Goldilocks probably doesn’t even have a working hot plate.
Hummingbird? More like hover-bird!
We know hummingbirds got their namesake from the humming sound their rapidly-beating wings make, and it’s hard not to marvel at how they seem to hover in the air so effortlessly. In reality, their fast fight takes a ton of energy, as hummingbirds flap their wings anywhere from 10 to 80 times per second.
When your kid gives you a bear hug and covers you in dirt
Whether kids or cubs, little ones are always making messes and getting into trouble by being just a little too curious. While we think it’s cute that this young cub wants to snuggle up to their mama, the mother’s expression makes it clear she’s not feeling as cuddly. As any parent can tell you, this mama bear has the equivalent look of a parent who just got hugged around the legs after their kiddo was finger painting, and now that finger paint is all over their new jeans.
You’ve tried singing in the shower, now try singing in the forest
We don’t know if mountain lions are good singers, but unlike other big cat species, they aren’t actually capable of roaring. Female mountain lions however are known for uttering a shrill, screeching scream from time to time that’s thought to attract mates.
Also, if you ever happen to encounter a mountain lion in the wild, singing, playing loud music, and speaking in a loud, authoritative voice are all recommended methods for scaring the animal away.
When your trail cam selfie accidentally becomes the next hit album cover
Trail cam selfies are nothing new, but this particular image of a bear in profile is surely something unique and visually striking. The bear’s sideways, meditative gaze would be right at home on the cover of an indie rock or alternative band’s CD. We don’t know if the album would make it to platinum, but this visual is absolute gold.
When your mom asks you a question from the other side of the forest, and you have to scream to answer her
We’ve all been there: your mother asks you a question from another part of the house, and when you try to answer, she can’t hear you. You could get up and go to the room she’s in, but then again, she didn’t extend that same courtesy to you. So, much like this young coyote, you take a deep breath and shout back your answer, “No, Mom, I don’t want meatloaf for dinner!!!”
If you like it then you need to rub your butt on it
These wild pigs getting in a little scritch scratch are making Beyoncé proud!
You might think wild boars and hogs rub against trees to mark their territory, but you’d be wrong. They actually rub against sturdy objects such as trees, telephone poles, and in this case, a stump, in order to scrub excess dirt off of their bodies after wallowing around in the mud.
A Rare Landscaper Sighting
HA. This landscaper clearly saw an opportunity to make the camera owner chuckle by replicating the curious, close-up trail cam selfie so many animals take when they discover a trail cam in their midst and go in for a closer look.
Also, good luck seeing any wildlife in the photos from this trail cam for the next few hours. A giant riding lawnmower is sure to scare any potential photo subjects anyway while it’s running at full volume.
A Textbook Example of a Deer in the Headlights
Oh goodness. There’s a reason humans came up with the term “deer in the headlights,” and here’s clearly why. It turns out humans aren’t the only ones that look absolutely horrible when a camera flash goes off. This is the kind of creepy, nighttime nature images you wish they wouldn’t show on nature documentaries.
Only one question remains: is he more scared of us, or are we more terrified of him?