6 terrifying instances of pets eating their owners

An Oregon hog farmer goes missing — and hours later, only dentures and an unnamed body part are recovered from his pig pen

(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Staring at cute animals can do wonders for your mental health. But once in awhile, Mother Nature reveals her dark side, and adorable pets revert to their feral ancestries. A disturbing example: Recently, the grisly remains of an Oregon hog farmer were found in a pig pen where the man was last seen attending to his typically non-violent animals. And he's not alone. Here, six horrifying instances of pets eating their owners:

1. Pigs

Family members of 69-year-old Terry Vance Garner were shocked to discover the hog farmer's dentures and an undisclosed body part in the family's pig enclosure several hours after Garner went missing. Authorities think Garner either suffered a heart attack or was knocked over by the 700-pound animals before being killed and eaten. His brother describes the self-professed animal lover as a "good-hearted guy" whose animals were his life.

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2. A hippo

Last year, a 40-year-old former Army major was killed in South Africa after being savagely bitten to death by his pet hippopotamus, Humphrey. The man had adopted the 1.2-ton creature when it was just 5 months old, after the animal was rescued from a flood. "Humphrey's like a son to me, he's just like a human," he said. "There's a relationship between me and Humphrey and that's what some people don't understand." Experts have since noted that hippos are actually the most dangerous animals in Africa, killing more people each year than lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos combined.

3. Cats

In 2010, dozens of cats had to be removed from a northwestern Pennsylvania home where coroners said the animals had started gnawing at the foot of a dead man, 74, and his deceased mother, 94. The man had apparently been the caretaker for his mother, who died of dehydration after her son suffered a heart attack. Left with no other source of food besides their owners' corpses, the cats' survival instincts apparently took over.

4. Pugs

In 2009, a small pair of pugs in Nebraska survived for two weeks on the deceased corpse of their owner after he shot himself. After being found, the dogs were subsequently put up for adoption. A Humane Society spokesman said the animals were unlikely to suffer any lasting psychological damage because "they don't have memories like people."

5. Burmese python

In 1996, a 19-year-old Bronx man died after being attacked by his pet Burmese python. It's likely that the 13-foot-long reptile mistook the man for food after it escaped its cage. The man was found by his neighbors in a pool of blood with the snake coiled around his torso in his apartment building's hallway. According to the man's brother, the victim had purchased the snake at a local pet store for $300 a few months earlier.

6. Lizards, tarantulas, spiders, and other bugs

Loner Voegel, 30, lived in 2007 in a small German apartment in the city of Dortmund with a small zoo of more than 200 snakes, geckos, and insects. Apparently, he was killed by a black widow bite and subsequently gorged upon by the other crawly creatures. Neighbors alerted police after the stink emitting from his home became too unbearable. "It was like a horror movie," says Britain's The Sun. They found the man's corpse on the sofa with large chunks of flesh missing. "Giant webs draped him, spiders were all over him. They were coming out of his nose and mouth," said police.

Sources: Associated Press (2, 3), Guardian, New York Times, The Sun

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