Superpowers are real, and you can find them in the animal kingdom. Some animals can uproot trees with one arm, and others can run as fast as vehicles or break the bones of other animals just by squeezing them. Different animals have their own kind of strength, from the smallest ants to the largest mammals. In this article, we look at 15 of the strongest animals in the world and what makes them special.
We answer that question by first describing how we measure animal strength. Granted, some animals possess muscular bodies, pure brute strength, and physical endurance far superior to human beings. So it's a no-brainer to say that they are strong.
But it might surprise you that when it comes to animals, an ant might be considered stronger than other larger animals and even humans. That's because the overall power of an animal is relative to its body size; we call this the strength-to-body weight ratio (SBR)1.
Some animals can pull enormous weights, sometimes 1000 times their weight. Read on to decide what is the strongest animal in the world.
Quick links to some of the strongest animals in the world:
Grizzly bears are known to break down car and house doors like there's nothing to it. They are one of the strongest land animals. Grizzly bears can grow as tall as 8 feet and weigh 900 pounds7.
A grizzly bear preys on big animals like cattle, caribou, and black bears. It also feeds on fish, berries, fruits, nuts, and roots. In search of food, grizzly bears routinely lift huge rocks and logs out of their way. They are not good tree climbers, but they run fast, covering 35 miles in one hour.
In 2006, researchers at Montana State University experimented to test the strength of grizzly bears. They found that one grizzly bear had the strength of 2 to 5 humans. Sam the bear easily lifted a 700 pounds dumpster can and, with one paw, turned over a 675-pound stone.
For more, from the grizzly to polar bears, check out our bear facts.
Elephants are the largest land animals in the world, and African elephants are bigger than Asian elephants. Two species of African elephants exist African forest elephants and African bush elephants. The bush elephant is the larger of the two.
Adult African bush elephants can weigh 18,000 pounds and stand at a shoulder height of 13 feet. They are considered the strongest land animal and strongest mammals in the world by pure strength. An African bush elephant can lift a 250 kg object with just its trunk.
Despite their enormous size, elephants are agile and can run as fast as 40 miles per hour. They can also walk long distances and cover 25 to 195 km per day in search of food and shelter. Read more about these amazing majestic animals in our elephant facts.
Dung beetles feed on animal poop and use it to build their homes. With their powerful hind legs, a dung beetle pushes its dung balls, which can sometimes be as large as apples. Considering that the body size of a dung beetle varies from 0.2 to 1.2 inches, that is some heavyweight.
There are many species of dung beetles. In 2010, the Royal Society journal B published a study that crowned the horned dung beetle5 as the world's strongest insect.
The extraordinary strength of this dung beetle species comes from its ability to pull loads up to 1,141 times its own weight. That is like an average human lifting two 18-wheeler trucks.
For more reading, our bug facts cover more interesting statistics from the insect world. And noting that these little creatures aren't exactly the prettiest, you might also like our compilation of the world's ugliest animals, which we love despite their appearances.
The rhinoceros beetle is also called the elephant beetle, Atlas beetle, or Hercules beetle. Rhino beetles are among the largest species of beetles in the world. They can grow to about 6 inches. Rhinoceros beetles have two horns3, one on the head and the other just below the head.
The rhinoceros beetle can pull objects 30 times their body weight without slowing down. That's the same as an average human carrying a rhino as if they picked up a piece of paper.
Some rhino beetles have the strength to carry 850 times their body weight, which helps the rhinoceros beetle claim the title of the world’s second-strongest insect.
The tiger is the biggest member of the big cat family and one of the world's strongest animals. The Siberian tiger is the largest tiger subspecies; it measures about 13 feet in total length and weighs up to 660 pounds. A male Bengal tiger can weigh between 300 to 600 pounds and be as long as 7.2 feet–tail excluded.
Tigers typically prey on fairly large animals like deer but occasionally attack rhinos, buffaloes, and elephants. A tiger's bite force per square inch is over one thousand pounds2, much more than a lion's. Tigers have killed humans and other apex predators with just one paw swipe.
Find out more about the big stripy cats with our tiger facts.
The harpy eagle (also featured in our list of animals that start with H) is the most powerful bird of prey in the world. The bald head eagle is its closest competition for the world's strongest bird. Harpy eagles are 3 to 3.5 feet long, with a wingspan of 6.5 feet. They weigh about 9 to 20 pounds.
Harpy eagles fly easily in their canopy habitat in pursuit of prey. They prey on snakes, monkeys, macaws, sloths, and other large tree-dwelling animals. The legs of the harpy eagle are as thick as a human, and its four-inch talons are the same size as that of a grizzly bear.
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest reptiles on earth and one of the strongest animals in the world. These large reptiles can grow to 23 feet and weigh over 2,200 pounds. They are opportunistic feeders and will prey on large and small animals, from sharks to water buffaloes and birds.
The bite force of a saltwater crocodile is 3,700 psi, much higher than a tiger’s bite. An adult saltwater crocodile has 66 teeth that can grow to about 5 inches long. Saltwater crocodiles combine their powerful bite with drowning to incapacitate their prey quickly6.
A gorilla is the largest primate and another of the strongest animals in the world. Scientists recognize two species and four subspecies of gorillas; all species live in the tropical forests of equatorial Africa. Male gorillas can be 5.7 feet tall and weigh 606 pounds in captivity and 396 pounds in the wild.
Gorillas have not only imposing stocky bodies but also long, strong arms. Their arm span is longer than their standing height. Although gorillas are herbivores, their bite force of 1,300 psi can do serious damage in a fight with other animals.
There is currently no extensive research on how strong a gorilla is. But most authorities say an adult gorilla is about 4 to 9 times stronger than one human.
For more reading, our rundown of the different types of monkeys further explores the primate world, although the gorilla is technically an ape rather than a monkey, as they don't have tails.
White rhinos are the largest rhinoceros species and one of the strongest animals on land. This powerful animal can weigh up to 7,936 pounds. The average head and body length is 12 feet, and the shoulder height is 9 feet.
Most rhino species have two horns on their head; the first one is longer than the one behind it. The longest recorded rhino horn was about 65 inches long.
White rhinoceros can run at a speed of 24 km per hour. When provoked, they charge at speeds of up to 40 km per hour; that's the speed limit for vehicles in most urban residential areas.
An ox is a domesticated and castrated male cattle. Oxen are docile, but they are a top contender for the strongest animal in the world. Humans have used this immensely powerful animal as a draft animal for over 6,000 years.
They run at a top speed of 26 km per hour, and an ox can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. Oxen can pull heavy loads like carts, plows, and wagons. They also used them to turn milling stones. Those are no small feats, considering that oxen can work for 5 hours or more each day on any of those tasks.
Read more about the oxen in our list of animals that start with O.
The jaguar is one of the strongest animals in the world. It is one of the big cats strong enough to kill other apex predators across its huge range in Central and South America4. Adult males can weigh 350 pounds and grow up to 9 feet long.
The bite force of a jaguar is 1,500 psi. That is enough force to break through turtle shells, cut through crocodile skin and crush human bones. Jaguars can run at a speed of 80 km per hour. They will hunt almost any animal, even those twice their own body weight.
A tiny ant may not seem qualified to be one of the strongest animals in the world. But it is possibly the strongest insect in America. There are over 39 species of leafcutter ants.
To produce their food, leafcutter ants cut leaves and flowers and feed them to fungi, which they then eat. Leafcutter ants have a tiny body mass but are very powerful. Leafcutter ants carry leaves and flowers about 50 times their body weight. That’s like a human carrying a truck.
Honey badgers are not the strongest animals in the world in terms of size or pure force. They weigh just 30 pounds and have an 11-inch shoulder height. However, these temperamental animals are unafraid to take on larger animals, including lions.
They eat honey, berries, vegetables, monkeys, and poisonous snakes. Their skin is both thick and loose. The thickness protects them from predator bites and bee stings, while the looseness allows them to twist their way out of a predator's grip.
The honey badger is possibly the toughest animal in the world. It is largely resistant to snake venom.
The hippopotamus is one of the most dangerous animals in the world. They compete with the rhino for the second largest land animal after the elephant. Male hippos are about 5 feet tall, 16 feet long, and weigh 9,920 pounds.
Hippos have wide mouths that can open to almost 180°. Their lower jaw has two sharp canines that can grow to about 20 inches. The powerful jaws of hippos have 1,800 per square inch of force in a bite. One bite can cut a human body into clean halves.
The hippo runs quite fast for its body weight at speeds of up to 22 miles per hour.
The green anaconda is the animal in the world with the most deadly hug. The snake is feared for its incredibly powerful squeeze that suffocates and breaks the bones of its prey. Green anacondas eat prey as big as wild pigs, tapirs, and jaguars. They swallow the dead prey whole and then stay for weeks without food.
A green anaconda can grow up to 30 feet with a 12-inch diameter and weigh 550 pounds. They are the largest snakes in the world. South America's green anacondas are adept swimmers who spend most of their lives in water.
Related: For more from the slippery world of snakes, check our snake facts.
There are so many powerful animals on earth. Each with a different kind of strength, including lifting strength, pulling enormous weights, bite strength, kick strength, crushing strength, or even pure hardiness.
If you want to decide what should be the strongest animal in the world, this list of the strongest animals in the world provides ample information. And quite how we measure strength means there are various ways to assess the strongest, yet they are all amazing creatures in their own right.
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Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.