Ugliest Animals

11 World’s Ugliest Animals

The natural world consists of many animal species. From tiny to large, colorful to bland and cute and cuddly to ugly animals. When we think of nature, our minds more often than not go to the beautiful aspects of it.

Although every creature has an important role to play in our ecosystem, some of them are not so aesthetically pleasing. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, and one person’s ugliest animal may not be another’s. 

Our world can be a juxtaposition on its own. It shows us some visually pleasing aspects in conjunction with strange-looking ones. We already know how beautiful animals like the polar bear and dolphin are. However, in this article, we’ll be looking at some of the ugliest animals in the world. Keep reading to dive into our picks for the world’s ugliest animals. 

Related: For more inspiration from the natural world check our our list of the best nature quotes here.

11 World’s Most Ugly Animals (which we love)

Ranked in no particular order, here are our picks of some unusual-looking and ugly animals that exist on our planet.

Naked Mole Rat

Naked mole rat
Photo Credit: Tim Evanson via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The first thing that’ll probably come to mind the moment you see a naked mole rat is, “wow, that looks very strange”. The naked mole rat is part of the ugliest animals that exist due to the various characteristics it possesses. Although there are different types of mole rats, naked mole rats are right up there with the best of the ugliest. It’s easy to identify this animal with its pink, wrinkled, and almost entirely hairless body. 

Naked mole rats are herbivores. Their head to body length spans around 3 to 13 inches with tails that are up to 3 inches. The nearly hairless body of the naked mole rat supports its adaptation to life in burrows. 

Due to its adaptation to the underground environment, the naked mole rat has little use for good eyesight. This animal is almost completely blind. However, it finds its way in the dark through the help of the fine hairs on its body. Those scanty fine hairs act like whiskers that help the naked mole rat feel its environment. Naked mole rats live in communities similar to the behavior of insects. 

The dominant mole rat, the queen, rules the colonies. The worker mole rats dig the burrows for habitation using their long teeth. 

An interesting fact about these ugly animals is that they’re the longest-living rodents1. Unlike many rodents with short lifespans, this rodent can survive up to 30 years. Also, interestingly, these moles cannot regulate their body temperature. They live almost exclusively in burrows in Eastern Africa with a consistent temperature; therefore, their body temperature proves less of a problem. 

These ugly animals are closely related to guinea pigs, porcupines, and chinchillas. Also, they don’t feel pain which researchers have attributed to their adaptation to high carbon dioxide levels.

Proboscis Monkey

Proboscis Monkey
Photo Credit: chem7 via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Making it to the list of ugly animals, the proboscis monkey has its oddly-shaped enormous nose to thank. You can easily identify the proboscis monkey through its unusually large nose and red-brown color. It uses this feature to make loud calls or to attract a mate. Although its big, bulbous schnoz might be what deems it unusual to humans, in this animal’s circle, it’s a thing of pride. 

The proboscis monkey’s large nose aids its vocalizations that attract the females and send competitors away. These animals primarily reside in swampy mangrove forests in Borneo. You’ll also find them along rivers. These mammals are about 24 to 28 inches long. The males average about 50 pounds while the female animals are usually about half the size. 

Proboscis monkeys primarily reside in trees. However, they occasionally venture onto land in search of food. In terms of community living, these animals congregate in organized groups. These groups consist of one male and 2 to 7 females with their younglings. They may not look like it, but these animals are fantastic swimmers. Apart from swinging from tree to tree, they often hit the waters. 

Due to their developed webbed feet and hands, these animals can outpace predators like crocodiles. Given that crocodiles are some of their primary predators, their swimming abilities aid their survival. The proboscis monkey has a complex chambered stomach. These monkeys eat seeds, leaves, and unripe fruits. On some occasions, they’ll consume insects. 

Star-Nosed Mole

Star Nosed Mole
Photo Credit: US NPS (public domain)

The star-nosed mole is another weird-looking, ugly animal. This animal’s name already draws us to a prominent feature on its face that defines its strange-looking nature. At first glance, the animal looks like it has a small octopus stuck on its snout. The tentacle-like nose consists of 22 appendages that the star-nosed mole uses to locate its prey. 

Living in dark tunnels, this animal has no use for eyes. Similar to how naked mole rats lack good eyesight, this animal also relies on other senses to survive. This animal is native to the eastern region of Canada and North America. 

For an animal that’s almost blind, the star-nosed mole is incredibly fast once it locates its prey. In fact, these moles are the fastest-eating animal, also known as the world’s fastest eater. It identifies and pounces on its food in less than a quarter of a second2. With its weird-looking nose, this ugly animal feeds on animals like worms (worms eat organic matter providing nutrients) and insects. It hunts by moving its head around and against the soil as fast as possible. 

Although we identify them as part of the ugly animals, these moles put their quirky features to use. This animal’s almost-blind nature doesn’t hinder its survival in any way. Its star-like nose contains about 100,000 sensitive nerve fibers. Another unique characteristic that this animal possesses is its ability to smell even in underwater tunnels. It does this by blowing air bubbles towards scent trails and re-inhaling these bubbles to capture scents. 

Giant Chinese Salamander - World’s Largest Amphibian

Giant Chinese Salamander
Photo: Shutterstock

The giant Chinese salamander is the world’s largest amphibian, with its growth reaching up to 71 inches long. Its large tail makes up about 60% of its total body length. The Chinese giant salamander is one of the ugliest animals on earth, or rather, it’s more strange looking. 

The salamander is an aquatic animal native to streams in China and Taiwan. Its critically endangered status is due primarily to habitat loss and over-harvesting for consumption. It’s also a critically endangered animal that faces extinction. 

The Chinese giant salamander is occasionally referred to as a living fossil. This name comes as a result of this animal being part of the three species of the family Cryptobranchidae which date back about 170 million years. It’s closely related to the Japanese giant salamander and North America’s hellbender. 

The giant Chinese salamander is a sleek and peculiar river creature. Although it lives underwater, this peculiar and ugly animal possesses no gills. Instead, it uses its skin to absorb oxygen for breathing. 

It possesses four stubby limbs attached to its thick body. Due to their grey-green-brown skin color, these animals can easily camouflage against rocks at the bottom of rivers. Their prey include snails, insects, worms, frogs, and fish. They use a suction technique to eat. 

Blobfish

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The blobfish is a deep-sea fish outside what the mind might conjure when imagining fish species. It belongs to the Psychrolutidae family. In 2013, this creature was named the world’s ugliest animal based on an online poll. This deep-sea fish has a lot of fluid within its muscles and skin. This fluid gives it its weird-looking and distinctive look. 

Australia is home to diverse creatures, and the blobfish calls home. The blobfish has a gooey and slimy appearance and lives off the coast of Tasmania. The aquatic world is home to many strange-looking creatures, and the blobfish takes pride of position as the ugliest animal. 

An interesting fact about this animal is that it doesn’t look so strange underwater. The blobfish looks like a regular fish when you examine it in the depths of the ocean. This is due to the water pressure as they live 2000 to 3900 feet below sea level. However, once brought up to the surface, it loses its shape. This shape-loss is due to decompression which causes the creatures’ bodies to expand, giving their skin a distorted appearance. 

Blobfish have slimy bodies with soft bones and little muscle mass. Sadly, these deep-sea creatures are most likely endangered species; however, not for the reasons you might think of, such as human consumption. Although we don’t eat this type of fish, they often get caught in nets accidentally. This makes them on the brink of being endangered species. 

Warthog

Warthog
Photo Credit: Steve Slater via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Warthogs are members of the pig family. However, they are the wild kind. These animals are about 30 inches tall and weigh between 120 to 250 pounds. Warthogs have the characteristic pig nose, which is the main feature that pushes them into the ugly animal category. 

As wild members of the pig family, warthogs are tough animals. They have disproportionately large flat heads. Their heads are covered with warts on both sides. These warts are protective pads or bumps. Warthogs have sparse hairs on their bodies and have long tails. 

Warthogs are highly adaptable animals that can go months without water in the dry season. They may look wild and violent with their tough-looking bodies. However, warthogs are mostly grazers. They eat plants and grasses. Sometimes, they use their snouts to dig up roots. These animals live in groups made up of a female and her young ones. Male warthogs mostly live alone and only join the small communities to mate. 

Aye-Aye

Aye Aye
Photo Credit: Frank Vassen via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The aye-aye makes the list of ugly animals on earth with its scary-looking appearance. Aye-ayes are nocturnal lemurs with bright yellow eyes and long, bony fingers. There’s no denying that these creatures could frighten you if you come across them at any point at night. The aye aye has large ears, dark fur, and a short face. Similar to a rodent, this creature has continuously growing incisors. Aye-ayes use their unusually long middle fingers to search for food. 

Although with ugly features, the aye-aye uses its bodily features for survival. As it moves along tree branches, it uses its freakishly long middle fingers to tap on each branch. Then, its long ears help it listen closely to identify its prey. 

Once the aye-aye identifies an insect tunnel, it uses its sharp teeth to tear parts of the tree. This gives it access to eat its meal. Aye-ayes are about 16 inches long with bushy tails that span between 21.6 and 23.6 inches long. 

California Condor

California Condor
Photo Credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region via Flickr (public domain)

The California Condor is one of the rarest birds on earth. Although graceful as it spreads its wings to fly in the sky, this bird is one of the ugly-looking creatures on earth. These animals were at the brink of extinction at one point in time, with researchers finding only eight Californian condors left. However, breeding programs saved them from completely disappearing off the face of the earth. Today, their numbers remain small, with around 250 free in the world across the west coast of the United States. 

This animal’s wings measure about 9 feet when spread apart. They make up the largest flying birds in South and North America. They have bald heads, which are also wrinkled. Although their heads are colorful, they don’t do much for this ugly-looking animal. However, the baldness prevents blood from sticking to the bird's head as it devours large carrion.

Horseshoe Bat

Horseshoe Bat
Photo Credi: Rohit.chakravarty (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Horseshoe bats have a strange-looking appearance that almost looks like they have an ear in the middle of their face. Although this feature appears rather ugly, it allows these creatures to be receptive to sound waves. As a result, these creatures are good hunters. As it’s already apparent, horseshoe bats get their name from the “noseleaves” on their face. The upper part of these noseleaves is pointed, while the lower part takes a horseshoe shape. 

Similar to many other creatures, these bats’ distinctive features play a role in their adaptation to the environment. These bats use the ear-like structure on their face to detect various things in their surroundings. The horseshoe bat feeds on insects and it moves quickly through the air to capture its meal.

Elephant Seals

Elephant Seals
Photo Credit: Laëtitia Kernaléguen (Deakin University) (CC BY 2.0)

We can recognize a male elephant seal by its large and elephant-like nose. This protruding snout starts to develop once the males become sexually mature from the age of around three to five years old. 

If you’ve even been close to a colony of elephant seals, you might remember the roar. These large trunks help the males attract their mates, and the size and shape help them create an almighty noise. 

On the other hand, female elephant seals look a lot more like regular seals. Although perhaps not the most beautiful creatures, they’re certainly the fairer elephant seal sex. 

Marabou Stork

Marabou Stork
Photo Credit: Charles J. Sharp (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Africa’s Marabou Stork is far from the prettiest bird to grace our skies. These birds grow to a significant size weighing in at up 20 pounds as adults and with a wingspan of up to 11-12 feet.

Sometimes called the undertaker bird, these ugly birds can live for around 25 years in the wild. We can find marabou storks gathering together socially in groups for the night in their native Africa. Interestingly, this big bird has both hollow legs and toes to balance its weight during flight. 

Conclusion

Our planet houses many distinct creatures. Some creatures have features that look similar to human characteristics. However, some animals possess physical qualities that are very unusual looking that they are far from aesthetically pleasing. This list doesn’t contain every single strange-looking or ugly animal on earth. However, these are some prominent ones in nature that we couldn’t help but feature.

Although these animals might have creepy-looking or strange features, many of them use these for survival. Furthermore, nature is extraordinary in its variety. Regardless of how appealing animals might look to the human eye, each and every one of them is precious to our planet. 

And with many of these unique, weird, and wonderful creatures threatened by human hunting and encroachment on their habitats to raise awareness for the plight of lesser attractive is a good shout too.

Main hero photo: Joe Lewis via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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1

Ruby, J. G., Smith, M., & Buffenstein, R. (2018). Naked mole-rat mortality rates defy Gompertzian laws by not increasing with age. eLife, 7, e31157.

2

Engelhaupt, E. (2017, April 23). Inside the Bizarre Life of the Star-Nosed Mole, World's Fastest Eater. National Geographic

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.

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