The natural world consists of many animal species. From tiny to large, colorful to bland and cute, and cuddly to ugly animals.
Although every creature in the animal kingdom has an important role in our ecosystem, some of them are not aesthetically pleasing. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, and one person’s ugly 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 dolphins are.
However, in this article, we’ll be looking at some of the ugliest animals in the world. Keep reading to find out more about the 15 ugly animals we've featured.
Related: After reading this ugly animals list, you might also like to read up on the strongest animals in the world.
Ranked in no particular order, here are our picks of some unusual-looking and ugly animals that exist on our planet.
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 one of the ugliest animals due to its various characteristics.
Although there are different types of mole rats, naked mole rats (Heterocephalus glaber) are right up there with the best of the ugly animals. It’s easy to identify this animal with its pink, wrinkled, almost entirely hairless body on top of its thin legs.
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 its natural habitat underground, the naked mole rat has little use for good eyesight. This animal is almost completely blind. However, it finds its way in the dark with the help of 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 a short average lifespan, this rodent can survive up to 30 years. Also, interestingly, these moles cannot regulate their body temperature. They live almost exclusively in burrows in East 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.
Making it to the list of ugly animals, the proboscis monkey (nasalis larvatus) 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, it’s a thing of pride in this animal's circle.
The proboscis monkey’s large nose aids its vocalizations that attract the females and send competitors away. Proboscis monkeys primarily reside in swampy mangrove forests on the Southeast Asian Island of Borneo. You’ll also find them along rivers. These mammals are about 24 to 28 inches long. A Male proboscis monkey averages about 50 pounds, while the female animals are usually about half the size.
This long-nosed monkey mainly resides 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 based on their characteristics, making them right up there with the other ugly animals, but these animals are fantastic swimmers. Apart from swinging from tree to tree, this unique creature often hits the water.
Due to their developed webbed feet and hands, this primate can outpace natural predators like crocodiles. Crocodiles are some of their primary predators, so their swimming abilities aid their survival. The proboscis monkey has a complex chambered stomach. This monkey species eats seeds, leaves, and unripe fruits. On some occasions, they’ll eat insects.
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 life underground. 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. It identifies and pounces on its food in less than a quarter of a second2. With its weird-looking nose, these ugly animals feed on 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 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 making it one of the most sensitive noses in the entire animal kingdom.
Another unique characteristic that this animal possesses is its ability to smell even in underwater tunnels. It does this by blowing air bubbles toward scent trails and re-inhaling these bubbles to capture scents.
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.
Giant salamanders are an aquatic animal native to streams in China and Taiwan. It's a threatened species with a critically endangered status due primarily to habitat loss and over-harvesting for consumption. Its also used in traditional Chinese medicine and sadly faces the risk of extinction.
The Chinese giant salamander is occasionally referred to as a living fossil. This name comes from this animal being part of the three species of the family Cryptobranchidae, dating 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 and is known for its poor eyesight. 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.
Related: Also in the salamander family, check out our cute axolotl facts to find out more about this ugly animal's better-looking relatives native to lakes near Mexico City (not your local aquarium).
The blobfish is a deep-sea creature outside what the mind might conjure when imagining fish species. It belongs to the Psychrolutidae family. In 2013, an online poll named this creature the world's ugliest animal. 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 ever.
An interesting fact about the ugliest animal in the world is that it doesn’t look so strange underwater. The blobfish looks like a regular fish when you examine it near the ocean floor. 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.
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 and upturned tusks, the main features that push them into the ugly animals 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 small communities to mate.
The aye-aye, a lemur species, makes the list of ugly animals on earth with its scary-looking appearance. Found in Madagascar, it's also the world's largest nocturnal primate. 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 also 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 trunks and branches, it uses its freakishly long middle finger 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.
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 ugly animals were on 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, and help prevent their feathers from clotting with blood when the bird feeds.
Although its bald head is 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 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 ugly animals 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.
Like many species, these bats’ distinctive features play a role in their environmental adaptation. 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.
We can recognize a male elephant seal by its large and elephant-like nose - and few would argue they are downright ugly animals! This protruding snout starts to develop once the males become sexually mature from the age of around three to five years old.
You might remember the roar if you’ve even been close to a colony of northern elephant seals. These large trunks help male elephant seals 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 northern elephant seal sex. Meanwhile, the only other species of elephant seal, the Southern Elephant Seal, is just as ugly and also lays claim to the largest marine mammal other than cetaceans (such as dolphins and whales)
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 to 20 pounds as adults and with a wingspan of up to 11-12 feet.
Sometimes called the undertaker bird, these ugly animals 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 Sub-Saharan Africa. Interestingly, this big bird has both hollow legs and toes to balance its weight during flight.
The Dugong, commonly referred to as a "sea cow" because these primarily feed on seagrass, is a marine mammal of the order Sirenia. We can find the dugong in the Pacific Ocean and across the Indo-West, spanning a range of over 140 thousand kilometers.
These ugly animals certainly don't win any beauty competitions with their hulking 8-10 feet-long frames, strange-looking snout, and seemingly curious short flippers.
Whereas commercial hunting of the dugong is now banned, previously, it has been widely sought after for meat and oil. The Dugong is particularly vulnerable to extinction because they live for as long as 70 years and reproduce slowly.
Despite bans on commercial hunting, they still end up caught in fishing nets, while climate change and other human-based activities have degraded the seagrass beds they feed on for survival. The IUCN lists their conservation status as vulnerable despite ongoing conservation efforts.
We can find this bat species widely distributed across West and Central Africa, The hammer-headed bat's wings can span as much as a meter, making them the largest in Africa,
Alongside unpleasant loud honking noises and a diet of fruits, often from farms, these ugly animals sometimes get labeled as pests. Their scientific name Hypsignathus monstrosus, even refers to their monstrous looks.
The male hammer-headed fruit bat makes his list because of its boxy head, enormous lips, and massive snout. Looking a bit more fox-like, the females aren't quite so ugly.
Related read: Bat Facts.
These weird-looking sea creatures have large appendages that they inflate and deflate to move around the sea floor. These ugly animals aren't pigs, of course, but rather a member of the sea cucumber family. We can find the sea pig deep at the bottom of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, where they harvest mud for food.
To defend themselves from the prey, the sea pig's skin is poisonous to other animals.
Purple frogs live in India's Western Ghats mountain range and were only formally described in 2003.
With a bloated yet flattened body, the purple frog sports a pointed snout and a small head, making them lucky last in our list of ugly animals. Scientists think their flattened bodies help streamline them when clinging to rocks in strong currents.
This species of frog spends most of its life underground and only comes out of its burrows for its mating season during the monsoon.
Sadly, habitat destruction due to human encroachment for homes and agricultural use, as well as their traditional uses by local tribes for food and medicine, threaten their ongoing survival in the wild.
Related read: Frog facts.
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 of some of the world's ugliest species doesn’t contain all of the ugly animals. However, these are some prominent ones in nature that we couldn’t help but feature.
Others, like the monkfish, goblin shark, the lake Titicaca frog, all manner of other deep sea creatures, and the Kakapo, a flightless parrot native to New Zealand, also regularly get labeled ugly.
Although some might think of these as hideous animals with creepy-looking baggy skin or strange features, many of them use these for survival.
Furthermore, nature is extraordinary in its variety, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Not all animals look as cute as red pandas and penguins. 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 habitat loss, it is important to raise awareness for the plight of the lesser attractive, really ugly animals.
Ruby, J. G., Smith, M., & Buffenstein, R. (2018). Naked mole-rat mortality rates defy Gompertzian laws by not increasing with age. eLife, 7, e31157.
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.