Earth is a wonderful planet filled with many exotic wildlife and rare species. Sometimes, different environmental conditions produce the weirdest animals, a testament to nature’s ability to adapt. Some of these animals reside in the deepest parts of the ocean, while some burrow deep into the Earth.
The world is a large place filled with millions of animals, with a large percentage uncovered. Even to this day, scientists still discover new animals almost daily. This article explores 27 weird animals to aid your exploration of the odd but fascinating side of the animal kingdom.
Related read: Whereas we've got the weird below, you might also like our list of ugly animals that also deserve our appreciation.
Naked mole rat has the lengthiest lifespan among all rodents in the world. They have wrinkly skin that's either pink or grayish-pink. They also have short, broad heads, giant incisors, and strong jaw muscles. A naked mole rat can weigh between 1 to 1.5 ounces and have a length of 3 inches.
You'll find this hairless animal in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and other countries in Eastern Africa. A naked mole rat can barely see because it has tiny eyes. Also, it can not regulate its body temperature. It maintains its body temperature by huddling with other rats in the colony.
Although naked mole rats look hairless, they are not. They have sensory whiskers on their tail and faces. The rats also have hairy toes, which help them sweep away soil from their digging activities. Another attribute of the weird animals is their social structure. Naked mole rats have an eusocial system that's unusual for mammals.
They live in large colonies, with only one female rat performing the breeding while other rats form the workforce. They refer to the breeding female as the queen.
Related Read: Mole Facts.
Next on our list of weirdest animals is the pink fairy armadillo. The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest species of armadillo. You can only find them in central Argentina. They have a carapace like the other armadillo species. However, it is softer, thinner, and more flexible. The pink armadillo has a pink shell because all its blood vessels are close to its surface.
It grows up to 6 inches long. Pink Armadillos can also control their temperature by pumping blood to their thin shells. This action removes the heat from their bodies and replaces it with coolness. Observing pink fairy armadillos in the wild is difficult because they usually hide themselves. You might only see glimpses of them if heavy rainfall evicts them from their earthly homes.
Related Read: Armadillo Facts.
Axolotl is an amphibian that lives in Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco, near Mexico City. It is Mexico's national animal. It is a type of salamander that doesn't experience metamorphosis. They look like juveniles for the rest of their lives. How do they reproduce if they are forever young?
At some point, the only adult attribute they develop is the ability to breed. What makes the Mexican walking fish unique is its ability to heal itself3. It can regenerate body parts like the limbs, eyes, and some parts of the brain. Unfortunately, they are critically endangered because of human activities.
The size of the Japanese spider crab makes it a weird animal. It is the largest living crab in the world. The carapace of the Japanese spider crab is 12 inches wide, but its legs can grow up to 13 feet long. It has an average weight of 20 kg and can live up to 100 years old.
The legs keep growing even when the crab reaches adulthood. They have ten long legs, eight walking legs, and two chelipids. Chelipeds are crab legs with claws. In the male crab, chelipeds are longer than its walking legs, while the female crab’s are shorter than its walking legs.
You can find these crabs on Japan’s Pacific Coast. They prefer sandy and rocky continental slopes. Japanese spider crabs are scavengers of the ocean. They spend most of their time scavenging for decaying fish, invertebrates, and algae on the ocean floor. Also, they are not swimmers. They walk on the ocean floor slowly.
The penis snake is a weird animal because of its unusual appearance. It got its name from its resemblance to the male sexual organ, the penis. However, it is neither a penis nor a snake.
It is a caecilian species, a group of limbless, worm/snake-shaped amphibians. The penis snake is the largest tetrapod without lungs. It looks like a snake with the marking rings of an earthworm. It has a broad, flat head and sealed internal nostrils.
Other features of this weird animal are its enlarged mouth, mobile cheek, and flashy dorsal fin. It also lacks pulmonary arteries and veins. The amphibian can grow up to 28 inches. There isn’t enough data regarding this weird animal, so its classification under the IUCN’s red list is data deficient (DD).
The goblin shark is a deep-sea fish inhabiting the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. It has a long, distinctive snout referred to as a rostrum. The rostrum has an array of unique sensing organs that help the goblin shark track prey by sensing the electrical field created by other fishes.
The deep sea shark feeds on fish, squids, and crustaceans. It has long, sharp teeth that are still visible even with a closed mouth. The mouth is retractable to a position under the eye or extends forward under the snout.
It is difficult for scientists to film and observe the goblin shark because it doesn’t appear on the surface. Scientists believe it comes to the ocean surface at night because the environment is dark, like the deep sea.
Related Read: Types of Sharks.
Next on our list of weirdest animals is the star-nosed mole. It is closely related to the hairy-tailed and eastern mole. The star-nosed mole is a small mammal with tiny eyes and a leaf-shaped nose. They live in almost complete darkness because they can’t see with little eyes.
The star-nosed mole's uniqueness is in its name. Its nose has 22 finger-like or star-shaped tentacles. They surround its nostrils side-by-side. Each little extension measures between 0.2 and 0.5 inches. Under the microscope, scientists noticed the tentacles have 25,000 papillae coverings.
The papillae coverings are sensory receptors referred to as Eimer’s organs. The receptors are the mole’s seeing eyes. They help it detect details about its surrounding environment. Scientists also discovered that the star shape of the nose mirrors the structure of its brain.
The mole’s nose touches something up to 10 times per second to send a detailed imprint of its surrounding area to its brain. The star-nosed mole also has the unique ability to smell underwater. It catches its prey by rapidly creating bubbles with its breath to trace the faint scent molecules in water.
There are lots of strange animals in the ocean. One of them is the mantis shrimp, an impressive ocean predator. There are up to 400 species of the mantis shrimp. They have distinctive red, green, and blue colors, making them exceptionally beautiful. However, you can categorize the shrimps into two species.
These groups are smashers and spearers4. Smashers have a claw shaped like a club, which they use to smash their prey, while spearers have a claw lined with plenty of sharp teeth. They incapacitate their prey by impaling them with these teeth.
Mantis shrimps have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. Their compound eyes have trinocular vision, giving them more depth perception than humans. Mantis shrimps can see a variety of light spectra, including those in the ultraviolet spectrum. They also have one of the most powerful blows in the animal kingdom. They attack their prey at 50 miles per hour, faster than a 0.22 caliber bullet.
Related Read: Mantis Shrimp Facts.
The giant Chinese salamander is a critically endangered salamander species. It is the world’s largest amphibian. Chinese salamanders have an average length of 1 meter and weigh 11 kg. Their bodies are heavily built and flat, with short but sturdy limbs.
They can live for up to 60 years. The conservation status of giant Chinese salamanders is critically endangered. Researchers could only find 24 giant Chinese salamanders in the wild. Excessive hunting by humans caused an alarming decline in their population.
Related Read: Salamander Facts.
Another animal on our list of weirdest animals worldwide is the pink river dolphin. Originally born as a gray calf, the river dolphin turns pink as it reaches adulthood. Male river dolphins are usually more pink than their female counterparts. Researchers believe the males have more pink hue because they are aggressive towards themselves.
Unlike other dolphins, the pink river dolphin can turn its head from side to side because of its separated spines. A river dolphin can grow as long as 8.5 ft. Also, it can move one of its flippers independently of the other. It improves the speed of their movement in water.
River dolphins have sensory hair on their snouts. It helps them locate prey in the deep sea. They also have two different types of teeth for various functions. The dolphin's front teeth are pointy and used to catch and hold their prey, while the back teeth are flatter. They use their back teeth to grind their food before swallowing.
Their unique teeth formation allows them to feed on over 50 types of fish, freshwater crabs, and turtles. You can find the pink river dolphin in South America, specifically in the Amazon and Orinoco river systems.
Related Read: Dolphin Facts.
Marine ecologist Kerryn Parkinson found the next animal on our list of weirdest animals in 2003. The blobfish is a deep-sea animal occupying the southeastern coast of mainland Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand waters. Blobfish won the ugliest animal online vote in 2013.
The gelatinous fish has different anatomical functions from other fish species. It lacks skeletons or muscles. The fish’s body comprises a blobby substance with a lower density than water. It helps them stay flat above the sea floor. Half its body mass contains its head, large black eyes, a huge mouth, and a bulbous nose.
Also, blobfish don’t have a swim bladder. It works to its benefit because it allows it to control buoyancy. It lives at sea depths ranging from 2000 to 3900 ft. The ocean at this depth has pressure 60 to 120 times greater than the sea surface. The lack of swim bladders prevents implosion at these depths.
With its single closed circulatory system, it can grow up to one foot long. They have a slow reproduction rate and live up to 100 years.
Read more: Blobfish Facts.
Next on the list of weird animals is the red-lipped batfish. The red-lipped batfish has a lipstick-red pout and frog-like legs. You can only find it on the Galapagos islands. It prefers the sandy bottom of reefs or the ocean. You’ll find the fish species at depths of 3 to 76 meters in the Pacific oceans or around the edges of reefs 120 meters deep at Galapagos islands.
It is a terrible swimmer and often uses its fins as legs to walk around the sandy bottoms of the ocean. Apart from the bright red color of its lips, the blobfish’s body color is light brown, with a gray back and white stomach.
It also has an appendage known as illicium on its head. Researchers think it uses it to lure prey in. It feeds on small fish, shrimp, and mollusks. Luckily, their conservation status is not threatened.
The next creature on our list of weird animals is Aye-aye. It is the world’s largest nocturnal primate native to Madagascar islands. The primate spends its days sleeping and its nights searching for food.
One of its many weird features is its long, narrow middle finger. It uses it to tap on tree branches to get the grubs and insects under the tree branches. Aye-aye uses the percussive foraging method to search for food.
It has rodent-like teeth for tearing at grubs and insects and bat-like ears it uses to pick up echoes in trees. Unfortunately, aye-aye is an endangered species.
The sea pig is a weird animal that looks very different from its name. It is not a pig that lives underwater. It is a sea cucumber. Sea cucumbers live in the bottom of the oceans. They have unique transparent bodies.
You can’t observe sea pigs outside their natural habitat because they disintegrate into a pile of faux Jell-O once they reach 4,000 feet of the water’s surface. They also break apart easily when caught in a fishing trawler.
Their poisonous skin protects them from predators. Sea pigs also have unique respiratory systems. They breathe through their anuses. We don’t know a lot about their conservation status because it is hard to study them outside their native habitat.
The bat-eared fox is one of the weird animals native to Eastern and Southern Africa. It is a small animal with ears that are over 5 inches long. Its body is sandy gray, with darker fur around the back of its ears, eyes, muzzle, feet, and the tip of its long, hairy tail.
The carnivorous mammal can live up to 14 years. According to the conservation status on the IUCN list, there’s no threat of extinction. It relies on its fast speed to escape from predators.
The capybara is an adorable animal native to South America1. They are semi-aquatic animals found in habitats with easy access to water. Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world. It weighs between 35 kg and 65 kg and weighs about 1.2 meters.
They have reddish brown coarse fur, but it turns yellowish brown on the belly. Their hind legs are longer than the front legs, and they have partially webbed feet. Capybaras feed on aquatic soft plant parts, grasses, bark, and fruit.
Related Read: Capybara Facts.
The colugo, also called flying lemur, has a fur-covered membrane that extends from its face to the tips of its claws. It uses the extension to glide between trees. Colugos can fly as far as 200 meters between trees.
The flying lemur is native to Southeast Asia. Its large eyes have a strong night vision and depth perception that helps it glide between trees. Also, colugo’s skeletons are lighter and thinner than a squirrel’s. It also contributes to easy gliding in between trees.
The colugo species rely on trees for food and safety, but deforestation threatens their habitats. Increased spaces in between trees make it difficult for them to glide. In other cases, their conservation status is under threat by human hunting activities.
Related Read: Lemur Facts.
Ghost sharks have numerous names, like rabbitfish or ratfish. They prefer to live in the deepest parts of the ocean. Research shows they are closely related to sharks and rays. They have unique features that differentiate them from their close relatives.
Ghost sharks have bulky heads, and their cartilage is skeletons. Their skin is smooth and scaleless, with body colors ranging from black to grey. They also have a poisonous spin in front of their dorsal fins.
A ghost shark uses electroreception to catch their prey. This weird animal can live up to 30 years in its natural habitat. Their conservation status shows they are not on the verge of extinction, but we don’t have enough information about the ghost shark.
The helmeted hornbill is one of the weirdest animals common in Southeast Asia. The bird has black wings with white tips, a black back, a white belly, and white legs. Its most bizarre feature, wrinkled throat patch, is creamy white in females and deep scarlet in males.
It has a casque on its upper jaw. It is different from other hornbill species. Its casque is harder and heavier and used for combat. It uses its helmet to fight for territory and foraging. Helmeted hornbills fight by ramming their casques together like a big-horned ram. The winner accesses rare nesting cavities and figs from their favorite trees.
Related Read: Birds With Big Beaks.
Jabiru is a large stock bird native to Central and South America. It is also the tallest flying bird in Central and South America. They fly over water bodies, catching any small animal they can.
They scavenge whenever they can. Their scavenging activities help keep water bodies clean by removing dead fish and carrion from the water's surface. Jabiru is a South American Tupi-Guarani language that translates to swollen neck, referring to their bulging necks.
The skin on their neck is deep pink when inactive, but it charges to a deep scarlet color when irritated. Jabiru has the largest wingspan of any bird around the world. Their wingspan is up to 2.6 meters, and they weigh up to 8 kg.
Markhor is a large wild goat with broad hooves and distinctive spiral horns. It is the largest goat among other goat species, and its horns are its unique features. The horns can grow up to 5 feet long in males.
Female markhor weighs between 70 and 88 pounds, while male counterparts weigh between 170 and 242 pounds. You will find them in the Himalayan Mountain Range. Unfortunately, exotic wildlife is under threat of extinction because of habitat loss and human hunting.
The eastern long-necked turtle is native to swamps, lakes, and inland waterways in Eastern Australia. It is a carnivorous aquatic animal that feeds on small fishes, tadpoles, and invertebrates.
The unusual animal has a long neck up to the length of its shell. It also has webbed feet for digging and swimming. The long-necked turtle releases acrid liquid from its armpit and groin whenever it feels threatened.
Mexican mole lizards are weird reptiles that look like worms. They have elongated bodies that look segmented, with small forelegs and no hind legs. Although they have tiny legs, they are very well-developed. They also have small eyes and advanced intestines.
The mole lizards are native to Baja California. You'll recognize it by its pale pink color and blunt-tipped head. They don't have surface pigment to protect them from the sun's rays. However, the small mole escapes by building intricate underground systems on Earth and only comes to the surface at night.
The Pacific barreleye fish, also known as spookfish, is a weird sea creature. It has a transparent head that shows its eyes, brains, and other organs. Everything about this marine creature is unique. Its large eyes point in an upward direction at a 90-degree angle.
Its eyes are dark green and tube-shaped. The green pigment in its eyes helps it filter out green waves from surface light and see bioluminescence in jellyfish and other animals.
While the head of the fish is transparent, the rest of its body is brown, like that of a regular fish.
An adult barreleye fish grows up to 10 cm long. You'll only find this unique species at ocean depths of 1,800 ft to 2,600 ft in the Pacific waters between Baja California and Japan.
Kakapo is a nocturnal, flightless bird. It is one of New Zealand's natural treasures. The nocturnal bird looks like an owl, but it is a parrot. Its feathers are yellow and black, with grey beaks and soles. As of June 2020, only 210 kakapo birds were left in the wild.
Scientists recently discovered the dementor wasp in southeast Asia. They are flying insects that turn cockroaches into zombies. They do this by injecting the belly of cockroaches with venom, which turns the roach into a passive zombie.
It turns them into zombies by blocking the receptors of the neurotransmitters of octopamine. Octopamine is involved in the initiation of spontaneous responses. Blocking it makes cockroaches incapable of controlling their movements.
A pangolin is a solitary and nocturnal animal covered by an armor of scales. It hides under its scaly armor when confronted by a predator. It rolls into a ball and uses its sharp scales and tail to attack whenever it is touched. Pangolin's scales are made of keratin.
It has a small head and a long tail. Pangolin has excellent hearing despite its lack of external ears. Also, it has no teeth and grinds food with its gizzard-like intestines. To aid its digestion, it consumes small stones and sand. Its unique features make it one of the most trafficked mammals in the world.2
Related Read: Pangolin Facts.
There are a lot more weird animals around the world. They include the Christmas tree worm living in the Caribbean Sea, the tufted deer, and fish with human teeth, known as the sheepshead fish.
Many characteristics set these bizarre animals apart from one another. However, these characteristics make them endearing to nature. Each weird animal mentioned in this article plays a role in nature.
Herrera, E. A., & Macdonald, D. W. (2013). The capybara: Biology, use and conservation of an exceptional neotropical species. Springer Science & Business Media.
Challender, D. W. S., Heinrich, S., Shepherd, C. R., & Katsis, L. K. D. (2019). International trade and trafficking in pangolins, 1900–2019. In Pangolins (pp. 265-288). Academic Press.
Vieira, W. A., Wells, K. M., & McCusker, C. D. (2020). Advancements to the Axolotl Model for Regeneration and Aging. Gerontology, 66(3), 212–222. https://doi.org/10.1159/000504294
Patek, S. N., Korff, W. L., & Caldwell, R. L. (2004). Deadly strike mechanism of a mantis shrimp. Nature, 428(6985), 819-820.
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.
Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.