Have you ever seen an animal that made you do a double take? Some creatures seem too bizarre to be real – but they are! In this post, we’ll explore some of the strangest and most unusual animals. Get ready for some serious weirdness!
Meet the tarsier – it may look cute and cuddly, but this small primate has some serious strangeness. Found only in the Philippine islands, the tarsier is immediately recognizable thanks to its gigantic eyes. Each eyeball is around 16mm wide, which is actually bigger than the tarsier’s entire brain! How’s that for weird?
But the tarsier’s freak factor doesn’t stop with its bulging eyeballs. They also have ankles that can swivel a full 180 degrees. This allows their feet to rotate backwards, giving them excellent grip as they climb around trees. On top of that, tarsiers have creepy-looking claws on each toe and can leap up to 10 feet between trunks and branches. With their funky adaptations, it’s no wonder these odd primates look so alien!
Found off the coast of the Galápagos Islands, this fish looks like it’s wearing bright red lipstick! The red-lipped batfish has puffy red lips and a flattened body. It uses its pectoral fins to “walk” along the ocean floor. Since it’s a poor swimmer, it has to scuttle around to find food.
The batfish is a pretty bad hunter. Its weird face and tiny eyes don’t help it catch prey. It often tries to eat other animals like crabs and small fish but fails miserably. Luckily, other fish have learned to follow batfish and eat the animals they disturb. So, the red-lipped batfish helps the ecosystem by stirring up food for other species!
You’ve probably seen pictures of this grumpy, gelatinous fish. It lives deep in the ocean off Australia, so it’s rarely seen in the wild. But when brought to the surface, the blobfish looks like a blob! It has minimal muscle and almost no skeleton, so the pressure change causes its body to turn mush.
The blobfish lives in total darkness over 2,000 feet deep. The pressure is much higher at this depth than at sea level. The blobfish is adapted to live in this extreme environment. Its density is slightly less than water, so it floats just above the sea floor, waiting to eat whatever swims or floats by its mouth. It’s pretty weird but normal for the blobfish!
No, this isn’t a Yeti! But with its hairy claws, this crab does resemble the mythical Abominable Snowman. The yeti crab was discovered near deep-sea vents where hot water spews from the ocean floor. It waves its furry claws near the vents to collect bacteria for food.
But the hair on the yeti crab’s claws serves another purpose – to trap methane. The vents release hydrogen sulfide, a toxic chemical. Bacteria living on the hairs use hydrogen sulfide and methane chemical reactions to make food energy. So, the yeti crab has a symbiotic relationship with these bacteria. In exchange for methane food, the bacteria detoxify its environment!
Naked Mole Rat
A more accurate name for this odd creature would be the “sabre-toothed sausage.” Native to East Africa, these sausage-shaped rodents live in underground colonies like ants or bees. They have almost no hair and wrinkly pink skin that’s cold to the touch.
Naked mole rats are also famous for rarely getting cancer. Scientists think their cells have a natural anti-cancer mechanism that prevents tumours. Cancer resistance, zero body fat, and not feeling pain from burns or acid are some of this animal’s strange abilities. Their weirdness doesn’t end there – naked mole rats can live over 30 years, surviving with very low oxygen levels that would kill a human within minutes!
This antelope has a funny face. That oversized nose helps the saiga survive brutal winters on the Central Asian steppe. Their large nostrils warm up cold air before it reaches their lungs. Males also use their big noses to battle for females during mating season!
But the saiga faces another threat besides freezing temps – illegal hunting. Their horns are used in traditional Chinese medicine, leading to a huge poaching problem. The global saiga population has dropped to around 50,000 from millions in the past. Conservation programs are now working to protect these goofy-looking antelopes.
Sometimes called a “snot eel,” the hagfish produces enormous amounts of slime. Over a gallon can be released from a single fish! This sticky goo chokes predators by clogging their gills. Hagfish slime also contains tiny skeins that swell up in water, making it thicker.
Along with slimy defence, hagfish have other creepy adaptations. Their teeth are arranged in rows on a bony plate. Using a tongue-like piston, they scrape these teeth along dead animals to bore inside and eat their prey from the inside out. Hagfish have even been known to devour animals by crawling up their backside to eat them from the inside making them one horrifying animal!
You’ll know the male proboscis monkey by his large, bulbous nose and big belly. Though odd-looking to us, those features help male proboscis monkeys attract mates and warn off rivals. The bigger the nose, the more attractive he is!
The monkeys use their big noses to make loud honking sounds. Groups communicate back and forth with different honking “dialects” in the forests of Borneo.
Lying on the ocean floor, the tasselled wobbegong shark blends into the seaweed and coral. This ambush predator has branching skin flaps that disguise its outline. Only the writhing tassels give it away – and by then, it’s often too late for prey!
Like other wobbegong sharks, this species is not aggressive. However, they have a classic shark shape, flattened heads, and sharp teeth. If disturbed, they may bite defensively. The tasselled wobbegong prefers shallow coastal regions around northern Australia and Indonesia. Bottom-dwelling fish and octopus make up their diet.
Imagine being a pipa toad tadpole – your mother has kids growing inside her back! Female pipa toads from South America have specialized skin that embeds eggs. The eggs then sink into the skin, forming pockets for the tadpoles to develop. She even grows extra blood vessels around the pockets to provide oxygen.
Once fully mature, the babies push out of her back as toadlets. The pipa toad’s weird reproductive habits don’t end there. This fully aquatic species also practice necrophilia – the males prefer to get frisky with dead females over live ones!
Elephant Trunk Snake
One look at this weird snake, and you can see where it gets its name. Found hunting in Asian mangroves and rivers, the elephant trunk snake has an extended snout for a nose. It uses this special snoot to hunt underwater, secreting a sticky mucus to trap passing fish and crustaceans.
The elephant trunk snake’s strange jaw anatomy allows it to swallow prey underwater without water entering its mouth. It can grow over 8 feet long and is venomous, though not aggressive toward humans.
The colugo, or “flying lemur,” is the most adept glider of all mammals. It lives in Southeast Asian rainforests and uses a parachute-like membrane to glide between trees. Large colugos can glide over 200 feet between trees! But they’re not flying or lemurs – instead, colugos are a unique primitive group of mammals called dermopterans.
Colugos feed primarily on leaves, fruit, and sap. They play an essential ecological role, spreading seeds as they glide through the forest. However, deforestation threatens these adorable gliders. Protecting Southeast Asia’s rainforests can help colugos thrive.
Pink Fairy Armadillo
First up on our list of weird animals is the pink fairy armadillo, the smallest armadillo in the world. These little guys are only about 5 inches long from head to tail and weigh a mere 4 ounces. As their name suggests, they have a bright pink shell that looks just like a fairy’s armour!
The pink fairy armadillo is found in the sandy deserts of central Argentina. They spend nearly their entire lives underground, burrowing and digging tunnels. In fact, these armadillos are rarely ever seen above ground. They come out for only a few short minutes at night to find food and collect material for their burrows.
One of the strangest things about the pink fairy armadillo is that it has a backwards-facing shell. Unlike other armadillos, whose shells protect their heads and backs, the pink fairy’s shell covers its butt and tail! This rear-facing shell likely helps it plug up its burrow when disturbed. How weird is that?
Next up is the axolotl, a type of salamander with some freaky features. Axolotls are only found in Lake Xochimilco near Mexico City. Scientists think axolotls evolved to remain aquatic their whole lives and never develop from larvae to adulthood. How crazy is that?
Axolotls have lidless eyes and finned gills that stick out from the back of their wide heads, making them look like weird fish. Their legs and tails are really tiny compared to their big bodies. But what’s bizarre about axolotls is their ability to regenerate limbs and even organs!
If an axolotl loses a leg or its tail, a new one will grow back over time. And their regeneration powers don’t stop there – axolotls can regrow large parts of their brains, hearts, and more. No other animal has regeneration abilities that can compare to this freaky salamander!
If you’re afraid of sharks, you’ll want to avoid this next weird critter – the goblin shark. Lurking in the deep, dark waters of the ocean, the goblin shark is a rare species that looks straight out of a nightmare. Its long, flat snout and needle-like teeth give it a terrifying appearance.
Goblin sharks have a distinctive snout that is covered with pores full of electroreceptors that help them sense prey. Their jaws can rapidly protrude out, which allows them to snap up fish and other animals from long distances.
When Europeans first encountered the platypus in the late 18th century, they thought it had to be a hoax. That’s because the platypus has a crazy mix of features seen in mammals, birds, and reptiles. This semi-aquatic creature has the bill and webbed feet of a duck, a beaver’s tail, and a mammal’s otter-like body. But even weirder – it lays eggs rather than giving live birth!
The male platypus is also one of the few venomous mammals. It has sharp stingers on its hind legs that can inflict an intensely painful wound. The venom isn’t enough to kill humans, but it certainly could make you wish you had never encountered one of these freaky critters!
Native to the rainforests of Madagascar, the aye-aye is arguably one of the strangest-looking primates out there. It has bat-like ears, long spider-like fingers, and big bulging eyes that give it a sinister appearance. But what’s bizarre about the aye-aye is its elongated, bony middle finger.
This extra-long finger allows it to tap on tree trunks and branches to listen for hollow chambers where grubs might be hiding. Once a grub is detected, the aye-aye uses its long finger to fish it out of the wood – how creepy!
Many locals in Madagascar consider The aye-aye an omen of bad luck. They believe death is not far away if an aye-aye points its narrow finger at you. With its spooky features, it’s no wonder this primate has gained such a bad reputation!
The gerenuk is one of the weirdest antelopes you’ll ever see. Native to Eastern Africa, gerenuks have extraordinarily long legs. Their thin legs make them look like they’re walking on stilts!
But the gerenuk’s long neck serves an important purpose. It allows them to stand up on their hind legs and reach leaves and shoots high up in acacia trees that other animals can’t reach. Gerenuks will even sleep upright while resting their necks on tree branches. With adaptations like that, the gerenuk deserves its title as one of Africa’s strangest antelopes.
Found only on the island of Madagascar, the fossa looks like a cross between a cat and a mongoose. But despite its cute appearance, the fossa is Madagascar’s top predator and a pretty freaky animal.
Fossas have a lot of features that make them seem very bizarre. They have cat-like heads and bodies but with dog-like teeth and mongoose-like tails. Adult fossas are around 6 feet long from nose to tail, with part of that length coming from their extra-long tails. Another weird adaptation is that they have special scent glands for communication that no other carnivores have.
Last on our list of strange animals is the mata mata turtle, which looks, unlike any other turtle you’ve ever seen. Native to South America, these turtles have triangular heads, jagged scales, and a spine-covered shell that makes them look prehistoric.
But the weirdest thing about the mata mata is that it’s perfectly camouflaged to sit still along river and pond bottoms, where it lies in wait for its prey. Its huge head and sharp ridges look just like a leaf litter-covered rock. Before unsuspecting fish swim by, the mata mata snaps its huge jaws and vacuums them up quickly. With such excellent camouflage and lightning-fast strikes, the mata mata is one freakishly cool turtle!