Top 10 Weirdest Animals in the World

Mudskipper, Periophthalmus sp., Family: Gobiidae, Location: Germany, Stuttgart, Zoological Garden. Photo taken by H. Krisp cc3.0

Top 10 Weirdest Animals in the World

Mudskipper, Periophthalmus sp., Family: Gobiidae, Location: Germany, Stuttgart, Zoological Garden. Photo taken by H. Krisp cc3.0

Weird. Bizarre. Strange. Crazy. Odd. All these words mean one thing — something that looks or acts out of the ordinary. In the animal kingdom, this can mean a creature that doesn’t look like other species, or one with a unique ability. It could also mean an animal that behaves unusually, like a dog that walks on its hind legs or uses the toilet.

What are some weird animals of the world? There are quite a lot — geckos, dung beetles, sloths, cockroaches, starfish, jellyfish, opossums and mockingbirds, to name a few. Below, however, are the animals that top the list — the ten weirdest creatures on Earth. Weird and amazing, or weird and creepy? That’s up to you to decide.

10. Birds-of-Paradise

Greater Bird of Paradise
Greater Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea apoda). Male bird of paradise eating offerings at Bali Bird Park. By Andrea Lawardi cc2.0

One the of weirdest animals on the planet may be one of the most beautiful, which just goes to show that looks can be deceiving. Indeed, male birds-of-paradise are stunning, with colorful, elaborate feathers in their long tails, head plumes and fans or feathered ruffs. The reason? To attract females.

These birds are made for courtship, and they spend hours doing it, jumping up and down, flapping their wings, showing off their best features, swaying their necks to and fro and performing other acrobatics. Never mind that they look funny or crazy, as long as they get the girl.

9. Mantis Shrimp

Mantis Shrimp - Odontodactylus scyllarus
Mantis Shrimp – Odontodactylus scyllarus. Thailand Andaman Sea February 2008. By prilfish cc2.0

Mantis shrimp can appear beautiful because of their bright colors, but beware. Mantis shrimp possess strong claws which can cut and smash prey, striking at the speed of a .22 caliber bullet. When improperly handled, these claws can cause nasty gashes. They are also reported to be able to break aquarium glass.

Mantis shrimp have large eyes and one of the best visual systems among animals. In fact, they are able to see even more colors than humans can. Each eye is compound (made of smaller “eyes”), and can move independently.

These shrimp are believed to be intelligent, able to remember creatures they interact with frequently. Some light up, communicating with each other using various light patterns.

8. Leafy Seadragon

Leafy Seadragon
Leafy Seadragon native of the Southern Ocean off Australia. Photo taken at Monterey Bay Aquarium by Joseph C Boone cc3.0

At first glance, you might think you’re looking at a piece of floating seaweed, but look again and you’ll realize you’re actually looking at a weird animal creature — a leafy seadragon.

Leafy seadragons do not have scales. Instead, they are covered in hard, bony plates with sharp spines and leaf-like appendages that aid in camouflage. They also do not have teeth or a stomach, but eat by sucking their prey in, eating constantly to keep their energy up.

Leafy seadragons are related to seahorses, and like seahorses, the males give birth to the young. The female shoves the eggs under the skin of the male, which hardens slowly to protect the eggs. When it is time for the eggs to hatch, the male releases them a few at a time, letting them burst through his skin tail first.

Leafy Sea Dragon is featured in this following book:
25 Weirdest Animals in the World!

7. Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumber
Sea cucumber by Anna Barnett cc 2.0

The sea cucumber is a tasty delicacy often served with scallops and mushrooms, but did you know that it is one of the weirdest animals on the planet? (Yes, the sea cucumber is an animal, not a vegetable.)

What makes it weird? Sea cucumbers have no brains, just a ring of neural tissue around the mouth. They also have no gills. Sea cucumbers breathe through their butts, using “respiratory trees” that draw in and expel water. These “trees” also double as excretory organs. (They’re in the butt, after all.)

There is another thing the sea cucumber uses its butt for. When threatened, the sea cucumber expels its organs through its butt, directing them toward its attacker. Amazingly, these organs are quickly regenerated. Then again, that’s not so surprising, considering the sea cucumber can also turn itself into liquid and back to solid again.

6. Hagfish

A hagfish protruding from a sponge. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program cc2.0

This weirdo is known for its slime. When threatened, it produces large amounts of slime, which blind or choke its attacker, allowing it to escape. It is believed to be capable of producing up to five gallons of slime in just minutes, and some scientists think its slime can be as strong as spider silk. How does the hagfish escape from its own slime? It ties itself into a knot to scrape off its slime, and if the slime ever gets into its nostrils, it simply sneezes.

Alright, so it’s slimy. What else? The hagfish has four hearts and no bones. It can breathe and absorb nutrients through its skin. It can also go for months without food. When it does eat, it eats the carcasses of sea animals lying on the ocean floor, burrowing inside them and consuming them from the inside out.

Hagfish are featured in the following books:
25 Deep Sea Creatures
25 Weirdest Animals in the World

5. Lowland Streaked Tenrec

Lowland Streaked Tenrec
Lowland Streaked Tenrec, Mantadia, Madagascar by Frank Vassen cc2.0

Never heard of a tenrec before? Don’t worry. After all, this weird creature can only be found in Madagascar. It is a small mammal about half a foot long (15 centimeters) with a long snout, black and yellow stripes, and quills like a porcupine.

The lowland streaked tenrec has two kinds of quills. Some of them are barbed and detachable, and used as weapons against predators. When threatened, the tenrec charges into the enemy and drives the quills into its nose or paws. The rest of its quills are used for communication. By causing them to vibrate, the lowland streaked tenrec can communicate with members of its family. It is the only mammal known to communicate in this manner.

4. Mudskipper

Mudskipper, Periophthalmus sp., Family: Gobiidae, Location: Germany, Stuttgart, Zoological Garden. Photo taken by H. Krisp cc3.0

The mudskipper is literally a fish out of water, spending most of its life on land. How does it survive? Before coming out of the water, mudskippers fill their gills with water, turning them into makeshift oxygen tanks. To keep the gills moist, they wipe them regularly with their fins. They can also breathe through their skin, which is rich in blood vessels, so long as their skin is moist.

Mudskippers skip across the mud by propelling themselves with their strong tails, which is where they get their name from. They can also walk on their fins. During courtship, the males perform “push-ups” and other acrobatics on the mud, in the hope of catching a female’s attention. If successful, the female will follow the male back to his burrow and lay eggs there. The burrow is filled with water and is low in oxygen, so the male goes to it every once in a while to fill it with air.

Mudskippers also have weird eyes. When they are young the eyes are on the sides of their heads, but as they grow, the eyes move to the top of their heads. The eyes can move in their sockets independently of each other.

3. Naked Mole Rat

Angry female naked mole rat.Credit: Buffenstein/Barshop Institute/UTHSCSA
Angry female naked mole rat. Credit: Buffenstein/Barshop Institute/UTHSCSA by Jedimentat44 cc2.0

The naked mole rat, which is neither a mole nor a rat but a rodent in a family of its own, is not just one of the ugliest but also one of the weirdest creatures on earth. And being naked is not even the weirdest part.

Naked mole rats spend their entire lives underground. Their social structure is closer to that of ants than of mammals, with a queen mothering and ruling the colony and the rest assigned their duties. Some of them look for food. Some of them dig tunnels using their claws and sharp front teeth. Some of them are soldiers, protecting the colony from predators and other colonies.

Like axolotls, naked mole rats are currently being studied in laboratories, for three reasons — their long lifespans, their high resistance to cancer and their incapacity to feel pain.

Naked mole rat is featured in this following List Article:
The Top 10 Ugliest Animals on Earth

2. Echidna

Short-beaked Echidna
Short-beaked Echidna Credit KristianBell

The echidna is one weird looking animal. It has the feet of a mole, the spines of a porcupine, a birdlike beak and a pouch like a kangaroo’s. There is more weirdness to it, however, than meets the eye.

Echidnas are monotremes, which means they are one of the few egg-laying mammals in existence. After laying a single egg, the female echidna puts it inside her pouch. There, the baby echidna (called a puggle) hatches and stays until it grows spines. While there, it feeds on its mother’s milk, like other mammals. However, like the platypus, the echidna doesn’t have nipples. The female simply secretes the milk through her skin, just like sweat.

In order for the echidna to lay eggs, first it has to mate, and echidnas sure have weird mating habits. For one, male echidnas have a four-headed penis. Only two are active at a time and the male echidna alternates between each until the mating is successful, which it always is. During the mating season, the males gather and form a line following the female, and when she is ready to mate, the males form a circle around her and dig a trench, pushing each other out. The last male remaining in the trench gets to mate with the female.

Also see:
Long-beaked Echidna
Short-beaked Echidna

1. Axolotl

Goldy the axolotl by Wheel Cosmic cc2.0

Axolotls are commonly called “walking fish”, since they look like fish with legs. However, the axolotl isn’t a fish. It’s actually a salamander, and a unique one at that. You see, most salamanders go through a process called metamorphosis — a process of physical development which involves an abrupt change. Like frogs, they start out as tadpoles and eventually grow legs, lose their fins, develop teeth, grow tails, and in some cases, trade in their gills for lungs. Axolotls, however, do not undergo metamorphosis. They remain in their larval form all their lives, having thin legs, no eyelids, no teeth and two sets of gills. They live permanently in the water.

Axolotls are widely used in medical research because of their uncanny healing ability. Like all salamanders, axolotls can grow a lost limb, but that is not all. Axolotls can restore all their organs, even their brains. They can also accept and restore organs transplanted from other organisms.

With a dose of iodine, axolotls can be induced to undergo metamorphosis, and resemble tiger salamanders somewhat. However, metamorphosized axolotls have reduced healing abilities.

Sadly, axolotls, which were once believed extinct, are currently critically endangered.

Axolotls are featured in the following books:
25 Endangered Animals
25 Weirdest Animals in the World!

Did we get it right or wrong?

Is this the right order? What do you think? Scroll down to the comments and let us know what order these ugly creatures should be in – or if we’ve missed something hideous!

What do you know?

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25 Weirdest Animals in the World!


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