Welcome to the top 10 smallest animals in the world.
There is no doubt that whether it is the mighty elephant, right down to the smallest animals of the world, if you are an animal lover, you are going to love them all, great and small. Each of the smallest of animals might not have people coming to see them in safari parks like they do the Big Five.
But still, they have unbelievable charm and are extremely clever and crafty at avoiding danger and looking after their young! Let’s look at ten of the smallest animals in the world in no particular order:
Overview of top 10 smallest animals in the world
1. Pygmy Marmoset
You are not likely to catch sight of these mini monkeys too much. They come from high in the rainforests of South America. They will leap and duck and dive in-between the branches of the trees and creepers. Then they will suddenly freeze like a statue, and then dash off again, just like a little squirrel.
In fact, it’s also got brown hair similar to a squirrel and its tail is much like a squirrel too. It’s the color of these marmosets that camouflage them so well from their enemies. These little pygmy marmosets are literally the world’s smallest monkeys. Actually, when it is fully grown, it will fit into an adult’s hand, and it doesn’t weigh any more than a stick of butter, you could say! Its tail, though, is longer than its body; it’s the tail that helps to give the monkey its balance as it leaps from trees to tree and gallops its way through the trees.
Their homes are in the trees. They also like to live in bamboo thickets along the rivers. They like hiding in amongst the growth and foraging from just a few of the trees around their home. Being so small, they become prey for birds like hawks and eagles, or the cat family, as well as snakes. That’s why they dash from one spot to the next. They like eating nectar and fruit, but when in captivity like in a zoo, they will eat things like mealworms, crickets, hard-boiled eggs, and wax worms.
We have an entire article on the finger monkey.
Tail: 6-9 inches
2. Pygmy Rabbit
The pygmy rabbit is the smallest rabbit in the world! It’s got grey fur and little white spots on its nose. It won’t grow much bigger than a person’s foot and weighs only about one pound. It lives in burrows or near tall grasses and brush. They like their food near them which is a lot of grass, and they particularly like the sagebrush.
This tiny little rabbit is very rare these days because sagebrush is being destroyed as farms take over. In fact, this little rabbit is now an endangered species. They are active in the day as well, but mostly in the evening and just before the sun rises. In the afternoon, they rest near their burrows to dive in should danger come. Their main predators are fox, bobcats, badgers, coyotes, owls, etc.
|Weight||0.827 to 1.102 pounds|
3. Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur
The cute Madame Berthe Mouse Lemur does look a bit like a mouse. These lemurs have a greyish-brown body with brown heads and two big ears. They will listen out for bird alarm calls and other lemurs to drive their predators away. These lemurs are the smallest primates in the world and are only found in Western Madagascar.
They have cinnamon and yellow colorings with light grey included. The under-fur is a neutral black and grey color. You won’t find them really anywhere else in the world. They are solitary creatures and operate at night. During the day, they will sleep in nests in the trees or holes. They often groom each other or huddle together for a few minutes.
They are different from other lemur species as they don’t hibernate during the winter; they just extend their home range to search for food. They feed mainly on fruits and flowers from different trees and shrubs. They also eat insect secretions, arthropods, gum, and small vertebrates such as chameleons and geckos. If deforestation continues, unfortunately, it is reckoned that this precious little animal will be extinct in 10 years.
4. Speckled Padloper Tortoise
The little Speckled Padloper Tortoise is the smallest in the world and it won’t survive being kept as a pet. Their coloring is goldish-beige and their shell has black spots.
They eat mostly a plant diet. The tortoise is native to South Africa. You can tell this particular species apart from other tortoises in its genus by the fact that it has five toes on its forefeet and by its speckles. They live on the rocks and rocky outcrops, foraging for food among the rocks. Then they have the shelter of the rocks from the heat and also from predators. Being herbivores, they will feed on leaves, flowers, grasses, shrubs, succulents, and forbs. They are reclusive animals and are most active early in the morning.
|Weight||95 – 160 grams|
5. Etruscan Shrew
The Etruscan Shrew is the smallest mammal known by its mass. Their main characteristics are their very rapid movements and the way they eat so fast as well. It also eats around 1.5-2 times of its body weight each day. They have a particularly large head compared to the rest of their body, with small hind limbs.
Their ears are large. The fur close to the body is pale and goes to light-grey on its stomach. It’s got short whiskers near its mouth which it will use for searching for prey at night. You will find these little animals in Europe and North Africa right up to Malaysia, as well as the Maltese islands. They like warm, damp habitats with shrubs to escape quickly underneath, away from predators. They make nests in natural crevices and uninhabited burrows, and often frequent rocks, boulders, and ruins, darting in and out of them. They are solitary animals.
They are always on the move except when hiding or sleeping. They are most active at night, and during the day, they will spend their time near their nest or hiding place. They are omnivores and feed on earthworms, larvae, lizards, rodents, etc.
6. Slender Blind Snakes
Did you know that Slender Blind Snakes are also known as worm snakes or thread snakes? They are very smooth and shiny looking. Slender Blinds Snakes are very slim with bodies no wider than 0.2 inches. When you see them moving, they look like pieces of string or thread moving along.
The adult can be around 4 to 10 inches long and they don’t weigh more than around 0.05 ounces or 1.4 grams in weight. Slender blind snakes are also the only snakes that have teeth on their lower jaw. They have no teeth on the upper jaw. Usually, they are just one color, like light to dark brown, grey or black. Sometimes you get striped ones like the South American ones. These tiny snakes live in Central, South, and North America, but they can appear in Africa and SW Asia also. They can live in the desert or the rainforests and in rocks.
Whatever the area, they seek slightly more damp conditions because they love to burrow under the soil or hide beneath logs and stones or inside termite hills. They eat small invertebrates such as insects and animals without backbones like beetles, caterpillars, fly maggots, crickets, cockroaches and spiders, etc. Ants and termites are also on their menu.
|Size||4 to 10 inches|
|Lifespan||± 2-8 years|
7. Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboa
The Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboa is literally the smallest rodent in the world and very cute indeed, even though it kind of looks a little disproportionate. It belongs to around 33 species of the Jerboa, but it is by way the smallest out of all of them. It is so small it weighs less than an ounce.
Its body length is only around 1.7 inches, without its tail which is about 3 inches long. It’s also known as the Dwarf Three-toed Jerboa – this tiny little cotton ball for its head and body, with a little piece of string for its tail! When it stands up it looks like a tiny little kangaroo as its hind legs are longer than its front legs. Their feet are disproportionately large compared to the rest of the body. But they jump with long hops and do all their balancing with their tails.
They are to be found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some can be found in Northern Africa. They like to live in sand dunes and gravel. They might resemble kangaroo rats, but they don’t belong to the same rodent family.
Way back in 1999, this little rodent was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for being the smallest rodent in the world. They eat seeds that get blown about by the wind as well as succulent leaves of the vegetation that grows in the deserts. They lift their food to their mouths using their tiny little hands. These tiny little rodents have got enemies. They are the leaf-nosed viper, as well as the monitor lizards and the sand cats that share their habitat.
Fortunately for them, they jump in all directions, be it vertically, horizontally, or even in a zig-zag manner. This makes them hard to be caught. The Baluchistan Jerboa doesn’t drink water directly to its mouth. Rather, it gets its water from either the plants or from insects it has eaten.
|Size||± 1.7 inches|
|Lifespan||± 6 years|
8. Northern Pygmy-Owl
He might be one of the smallest birds in the world, but the Northern Pygmy-Owl is a ferocious hunter. They are known to take prey sometimes three times their own size. He is grey or brownish-grey in color. His head has white specks on it. He has yellow eyes and a yellow-green bill. You will find this little owl in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. He loves to live in the subtropical and tropical moist forests, wetlands, and savanna. This little owl is active at dusk and dawn. They are secretive, solitary birds. They will sit perched on the top of the trees, giving territorial calls, but they are so hard to see because they are so small – also their color makes them well camouflaged.
When they see prey, they will swoop down or they will catch insects in flight. The pygmy owls are carnivores. They feed on a large variety of small prey, which could be small mammals, large insects, birds, vertebrates, and invertebrates. They have very convincing eye spots on the back of their heads, just like eyes, which are believed to confuse them from their predators. They actually hunt in the day. They might only grow to about 6 inches long, but it doesn’t stop them from taking down good-sized birds and even small mammals just like the bigger birds of prey.
|Size||16-18 cm tall|
|Lifespan||± 6 years|
9. Bee Hummingbird
This is the world’s smallest living bird. It might be small, but it is a very strong flier, just like the other hummingbirds are. They eat insects and spiders. If you want to go and find this little bird, you will have to go all the way to Cuba. When you get to the island, your next bet would be to go and search near the forests that have plenty of vines and bromeliads growing on the trees. If you see flowers, you might just find the little Bee Hummingbird. It is only this location – you won’t find it even in groups of other hummingbirds, this minute exquisite little bird.
After all, it is only about 2 inches long. They are so minute, that people often mistake them for bumblebees! Can you believe that! And then they weigh hardly anything as well, as little as 2 grams. The tiny little wings will beat around 80 times a second, and when they are courting, those little wings might beat up to 200 times in a second. The male bird has a throat and head of a very bright fiery pink-red color with blazing red feathers that point like spikes down the sides of its breast.
|Lifespan||± 7-10 years|
10. Kitti’s Hog-Nosed Bat
These are also called the Bumblebee Bats; that’s how small they are. But they are also the most threatened species of bat. They have a small little body that is reddish-brown and grey in color. You will find it living in big colonies like in a cave where there will probably be more than 100 bats living. Sometimes there can be around 500 bats there. They will roost high up on the walls or roof, far apart from each other. Their eyes are very small and the bat is covered with a lot of fur. It has big ears, thin little nostrils, and a nose that looks like a little pig.
There is quite a large web of skin between the back legs of the bat which is said to help it to fly and catch insects. But there are no tail bones to help it control its flight. They have large wings that are dark in color. This little bat is found mostly in Thailand and Burma. They like to inhabit the limestone caves along the river, being active in the early morning and at dusk. They will have a short activity period, leaving the roost for only about 30 minutes in the evening and early in the morning. If the weather is very cold or there is heavy rain, then they won’t come out and fly.
When they forage they will feed in fields of kapok or cassava or around the bamboo clumps and teak trees, not far from their roosting site. Their diet consists of spiders, small flies, beetles, wasps, and lice. Their predators are snakes, birds, cats, and squirrels.
Summary of the top 10 smallest animals in the world
The thing is, these tiniest little creatures are what keep the fabric of our natural work together, but they are oven overlooked. Unfortunately, the stewardship from humans to these little highly-necessary creatures has been anything but successful.
We have become oblivious to the roles of these tiny animals and we often forget that once they’re gone, many plants will also go extinct. Fortunately, there are conservationists that have started to develop strategies to maintain these natural processes and to keep them intact.
Time is short to start putting in these strategies to conserve our animals; it’s not a luxury into the future, it’s a necessity. Before you go, take a look at this post for the top 10 cave animals in the world.