When we think of animals, the first ones that pop into our head are cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters or any other animals we could keep as pets. Some more outside-of-the-box thinking individuals might even initially think of animals like penguins, elephants or squirrels.
However, in this article, we’ll be discussing animals so small that we humans can’t even fathom their existence, let alone how they survive in the wild. In fact, we can bet that 90% of you reading this article might have never seen these creatures just peacefully living out their lives in the wilderness.
Did we get you all curious? So, without further ado, from a tiny rabbit to the smallest fish, here’s our list of the ten smallest animals in the world.
Top 10 Tiny Animals You Didn’t Know About
1. Pygmy Marmoset
Let’s start this list with our absolute favorite small animal, the pygmy marmoset. This tiny monkey is officially known as the smallest monkey in the world, weighing only 4-5 ounces (113-141 grams) and a length of only 5-6 inches (12-15 centimeters) even when fully grown. This measurement does not include their tails, which weigh almost as much as their entire body on their own.
Found mainly in the rainforests of South America, these tiny creatures are incredibly difficult to spot for adventurers as they duck and dive through trees consuming all the tree bark and leaves they can find. Their tail helps them out in that endeavor, as they are long and prehensile, helping them grip onto trees and maintain their balance when looking for food. These miniature creatures have plenty of squirrel-like tendencies as well.
In fact, they’re often confused with them as they too can freeze like a statue and then dash off again, twice as fast. Despite their small size, pygmy marmosets have large brains in proportion to their body size, allowing them to adapt and learn quickly.
2. Etruscan Shrew
Categorized as the smallest carnivorous mammal in the world, Etruscan Shrews are incredibly tiny and only weigh about 1.2-2 grams, even as adults. Despite their small size, Etruscan Shrews are carnivores with one of the highest successful kill rates among all animals. Their specialized teeth are perfect for their carnivorous diet as they help them catch and eat small insects and invertebrates, constituting a large portion of their diet.
Like pygmy marmosets, the monkeys mentioned above, Etruscan Shrews are also blessed with an extraordinarily large brain in proportion to their body which helps them adapt intelligently and process information quickly, especially when it comes to their environment. Their high metabolic rate also helps them conserve their body temperature and energy to perform the activities they need to on a daily basis.
In fact, after further research, we’ve concluded that their metabolic rate is ten times as fast as other animals that are similar in size. Etruscan Shrews are pretty temperamental in nature, so before you try and touch one you found in the wild, we’d urge you to think twice about it.
3. Kitti’s Hog-Nosed Bat
Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat are as tiny as bumblebees, giving them another name, bumblebee bats. Not only that, but they’re also one of the smallest mammals in the world. These tiny flying menaces only measure 1 to 1.3 inches (2.5 to 3.3 cm) in length and weigh only about 1.5 to 2 grams as adults. Evident from the name itself, these bats have abnormally shaped noses which mirror almost that of hogs with a protruding snout and everything.
This seemingly ugly nose is a helpful feature as they use it to sniff out and find their prey, mainly small insects living in trees. Their most fascinating feature is specialized echolocation, allowing them to create sounds at high frequencies, more than 200 kHz, much higher than most other bats.
Unfortunately, these mammals have a very short lifespan of only 4-6 years, which may be partly because they’re so small and can’t find enough food in their lifetime to support their incredibly high metabolic rate.
4. Paedocypris Fish
Adding to our list the smallest marine creatures: the paedocypris fish is the smallest in the world and is mainly found in the peat swamps of Southeast Asia. These fish only measure about 7.9 to 10.3 millimeters in length. Their anatomical structure is incredibly unique, which it needed to be if they were to survive in the sea, a place filled with dangerous predators.
These fish have specialized fins, a reduced number of scales and reduced gill arches enabling them to swim at blazing speeds through the water to evade their predators. Another interesting fact that you might not have known about these deep-sea creatures is that they have a very rapid rate of development.
Simply meaning that they mature into adults and gain the ability to reproduce at a very young age, thereby allowing them to maximize their reproductive success in a challenging environment.
5. Brookesia Micra
Speaking of incredibly small species, allow us to present the Brookesia Micra. This chameleon species is so small that it was discovered just a decade ago, in 2012! This new chameleon species measuring only 1 inch in length, was then dubbed the smallest chameleon species in the world. It’s only found in the rainforest area of Madagascar, a small island located off the southeastern coast of Africa.
No wonder, it took them so long to discover the animal! Also, because they are endemic to this island alone, they’re considered a critically endangered species that could go extinct very soon. Researchers have also calculated that the average lifespan of a Brookesia Micra is incredibly short and only lasts a total of 2-3 years.
Scientists have put the reason for their short lifespan down to their size. And also the fact that they have a very slow metabolic rate, which allows them to survive only on a limited diet of small insects and invertebrates.
6. Speckled Padloper Tortoise
Look at the picture of this adorable tiny tortoise that will make your day. You will be left in awe at their incredible cuteness. This absolutely adorable tortoise, found mostly in South Africa, weighs less than half a pound or 0.2 kilograms and only measures about 3-4 inches (7-10 centimeters) in length.
Its shell length is also only 6-8 cm, making it the world’s smallest tortoise species. Their small size benefits them in a few ways, the most significant being that they can easily hide from predators. Considered herbivores by nature, these tortoises have specialized teeth that help them cut and eat sharp grass, feed on succulent plants native to their habitat and even chew hard tree bark.
These small herbivores also have incredible drought tolerance, meaning they can survive in arid environments and go for extended periods without water.
7. Pygmy Jerboa
Known pretty famously as the smallest rodent species in the world, the Pygmy Jerboa measures only about 4-5 centimeters in length and weighs only 3-4 grams. This allows the little rascal to successfully evade most of its predators by hiding in the tiniest of places. Found mainly in the deserts of Asia and Africa, this tiny menace is blessed with long and large hind legs that allow it to move quickly and jump long distances. This trait very much helps it evade its predators and find food.
Pygmy Jerboas are carnivores who feed on small insects plentiful in their desert habitats. Another interesting fact about their feet is their large, padded soles that help them move over sand dunes more efficiently and ensure their feet don’t stick into the sand.
Just like most other rodents, Pygmy Jerboas are also nocturnal creatures who prefer to do all their hunting at night when most of their predators are asleep. This little habit also helps them escape the heat of the day as they mostly spend their time burrowing or finding a quiet spot to hide in during the day.
Due to their specialized diet, Pygmy Jerboas don’t have an exceptionally long life span and are known to only last about 4-6 years.
8. Bee Hummingbird
We reckoned this list would be incomplete if we didn’t include at least one bird that fits the description of one of the world’s most miniature animals. This is why we’ve chosen the Bee Hummingbird as the next entry on this list. This absolutely gorgeous animal is tiny in size, measuring only about 5-6 cm in length and weighing about 1.6 to 2.6 grams.
The smallest bird in the entire world is also one of the most beautiful you’ll ever find, as both males and females of this species have beautiful, brightly colored feathers. The males sport iridescent red, pink, and purple feathers on their heads and throats. But their most unique trait has to be their ability to hover in place and fly backwards. A trait only possible due to their very rapid wing beats which have currently been calculated to be 80 times per second.
Their basic food source is the nectar of flowers they can reach because of their long slender beaks. The beaks are so tubular that they can get inside flowers to extract nectar. All of these amazing features truly make them one of the world’s most unique and fascinating creatures.
9. Pygmy Rabbit
The Pygmy Rabbit is the world’s smallest rabbit and is primarily found in the western states of the United States. These furry little hoppers have been measured to be about 23 to 29 centimeters long and weigh about 0.5 to 1 pound.
They enjoy spending their entire lifetimes in freezing climates as their body has many incredible features that allow them to keep themselves warm in these climates. For example, their small, rounded ears make them less susceptible to frostbite, an ailment that can peel away the skin on your bones in cold and snowy conditions.
The problem with snowy landscapes is that there’s not much vegetation in these parts which can become a problem for animals who can only survive on constant meals. Fortunately for Pygmy Rabbits, they have an adapted digestive system that allows them to extract the maximum number of nutrition possible from the plants that they eat. This allows them to go days without consuming a meal in their arid habitat. Rabbits are also among one of the most hunted prey in the world.
However, Pygmy Rabbits, with their brownish-gray fur, can successfully camouflage themselves in their sagebrush habitat to avoid and hide from predators.
10. Pygmy Seahorse
Rounding off this list with another sea creature, allow us to introduce the Pygmy Seahorse, one of the smallest sea creatures in the world. Found mainly in the coral reefs of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Pygmy Seahorses measure only about 0.5 inches (13 centimeters) in length with a weight so small that it can’t even be calculated.
These majestic sea animals use their small size to their advantage and thrive in the coral reef environment. Using their unique body patterns and coloration to camouflage themselves against the walls of the coral reef, these smart yet tiny creatures make it difficult for predators to spot. Pygmy Seahorses also have an excellent defense mechanism that protects them from being swept away by strong currents.
This defense mechanism includes long prehensile tails that allow them to anchor themselves to coral and other structures in their environment. The reduced size of their fins also reduces drag and allows them to move more easily in the water.
All of these animal species mentioned in this article may be tiny – some even hard to see with the naked eye – but have traits and personalities that are larger-than-life. The fascinating facts associated with each animal make them so unique.
Have you ever spotted any of these tiny living creatures? Or perhaps, you know another species that would fit into our list of the top ten smallest animals in the world? Do let us know in the comments!