Activists, environmentalists, and lovers of all creatures great and small, brace yourselves. We are about to share with you the ugliest animals on the planet (well…at least in our opinion).
It’s important that each of us play a role in protecting animals — but why should cute, fuzzy animals have all the fun? We’ve included details about how to protect these not-so-gorgeous animals and give you an inquisitive look into some of the fascinating creatures that call this beautiful planet home. Buckle up, it's going to be a wild ride!
Meet the Ugliest Animals in the World
Scientific name: Psychrolutes microporos
The blobfish is an unusual deep-sea fish that lives in the waters off of Australia and Tasmania’s coasts. These grisly creatures are gelatinous, which means they have no skeleton or scales, and look as if they wear a perpetual frown. Honestly, it’s really easy to look at a photo of one on a bad day and go “same.”
Blobfish can reach a length of up to 12 inches and dwell at depths of up to 3,900 feet. In 2013, the blobfish was named the ugliest animal in the world by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.
How to protect them: The biggest known risk to the blobfish is from deep-sea trawlers. If you live in Australia or New Zealand, the most effective way you can help is by advocating for governmental bans or restrictions on deep-sea trawling.
Scientific name: Gymnogyps californianus
The California condor is a large bird that is found in the western United States. These ugly animals have a wingspan of up to 10 feet and are one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. They are bald, with pinkish-gray skin on their heads and necks, sporting a lovely double chin.
How to protect them: The California condor is “critically endangered” and efforts are underway to save the species. One way you can make a difference is to donate to the Condor Recovery Center at Oakland Zoo, which rehabilitates California condors who suffer from lead poisoning.
Scientific name: Nasalis larvatus
The proboscis monkey is a primate that is found on the island of Borneo. These unique animals are easily recognizable by their long, bulbous noses — especially in males. These honkers are impressive, but we’re not advocating for a nose job here! According to scientists, proboscis monkeys use their big sniffers to attract mates.
They are also known for their reddish-brown fur and pot bellies. Proboscis monkeys are proficient swimmers and can often be seen wading in rivers or swimming in lakes. Truly role models for living a body-positive, unbothered life. We have to stan.
How to protect them: Unfortunately, the proboscis monkey is currently assessed as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species — and its population has decreased more than 50% in the last 50 years. The primary reason is deforestation — with companies cutting down the creatures’ habitats to use the land for palm oil production.
You can make a difference by reducing your use of palm oil and choosing sustainably-sourced palm oil products.
Scientific name: Heterocephalus glaber
The naked mole-rat is a subterranean rodent that is native to East Africa’s Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. These creatures have wrinkled, pink skin with almost no hair. They live in groups of up to 80 and dwell in underground tunnel systems. They’re uniquely resistant to cancer, and scientists think they may hold the key to a cure for humans.
Between these facts and our collective love for Rufus on “Kim Possible,” we might be able to look past these guys’ weird, wrinkly exteriors.
How to protect them: Naked mole-rats aren’t currently threatened. In fact, they live remarkably long lives.
Scientific name: Condylura cristata
The star-nosed mole is a small, burrowing mammal that is found in parts of Canada and the northeastern United States. Their noses aren’t quite the shiny gold stars we’re used to, but are made of 22 pink, fleshy tentacles that protrude from their snouts. They are excellent swimmers and can even survive being submerged underwater for up to half an hour.
How to protect them: Fortunately, the star-nosed mole isn’t currently at-risk.
Scientific name: Kiwa hirsuta
What would happen if you took the Abominable Snowman and Mr. Crabs and did a little remix? The yeti crab, probably. This species is a deep sea creature that is found in the South Pacific Ocean. These crabs are covered in hair-like filaments and have claw-like appendages. They grow to be up to six inches long and are currently considered a delicacy in some parts of the world.
How to protect them: The yeti crab was recently discovered — and there’s still so much to learn about them. You can donate to the organization that discovered the creature, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, to help them continue their research.
Scientific name: Leptoptilos crumenifer
The marabou stork is a large bird that is found in Africa, south of the Sahara. These animals have bare, pink heads and necks and can grow to be up to 5 feet tall. They are scavengers, often feeding on carrion or garbage.
How to protect them: Marabou down is frequently used in the fashion industry. While the creature isn’t endangered, you can protect Marabou and other feathered animals by avoiding down and other animal products in your fashion choices.
Scientific name: Lophius
The monkfish is a marine fish that is found in the waters off the coast of Europe — and definitely something you might find in an episode of “River Monsters.” These ugly sea creatures have large heads and mouths, and can grow to be up to 5 feet long. They are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, even despite their appalling attributes
How to protect them: The way monkfish are fished is unsustainable and harmful to the marine ecosystem. The best thing you can do is call your elected officials about creating laws to ban beam trawling, a fishing technique that destroys seafloors.
Roti Island Snake Necked Turtle
Scientific name: Chelodina mccordi
Imagine a turtle… but with the neck and head of a scary snake. The Roti Island snake-necked turtle is a turtle that is found on the island of Rote in Indonesia. These repugnant reptiles get their name from their long, snake-like necks and beady eyes. They are also known for their brown and orange coloring.
How to protect them: The Roti Island snake-necked turtle is critically endangered due to illegal trade and hunting but you can make a difference by donating to Turtle Conservancy.
Scientific name: Daubentonia madagascariensis
The aye-aye is a lemur that is found on the island of Madagascar and mostly lives in trees. The world’s largest nocturnal primate is known for its large, furry tails and its long, thin fingers. Though aye-ayes sort of have the “so ugly they’re cute” vibe, you still might want to “move it, move it” in the opposite direction of these unseemly lemurs.
How to protect them: The aye-aye was previously thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 1957. The species is still endangered and you can help protect them by donating to the Duke Lemur Center. You can also support tree planting efforts by using Ecosia.
Japanese Spider Crab
Scientific name: Macrocheira kaempferi
The Japanese spider crab is a marine crustacean that is found in the waters off the coast of Japan. These creepy crawly animals have distinct long, spider-like legs, and might give you the willies. They can grow to be up to 12 feet wide and weigh up to 42 pounds.
How to protect them: The biggest concern to the Japanese spider crab is overfishing. New laws have been put in place to prohibit fishing during their mating season, but more work can be done. Donate to the Environmental Defense Fund to help empower finishing communities to fish more sustainably.
Scientific name: Mirounga leonina
The elephant seal is a marine mammal that is found in the waters off the coast of Antarctica. These grotesque guys can be spotted by their large size and their long, trunk-like noses. They can grow to be up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 4,000 pounds.
How to protect them: Fortunately, elephant seals aren’t at-risk at this time.
Yellow Striped Tenrecs
Scientific name: Hemicentetes semispinosus
The yellow-striped tenrecs are small, insectivorous mammals that are found in the forests of Madagascar. They sort of look like Sonic the Hedgehog got a rebrand and are known for their yellow and black stripes. They can grow to be up to six inches long and have a lifespan of up to 10 years.
How to protect them: Like many species in Madagascar, the biggest risk to tenrecs is a loss of habitat. You can donate to the Landforest Trust to help support Madagascar’s forests.
Scientific name: Hypsignathus monstrosus
The hammer-headed bat is a large, insectivorous bat that is found in Central and West Africa. These beastly bats have large, hammer-shaped noses. They can grow to be up to 16 inches long and have a lifespan of up to 20 years.
How to protect them: Hammer-headed bats are evaluated as a species of least concern by the IUCN.
Scientific name: Glaucus atlanticus
The blue glaucus is a small, marine gastropod that is found in the waters off the coast of Australia. With bright blue coloration, these creatures look like tiny, make-believe dragons, but they’re totally real! They can grow to be up to three inches long and have a lifespan of up to two years.
How to protect them: The blue glaucus is not currently at-risk (but watch out — because their poisonous stinging cells make them incredibly dangerous to humans).
Giant Chinese Salamander
Scientific name: Andrias davidianus
The giant Chinese salamander is a permanently aquatic amphibian that is found in the rivers and lakes of China. The largest species of salamander in the world, these long, flat-headed beasts can grow to be up to six feet long. They’re experts of camouflage, settling among rocks.
How to protect them: These creatures are critically endangered but you can play a role in protecting them by not consuming giant salamander meat or using any parts of their body.
Scientific name: Phacochoerus africanus
No defaming Pumbaa here! The warthog is a large, terrestrial mammal that is found in Africa, and you likely already know these tusked animals from Disney’s “The Lion King.” They can grow to be up to four feet long and weigh up to 150 pounds.
How to protect them: You can donate to the African Wildlife Foundation to support warthog conservation efforts.
Scientific name: Hyaena
Another Lion King-related animal, the hyena is a large, terrestrial mammal that is found in Africa and Asia. These spooky animals are way uglier IRL than they are in the movie, with big, intimidating eyes that’ll scare you right into your place.
How to protect them: Many hyena deaths are retaliatory killings by humans. You can donate to Botswana Predator Conservation to help reduce human-wildlife conflict.
Titicaca Water Frog
Scientific name: Telmatobius culeus
The Titicaca frog is a permanently aquatic amphibian that is found in the lakes of the Andes mountains. These dark-colored frogs are lumpy and unseemly and can grow to be up to eight inches long and have a lifespan of up to 10 years.
How to protect them: The IUCN ranked the Titanica water frog as endangered. One way you can make a difference for this little creature is to reduce pollution through personal climate action and systemic change.
Black Rain Frog
Scientific name: Breviceps fuscus
The black rain frog is a small amphibian that is found in coastal southern Africa. Round and bulbous, black rain frogs have black coloration and bumps across their backs. They also sport a constant frown and seem to have a lot of attitude. They can grow to be up to four inches long and have a lifespan of up to 12 years.
How to protect them: The Black Rain Frog is not currently at high risk, but any efforts to reduce habitat disturbances will make a huge difference for this species and so many others.
Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum
The axolotl is a permanently aquatic salamander that is native to Mexico. It’s safe to say that this is the cutest ugly animal on this list, with a distinctive pink coloration and subtle smile. They can grow up to 12 inches in length and live in freshwater lakes and ponds. The longer you look at them, the friendlier they look. Talk about the power of a smile!
How to protect them: The axolotl is critically endangered, but fortunately, there’s a lot of interest in protecting the unique creature. Check out these guides from Smithsonian Magazine and wikiHow.
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