Weirdest Mammals in the World

I was in Borneo recently and whilst the group and I were looking at a wonderful red morph Colugo we were talking about the strangest and weirdest mammals in the world. So we came up with the idea of throwing this out to the mammal watching community, to see if we could get a definitive top 10 weirdest mammals in the world.

Now I know that weird and strange are very arbitrary things and what is someone’s weird is someone else’s normal. I also understand that is you take an elephant, giraffe, hippo or rhino you have some very strange and weird animals indeed. But I think you will understand where I am coming from when i say weird.

I am talking from an unusual looking, evolutionary distinct, bizarre life history and not commonplace at all point of view.

So after much thought and discussion among the group I settled on my Top 10 Weirdest Mammals on Earth. Please let me know yours, you can comment here or email me ( and similar to Jon when he compiled the top mammals to see, i will work out the ultimate top 10 from everyones suggestions.

  1. Platypus
  2. Solenodon (any)
  3. Colugo (any)
  4. Pink Fairy Armadillo
  5. Echidna (any)
  6. Giant anteater
  7. Naked Mole Rat
  8. Aardvark
  9. Aye-aye
  10. Marsupial Mole (any)

I am very much looking forward to hearing other people’s thoughts.


  • Jon Hall

    That’s a good list. Mine has a good deal of overlap …. and in no particular order

    Star-nosed Mole
    Aye Aye
    Either Solenodon
    Long-beaked Echidna (definitely even weirder than its cousin)
    Maned Rat
    Giant Anteater
    Laotian Rock Rat

    and I was a bit stuck for a 10th – Naked Mole Rat or Fairy Armadillo is a good one, as might be one of the Tree Kangaroos or the Numbat though I think I might give my vote to the Tasmanian Devil.


  • Roylesafaris

    Maned rat is a great inclusion. I also thought about a tree kangaroo.
    When we get the final list, we have to find places to see every one

  • Vladimir Dinets

    In no particular order, and omitting those already mentioned: giraffes, springhare, toothless rat, narwhal, wrinkle-faced bat, hero shrew, walrus, human, bat-eared fox, hammer-headed bat…

  • Eran Tomer

    Hello all,

    Great thread. Mammals may be “wierd” due to atypical shape, pigmentation, behavior, taxonomy or other factors, in any combination. Distinctive morphology probably constitutes the most straightforward notion of “wierdness”. Individual species and small taxonomic groups could be divided into several `grades’ of morphological uniqueness:

    A – those with truly idiosyncratic shapes, resembling no other animal.
    B – decidedly unique and unusual species / groups that nevertheless aren’t extraordinarily distinctive.
    C – members of larger taxonomic groups that stand out for unusual shapes.

    The assessment is entirely subjective but here are my picks for each category. Most are small groups of related species. The “wierdest 10” would come from the first group listed but all mammals below would be candidates. For compilation purposes, probably add 1 vote for any species mentioned by others if it appears herein.

    A – the most distinctive and unique mammals:

    Tier 1 – top

    Long-beaked Echidnas
    Anteaters, especially Giant and Silky
    Armadillos, especially Pink and Greater Fairy Armadillos
    Hippopotamus and Pygmy Hippopotamus
    Rhinos, especially Sumatran (looks utterly prehistoric in the greater sense)
    Bactrian and Dromedary Camels
    Manatees and Dugong
    Kangaroos, Wallabies, Quokka, Pademelons Bettongs and allies – large assemblage but absolutely distinct.

    Tier 2 – following closely behind


    Tier 3 – just slightly less distinctive


    B – species / groups that are unique but not extraordinarily distinctive:

    Tier 1 – top

    Llama, Guanaco, Alpaca & Vicuna
    Tapirs, especially Malayan
    Agoutis and Acouchis
    Highland and Lowland Streaked Tenrecs
    Rhynchocyon Elephant-shrews (4 species)

    Tier 2 – following closely behind

    Pygmy Hog
    Chevrotains and Mouse Deer
    Eastern and Western Falanoucs
    Hyenas and Aardwolf
    Bush Dog
    Olingo and Olinguito
    Ringtail and Cacomistle
    Red Panda
    Hog Badger
    Tasmanian Devil

    Tier 3 – slightly less distinctive

    Golden moles
    Otter shrews
    Pyrenean and Russian Desmans
    Greater Glider (talk about cute)
    American Bison and Wisent

    C – atypical members of larger groups

    Tier 1 – top

    Franciscana (i.e. Pontoporia blainvillei)
    Northern and Southern Bottlenose Whales
    Northern and Southern Right Whale Dolphins
    Baird’s and Arnoux’s Beaked Whales
    Sperm Whale
    Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales
    South Asian and Amazon River Dolphins, plus Baiji if extant
    Naked Mole Rat

    Tier 2 – following up

    Pygmy Right Whale
    Sifakas and Indri
    Babirusa, Warthogs, Red River Hog, Bushpig, Giant Forest Hog
    Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope, Oryxes, genera Alcephalus and Damaliscus
    Saiga Antelope
    Mountain Goat

    Tier 3 – less distinctive

    Hairless Bat
    Maned Wolf
    Northern and Southern Elephant Seals
    Hooded Seal
    Red-and-white Giant Flying Squirrel
    Pel’s Flying Squirrel
    Zebra Duiker
    Tibetan Antelope

    … And surely I am forgetting some things. Mammalian diversity is amazing, even more so when considering prehistoric species. It’s easy to be fascinated with these animals.

    Best regards,

    – Eran Tomer
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

  • Craig Smith

    Very good lists, and mine would also have significant overlap. I do agree that the montoremes would top the list – platypus and echindas. Here’s mine (of which I’ve seen 4 in the wild)
    1. Platypus
    2. Echinda
    3. Narwhal
    4. Marsupial mole
    5. Giant anteater
    6. Okapi
    7. aardvark
    8. Aye aye
    9. sloth
    10. Donald Trump

  • Stephen Shelley

    I also have a pretty significant overlap with the other lists, with three that haven’t been mentioned already. This list is in no particular order, with the three new species at the top.

    1. Hairy long-nosed armadillo (Dasypus pilosus) – must be one of the oddest mammals on earth, with a standard armadillo head, limbs and tail on a body that looks like it has come from a totally different animal.
    2. Strap-toothed whale
    3. Chapin’s free-tailed bat
    4. Pangolin (any species)
    5. Star-nosed mole
    6. Maned rat
    7. Streaked tenrec (either species)
    8. Tarsier (any species)
    9. Colugo (either species)
    10. Aardvark

  • Alan D

    I love lists like these because I always learn about mammals I didn’t even know existed (Like the Pink Fairy Armadillo). So, thanks for starting this Martin. My list if fairly straight forward and I am not going to include any mammals I that didn’t know existed. These are in no particular order:

    1 – Giant Anteater
    2 – Proboscis Monkey
    3 – Platypus
    4 – Aye Aye
    5 – Narwhal
    6 – Star-nosed Mole
    7 – Kangaroo (Any)
    8 – Giraffe
    9 – Pangolin
    10 – Tapir

  • Jerzy

    Marsupial mole
    Star-nosed mole
    Hero shrew
    Long-tailed pangolin
    Sao Tome fruit bat (asymmetric teeth)
    Giant naked bat
    Wrinkle-faced bat – many other bats have very weird faces
    Sucker-footed bat
    Vampire bat
    Bald uakari
    Proboscis monkey
    Golden snub-nosed monkey (those flaps on the lips of a male and punk haircut of a female)
    Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (blue and pink face and those white woolly trousers)
    Ganges river dolphin (blind)
    beaked whales (spend most of life in deep water)
    long-eared jerboa
    naked mole rat

    Some animals look weird in the real life, but not so much on photos. Douc langur looks like an alien to me, with strange lack of cheeks on the face. Elephant seal looks like a giant slug to most people.

    There is actually a discipline which can measure weirdness objectively. It measures so-called ‘morphospace’ of a group of animals and picks species which legs, tail, head etc are most dissimilar to the mean of the group.

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