Dumbo Octopuses with petite bell-shaped body, and endearing ear-like fins.

10 Wildly Odd Animals

From the depths of the ocean to the dense rainforests and icy tundras, our planet is home to an astonishing array of weird animals. You might wonder about the mysterious narwhal with its mystical tusk or the bizarre yet adorable axolotl with its regenerative powers. Each creature has its own story to tell.

Uncover the fascinating lives of ten curious animals, and discover the mysteries of their habitats, behaviors, and the unusual traits that make them truly extraordinary. 

Aye-Aye (Daubentonia Madagascariensis)

aye-aye lemur in rain.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Location: Madagascar

Characteristics: A nocturnal primate with large eyes, bushy tail, and elongated fingers, primarily found in rainforests.

Unusual Features: The aye-aye is a remarkable long-fingered lemur, the world's largest nocturnal primate and native to Madagascar. What's weird about this animal? Ecologically, the aye-aye fills the niche of a woodpecker in its habitat.

Its distinctive foraging technique involves tapping on trees to locate grubs, then using its forward-slanting incisors to gnaw holes in the wood. Inserting its narrow middle finger into these holes, it pulls out the grubs—a method known as percussive foraging, which occupies a significant portion of its foraging time. 

(Source: National Geographic)

Naked Mole-Rat (Heterocephalus Glaber)

Naked Mole-rat.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Location: Eastern Africa, primarily found in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia

Characteristics: Small, hairless rodents with wrinkled skin and large incisors, living in underground colonies.

Unusual Features: Not a mole, nor a rat. Naked mole-rats are peculiar inhabitants of East Africa's deserts that defy conventional rodent norms with their pink, wrinkled skin and underground lifestyle. While they resemble moles with their burrowing habits and rat-like tails, genetically, they're more akin to porcupines and guinea pigs.

Their hairless bodies, adapted to the warm underground environment, house fine sensory hairs aiding in navigation. Their extensive tunnel systems, complete with specialized chambers, ensure survival in the harsh desert environment, where they thrive despite their tiny, near-sighted eyes.

(Source: San Diego Zoo)

Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis)

Charming Dumbo Octopus with funny little ear-like fins  swims along in the deep ocean.
Photo Credit: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management YouTube Screenshot.

Location: Oceans worldwide

Characteristics: The Dumbo Octopus is a deep-sea dweller known for its unique appearance, featuring large, ear-like fins resembling those of the Disney character Dumbo. They have transparent skin and a gelatinous body, allowing them to blend into their deep-sea habitat.

Unusual Features: Dumbo Octopuses are charming looking with their petite size, bell-shaped body, and endearing ear-like fins. Living at staggering depths up to 13,000 feet, they're the deepest-living octopuses known. They have a penchant for hovering over the seafloor, snacking on snails and worms using their mysterious cirri, all while gracefully flapping their fins for propulsion. Webbed arms add to their charm, earning them the title of the cutest octopus in the world.

(Source: National Geographic)

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus Anatinus)

a platypus in a creek.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Location: Eastern Australia, Tasmania

Characteristics: A unique egg-laying mammal with a duck-like bill, webbed feet, and a beaver-like tail.

Unusual Features: The platypus is a marvel of nature, boasting a host of weird features. Both male and female platypuses possess back ankle spurs. The males' spurts can deliver venom potent enough to kill smaller animals like dogs and cause excruciating pain in humans.

The platypus feeds without relying on sight or smell, closing its eyes, ears, and nose when diving. Utilizing electroreceptors, it detects electric currents produced by the prey's muscular contractions, distinguishing between animate and inanimate objects. Even artificial stimuli evoke responses of the platypus's extraordinary sensory capabilities.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Narwhal (Monodon Monoceros)

Pod of narwhals, northern Canada, August 2005.
Photo Credit: Dr. Kristin Laidre, Polar Science Center, UW NOAA/OAR/OER, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Location: Arctic waters, particularly around Greenland and Canada

Characteristics: A medium-sized toothed whale with a long spiral tusk protruding from its head.

Unusual Features: The narwhal's long, single tusk can reach up to 10 feet in length. This iconic tusk is actually an elongated canine tooth that grows throughout the narwhal's life. The purpose of the tusk remains a subject of debate, with theories ranging from its use in fights to breaking sea ice or aiding in foraging. However, it is widely accepted that the tusks serve as secondary sexual characteristics, signaling social status within the narwhal community.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Okapi (Okapia Johnstoni)

Okapi.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Location: Democratic Republic of Congo

Characteristics: Resembles a cross between a giraffe and a zebra, with a long neck, reddish-brown coat, and distinctive stripes on its hindquarters.

Unusual Features: The okapi, also known as the forest giraffe, is a solitary and elusive creature found in the dense rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite its striking resemblance to a zebra, it is more closely related to the giraffe. The male okapi marks its territory and displays dominance by spraying urine, secreting a tar-like substance from its feet, and engaging in head-butting matches with rivals.

(Source: Maryland Zoo)

Mantis Shrimp (Stomatopoda)

Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus Scyllarus).
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Location: Tropical and subtropical marine habitats worldwide

Characteristics: Small, colorful crustaceans with powerful claws used for hunting prey.

Unusual Features: The mantis shrimp has exceptional vision with up to 16 types of photoreceptor cells, far surpassing human vision capabilities. Another weird thing about their sight is that they have trinocular vision, facilitated by eyes on independently moving stalks. This feature enables them to perceive depth and distance with precision for hunting their prey.

The shrimp also has “dactyl clubs” that can strike with incredible speed, rivaling a gunshot from a .22 caliber rifle, exerting forces capable of smashing through crab and clam shells.

(Source: Fact Animal)

Axolotl (Ambystoma Mexicanum)

Underwater Axolotl in an aquarium.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Location: Native to lakes and canals in Mexico

Characteristics: A neotenic salamander known for its external gills, feathery gill stalks, and regenerative abilities.

Unusual Features: Axolotls are capable of regenerating lost limbs, organs, and even parts of their brain, making them a focus of scientific research into regenerative medicine. In their youthful form, axolotls boast striking features like feathery gills adorning their heads akin to a mane, webbed feet, a dorsal fin tracing their bodies, and a distinct tail.

Adding to their charm, these perpetually youthful creatures sport a perpetual Mona Lisa smile. But don't be fooled by their endearing appearance, as these little marvels turn into efficient hunters when it's time to feed.

(Source: National Geographic)

Pangolin (Manis Spp.)

Pangolin.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Location: Found in Africa and Asia, with eight species distributed across these continents

Characteristics: Covered in scales made of keratin, pangolins have long tongues for catching ants and termites.

Unusual Features: Pangolins, often referred to as scaly anteaters, are unique mammals with a full armor of scales and remarkable defensive behaviors. When startled, these curious nocturnal creatures curl into a protective ball, using their sharp-scaled tail as a weapon. Their scales, sought after for traditional medicine and luxury goods, have made them the most trafficked mammal globally. 

(Source: World Wildlife Fund)

Red Panda (Ailurus Fulgens)

Red panda walking on the tree like it's a bridge.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

Location: Himalayan foothills, across Nepal, India, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar

Characteristics: A small arboreal mammal resembling a raccoon with reddish fur, a long bushy tail, and a masked face.

Unusual Features: Despite its name, the red panda is not closely related to the giant panda. Red pandas, beloved for their fiery fur and charming appearance, are skilled climbers dwelling in high-altitude forests of the Himalayas. They have a unique extra thumb which they use both for climbing and feeding efficiently. Read more interesting facts about the red panda in our collection of fun facts.

Most Underrated Animals

Endangered Fossa cat-like animal with big eyes laying on the sandy ground.
Image Credit: Katja-Tsvetkova/Shutterstock.

You probably know about larger animals like elephants or pandas—they're often the focus of conservation campaigns. But do you know about these underrated animals like the Fossa that also deserve a spotlight?

10 of the Strangest Extinct Creatures

Strange worm-bodied creature with multiple stick-like legs.
Photo Credit: Dotted-Yeti/Shutterstock.

Weird animals have roamed our earth for ages. We haven't even discovered all of the species on our planet, and the fossil record is full of even more unusual creatures.

Author: Todd Rowley

Title: Copywriter

Expertise: social services, transportation, mental health

Todd Rowley is a copywriter and content writer. He’s an unabashed introvert, an only child with a curious spirit, and a lover of the Oxford comma. Originally educated as a Child and Youth Worker - spending more than 25 years in the field - he also dabbled in Religious Education and Communications Studies.