16 Unique Animals That You Probably Haven’t Seen

September 23, 2010 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

The animal kingdom is full of fascinating,unique, and sometimes strange and unusual animals. Here are just a handful of animals you probably have never seen from all around the world.

1. Happy Faced Spider

The happy faced spider is native to Hawaii (United States), and is instantly recognizable for the “happy face” on its back, hence the name. This spider species is about 5mm long overall,they have a yellow body, and each spider has its own unique markings. The variations of body color and markings serve as camouflage against birds, to counteract patterns recognized by predators. The pattern changes according to what the spider has eaten. The happy faced spider lives beneath the leaves of plants, where they also spin their webs.

2. Aardwolf

The aardwolf,also called the “maanhaar jackal” is a rather shy and nocturnal subspecies of the striped hyena that is native to eastern and southern Africa, living in open dry plains and bushlands, they are never found living in mountainous areas.  The aardwolf lives in burrows, usually ones abandoned by aardvarks,they hide in their burrows during the day, and come out at night to eat. Their diet completely consists of insects such as larvae and termites, they are capable of eating up to 200,000 termites in a single night.


  • The name means “earth wolf” in Afrikaans/Dutch.

3. Fossa

A carnivorous mammal endemic* to Madagascar, it is closely related to the, mongoose family. The fossa is the largest mamalian carnivore on Madagascar compared in size to a small cougar, they hunt medium sized animals such as fish,birds,rodents, and small lemurs. The fossa were once widespread on Madagascar, now they can be found in small numbers in the countries’ last remaining forests. This species is considered to be cathemeral**, their activity can peak early in the morning,late in the afternoon and late at night. They do not reuse sleeping sites, but females and young do return to the same den. Their population is considered vulnerable by the IUCN due to their population decline over the last 20 years.

*Endemic is basically another word for native.

*A cathemeral animal is one that has sporadic and random intervals of activity the day or night.

4. European Ground Squirrel

The european ground squirrel,also known as the european souslik, is found in eastern Europe in: Ukraine,Czech Republic,Greece,Romania,Bulgaria, some parts of Asia, and as far north as Poland. Living in colonies, in individual burrows, they are diurnal which means they are active during the day and they sleep at night. Their diet consists of seeds,plant soots,roots, and flightless invertebrates. They hibernate during autumn, and March depending on the climate. They begin building up fat reserves in late summer, early in the summer the european ground squirrels give birth to a litter of five to eight cubs. Their population is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

5. Blobfish

A deep sea fish found off the coast of Australia and Tasmania, it is rarely seen by people and it lives at a depth where the pressure is several dozen times higher than at sea level. The blobfish has a density that is slightly less than water which allows it to float above the sea floor without it having to waste energy swimming. It’s diet consists of edible matter that floats in front of it. The blobfish is often caught by bottom trawling with nets as a bycatch, because the oceans off of Australia may be its only habitat, it is considered to be under threat of extinction.

blobfish.jpg image by Azzedarius

6. Lesser Grison

The lesser grison belongs to the ferret family and it can be found in:Peru,Argentina,Bolivia,Brazil,Chile and Paraguay. They are usually found near water,living under rocks and tree roots and have been known to inhabit vacated burrows.The lesser grison feeds on small mammals,invertebrates,reptiles,amphibians,fruits and eggs. They have litters of two to five, and the young are capable of leaving the birth place after just a few days. The lesser grison are known for their aggressiveness, in fact there is even a Chilean expression: “estar como quiqe” meaning be like the grison.

7. Ring-Tailed Cat

The ring-tailed cat is a relative of the raccoon family and is native to north america found in nine states in the United States (California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico,Nevada, Texas, Utah) as well as three Mexican states (Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz).They live in rocky areas, and deserts,where they nest in hollowed out trees or abandoned wooden structures.They are nocturnal and omnivorous eating fruits,berries,insects,lizards,small rodents and even birds. The ring-tailed cat has several predators including owls,foxes,coyotes,raccoons, and bobcats. They are easy to tame and are legal to keep as pets in parts of the United States.

8. Blanket Octopus

This rather unique looking blanket octopus is found of Australia’s northern coast. This species exhibit an extreme degree of sexual dimorphism*, the females can grow to six feet (two meters) in length while the males are at most a few centimeters long. The species is immune to the poisonous Portuguese man o’ war, whose tentacles males and immature females rip off for defensive purpose. Unlike other octopuses this species does not use ink to intimidate predators, they simply uncurl a large net like membrane which spread out, this trait is what gives this species it’s name.

*sexual dimorphism is a size difference between genders of the same species

9. Glass Frog

The glass frog is found from Mexico to Panama, and through the Andes into Bolivia and Venezuela some species have been found as far as the Amazon basins,Brazil, and Argentina. The frog’s name comes from its translucent skin through which the glass frog’s internal organs including the heart and liver are visible. They are generally small from 3 to 7.5 centimeters (1.2-3 inches) in length, their colors range from yellow to green, except for their translucent skin which covers the lower part of it’s body.

10. Hairy Frog

The hairy frog comes from Sub-Saharan Africa, they are also known as squeakers because their high-pitched call. The males have hair like structures on the body and thighs hence the name. They are small only 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) in length, they are mostly found in leaves on the forest floor. They do not have an aquatic stage, and thus do not have tadpoles, they lay eggs on the ground in leaf litter or crevices and the offspring undergo a direct development. Some species are hatched in their adult form, while others are born with tadpole like tails still attached. The hairy frog has been threatened by habitat loss, but they are currently not considered endangered by the IUCN.

11. Leafy Sea Dragon

The leafy sea dragon lives off the southern and western coasts of Australia, where they live near clumps of sand in waters about 50 meters (or 150 feet) deep.  They feed on plankton,mysids, shrimp and small fish. Oddly the leafy sea dragon does not have teeth which is a rare among animals that eat things such as small fish and shrimp.Like sea horses the males of this species also care for the eggs, taking care of up to 250 bright pink eggs at a time.Once they are born the young leafy sea dragons are completely independent, only 5% make it to adulthood. This species is related to the smaller multi-colored weedy sea dragon.

12. Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko

A species of gecko that is endemic to Madagascar, it is also known as the eyelash leaf-tailed gecko, and the fantastic leaf-tailed gecko.They live in the leaves and leaf litter on the forest floor, relying on their color and tail for camouflage. The adults are anywhere from 2.5-6 inches in length, and they come in a variety of colors ranging in hues of purple,orange,tan,and yellow. The satanic leaf-tailed gecko’s diet consists of a variety of insects including crickets and moths. Habitat destruction and deforestation in Madagascar have prompted the IUCN to label them as vulnerable.

13. Angora Rabbit

The angora rabbit is a variety of domestic rabbit prized for its long,soft fur. One of the oldest types of domestic rabbit,it originates in Ankara,Turkey.Angola’s are bred mainly for their wool which is cut every three to four months throughout the year. There are four different breeds of angora rabbit:English,French,German,Giant,and Satin. Pictured below is a English angora rabbit.

14. Frilled Shark

This prehistoric looking shark lives in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, its “primitive” features have earned it the nickname “the living fossil. They are usually found deep under water at depths of 1,500 meters (about 4,500 feet), but have been found on rare occasions on the surface of the water. They prey on bony fish,cephalopods,smaller sharks,and squid. The frilled shark has been offered as an explanation for sea serpent sightings, as the sightings occur in their habitat. They are sometimes caught by fishermen as a bycatch, and as a result they are considered near threatened by the IUCN.

15. Purple Frog

The purple frog endemic to the Western Ghats of India, also known as the pignose frog, it was discovered in October 2003. Adults are typically dark purple in color, and around 7 centimeters long, and interestingly enough they are said to have a cry that sounds like a chicken. The frog spends most of the year underground, surfacing only for two weeks during the monsoon to mate. Their diet consists of insects, mostly termites. The species is listed as endangered by the IUCN.

16. Spiny Turtle

The spiny turtle is found in Brunei, Indonesia,Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, it’s name comes from its sharp,pointed,spiky edged shell. Also known as the cog-wheel turtle, they typically live in rainforests near streams in hilly areas, 900m or so above sea level. They are listed as endangered by the IUCN.


Entry filed under: Animals, Conservation, Lists, Wildlife Conservation. Tags: , , , , , , .

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