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23 Smallest Animals on the Planet

Internet, meet your new BFFs.

As popular culture reminds us time and again, the smaller the animal, the more likely we are to obsess over it on the internet, and subsequently attempt to scale its size by inserting it in small objects—like a teacup. It's almost as if we are programmed to protect and adore these small creatures—and perhaps create entire communities online to revel in said cuteness.

So, for your pleasure (and for our own, of course), we've scoured the globe to find the tiniest animals in the world. From the brightly colored Bee Hummingbird to the highly intelligent Royal Antelope, these are the smallest (though not necessarily the most cuddly) animals in the world. We dare you not to stick 'em into their very own teacups. And for more of the strangest animals just outside your backyard, check out The 20 Strangest National Animals.

Dwarf Three-Toed Jerboa

Dwarf Three-Toed Jerboa Smallest Animals

The adorable Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboa, or, as it's more commonly referred to, the Dwarf Three-Toed Jerboa, is one of the smallest rodents in the world. The little critters, who only grow to an average of 4.4 centimeters long, reside mostly in the harsh desert climate of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Dwarf Three-Toed Jerboa survives by burrowing under small bushes and feeds on wind-blown seeds and succulent leaves. And for more incredible facts from the animal kingdom, check out these 50 Amazing Animal Facts.

Long-Tailed Planigale

Long-Tailed Planigale Smallest Animals

The Long-Tailed Planigale is the world's smallest marsupial, and one of the smallest mammals to ever exist, measuring only 3 to 4 millimeters from the top of its body to the bottom. In order to make the marsupial better adapted to life as a predator (and ultimately, as prey itself), its entire body appears to be flat, including its skull, which is one-fifth as deep as it is wide. These features allow the Long-Tailed Planigale to sneak into the tiniest of soil cracks to find their prey. With that said, the tiny mammal thrives in northern Australia, where the cracked soil is plentiful (and so are its prey—insects, larvae, and even young mammals rivaling their own size). 

Image via Twitter

Bee Hummingbird

Bee Hummingbird Smallest Animals

This bird, endemic to Cuba and the Isle of Youth, is the smallest (and without a doubt, cutest) species. Bee Hummingbird only weigh around 2.6 grams and are about 6.1 inches in length, with females actually growing to be larger than their male counterparts. What makes this bird so incredibly adorable and recognizable (and photogenic) are the shocks of bright blue, red, and orange across its body. And if you prefer laughs rather than facts of your furry friends, check out these 40 Funniest Jokes About Animals.

Paedocypris Fish

Paedocypris Fish Smallest Animals

This genus of tiny cyprinid fish is the smallest of its kind, with an average adult able to fit squarely on the end of a fingertip. Paedocypris can be found in swamps and streams on the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo, Sumatra, and Bintan, and are unique in that they can only survive in acidic water. Though, unfortunately for these small fish, these acidic swamps and streams in Southeast Asia are quickly evaporating, leaving them without a home. Scientists estimate that this genus of cyprinid fish may be extinct by 2040 if nothing is done about the evaporation of their natural habitat.

Image via Wikimedia Commons


vaquita Smallest Animals

The vaquita is a species of dolphin nearly on the brink of extinction, with only 12 reported to be living in the Gulf of California, as of March 2018, according to the World Wildlife Fund. It's another instance where females, with an average length of 55.4 inches, are the larger of the sexes. Scientists believe that one of the contributing factors to their near-extinction is the fact that these dolphins are the least social of their species, meaning that their calls for help are ignored when they (quite often) find themselves in life or death situations, like getting caught in gillnets set by fishermen meant for catching other fish. Currently, if no measures are made to protect this critically endangered species, they will most likely be extinct by the end of 2018. And for more creatures on the Endangered Species List, check out these 20 Animals That Are Tragically Near Extinction.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Spruce-fir Moss Spider

Samoan Moss Spider Smallest Animals

The Spruce-fir Moss Spider is yet another tiny species on the brink of extinction. Dwelling mainly in the American Appalachian Mountains, these spiders are among the smallest in its kind, measuring only to be three to four millimeters in size. The spiders can range in color from light brown to a darker reddish brown and possess no markings on their abdomen. Since 1995, the Spruce-fir Moss Spider has appeared on the Endangered Species List due to the widespread death of Fraser Fir trees, that have resulted in a thinning of the forest canopies, and also ultimately a shortage of moss mats that are critical to the spider's survival. Within the past few years, efforts have been made to create captive breeding programs for these spiders, in order to secure their future survival.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Thorius Arboreus

Thorius Arboreus Smallest Animals

These tiny salamanders have been slithering across the matted greens of forest floors in Sierra de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico, for centuries. But, due to recent logging and agriculture practices, their numbers have begun to decline. The long, skinny bodies of this salamander typically only measure up to 16.1 to 18.4 millimeters in length and are easily distinguishable by their big, bug-like eyes.

Image via Pinterest

Pygmy Mouse Lemur

Pygmy Mouse Lemur Smallest Animals

The Pygmy Mouse Lemur, which you may also know as the Peters' mouse lemur or dormouse lemur, is a primate and second-smallest species of the mouse lemurs, weighing in at only 43 to 55 grams as adults. Due to its small size and nocturnal nature, they were only recently discovered in western Madagascar in 1993. They often live in packs of up to 15, with the females being the more dominant of the sexes. While the lemur isn't included on the Endangered Species List, it is considered vulnerable due to the dangers its sleeping patterns create (Pygmy Mouse Lemurs sleep during the day and in the open) that make it easy for predators to catch them off-guard.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Paedophryne Amauensis Frog

Paedophryne Amauensis Frog Smallest Animals

As you can tell from the picture above, this smallest species of frog and vertebrate is incredibly easy to miss. The Paedophryne Amauensis Frog, coming in at a mere 7.7 millimeters in length and was only recently discovered in 2009 by an American scientist sifting through dirt in Papua New Guinea. Because they are known to camouflage themselves in leaf litter on the floors of tropical forests, these frogs can be incredibly hard to detect, and much is still not known about their living patterns and eating habits.

Speckled Padloper Tortoise

Speckled Padloper Tortoise Smallest Animals

The Speckled Padloper Tortoise, or Homopus Signatus, is the smallest species of tortoise in the world and is naturally restricted to a small area in Little Namaqualand, an arid region in western South Africa. The turtles live amongst the rocky outcrops of the area and feed on tiny succulents. The courtship between the males and females is initiated with a simple head nod, and then mating can begin. Despite efforts to keep the Speckled Padloper Tortoise off the Endangered Species List, these creatures still remain vulnerable due to heavy poaching and traffic along the area that they inhabit.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Hippocampus Denise

Hippocampus Denise Smallest Animals

Also known as Denise's pygmy seahorse or the yellow pygmy seahorse, the Hippocampus Denise is one of the smallest seahorses ever discovered, reaching a maximum length of approximately 2.4 centimeters. While this species is incredibly rare, they have been in several locations throughout the western Pacific, including Indonesia, Vanuatu, Palau, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, and Micronesia. The seahorse is incredibly adaptive due to potent camouflage abilities. Similar to other species of seahorses, the male broods the eggs in its ventral brood pouch, and when fully grown, the "pups" exit the pouch and venture out on their own.

Bumblebee Bat

Kitti's Hog Nosed Bat Planet Earth Facts

The Bumblebee Bat, or Kitti's hog-nosed bat, as depicted above, is the smallest species of bat in the world, and can easily fit into the palm of your hand. Weighing a mere two grams, this species lives in caves outside the Thai community of Tenasserim Hills in Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi Province, in colonies of up to 100 other bats. They are often recognizable by their pig-like snouts and reddish-brown or grey coats.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Royal Antelope

Royal Antelope Smallest Animals

This West African antelope is considered the smallest antelope in the world, rising to only 25 centimeters at the shoulders. Similar to other antelopes, the Royal Antelope is monogamous, and the female will give birth only once throughout their lives. These antelopes display incredible alertness and intelligence, as they mark their territories with dung and often flee from harmful situations before they even occur. While this species is not in immediate danger of extinction, there are fears that their habitat could be greatly affected by the expanding settlement of humans in the area.

Etruscan Shrew

Etruscan Shrew Smallest Animals

Also known as the White-Toothed Pygmy Shrew, the Etruscan Shrew is the smallest animal known by mass, weighing in at a mere 1.8 grams at its largest. This shrew prefers warm and damp climates, residing in Europe, North Africa, and Malaysia. They are known for their incredibly fast metabolisms and quick movements, making them skilled hunters—often hunting animals rivaling their own size. And, though, their population isn't widely threatened, they are threatened with extinction in some countries.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Dwarf Lantern Shark

Dwarf Lantern Shark Smallest Animals

Though it may be hard to consider one of nature's most feared predators adorable, the Dwarf Lantern Shark is hard to be taken seriously as a real threat. Reaching a maximum length of only 20 centimeters, this species of shark is known as the smallest—and therefore, one of the hardest to detect. They are known to dwell on the upper continental slopes off Colombia and Venezuela, and can sometimes be threatened by commercial fishing practices, though many fishermen don't seek these small sharks out directly. And for more info on their sharp-toothed brethren, learn the 50 Most Shocking Facts about Sharks.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Sphaerodactylus Ariasae

Sphaerodactylus ariasae Smallest Animals

More commonly referred to as the Jaragua Sphaero, or the Jaragua Dwarf Gecko, this incredibly small species of lizard, measuring only 16 to 18 millimeters in length, is incredibly rare and only seen in Jaragua National Park, in the extreme southwest of the Dominican Republic, and nearby Beata Island.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Brookesia Micra Chameleon

Brookesia Micra Chameleon Smallest Animals

The smallest known chameleon, the Brookesia Micra—adults only measure up to 29 millimeters in length—has only been found on the island of Nosy Hara in Antsiranana, Madagascar.

Pygmy Marmoset

Pygmy Marmoset Surreal Places in the U.S.

These wide-eyed adorable creatures are one of the smallest species of primates in the world, weighing in at just over 100 grams, and are mostly found in the Amazon Basin, in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

Pygmy Rabbit

Pygmy Rabbit Smallest Animals

The Pygmy Rabbit is the smallest species of rabbit (and a popular house pet). You'll find these cuties—who weigh in at a mere 375 to 500 grams—in North America.


chihuahua dog smallest animals

Paris Hilton's favorite furry companion is the smallest (and most teacup-worthy) breed of dog. They clock in at around 6 pounds—at the heaviest.

Leptotyphlops carlae

Leptotyphlops carlae Smallest Animals

This smallest (but nonetheless still creepy) species of snake only grows to be around 3.9 inches in length, and is typically only found on the island of Barbados.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Philippine Tarsier

Philippine Tarsier Smallest Animals
Shutterstock/Jixin YU

The Philippine Tarsiern is one of Earth's smallest primates, weighing in at only 85 to 160 millimeters in length as full-grown adults. This local favorite resides only in the Phillipines.

Vechur cow

Vechur cow Smallest Animals

Considered to be the smallest breed of cattle, the Vechur cow has an average length of 124 centimeters and height of 87 centimeters. You'll only find them in India.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Ashley Moor
Ashley hails from Dayton, Ohio, and has more than six years of experience in print and digital media. Read more
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