The world is home to thousands of magnificient animals, but not every species is cute, cuddly or blessed with majestic beauty.
There are some downright ugly and rather unsightly animals on the planet.
While every organism has an important role on earth and in their ecosystem, there are times when evolution hasn’t been kind. These ugly animals often don’t dominate books and media.
But like beauty, ugliness is subjective and in the eye of the beholder.
Our concept of what constitutes ugly is biased. In the animal kingdom, some of the weirdest features are desirable in their species. Some of you may also find a number of the asthetically challenged animals below, quite beautiful and unfairly categorized. And that’s fine.
This piece shines a light with love on these ugly animals that are often forgotten and can be less researched and protected. Here’s our big list of some of the ugliest animals in the world.
The Naked Mole-Rat is a freaky rodent that has virtually no hair. Despite the name, they are neither moles, or rats. They are more closely related to porcupines and guinea pigs.
The skin of a naked mole-rat is so loose it can wriggle half-way around inside, which helps this ugly animal manoeuvre around easier in confined spaces deep in the ground.
Bald Uakari (pronounced ‘wakari’) is a small monkey found in the Amazon basin with a long ginger shaggy coat, and a hairless head and face – which is coloured bright red.
While it may look like this monkey has drank too much while sunbathing, their crimson red face is due to the lack of skin pigments and a higher concentration of capillaries that run under its facial tissue.
The redness plays a role in mating selection, as the redness correlates with a females estrogen levels and a male’s testosterone levels, which may indicate a greater chance of a successful mate.
The Aye-Aye is a large and creepy nocturnal primate. It has rodent-like teeth that grow perpetually, and a creepy middle finger that is long, thin and skeletal in appearance.
Their ugly apperance has contributed to native residents believing the aye-aye are bad omens and that they should be wiped out.
The Star-Nosed Mole is a small mole with a weird star-shaped nose that’s ringed with 22 fleshy apprendages (called ‘rays’), which they use to feel its way around, and even hunt prey.
Their unfortunate star nose isn’t used for smelling, this sense organ contains over 100,000 nerve fibers and is used to touch and feel around in the darkness.
The Blobfish is a deep-sea fish voted as as the ugliest animal in the world. However, this popular impression is an unfair myth, they actually look like any other fish in their usual environment.
While the popular picture above makes the blobfish look like a hideous gelatinous mess, it actually looks like a completely normal fish in its usual deep-sea environment.
The lappet-faced vulture is an Old World scavenging vulture that feeds on animal carcases. They have a bald head, which avoids feathers being splattered in blood when eating.
These unsightly birds are extremely large, powerful and closely related to the cinereous vulture. They can have wingspans that measure up to 2.9m (9.5 ft).
Atlantic wolffish are a species of large fish native to the North Atlantic Ocean. They are known for their unusual fanglike teeth that give them the appearance of a wolf.
In addition to frontal canine teeth, Atlantic wolffish also have flat teeth in the back of their mouth. Their throats have a series of sharp serrated teeth that help the wolffish digest the sharp shells.
The proboscis monkey – also known as the long-nosed monkey – is one of the largest Old World monkey species found only in Borneo. Males have rather long and unfortunate thick noses.
While their appearance may look funny to us, females use their noses for mate selection, as larger nosed monkeys are considered more dominant.
The ‘penis snake’, isn’t actually a snake. It’s a species of caecilian, a group of limbless, amphibians that are snake-like, but have rings like a worm.
Thanks to the visual similarity to a human penis, this animal has earned many nicknames. They include penis snake, manaconda and floppy snake. They are certainly not the prettiest animal.
Saiga Antelope have an unusual hanging nose, which makes them look like a camel, although they are goat-sized, and male saigas also have horns.
Their ill-favoured inflatable, humped nose which hangs over its mouth and points downwards helps filter out dust kicked up by the herd.
The hammer-headed bat is named for its alarmingly large head and is considered the largest bat in all of mainland Africa.
They have wingspans rivaling those of small birds of prey – around 1m in length (3.3 feet), and their forearms are more than half the size of human forearms.
The Marabou Stork is a giant stork, known as the ‘undertaker’ bird due to it’s rather evil looking appearance. It has one of the largest wingspans in the world, and likes to kill flamingos.
Their heads and necks are relatively feather free, with males and females both having large throat sacs, or gular sacs, that hang underneath. They are perhaps unsurprisingly considered one of the ugliest birds and animals on the planet.
Babirusas have a distinct prehistoric appearance with long canine tusks. Their stocky bodies and curved teeth give them the appearance of an ancient animal.
They belong to the swine family, and are known as ‘deer-pigs’ as their rounded, hairless bodies resemble domestic pigs, while the teeth that grow over their heads can resemble deer antlers.
The red-lipped batfish is a strange and surprising fish which looks like it’s wearing lipstick, found off the coast of the Galapagos Islands and Peru.
With their bright red mouths, long ‘nose’ and unusual behaviors, it’s hard to miss one of these sea creatures. They use their ‘nose’ which is known as an illicium much like how an angler uses a fishing rod as an eye-catching lure for smaller fish to eat.
The hyena is a prehistoric predator that has outlasted some of the most iconic monsters of the palaeolithic, survived the ice age, and was chasing humans out of caves for tens of thousands of years. As impressive as that is, these creatures are rather ugly – and menacing!
They have an unusual appearance, with a large head, big set-back ears, long muscular neck and huge powerful jaws that give them the strongest bite force of any mammal.
Condors are two species of large, New World vultures. When both wingspan and weight is taken into consideration, the Andean condor is the largest flying bird in the world.
The condor has a bald, flattened head, with a dark red comb and hanging skin from it’s neck, which all aid to its rather unpleasant appearance.
Warthogs have a typical pig-like appearance with flat faces containing wart like structures just above the snout, which is where their name is derived from.
Their tusks are actually teeth, that protrude from the mouth and curve upwards. The upper canine teeth can grow up to 10 inches in length, while the lower teeth are shorter, but razor sharp and capable of inflicting serious damage.
The Purple Frog is a species of frog emdemic to the Western Ghats in India. It has a bloated and round body, with slimey purple skin – and a tiny neckless head.
These rather disagreeable looking frogs have a mating call that sounds like a chicken clucking. They are in a weird grey area of super ugly, and super cute.
Sphynx Cat are a breed of cat that is known for its lack of hair, which comes from selective breeding started in the 1960s. Their skin has the texture of a chamois leather and they have wedge-shaped heads, large lemon eyes, and webbed feet.
This ugly species was used to play ‘Mr. Bigglesworth’, the infamous cat of Dr. Evil (after he had returned from space!) in the James Bond spoof series, Austin Powers.
Elephant seals are very large, earless marine mammals. They take their name from the large elongated appendage on the head of the male.
This rather unsightly nose that is reminiscent of an elephant’s trunk is used to produce loud roaring noises during mating season.
What is the ugliest animal in the world? And what really makes an animal ugly?
In an online vote in 2013 by the ‘Ugly Animal Preservation Society’, the poor blobfish was named the ugliest animal on the planet. Rather unfairly, considering the picture used is after it has been dragged to the surface, and decompressed out of its natural deep-sea environment. 1
That said, the study did raise awareness for endangered ugly animals that can require more help because of their less than ‘pin-up’ appearance.
Ugly animals can often be neglected. There are one million species at risk of extinction, but a handful of charismatic or cute animals get all the hype. 2
We’re adding more incredible ugly animals to Fact Animal constantly. If there’s a particular ugly animal you’d like to see covered, then get in touch.
Fact Sources & References
- Victoria Gill (2013), “Blobfish wins ugliest animal vote“, BBC.
- Matt Reynolds (2023), “Stop Saving Cute Animals“, Wired.