Animals come in all shapes and sizes, from very small to breathtakingly large. While you may think that being big is better, and it has many benefits, being small is good too! You need fewer resources to survive, you can reproduce more often and you can squeeze into all kinds of shelters to escape predators and hibernate! The top 10 list below is a selection of the smallest vertebrates on earth.
10. Dwarf Rabbit
With a typical body length of 24-29 cm, the Little Pygmy Bunny (Brachylagus idahoensis) is the smallest rabbit in the world. Adults weigh only 400 grams. In North America, they are usually found in areas of deep ground where they can nest in high, dense lemongrass for shelter and food. Extensive, well-used runways crisscross bushy shrubbery, providing travel and escape routes for predators.
9. Miniature Marmoset
Image source: Don Faulkner | CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic
The pygmy marmosets (Cebuella pygmaea) is the smallest monkey in the world. It is native to the rainforest of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. With a body length, excluding the tail, of 14-16 cm, they are really small, weighing only 15 grams at birth.
8. Microcebus berthae
While the pygmy marmosets may be the smallest monkey, the title of smallest known primate goes to Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus berthae). These primates are mainly found in the Kirindy Mitea National Park in western Madagascar and have an average body length of 92 mm and a weight of about 30 grams.
The eyelash shrew (Suncus etruscus) weighs only 1.2-2.7 grams. That makes it the world’s smallest mammal when measured by weight, but at 36-53mm, it loses to the kitti’s hog-nosed bat for the smallest in length. Not everything about the eyelash shrew is small, however; his brain is the largest in relation to his body weight of all animals, even larger than that of a human being!
6. Sawn Flat Turtle
The smallest turtle in the world is the Sawn Flat Turtle (Homopus signatus) from South Africa. The males are 6-8 cm in size, while the females, which are slightly larger, are up to almost 10 cm. The little turtles feed on small plants they forage from the rocky outcrops they call home, and also use the small crevices as shelter from predators.
5. Bee Hummingbird
The bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) is the smallest bird and the smallest warm-blooded vertebrate. It is 5.7 cm long and weighs 1.8 grams. However, its body size is not the only impressive feature of these birds, as at 2cm wide and 3cm deep, their nests are equally small!
4. Kitti’s Pig Nose Bat
The kitti’s swine-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) from Thailand and Burma is the smallest bat, measuring only 30-40 mm in length and weighing only 1.5-2 grams. It is about the same size as a bumblebee and has a distinctive pig-like snout. It lives in limestone caves along rivers, with an average of 100 individuals living in a single cave.
Leptotyphlops or wireworm snakes (Leptotyphlopidae) are considered the smallest snakes in the world with a length of about 10 cm. Found in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, there are 87 different species of wireworm snakes. The non-venomous snakes have adapted to dig and feed on ants and termites. Most species suck out the contents of the insect bodies and discard the skin.
At just 7.9mm in length, Paedocypris is the smallest fish. Found in the peat swamp forests of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, they can survive the extreme drought, partly due to their small size.
1. Paedophryne amauensis
The smallest frog in the world is the Paedophryne amauensis. First discovered in New Guinea in 2009, it’s a relatively new species that doesn’t even have a common name yet! With an average body size of just 7.7mm, they are the smallest vertebrates and earn the top spot in this top 10 list of the smallest animals in the world!