Top 7 Biggest Animals on the Planet

If you’ve wondered which animals are the biggest on Earth, this article investigates the top seven largest creatures on the planet, from the blue whale to the giant salamander.

Sep 30, 2023By Lisa Szymanski
biggest animals on the planet

Some animals have long necks, while others have big teeth and weigh a couple of tons! Every giant creature has a special adaptation to encourage their survival, whether they live in the Arctic or the desert. The biggest animals in existence range from the enormous mammals of the ocean and land animals from Africa to the vast polar regions. We have a list of the world’s biggest and most impressive animals on land and in the sea based on their length, height, and weight.

1. Elephants are the Biggest Creatures on Land

large elephant facing camera walking through dry grass
Elephants are the largest land animals.

The biggest elephant is the African elephant. Amazingly,African elephants are close in size to the prehistoric mammoth. They can weigh more than 10 000 lbs. These desert elephants have big ears that they use as a fan to keep cool when temperatures rise. They also have the best memory in the animal kingdom, which helps them to remember where water is located. Despite their lack of natural enemies, these animals are poached for their tusks which has led to decreasing numbers. Today, they are listed as endangered, with continued rehabilitation efforts aimed at improving elephant populations.

2. The Polar Bear is the Biggest Carnivore

polar bear sitting on hind legs in snow
Polar bears are large and powerful predators.

The polar bear lives in the tough conditions of the Arctic. They hunt heavy preysuch as seals and caribou by relying on their strength to overcome them. The biggest polar bear that ever lived was an incredible 12 feet tall when standing. They are ranked as the largest of all the carnivores in the world. Polar bears have also come under threat because of changing environmental conditions. The increase in temperature and melting ice have consumed areas of land, making it much harder for polar bears to find food.

3. Giraffes Have the Longest Necks

giraffe turning its head
Giraffes have long necks and tongues.

Giraffes are well known for their extended necks, but their extra vertebrae serve an important purpose. These tall animals eat the leaves of thorny Acacia trees that are found in Africa and use their necks to reach the green tops. In addition to their lengthy necks, they have very long tongues to grip the leaves and twigs. As giraffes spend most of their days eating, they expose their tongues to direct sunlight. To prevent UV damage and sensitivity, giraffes have unusually colored tongues. Giraffes are so tall that they surpass the height of elephants by 4 to 6 feet.

4. Giant Salamanders are Aquatic Monsters

giant chinese salamander resting on rocks
Salamanders live in water.

The gigantic Chinese salamander is the heaviest and longest amphibian on Earth. They have long bodies and are found near rocks and large bodies of water such as rivers and streams. Like most types of salamanders, the giant Chinese salamander doesn’t have good eyesight. Salamanders eat aquatic organisms and can feel the vibrations of insects as they swim or land in the water. The big amphibian can track these movements and easily capture their meal while underwater. They are native to China and can live for more than 40 years.

5. Ostriches are the Tallest Birds

male ostrich walking in the savannah
A male ostrich displaying his plumage.

The largest birds have long legs and bare necks and cannot fly. Ostriches are found across Africa and are incredibly hardy birds that survive desert conditions and food scarcity. They consume a varied diet of plant roots, seeds, bugs, and smallrodents such as mice or rats. An ostrich only has two toes on each foot, but their claws grow to 4 inches. When combined with their immense speed, these big birds deliver a forceful kick that can take a lion out! They also lay the world’s largest eggs, equivalent to over twenty regular chicken eggs.

6. Hippos Have Huge Mouths

mother hippopotamus with calf
A hippopotamus grows to a few thousand pounds.

A big animal that deserves a mention is the hippopotamus. These magnificent animals weigh approximately 3000 lbs and live in large lakes or waterholes. They have very long teeth and have the widest mouths of similarly sized land animals. While hippos are powerful animals with crushing jaws, they are extremely sensitive to the sun. A hippopotamus must protect their skin from drying out and overheating, or it may lead to shock. For this reason, hippopotamuses remain in the water and will only come out to graze on the surrounding plants and grasses.

7. Blue Whales Rule the Ocean

aerial view of blue whale swimming near ocean surface
Blue whales are migratory animals.

The blue whale is the world’s greatest mammal, close to 100 feet in length. They migrate across the ocean every spring in search of food and safe places to reproduce. To maintain their enormous bodies, they eat thousands of krill every day. Krill are minuscule crustaceans of around 2 inches in size, which is why these whales have to consume so many. Blue whales don’t have many natural enemies due to their size, but calves are frequently attacked by powerful orcas that hunt in large groups. Blue whales are covered in blubber to protect them from very cold temperatures.

Final Thoughts

Animals of the Arctic.

The biggest animals in the world may not have many natural predators, but there are environmental and human factors threatening their habitats and longevity. The Arctic’s melting ice caps have caused rising sea levels to affect the hunting grounds of polar bears. Elephants are often targeted for their tusks by poachers, resulting in declining populations. Blue whales are hunted by humans for their blubber and meat. To ensure that these tremendous creatures are around for future generations, conservation efforts to protect their habitats are of the utmost importance. Steps that we take today can guarantee the future of these magnificent giants.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.