Tiny Animals

There are so many tiny animals in this world that you might easily miss them in the wild. Many of them are no bigger than a human hand. While being small they are more vulnerable to predation, however, on the other side, tiny animals have advantages in being better at hiding, accessing tight spaces to escape from predators, or hibernating and requiring less food resources.

Etruscan Shrew
Etruscan Shrew
The Etruscan shrew is the smallest known extant mammal by mass; it weighs only about 1.8 g (0.063 oz) on average and has a body length of between 3 and 5.2 cm (1.2 and 2.0 in) excluding the tail. Because of its high ratio of surface area to body volume, the Etruscan shrew has an extremely fast metabolism and must eat 1.5-2 times its body weight in food per day. It feeds mostly on various invertebrates and can hunt prey of nearly the same body ...
size as itself. Due to its small size, the Etruscan shrew is also at constant risk of hypothermia, and would quickly freeze to death if not for its extremely rapid metabolism. In cold seasons and during shortages of food, the shrews lower their body temperatures down to about 12 °C (54 °F) and enter a state of temporary hibernation to reduce energy consumption.
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Etruscan Shrew
Honduran White Bat
Honduran White Bat
These tiny unusually white bats have a head and body length of only 37-47 mm (1.5-1.9 in)! They are famous for constructing leaf "tents" in which they then roost in colonies. Tent construction usually takes up to several weeks and then provides the bats with shelter from rain and predators. These tiny creatures have a network of tents scattered across the forest. Although their tents are typically low to the ground, sunlight filters through the ...
leaf which gives the bright white fur of these bats a greenish cast. This almost completely conceals them if they remain still and helps avoid predation. It has also been proposed that the white fur gives the roosting bats the appearance of a wasp nest, which would also help them to remain unnoticed by predators.
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Honduran White Bat
Bee Hummingbird
Bee Hummingbird
And this is the world’s smallest bird. In this species, the females are 6.1 cm (2.4 in) long, and are slightly larger than the males, which have a length of 5.5 cm (2.2 in). Bee hummingbirds are swift and strong fliers. They feed mainly on nectar, by moving their tongues rapidly in and out of their mouth. During the feeding, hummingbirds pick up pollen on their bills and heads. When they fly from flower to flower, they transfer the pollen and p ...
lay an important role in plant reproduction. In one day, the Bee hummingbird may visit 1,500 flowers! These tiny birds can fly at 40-48 km/h (25-30 mph) and beat their wings 80-200 times per second.
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Bee Hummingbird
Feathertail Glider
Feathertail Glider
This is the world's smallest gliding mammal measuring just 6.5-8 cm (2.6-3.1 in) in head-and-body length. This tiny creature is named for its long feather-shaped tail. Feathertail gliders are arboreal, and only occasionally descend to the ground to forage. They are active during the night and spend the day resting in nests in tree hollows, lined with leaves or shredded bark. The tongue of Feathertail gliders is long and thin; it reaches 11 mm ...
(0.43 in) in length and has numerous long papillae that give it a brush-like appearance. This improves the animal's ability to collect pollen and consume semi-liquid food.
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Feathertail Glider
Hazel Dormouse
Hazel Dormouse
Hazel dormice can reach a body length of about 10 cm (3.9 in) and a length of about 16 cm (6.3 in) if to add the tail as well. They are nocturnal creatures. For most of their waking hours, Hazel dormice spend among the branches of trees looking for food. They raise their young in woven nests that they build in the undergrowth. Hazel dormice typically spend a large proportion of their life sleeping - either hibernating in winter or in torpor in ...
summer.
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Hazel Dormouse
Java Mouse-Deer
Java Mouse-Deer
The Java mouse-deer is the smallest extant (living) hoofed mammal and the smallest extant even-toed ungulate. The average length of these animals is 45 cm (18 in) and an average height of 30 cm (12 in). Their thin, short legs are about the diameter of an average pencil! When Java mouse-deer reach maturity they are about the size of a rabbit. They live in forests roaming in crown-gap areas with dense undergrowth of creeping bamboo; there, ...
mouse-deer make tunnels through the thick vegetation which lead to their resting places and feeding areas. They are usually shy, solitary, and silent animals; the only noise they make is a shrill cry when they are frightened.
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Java Mouse-Deer
Goldcrest
Goldcrest
The goldcrest is the smallest European bird. It measures 8.5-9.5 cm (3.3-3.7 in) in length and is called the "king of the birds" in European folklore. These birds occupy a huge range in Eurasia and only the northernmost populations spend winters in warmer areas. Goldcrests can fly 250-800 km (160-500 mi) in one day. They are tame and inquisitive birds, and tired migrants often land near or even on humans, hoping to find food on their clothing.
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Goldcrest
Speckled Tortoise
Speckled Tortoise
The Speckled tortoise is not only tiny in size, it is the world's smallest species of tortoise. They measure on average 6 to 10 cm (2.4 to 3.9 in) in straight carapace length. Speckled tortoises are usually active in the early morning and prefer to live among the rocky outcrops. They forage among the rocks where they search for tiny succulent plants. Speckled tortoises are even commonly known in Europe and Africa as padlopers; in Afrikaans, it ...
means "path-walkers" because they make tiny pathways through vegetation.
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Speckled Tortoise
Barbados Threadsnake
Barbados Threadsnake
The Barbados threadsnake is the smallest known snake species. It is approximately 10 cm (3.94 inches) in total length (including the tail). These snakes are oviparous. The females lay only one large egg at a time and the newly hatched offspring are about half the length of the mother.
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Barbados Threadsnake
Madame Berthe's Mouse Lemur
Madame Berthe's Mouse Lemur
Meet the smallest primate in the world. The average body length of Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur is 9.2 cm (3.6 in). This species occurs only in the Kirindy Forest in western Madagascar. These mouse lemurs spend most of their time singly but may sometimes sleep together with other lemurs. Whether alone or in a group, they typically sleep in leaf nests in trees, or simply in hole-like structures. When Madame Berthe’s lemurs meet each other they mig ...
ht chase, bite and grab one another. Unlike other species of lemur, they do not hibernate during the cold-dry season but compensate for food scarcity with a larger than average home range.
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Madame Berthe's Mouse Lemur
Bank Vole
Bank Vole
Bank voles are small rodents resembling a mouse when they are young. However, as they grow, voles become stouter with a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and a shorter, hairy tail. Their head and body length varies between 83 and 121 mm (3.25 and 4.75 in). Bank voles can be found in much of Europe and in northwestern Asia but they are native to Great Britain. They are active both during the day and night. They dig long, shallow ...
branching burrows with multiple exits, sometimes tunneling along beneath the leaf litter. They gather and store food underground and make a nest with moss, dry grasses, and leaves close to the surface. Bank voles are in general quite bold creatures but they are also very alert to the cries of other animals, especially the tits (birds) that often warn of aerial predators.
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Bank Vole
Eurasian Wren
Eurasian Wren
Although small in size, Eurasian wrens are plump and sturdy birds with short tail, which is usually held cocked up. Adults typically measure 9 to 10 cm (3.5 to 3.9 in) in length. These are very active birds; they are constantly on the move searching for insects, in the open or among thick vegetation. Due to their cryptic coloration and small size, they are easily lost sight of but can be found everywhere from the tops of the highest moors to the ...
sea coast. On cold nights, Eurasian wrens often roost in groups that consist of either the family or many individuals gathered together for warmth.
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Eurasian Wren
Mongolian Gerbil
Mongolian Gerbil
Mongolian gerbils are typically 110-135 mm (4.3-5.3 in) in length and their tails add them another 95-120 mm (3.7-4.7 in). They live in groups and rely on their sense of smell to identify other members of their clan. Jerbils live in steppes that have cool, dry winters and hot summers where the temperature can get up to 50 °C (122 °F). They dig burrows with 10-20 exits which are often interconnected with other groups. Jerbils also dig deeper b ...
urrows with only 1 to 3 exits in their territory which they use to quickly escape from predators when they are too far from the central burrow.
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Mongolian Gerbil
Pygmy Tarsier
Pygmy Tarsier
Pygmy tarsiers are smaller than other tarsier species having a head-body length of 95 to 105 mm (about 4 inches). The most noticeable feature of the Pygmy tarsier is its large eyes, about 16 mm in diameter. They live in mated pairs and spend most of the daylight hours sleeping on vertical branches in the canopy. The Pygmy tarsier was believed to have become extinct in the early 20th century. The first Pygmy tarsiers seen alive since the 1920s ...
were found by a research team led by Dr. Sharon Gursky and Ph.D. student Nanda Grow from Texas A&M University on Mount Rore Katimbo in Lore Lindu National Park in August 2008. The two males and single female (a fourth escaped) were captured using nets and were radio-collared so that researchers could track their movements and study their lifestyle in the wild.
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Pygmy Tarsier
Brown Creeper
Brown Creeper
Brown creepers measure between 12 and 14 cm (4.7 and 5.5 in) in length. Their plumage is dull-colored, and as their name implies, helps to stay unnoticed while climbing over the surface of trees. Brown creepers live in mature forests spending most of their time foraging on tree trunks and branches, moving up the trunk in a progression of small hops; then they fly down to the bottom of another tree and creep slowly again with their body flattened ...
against the bark, probing with their beak for insects. Brown creepers rarely descend to the ground and also build their nests in tree cavities or simply under a piece of bark partially detached from the tree.
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Brown Creeper
Pygmy Marmoset
Pygmy Marmoset
The Pygmy marmoset is the smallest monkey and one of the smallest primates in the world, with a head-body length ranging from 117 to 152 mm (4.6 to 6.0 in). They have many adaptations for arboreal living including the ability to rotate their heads 180 degrees and their sharp claw-like nails are used to cling to branches and trees. Despite their size, Pygmy marmosets can leap up to 5 m (16 ft) between branches. They are specialized gumivores. ...
They gnaw holes in the bark of appropriate trees and vines with their specialized dentition to elicit the production of gum. When the sap puddles up in the hole, marmosets lap it up with their tongues. They also like to lay in wait for insects, especially butterflies, which are attracted to the sap holes.
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Pygmy Marmoset
Siberian Flying Squirrel
Siberian Flying Squirrel
The body of the Siberian flying squirrel is 13-20 cm (5-8 in) long, with a 9-14 cm (3.5-5.5 in) long flattened tail. The females of this species weigh about 150 grams (5.3 oz), while the males are even slightly smaller. Siberian flying squirrels are shy and nocturnal creatures and thus are seldom seen. The most common sign of their presence is their droppings, which resemble orange-yellow rice grains and are often found beneath or on top of ...
their nest. Siberian flying squirrels like to nest in holes made by woodpeckers and may also use them as nooks to store alder and birch catkins for winter.
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Siberian Flying Squirrel
Long-Tailed Tit
Long-Tailed Tit
The Long-tailed tit is a tiny songbird measuring only 13-15 cm (5-6 in) in length. These adorable birds are real hard workers when it comes to building the nest. Their nests are constructed from four materials: lichen, feathers, spider egg cocoons, and moss, with over 6,000 pieces used for a typical nest. The nest itself is a flexible sac with a small, round entrance on top; it is located either low in a gorse or bramble bush or high up in the ...
forks of tree branches. The structural stability of the nest is provided by a mesh of moss and spider silk. The tiny leaves of the moss act as hooks and the spider silk of egg cocoons provides the loops; thus forming a natural form of velcro. Long-tailed tits line the outside with hundreds of flakes of pale lichens - this provides camouflage. Inside, they line their nests with more than 2,000 downy feathers to make them warm and cozy for incubating and raising their chicks.
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Long-Tailed Tit
Least Chipmunk
Least Chipmunk
This is the smallest species of chipmunk, measuring about 15.7-25 cm (6.2-9.8 in) in total length. Despite their small size they are agile animals and are able to run at speeds of up to 7.7 km/h (4.8 mph) in natural conditions. Least chipmunks spend the winter in burrows and also scatter-hoard food in numerous concealed pits beneath logs and similar cover. Their burrows have 2-4 entrances, often concealed by nearby rocks, and are typically about ...
18 cm (7.1 in) below the surface. During the summer they may construct temporary nests in trees from leaves and grass; they also like to settle up in hollows made by woodpeckers.
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Least Chipmunk
Elf Owl
Elf Owl
The Elf owl is not only the world's smallest owl, but it is also the world's lightest owl. Its mean body weight is 40 g (1.4 oz) and it measures 12.5 to 14.5 cm (4.9 to 5.7 in) in length. These tiny owls can be often found in chaparral, and are most active during dusk and just before dawn. They are often heard calling to one another just after dusk or at sunset in a high-pitched whinny or chuckle. Elf owls have an interesting antipredatory ...
adaptation. They feign death when handled; this way they confuse a predator making it relax its grip so that the owl can escape.
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Elf Owl
Meerkat
Meerkat
These adorable inhabitants of arid areas of Africa have a head-and-body length of around 24-35 cm (9.4-13.8 in). They have foreclaws adapted for digging and have the ability to thermoregulate to survive in their harsh, dry habitat. Meerkats are highly social creatures and live in large burrow systems with around 15 openings, are large underground networks consisting of two to three levels of tunnels. During the daylight hours, they remain ...
continually alert and retreat to burrows when sensing danger producing high-pitched barks to warn others of predators nearby. When the danger is gone, meerkats stick their heads out of burrows to check the area outside, still barking. They have a broad vocal repertoire and use around 12 different types of call combinations in different situations such as guarding against predators, caring for young, digging, sunbathing, huddling together, and aggression.
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Meerkat