The Ugliest Animals on Earth (and Underwater…and in the Air)

Whether they crawl, swim or fly, these animals have the noted distinction of being extremely horrifying to look upon. As a species, we humans have a tendency to judge and generalize based upon appearance, and when it comes to the animal kingdom we are no less judgmental when considering our first impressions of one of nature’s creatures. And when those creatures are less than lovely, we quickly label them “monsters,” and run the other way.

There are often logical, survival reasons for why some animals look the way they do, but logic shares no part in determining beauty. These animals are known for being the absolute ugliest, and we’ve grouped them for you by their habitat.


Some of them crawl, some slither, some scurry, climb, or jump. Regardless of their mode of movement, these guys are all truly hideous.

Naked Mole Rat:

Naked Mole Rat

Sometimes called a sand puppy, this wrinkly, hairless pink rodent is a native of East Africa. Naked mole rats spend their lives burrowing underground. They have small, beady eyes with poor vision, and huge, protruding buckteeth used for digging.

Canadian Sphynx Cat:


With hair it would be just another cat, but this cat breed lacks a coat to cover its body and that’s just ugly. They have the markings of a normal cat, tabby or solid, etc…, but without the soft, fluffy fur of the more appealing hairy cat, the Sphynx is definitely an ugly animal.

Baird’s Tapir:


Is it a pig? Or is it a horse? Maybe it’s a rhinoceros? Sometimes called a mountain cow or a jungle horse, Baird’s Tapir is an endangered species that is the largest mammal in Central and South America, growing up to almost 7 feet long and as much as 880 pounds. Baird’s Tapir has four toes on its two front feet, and three toes on the back feet. It’s most prominent feature is the upturned snout that reveals the slimy pink gums and yellowed teeth.

Proboscis Monkey:


When Dutch colonists first came to the island of Borneo, the natives insultingly nicknamed this long-nosed, big-bellied monkey the “Dutchman.” This species is unmistakably identified on sight because of its amazing honker, which, interestingly enough- actually honks. When proboscis monkeys communicate, they honk through their nose, which straightens out with a blow and then deflates to hang down his face.


050419_aye-ayePic from National Geo

An endangered species in Madagascar, this creepy lemur is feared by natives as a magical, evil spirit and killed on sight (hence its status as endangered.) It looks like a cross between a rodent, a squirrel, and a really ugly cat, with thin, scraggly hair, big teeth and long fingers it uses to pull insects from inside trees and rotting logs.


From the perspective of the land, all flying creatures have a graceful, beautiful appearance. However, up close some of these air-borne creatures are quite scary-looking.

California Condor:


The largest North American bird species is also the ugliest. A scavenger that eats rotted carcasses, the condor has a huge, nine-foot wingspan and a bald head. Black feathers cover most of its body except for white markings underneath the wings, and a frill of black feathers surrounds its wattled neck. The huge, hooked bill is used for ripping flesh from carrion.

Greater Adjutant:


Although a member of the stork family, no self-respecting stork would claim this grungy relative. Mostly found in southern Asia, this nasty bird eats garbage, carrion and poop. He has a huge, wedge-shaped beak and a flabby neck pouch that bobbles and hangs down grotesquely. The mostly bald head tops off a dingy, gray-colored body.

Turkey Buzzard:

Turkey Buzzard

If someone in America’s deep South ever calls you a turkey buzzard, consider it the harshest of insults. This scavenger spends its life sniffing out the gases of decaying flesh. It has a short, hooked beak and a large, brownish-black feathered body that is out of proportion to the small, bald, red, wrinkled head.


These water-dwelling monsters are all the more scary for the fact that most of the time we can’t see them approaching until they’re swimming right beside us. For the fishermen among us, hooking one of these bad boys is not a happy occasion.

Blob Fish:

Blob Fish

You won’t see this on the menu at a seafood restaurant. The Blob fish looks like a melting cartoon character, with a slimy, smooth, pink skin, a bulbous nose, and wide, thick-lipped mouth. It’s too fat and weak-muscled to swim, so the Blob just lies on the bottom of the ocean and waits for something to eat to float by.

Celestial Goggle-Eyed Goldfish:

Celestial Goggle-Eyed GoldfishVia

Celestial means heavenly, right? So with a name like that this should be a pretty fish, not a strange-looking creature with huge, bulging eyeballs and a weird, double tail. The protruding eyes even appear to be cross-eyed, adding to the oddity of this ugly fish.

Mata Mata Turtle:

mata mata

At first glance, this South American turtle could be a fallen piece of tree bark. Look again, though, and you’ll see that what looks like a jagged, triangular leaf is actually the head of a big, flat turtle. Mata Matas live in stagnant pools and swamps, and they have a horn on the snout, barbels on their chin and pointy, warted tubercles all over their shell, legs, and tail.



These gnarly bottom-feeding creatures bear absolutely no resemble to a cuddly, adorable poring kitten. The only possible connection to garner the “cat” part of the name are its whiskers, if that’s what you want to call those long, tentacle-like barbels protruding from its humongous snout and chin. Their skin is scale-less and mucous-covered with bony plates.

Catfish are indigenous to ponds, lakes and rivers on every continent in the world except Antarctica, and they have widely diverse sub-species that may only be a few inches long, or can grow up to an incredible 650 pounds like the giant Mekong catfish caught in Thailand in 2005.