Some animals are so slow that their names have become synonymous with idleness. These animals creep and amble, sometimes even moving just a few feet per minute.
While animals like the peregrine falcon and the cheetah are known for their swiftness, some animals simply aren’t in a hurry. From sloths and slugs to snails and tortoises, here are the slowest animals in the world.
The Guinness World Records acknowledges the garden snail as one of the slowest creatures on Earth. This leisurely snail has an average speed of just 0.03 miles per hour! Not only celebrated for its slowness, but the garden snail also holds a notable record for its size. According to the Guinness World Records, the largest recorded garden snail had a shell diameter of 9.8 inches and was discovered in Congham, Norfolk.
The Wildlife Trusts states the star-nosed mole only moves at 0.15 mph. Its distinctive feature is its nose, surrounded by 22 fleshy appendages resembling a star. This unique adaptation helps the mole navigate and find prey in its underground habitat. It feeds on small invertebrates such as insects, worms, and mollusks that it detects using its sensitive nose. This mole has poor eyesight but compensates for it with its highly specialized nasal appendages. It is a solitary animal and is not often seen above ground. Conservation efforts focus on protecting its habitat and ensuring its survival in the wild.
According to National Geographic, the dugong is a large marine mammal that inhabits the coastal waters of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean. They are known for their slow swimming speed, typically only around 6 miles per hour (9.7 kilometers per hour)! Dugongs are often found in shallow, warm waters where they graze on seagrass, their primary food source. They have a streamlined body, a tail similar to that of a dolphin, and paddle-like flippers. Dugongs are also known for their close relationship with manatees and are often referred to as “sea cows.” They are gentle creatures listed as vulnerable due to habitat loss, hunting, and accidental entanglement in fishing nets. Conservation efforts are in place to protect these unique and fascinating marine mammals.
Also known as starfish, sea stars have hard tops with tiny, wiggly tube feet on their underside. Sea stars’ small feet help them grasp surfaces and move around, but not very fast. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an adult sea star can move at a whirlwind pace of one meter (around one yard) per minute using all of its 15,000 tube feet.
According to National Geographic, there are over 1,000 sea anemone species worldwide, most related to jellyfish and coral. Sea anemones are colorful underwater creatures that use their pedal disc and mucus secretions to attach to shells, rocks, plants, or coral reefs. Sea anemones rarely detach, but when they do, they move around four to ten inches per hour. They typically move in response to unfavorable conditions or predators.
According to National Geographic, the banana slug (Ariolimax Costaricensis) is an exceptionally slow species, reaching eye-watering slow speeds of 8 centimeters per minute—0.48 centimeters per hour. Banana slugs have a mucus gland at the end of their tails, which helps them create a chord to rappel down heights.
Native to the Southwest USA, Gila monsters are a type of venomous lizard that is the slowest lizard in the world. Gila monsters live much of their lives underground, storing higher fat levels in their bodies, allowing them to hunt less frequently, according to the Smithsonian. Despite their size and venom, Gilas are not much of a threat to humans.
American woodcocks can travel 46 kilometers per hour, which may seem quick compared to the other animals on this list. In the bird world, however, the American woodcock is the slowest. This bird’s body shape is chunky and small, so it spends most of its time camouflaging on the ground thanks to its brownish-gray plumage.
Giant Galapagos Tortoise
There are plenty of giant tortoise subspecies native to different islands, but the most famous island tortoise is the giant Galapagos tortoise. According to National Geographic, this tortoise can live for over 150 years and, shockingly, only go a maximum of 1.2 miles per hour!
The dwarf seahorse is a small seahorse species that live in the Bahamas and different parts of the U.S. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, dwarf seahorses are the slowest-moving fish, with a top speed of 150 centimeters per hour. Due to its unique body shape, this marine animal cannot move much to propel itself, so it solely relies on drifting.
Like sloths, koala bears have a high fiber, low nutrient diet and maintain an extremely slow metabolic rate. Koalas store very little fat in their bodies, so they conserve as much energy as possible; sleeping and moving slowly are their main strategies to save energy.
These unique sea creatures move like mermaids, and while they are sea creatures, they are also mammals, so they come up for air. According to the Save the Manatees Club, adult manatees sleep underwater for 10-12 hours daily and often move at a rate of 5 miles per hour; however, they can be relatively fast swimmers in short bursts—swimming up to 19 miles per hour!
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This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.