Can You Identify the Slowest Animals in the World?

By: Ian Fortey

The Greenland Shark is an ocean scavenger that eats pretty much any dead thing it can find and is incredibly reclusive. No one had ever caught a Greenland Shark swimming on camera until 1995.

Mosquitoes may be the most bothersome creatures on the face of the earth, and also the most dangerous. Despite their tiny size, the fact they can so easily transmit disease makes them incredibly deadly. It's believed malaria, spread by mosquitoes, kills at least one million people per year.

Wheel bugs are very unusual creatures that are a part of the assassin bug family. As that name might indicate, the wheel bug can be a creepy and dangerous fellow. A wheel bug bite is incredibly painful and can linger for days.

The American Woodcock usually travels at a fairly average speed that's not unusual for numerous birds. However, when it needs to, the woodcock has mastered the art of the most leisurely flight in the animal kingdom at a stunningly slow 5 miles per hour.

Most people don't consider coral a thing that moves or even is alive in the traditional sense. Coral reefs are capable of a sort of motion though, given their ability to grow and expand in a direction that is more favorable to them.

Hummingbirds can reach a top speed of 50 mph which should discount them for a list like this. But keep in mind that a hummingbird also possesses the uncanny and rare ability to hover right in place and is able to fly in reverse which, in a weird way, is so slow it's negative speed.

Sea cucumbers don't do a lot with their time, mostly just scuttling along the ocean floor. They walk through the mud and biomatter and whatever edible bits stick to them is what they tend to eat.

Turkeys don't look like they were built for speed and weren't. These birds were almost extinct back in the 1930s thanks to the loss of habitat and hunting. The population has rebounded considerably and there are millions roaming the country these days.

The slow loris isn't just a cleverly named beast, it's a legitimately slow animal. During the day a loris will not do much of anything, but at night the little guy is capable of traveling nearly 5 miles.

Banana slugs are known for their bright yellow color and the fact they can't move particularly fast at all. The slime on a slug isn't a liquid in the traditional sense of the word, it's actually a liquid crystal that may have healthcare applications.

The Swallowtail Butterfly, like most butterflies, is not much of a mover or a shaker. This particular species eats toxic plants as a caterpillar as a method of self-defense. When it eats toxic plants it becomes toxic to predators as well.

The common garden snail is the poster child for slow-moving creatures of the world. It moves by creating a sheet of slimy mucus and then contracting its weird foot-like appendage to create shear that lets it glide along. Slowly.

In general, starfish motor along with just five arms but that's not always the case. A few species of starfish have six or seven arms, and some can get up to 15, at which point they look more like the spokes in a wheel than a star.

Three-toed sloths are obviously pretty well known for their insanely slow speed—they're called sloths after all. The sloth isn't actually able to walk on its hind legs so part of the reason it's so slow is that it needs to drag itself along with its front legs.

They don't call the giant Galapagos tortoise a giant for nothing. The largest one ever recorded was 919 pounds and 6 feet in length. They can also live an insanely long time with the oldest known tortoise making it to 176 years of age.

The dwarf seahorse is a curious little creature for many reasons. Its ability to swim at a mere 5 feet per hour is kind of sad, but at least that makes it well-suited to aquarium living since it's never planning on going very far.

The kestrel is the only bird of prey capable of moving so slowly it doesn't actually move at all, instead hovering in place like a tiny hummingbird while being much larger overall. While it seems normal for a helicopter, for a bird to have no forward momentum is pretty awesome.

Domestic pigs don't have a lot of reasons to run, and that's good because they're not the best at it. A wild pig can apparently reach speeds of about 30 miles per hour, but farm pigs don't do much better than 11 and no doubt you've seen some so big that they couldn't reach 11 by rolling down a hill.

Squirrels do seem kind of fast when you catch them by surprise, but that's often because you see it as it bursts into action toward safety which is usually very nearby. In a flat run, a squirrel can hit around 12 mph which is actually about 4 mph faster than your average human running speed.

Koala bears are notoriously sedentary and tend to just stay in trees all day. When they are in motion they don't tend to move faster than a couple of miles per hour thanks to a very low-energy diet that is exclusively the leaves of eucalyptus trees.

The mighty manatee, sometimes called a sea cow, never seems to be in a hurry. When threatened it can summon a burst of speed that takes it up to maybe 15 miles per hour, but that's just a very quick effort. Its slow speed is the usual pace.

The Gila monster is one of two venomous lizards and only moves at about 1 mile per hour, meaning it should be easy to get away from if you see one coming. A Gila monster bite isn't considered fatal to humans but it will be extremely painful.

The common house sparrow can be found all over the place and is pretty much the most average bird ever. They can hit bursts of speed but usually, fly at a leisurely pace and, oddly enough, can even manage a short trip under water if they need to.

Sea anemones may look more like an exotic plant than an animal but they are still living creatures and some are able to creep very slowly across the ocean floor if they need to change their location.

Crocodiles can move at a good pace in the water but outside they can only run at an average speed of around 6 - 7 miles per hour with the fastest being clocked at around 11. This is less comforting when you know that the average run speed of a human is 8 miles per hour.

Sea sponges can't sneak up on anyone. Many kinds of sponge won't move at all but those that do often manage to move only about a millimeter every single day. There are thousands of species of sponges that have been identified and all of them are just as slow.

The Honduran curly-haired tarantula is considered a fairly good beginner tarantula for people interested in keeping them as pets. They're rather docile overall and tend to stay in one place. They can lunge at prey when they need to and move in short, quick bursts but that's rare.

Giant pandas are said to be able to sprint through a bamboo forest at speeds reaching 20 miles per hour. That almost never happens however as these animals tend to move very little, and when they do is the most leisurely stroll ever.

Nematodes can move in that crawling, swimming way that many microscopic lifeforms are able to move around but it's worth appreciating that literally anything this small is probably incapable of moving at any kind of notable speed because how could it?

There are over 2,000 species of scorpion in the world, meaning finding your average scorpion speed is no easy task. While some can be rather speedy, other bulky scorpions like the tri-color burrowing scorpion are known to sit still and do very little.

Komodo dragons can grow up to 10 feet in length making them one of the most intimidating looking lizards in the world. They're also at the top of their respective food chain which may be why they don't need to move very fast. When you're the top, you get to relax a bit.

A housefly is the kind of pest that's remarkably slow in theory but still fast enough to avoid you nearly every time you swat at it. Even though their only fly at about 5 miles per hour that involves beating their little wings 20 thousand times in a minute.

The American eel can get up to a length of 3 feet and weighs in at around 3 pounds. It's slow even for an eel where most species can get to at least twice the speed of the American which is only able to swim at around 2.4 miles per hour.

Emperor penguins are able to swim at around 6 miles per hour while their land speed is a little less stellar. Penguins can't walk particularly fast and engage in more of a stumble-waddle which, if nothing else, is funny.

Blue Whales can swim at 30 miles per hour and that seems relatively fast, except that a blue whale is the largest animal in the world. At that side, relatively speaking, traveling at only 30 miles per hour is actually remarkably slow.

Chickens are common pretty much all over the world, but you probably haven't spent a lot of time watching them run around unless you're on a farm. They're not built for speed and most chickens can't get above 9 miles per hour when they're in a rush.

Sea otters are very active little animals but they're definitely not speed demons. As playful as they seem, it's best to avoid them since they can be highly aggressive and it'snot unheard of for them to attack dogs and humans.

Mussels are chiefly farmed as food these days with most of the North American mussels coming from Prince Edward Island in Canada. In Washington state, it's a multi-million dollar industry, thanks in part to the fact a mussel just can't get away.

Sea slugs are obviously not quick animals, they call them slugs, after all. They've even used sea slug muscles in extremely slow-moving robots. Back in 2016 researchers used muscle from a sea slug to make a robot that moves at 0.4 centimeters a minute.

The average house mouse can run at about 8 miles per hour. They probably seem faster when you see them scuttling about thanks to how small they are. If you're taking their size into account, a mouse moves at a speed equal to a human that could run at about 160 mph.

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About This Quiz

People have a bit of an obsession with speed. We like fast music and fast cars. We like fast food and quick visits to the dentist. The faster something is, the cooler it seems to be. Just Google all the lists of fast animals online and you'll see, everyone loves to be awed by how quickly a cheetah can run or how fast a peregrine falcon can dive at its prey. Speed indicates goodness in our fast-paced, technologically-obsessed society. 

Your car should be fast. Really fast! Too fast and too furious, even. Your internet needs to be fast. Your hot water should heat up fast. Everything moves at a blazing speed. Or it seems that way.

 But it's not always so. Some things move at an extremely slow pace, too. especially in the animal kingdom. Not everyone is in a rush, after all.

If you're not too caught up in the hectic hustle and bustle of everyday life, then now's as good a time as any to slow your roll a little and take some time to appreciate the leisurely pace of some of nature's more laid back critters. If you think you know something about the slowest animals n the world, why not take the quiz?

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