The slowest animals in the world include the dwarf sea horse, koalas, sloths, garden snails, anemones, and corals. They all move slowly due to natural adaptations, and a lacking need for speed.
Most people are aware of some of the fastest animals on earth, but not many people know about the slowest animals.
It is believed that speed doesn’t decide an animal’s fate. But, speed is one of the most important abilities for survival. Faster animals are more likely to outrun predators or prey.
But for some animals, slow and calm is their way of living.
Turtles and snails are the first images that come to mind when talking about slow animals. But these are not the slowest animals in nature.
This article lists the top 13 slowest animals in the world and the reasons for their slow movements.
Koalas, or koala bears, are one of the most famous marsupials in the world. They look like bears and are native to Australia. They usually eat leaves from eucalyptus trees but do eat other leaves depending on availability.
Eucalyptus leaves are toxic and have low calories. Koalas digest them easily due to their slow digestive system. Their stomach extracts the most amount of nutrients from their food and neutralizes the toxins.
They don’t store a lot of fat in their bodies, so they need to conserve as much energy as possible.
This also makes koalas extremely sleepy and slow, moving only 2-3 mph on average. They are one of the slowest animals in the world. Koalas sleep most of the time, as their napping time is around 22 hours per day.
They can make short bursts of movement, reaching speeds of 20 mph.
2. Dwarf Sea Horses
Seas horses are special types of fish found in oceans across the globe. Their bodies are shaped like horses making it difficult for them to swim properly and hindering their speed.
One of the most mysterious sea horses in the world is the dwarf sea horse. They are small fishes found in the Caribbean and some parts of the United States. They have an average length of around 0.8 to 1 inch with a maximum size of 2 inches.
Dwarf sea horses hold a Guinness World Record for being the slowest fish in the world. They move at maximum speeds of 0.001 mph (0.016 km/h).
3. Gila Monsters
The Gila monster is a venomous reptile. They are native to the southern United States and are a type of lizard.
They are sluggish and pose no threat to human beings.
Gila monsters spend much of their time underground to conserve energy for later hunting. At their fastest, they reach 1.5 mph. They are around 22 inches in length and consume food more than a third of their body weight.
4. Pink Starfishes
Starfish are shaped like a star and are echinoderms. They have the ability to regrow limbs if needed. Every limb that is cut off from a starfish can grow into a new starfish.
There are around 2000 species of starfish in the oceans. Some of the most common ones are:
- Sunflower sea starfish
- Midgardia xandaros
- Spiny starfish
- Pink starfish
Pink starfishes are the slowest of all starfish species. They live on the ocean floor, eating corals, clams, mussels, and oysters. They also eat dead fish.
Starfishes do not contain blood, vessels, or even a brain. They appear stagnant and immovable to the naked eye, but these creatures move albeit slowly.
Pink starfishes move at a slow pace of 0.06 mph, making them one of the slowest animals in the world.
5. Sea Hares (Anaspidea)
Sea hares are herbivorous gastropods that live in saltwater, feeding seagrass and algae. They occur in different sizes and colors.
Most sea hares do not possess parapodia which limits their speed. Parapodia are lateral protusions which are found in several gastropods and annelids. They help enhance the mobility of these organisms.
Sea hares move by dragging their bodies slowly on the ocean floor, reaching a maximum of 0.52 mph (0.84 kph). While they have several predators, such as starfish and lobsters, they are too slow to outrun them.
Instead, they escape predators by relying on toxins and camouflage.
6. Three-Toed Sloths
Sloths are one of the most well-known slow animals in the world. They have peculiar faces and spend much of their time in trees.
Three-toed sloths are one of the laziest sloth species found in America. They move at a speed of 0.03 mph (0.048 kph) and usually don’t walk more than a hundred feet per day.
Three-toed sloths eat leaves and have low metabolism. This results in fewer calories which reduces their activity levels. Their slowness has earned them the title of the slowest mammal in the world.
7. Garden Snails
Like sloths, snails are considered the poster child of laziness. Garden snails (or land snails) are a type of mollusk found in almost every part of the world. They have hard shells on their backs which protect them from predators.
This protection allows them to move slowly without worrying about their safety. Snails move by contracting their body and pushing forward. They leave a slime trail behind them when they move.
Garden snails move at an average speed of 0.5 to 0.7 inches per second (0.039 mph or 0.063 kph). At this pace, it would take around one and a half days for a garden snail to move a mile.
8. Slow Lorises
Slow lorises get their name from their slowness. They have round heads, large eyes, narrow snouts, and different color patterns depending on the species.
Slow lorises are the only venomous primate species in the world and are native to Southeast Asia. They cover their fur with toxins to deter predators and ensure their safety.
They are nocturnal and are subdivided into seven different species:
- Sunda slow loris
- Bengal slow loris
- Bangka slow loris
- Javan slow loris
- Philippine slow loris
- Borean slow loris
- Kayan river slow loris
Slow lorises do not require fast speeds as they use their toxins to safeguard themselves. Their maximum speed is around 1.2 miles per hour.
9. Galapagos Tortoises
Another animal famous for its slow movement is the tortoise. Tortoises have heavy shells on their backs which weigh them down. The weight makes it difficult for tortoises to walk quickly.
Giant tortoises, or the Galapagos tortoises, are the biggest species of tortoises in the world. They are vertebrates and generally live for more than 150 years. They are found in Galapagos and Seychelles and have a body weight of more than 770 lbs.
Giant tortoises move extremely slowly due to their body weight. The thick shell also protects them from any predators providing them with safe space within their bodies. This also reduces the dependency on giant tortoises to move fast. They move at speeds of around 0.18 mph with a maximum speed of 0.3 mph.
10. Banana Slugs
The banana slug is a mollusk without a shell that resembles a banana. They move via muscular contractions, much like snails. They live in moist conditions underground and only surface to forage for food.
Banana slugs move at around 0.003 mph (three inches per minute) with a maximum speed of 0.006 mph (six and a half inches per minute). Without the added weight of the shell, these slugs move a lot faster than their cousins, the garden snails.
Bana slugs are one of the largest slugs in the world and reach lengths of up to nine inches.
Manatees are big mammals that are usually found in North America and Western Africa. They live in water and are herbivorous, eating seagrass and leaves.
They are also called sea cows and do not have any predators. The lack of predators allows them to move slowly without endangering themselves.
Manatees usually rest in shallow waters, averaging a swimming speed of three mph.
It’s worth mentioning that while they are normally slow, they can swim up to 30mph in short bursts. Only for a couple of seconds though.
One of the most interesting animals on this list is the sea anemone. They belong to the Actinaria family and are related to jellyfish and corals. They resemble plants and appear fixed but are animals.
Sea anemones are available in several shapes and sizes. They usually do not move, as they wait for their prey to come to them.
But, they do move occasionally, and when they do it’s at a slow pace of 0.4 inches per hour. This makes them one of the slowest organisms in the world.
Anemones have a pedal disc that they use to move around. Several studies have been conducted to monitor the movement of anemones, and time-lapse videos have shown this slow movement.
Corals are marine invertebrates that form colonies of polyps. They secrete calcium carbonate that builds up their hard outer skeleton.
They usually move with the currents but are otherwise stuck in place. While they don’t, they reproduce quickly. The new polyps form beside the parent and start growing there. After many successive reproductions, corals appear to move.
Conclusion: The Slowest Animals
Nature is all about survival. Fast animals are more likely to escape their predators compared to slow animals, but that doesn’t mean that slow animals do not stand a chance.
There are many slow animals that rely on their other abilities to deter predators. Slow animals are usually vegetarian and do not have a high metabolism.
Anemones are one of the slowest animals in the modern world. On land, snails and sloths are the slowest.
|Animal||Average Speed||Maximum Speed|
|Koala||2-3 mph||20 mph|
|Dwarf Sea Horse||0.0005 mph||0.001 mph|
|Gila monster||1 mph||1.5 mph|
|Pink starfish||0.06 mph||0.09 mph|
|Sea hare||0.3 mph||0.52 mph|
|Three-toed sloth||0.03 mph||0.17 mph|
|Garden snail||0.039 mph||0.063 mph|
|Slow loris||0.05 mph||1.2 mph|
|Galapagos tortoise||0.18 mph||0.3 mph|
|Banana slug||0.003 mph||0.006 mph|
|Manatee||3 mph||30 mph|
|Anemone||0.4 inches per hour||0.5 inches per hours|
|Coral||0 mph||0 mph|
What Is the Slowest Moving Mammal in the World?
Sloths are the slowest-moving mammals in the world. They are lazy and move at a pace of 0.03 miles per hour. It would take a sloth at least 100 hours to cover a mile.
Are Sloths Slower Than Turtles?
Yes, sloths are slower than turtles. While turtles are slow on land, they are fast swimmers thanks to their fins making them relatively faster than sloths. On the other hand, sloths prefer resting in trees over moving around and are far slower than turtles.
What Is the Slowest Insect in the World?
The wheel bug is considered to be the slowest insect in the world. It is a small bug that is around an inch big. Its real speed is unknown.