Africa is world-renowned for its wildlife and natural beauty. You’ve probably have seen and love the Big Five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo. However, the continent is also home to some wonderful and strange animals that you may have never heard of. According to Africa Guide, the continent boasts over 1,000 species of mammals and 2,000 species of birds that happily call the continent home.
We decided to take a walk on the wild side to discover some of the country’s most exotic and strange animals. We were not disappointed in the offerings. From bats with hammer-shaped heads to birds taller than the average human, we’ve got some truly bizarre animals to share with you. Here are 25 super weird animals that you’re not going to believe are actually real.
The bat-eared fox is a species of fox found on the African savanna, named for its large ears, which are used for thermoregulation (we wish our ears could do that!). Fossils show that this canid has called Africa home for 800,000 years.
Pangolins, sometimes known as scaly anteaters, are mammals of the order Pholidota. There are two species native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are one of the most trafficked animals in the entire world because some believe their scales contain medicinal properties.
The shoebill also is known as whalehead, whale-headed stork, or shoe-billed stork, is a very large stork-like bird. They can stand over five feet tall with a wingspan over seven feet wide. These birds are nuts!
The okapi, also known as the forest giraffe, Congolese giraffe, or zebra giraffe, is a mammal native to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. While it looks like a zebra it’s more closely related to the giraffe.
Okay! Elephant shrews, also called jumping shrews or sengis, are small insectivorous mammals native to Africa. We love that cute little schnozz. Can we be friends?
Check out this rack! The greater kudu is a woodland antelope found throughout eastern and southern Africa. Due to poaching and deforestation, these majestic creatures are on the decline. An adult male can weigh 600 pounds!
Galagos, also known as bushbabies, or nagapies, are small nocturnal primates native to continental, sub-Sahara Africa. These guys usually weigh less than two pounds and got the nickname “bush baby” because of the sound of their cries.
How does this primate get its hair looking so fresh? The mantled guereza, also known simply as the guereza is characterized by its dramatic black and white color. What a cutie.
The African civet is a nocturnal animal similar to a raccoon that almost looks like a cat. It is one of the few carnivores capable of eating toxic invertebrates such as termites and millipedes. Yum!
Desert Rain Frog
Do you ever feel like this after a carb binge? The desert rain frog is a small, plump species with bulging eyes that has a distinctive high-pitched cry similar to a squeaky toy.
Black Rain Frog
Prickly Bush Viper
Atheris hispida is a venomous viper species endemic to Central Africa. It is known for its extremely keeled dorsal scales that give it a bristly appearance. We have no desire whatsoever to touch this scaly skin.
Nothing is fine. The hammer-headed bat, also known as hammer-headed fruit bat and big-lipped bat, is a megabat widely distributed in West and Central Africa. These bats have a three-foot wingspan! Males are very loud and have evolved a huge larnyx. The larynx is so large, it displaces other organs, including the heart, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.
A rare nocturnal forest creature, the pygmy hippopotamus is a difficult animal to study in the wild. Pygmy hippos were unknown outside West Africa until the 19th century. Today, it’s estimated that only 3,000 of these cute creatures still exist in the wild.
The South African springhare, or springhaas in Afrikaans, is not actually a hare, but a rodent. These little guys are notorious borrowers who spend the majority of their time digging elaborate tunnels.
Check out that neck! The gerenuk, also known as the giraffe gazelle, is a long-necked antelope found in the Horn of Africa and the drier parts of East Africa. These beautiful creatures love stretching for food in trees. When they’re not eating, they love finding shade or a nice rain to cool off in.
Lowland Streaked Tenrec
The lowland streaked tenrec is endemic to Madagascar, but fossils show that they came from the African continent millions of years ago. Their little whiskers are extremely sensitive which makes up for their very poor eyesight.
Eastern Green Mamba
This is one mean looking snake! The eastern green mamba is a highly venomous snake species native to the coastal regions of southern East Africa. This deadly snake primarily feeds on birds and their eggs. Eeeeek!
The aye-aye is a long-fingered lemur native to Madagascar with rodent-like teeth that perpetually grow and a special thin middle finger. It is the world’s largest nocturnal primate. It uses those long teeth to poke holes in trees and then scoops out the grubs with that very long finger. Yum!
Dugongs can be found off the coasts of East Africa and have a range that extends to South Asia and the Pacific. Similar to manatees, these mammals are the only strictly herbivorous marine mammal. These are very big animals and the largest ever recorded weighed a whopping 2,240 pounds.
A dik-dik is a name for any of four species of small antelope that live in the bushlands of eastern and southern Africa. They’re often mistaken for a baby or younger antelope because of their small size. They weigh about twelve pounds and their horns will not grow longer than three inches.
The sungazer, also known as the giant girdled lizard or giant dragon lizard, it inhabits the interior of southern Africa. It really does look like a dragon but it’s not exactly “giant.” The largest recorded was eight inches in length.
The lilac-breasted roller is an African bird that lives in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s unofficially considered the national bird of Kenya. Don’t let the colorful plumage tones fool you, this beautiful bird is fierce. Both parents protect eggs after they’ve been laid and are known to be extremely protective and aggressive. We fully understand this bird.
The African clawed frog is characterized by three large claws in each back foot that the amphibian uses to tear apart its food. These are commonly sold as pets that many people enjoy. It’s sorta kinda cute, we guess.
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The paradise flycatcher is a small bird with a very long tail (called tail streamers). Males have the long tails, we should point out, that females scrutinize when choosing a mate. Females tend to be attracted to males with the longest tails. Tails can grow up to sixteen inches long.
There you go! 25 weird animals from Africa you might miss on safari. We hope you enjoyed these bizarre creatures.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 Bat-Eared Fox
- 2 Pangolin
- 3 Shoebill
- 4 Okapi
- 5 Elephant Shrew
- 6 Greater Kudu
- 7 Galago
- 8 Mantled Guereza
- 9 Civet
- 10 Desert Rain Frog
- 11 Black Rain Frog
- 12 Prickly Bush Viper
- 13 Hammer-Headed Bat
- 14 Pygmy Hippo
- 15 Springhare
- 16 Gerenuk
- 17 Lowland Streaked Tenrec
- 18 Eastern Green Mamba
- 19 Aye-Aye
- 20 Dugong
- 21 Dik-Dik
- 22 Sungazer
- 23 Lilac-Breasted Roller
- 24 Clawed Frog
- 25 Paradise Flycatcher
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