21 Animals With Claws (Sharp, Long, Curved, Retractable)

animal claws

Examples of animals with claws include bears, eagles, owls, sloths, giant armadillos, kangaroos, cats, and many others. Animal claws have various functions, while some of the most common uses include digging, grooming, climbing, defending, and attacking purposes.

There are various sorts of claws found in thousands of different animals around the globe. Long, curved, sharp, retractable, non-retractable, all sorts of claws.

In this article, we are going to look at each claw type and elaborate its use in detail. Without further ado, let us meet animals with claws.

List of Animals With Claws

Grizzly Bears

Scientific Name: Ursus arctos horribilis
Diet: Omnivore
Claw Size: 3 to 5 inches

The first member on our list of animals with claws is a scary grizzly bear. Grizzly bears are one of the strongest bear species, and they are sitting at the very top of the food chain, even though a big part of their diet consists of plant-based food.

Grizzlies have claws that are up to 3 inches long. The paws of a grizzly bear can decapitate a wolf with one swat, but that’s about as amazing as a grizzly bear can get – all their power is in their paws and not claws.

Their claws are not sharp and efficient enough to crush bones; however, they are quite useful for digging, gripping fish that are naturally slimy and tricky to hold, and browsing logs for insects to eat. 

Harpy Eagles

Scientific Name: Harpia harpyja
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 3 to 5 inches

The harpy eagle (also called the American harpy eagle or Brazilian harpy eagle) is mostly found in Central America, particularly in Panama. These scary birds of prey are some of the most powerful birds that have equally powerful claws to match.

Its huge claws were not made to merely collect straws or rats for dinner – as is the case for most birds of prey.

Harpy eagles weigh about 20 pounds and are 3 feet and 11 inches tall ( about the size of an average eight years old) – can you wrap your mind around how big their talons are!

The harpy eagle’s claws can grow up to lengths of 5 inches – remember the grizzly bear’s average 5 inches? Now you get it!

A harpy eagle’s claw is strong enough to snatch a monkey right out of a tree and practically crush a mammal’s spine. It is the most powerful eagle in the new world!

Bats

Scientific Name: Chiroptera
Diet: Insectivore
Claw Size: Up to 1.3 inches

Bats are the only mammals that are capable of true flight. Apart from the fact that they are mammals, they do have a lot in common with birds.

These unique mammals have a thin membrane that serves as wings, and they also have at most two sharp claws on each hand.

Due to the backward placement of their feet, bats find it difficult to perch on trees like other birds. Instead, they hang upside down from branches when they’re inactive – with their claws.

An average bat weighs 3.3 pounds, and in order to support its weight, bats need to have powerful claws to maintain a strong grip while hanging (resting).

Its claws can also be used to catch prey but are not strong enough to snatch prey from the ground or tree while in flight, as most birds do.

Lions

Scientific Name: Panthera leo
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 1.5 inches

Another animal with claws, which sits at the very top of the food web chain, the lion, uses this physical feature for several purposes.

They have retractable claws (claws that pull back into their paws when not in use) and their claws are much more complex than most animals with claws.

On the tip of their toes, there are deadly claws that are about 1.5 inches long. Typically, lions have five toes in front and four toes behind, which gives this illusion of lions in heels.

A lion’s claw could be compared to a simple kitchen knife. If not sharpened periodically, it becomes blunt.

Besides providing a firm grip while climbing, a lion’s claws are the greatest weapon in its arsenal for hunting. So it takes good care of its weapon by using trees to keep them sharp.

Tigers

Scientific Name: Panthera tigris
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 4 inches

The tiger is another big cat with retractable claws that are about 4 inches long. Their claws are naturally curved for better grip, similar to that of we humans.

They also have five toes in their forelimbs and four toes in their hind limbs, made of keratin. However, their curved and really long claws put them at a disadvantage when it comes to climbing.

The claws are better suited for climbing up trees rather than climbing down. Yet, being able to retract the claws is a big plus for tigers because they live in the jungle.

For a successful stealthy animal, the tiger has to retract its claws to avoid crunching plants on the jungle ground in the process of searching for prey. 

Domesticated Cats

Scientific Name: Felis catus
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 0.12 inch

Our adorable and cuddly domestic cats also have retractable claws. Domestic cats, even though domesticated, still belong to the cat family.

But unlike their big brothers in the wild, they have no care nor the zeal to attack and eat us.

Household cats only retract their claws when they feel threatened, and they are merely used to scratch and also to catch rats and other small creatures.

Most of the time, their claws are usually hidden under their paws when they are around humans. However, cats sharpen their claws from time to time, just like their big cousins do.

Domestic cats do have five claws, including a dewclaw in their forefeet and four claws on their hind feet.

Giant Armadillos

Scientific Name: Priodontes maximus
Diet: Insectivore
Claw Size: Up to 8 inches

Giant armadillos have insanely long claws that are not retractable. The front claws are longer than the hind claws.

The third claw of the forefoot is called the ‘sickle claw’ and spans about 8 inches in length, which is roughly the same size as the palm of an average human.

Giant armadillos’ have the largest claws of all animals that have claws. Their claws are quite sharp, and they use them to dig holes, large enough to fit their body, to find food.

However, they are unused when it comes to hunting; giant armadillos only eat termites, worms, and larvae.

Giant Anteaters

Scientific Name: Myrmecophaga tridactyla
Diet: Insectivore
Claw Size: 4 inches

They might be mere ‘anteaters’, but giant anteaters (ant bears) have deadly claws. Giant anteaters are insectivores; the only use they have for their claws when it comes to hunting is digging.

Their 4 inches long claws are super-efficient for digging the ground, while their long snouts and tongues come in handy for slurping the food. A pretty unique creature of the wild.

They look like bears, and they have some of that boldness and courage other bears have. So they will use their claws to protect themselves when they are bothered by their predators or if they feel their territory is being threatened.

Sloths

Scientific Name: Folivora
Diet: Herbivore
Claw Size: 3 to 4 inches

Sloths are tree animals usually associated with laziness and slow movements. They are found in the trees of Central and North America.

Sloths have claws in common with bats and a lot more. The claws of sloths are curved and usually grow up to 4 inches long.

These arboreal creatures mainly use their claws to hang upside down when they are inactive, just like bats do, and they are efficient at it. What they are super awkward doing is working as other animals can.

Sloths are of two kinds, two-clawed sloths and three-clawed sloths. Both species are primarily herbivores, and they enjoy eating vegetables and sometimes fruits. But occasionally, they’ll eat lizards and their eggs.

Read Also: List of Animals With Paws

Cougars

Scientific Name: Puma concolor
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 2.25 inches

Another animal with claws that come from a feline family is the cougar. Cougars have shaped and curved retractable claws.

They will take advantage of their claw adaptation for hunting prey, but it is also used for territory markings. A cougar will stand on its hind limbs, dig its claws into a tree and pull down to mark its territory.

The claws of cougars barely show in their paws print except for their hunting on rough terrains, and they need their claws to anchor and drift.

Cougars have a paw print that is about 4 inches long with retractable claws embedded in it. Since they mostly live in high mountains, cougars usually prey on elk, moose, deer, and wild sheep.

They do not have any natural enemies, but they have to fight with other top food chain predators to secure their kills.

Jaguars

Scientific Name: Panthera onca
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 2 inches

Jaguars are leopards look-alike, and they have retractable claws like the rest of the cat family. Because in the wild, the hunting business is very saturated, jaguars love to eat their prey in the trees.

To get their kill up high, jaguars use their powerful claws to grip the tree bark, while holding the prey in their teeth. Awesome right?

The claws of a jaguar are extremely powerful and can grow to lengths of 2 inches. Besides climbing, jaguars use their retractable claws for scent marking and gripping prey.

These big cats are boundless hunters; they can go for and kill anything for dinner, regardless of its shape or size – they even go for big predators like caimans and tapirs. 

Polar Bears

Scientific Name: Ursus maritimus
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 3.5 inches

Polar bears are carnivores that live in the Arctic. Which means they hunt their prey on slippery ice. Hunting on slippery elements would mean a salsa dance and no food.

So polar bears have retractable claws used for anchoring and drifting while chasing down prey. The claws of a polar bear are about 3.5 inches long and are razor sharp.

However, more often than not, polar bears rely on their sensory abilities rather than physical.

They’ll wait for the seal to come out from the water to breathe and snatch it with their powerful forelimbs. Polar bears prey on both ringed and bearded seals.

Naturally, polar bears have no natural predators, but other polar bears, wolves, killer whales will kill and eat the cubs, given the opportunity.

Related: Animals With Hooves

Black Bears

Scientific Name: Ursus americanus
Diet: Omnivore
Claw Size: 1 to 2 inches

Black bears (also called the American black bear) are strong predators that utilize their paws and claws to hunt mid-sized animals, like deer fawns and moose calves.

Interestingly, the print of a grizzly bear is very different from that of the black bear.

Black bears have claws that are averagely 2 inches long; however, their front claws are considerably shorter (1 inch). Regardless of the size, their claws are much stronger than that of grizzly bears.

Black bears use their claws to grip and skin fish, pull fallen logs for insects and termites, or to flee from predators by climbing into trees.

Their diet consists mainly of vegetables and fruits, but once in a while, they will eat insects.

Kangaroos

Scientific Name: Macropodidae
Diet: Herbivore
Claw Size: 1 to 4 inches

Unique creatures of Australia, kangaroos have non-retractable claws. They have long curved claws in their front paw which is used to swipe at opponents in a boxing match, be it, other males or humans, voluntarily or involuntarily.

The scariest claws, however, are found on their hind legs. In particular, the central claw is super long and could rip guts out of almost any creature alive with a single kick.

Besides damaging purposes, their hind claws have the function of providing balance while hopping.

The claws on their front legs are used for grasping and pulling branches and plants. They are also important for grooming and cleaning.

Cassowaries 

Scientific Name: Casuarius
Diet: Herbivore
Claw Size: 1 to 5 inches

You thought you met the only animal that can win a kickboxing match – have you tried a cassowary? Well, you better don’t!

Cassowaries are labeled as the most dangerous flightless bird in the world. They can reach heights of 6 feet – the height of an ideal runway model.

On each foot, they have three sharp claws. Claws on the right and the middle side of their foot are about one inch, while the claw that grows on the left part can reach the size of five inches!

Their incredible height, coupled with the ability to reach speeds of about 30mph, and their cutting claws make these running birds one of the scariest creatures you’d encounter in the wild.

With their powerful kicks and dagger-like claws, cassowaries have had a history of attacking and even killing humans. They are not cute ostrich cousins in the park that need feeding.

Golden Eagles

Scientific Name: Aquila chrysaetos
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 2.5 inches

Golden eagles are recognized as one of the fastest and most skilled hunters in North America. Thanks to their sharp and curved weaponry, these raptor birds are unmerciful.

Golden eagles have hallux nonretractable claws, three on each foot. The average length of a golden eagle’s claw is about 2.5  inches.

They hunt by swooping down from the sky and picking up unsuspecting prey from a tree or the forest ground. Not like they cannot handle hunting down hoofed animals for dinner, but golden eagles prefer to prey on ground squirrels, rats, and hares.

Their claws have a powerful grip force that can effectively clam around prey and hold them for long periods. The pressure of their powerful talon claws exerts 440 PSI (pounds per square inch), which is six times more than an average human grip strenght.

Golden eagles are such fearless birds of prey; they are sometimes seen fighting off bears, wolves, and other animals much larger than them.

Badgers

Scientific Name: Meles meles
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 1.4 inches

Badgers are members of the Mustelidae family, and like most members of the family, they have nonreactive claws. Their claws are about 1.4 inches long, and there are three on each foot.

Badgers, especially honey badgers, do not just have lengthy claws, but they are audacious and ferocious. Honey badgers would go for beehives with nonchalance using their claws to rip beehives open and take all the honey regardless of being stung by bees dozens of times.

Lions are their natural predators, but unlike other prey, honey badgers would not give up that easily – they mostly do not win, but at least they’d go down fighting till their last breath.

Honey badgers fight dirty and disrespectfully. The first thing they do when cornered by a lion is going straight for the price – the lion’s scrotum.

Apart from using their sharp claws to make trouble, badgers use their claws to dig holes and browse for insects.

Great Horned Owls

Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 4 inches

Great horned owls are the most common predatory owl species found in North America. These fierce hunters typically feed on smaller prey but are known for taking down falcons, ospreys, and even other owls.

Great horned owls have flexible claws similar to the fingers of humans – when they are perching, holding on to tree branches, and hunting prey, the outermost claws will turn and face the back. But when in flight three of its four claws will face forward while the other claw will face backward.

Their claws can grow up to lengths of 4 inches. These claws have a grip force of 300 PSI that can squeeze and kill prey in a matter of seconds.

Great horned owls also use their sharp claws not only to attack but to defend themselves against predators. Bobcats, badgers, and coyotes are natural predators of great horned owls.

Bald Eagles 

Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 2 inches

Another bird with powerful feet and claws is the bald eagle. These scavenger birds are faster than most birds in the sky, and besides stealing skills, are exceptional hunters.

A bald eagle’s claws are big enough to cover an entire fist of a man. Their claws are non-retractable. Instead, they are fixed and arranged in such a way to enable the perching and snatching of prey.

Bald eagles have four claws on each foot, of which one is the longest and more back facing, called a hallux. The claws of a bald eagle are about 2 inches long.

Apart from hunting, fighting other birds, and protecting their territory, bald eagles use their claws for the couple dance; a male and female bald eagle will grip either of the other’s claws mid-air and fall in a spiraling fashion to declare a match.

Meerkats

Scientific Name: Suricata suricatta
Diet: Carnivore
Claw Size: 0.8 inch

Meerkats are skinny cute creatures, especially when they stand upright on their hind legs. But they are not domesticated cats that can have their claws clipped.

A meerkat has claws that are just shy of 1 inch long. They use their claws to dig into holes to find insects and other hidden prey.

Their claws are long enough to cage prey in their hands and also try to fight off their natural predators like snakes and eagles.

Apart from that, long claws come in handy in conjunction with strong hind legs when climbing trees.

Meerkats are native to South Africa – remember Lion King?

Koalas

Scientific Name: Phascolarctos cinereus
Diet: Herbivore
Claw Size: 1.5 inches

The last members on our list of animals with claws are koalas. These cute-looking creatures are equipped with long and scary claws.

They have five claws on their front paws and four on their back paws, as one of their toes on the hindlimb lack claw.

As they are primarily arboreal animals (spending most of their lives on trees), the main function of the claws is for climbing and gripping tree branches.

However, if in danger, koalas will transform these climbing tools into weapons. Behind that cute appearance lies a solitary animal that can be quite dangerous if threatened or disturbed.

Further Reading:

https://www.britannica.com/science/claw

https://thomsonsafaris.com/blog/animal-claws-out/