Top 10 Small But Strong Animals (With Pictures)

a group of ants - small but strong animals

Examples of small but strong animals include honey badgers, ants, Indian grey mongooses, and black-and-footed cats.

Are you familiar with the saying: “do not judge a book by its cover?” Well, this is particularly true for the wildlife.

Sometimes the tiniest, innocent-looking animals are often the most powerful creatures, and some are even the deadliest. 

In this article, we are going to talk about the ten small but mighty animals.

List of Small But Strong Animals Around the World

  • Dung Beetles
  • Tasmanian Devils
  • Common Kingsnakes
  • Indian Grey Mongoose
  • Honey Badgers
  • Ants
  • Hero Shrews
  • Crowned Eagles
  • Gila Monsters
  • Black-Footed Cats

Dung Beetles

a black dung beetle walking on the ground

Scientific Name: Scarabaeidae
Type of Animal: Insect
Diet: Omnivore

While rolling around in dung may not sound like the most glamorous of lifestyles, the dung beetle was revered by the ancient Egyptians for centuries due to its impressive abilities.

The dung beetle is, for its size, the strongest animal on the planet. (source)

There are actually thousands of species of dung beetle, ranging in size from 0.2 inches (0.5cm) to 1.2 inches (3cm), but all are exceptionally strong.

Some of these small but powerful insects can pull over 1100 times their own body weight. This strength would be the equivalent of a human pulling three fully loaded garbage trucks!

Tasmanian Devils

angry Tasmanian devil with its jaw open

Scientific Name: Sarcophilus harrisii
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

The aptly-named Tasmanian devil is one small but mighty animal.

These 2-foot-long marsupials hold the title of the most powerful bite, pound for pound, of any living mammal on Earth. This comes from their disproportionally large heads and jaws.

Tasmanian devils have powerful jaw muscles, which make up much of the bulk of their heads. Their bite is capable of crushing bones, which Tasmanian devils will happily eat.

Read Also: Strongest Monkeys in the World

They also have a reputation for being fearless, even aggressive, and will fight off anything they feel threatened by, regardless of its size.

These ferocious carnivores hunt just about anything they can, including frogs, birds, insects, and even fish. Fortunately, though, Tasmanian devils prefer scavenging for prey that is already dead over actively hunting and killing. 

Common Kingsnakes

red black and white kingsnake

Scientific Name: Lampropeltis getula
Type of Animal: Reptile
Diet: Carnivore

Another appropriately named animal, the kingsnake is most definitely at the top of the snake hierarchy: kingsnakes eat other snakes.

And not just any other snakes! Rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths, whose venom can be lethal to many animals, are all on the menu for these ruthless constrictors. This is because kingsnakes are immune to snake venom, rendering even rattlesnakes harmless.

They can also kill other constrictors up to 20 percent larger than themselves, essentially out-constricting them. This is not actually because kingsnakes have more muscle than other snakes, but rather because they use it more efficiently.

The constricting power of a kingsnake is enough to stop a human from being able to pump blood, making them pound for pound, the strongest constrictors in the world. In fact, it is believed that this is how kingsnakes kill.

Kingsnakes do not kill their prey by suffocating them, as previously thought, but by stopping their hearts from pumping blood. Nice!

Indian Grey Mongoose

Indian grey mongoose eating an egg

Scientific Name: Herpestes edwardsii
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

While these fuzzy grey mammals may look cute, they are actually ferocious predators, striking fear into the heart of one of the world’s deadliest animals: the king cobra. The Indian grey mongoose is one of the only animals in the world which preys on the king cobra.

King cobras, for the record, are among the most venomous snakes in the world, capable of killing a human in under 30 minutes. They are also the largest venomous snake, growing up to 18 feet (5.5m) long.

You May Also Like: List of Strongest Gorilla Species

Yet the comparatively tiny 30-inch (80cm) Indian gray mongoose is capable of killing them. How?

The Indian grey mongoose has a secret weapon: it is immune to the king cobras venom. Well, not entirely immune, but highly tolerant.

The king cobra’s venom works by attacking its victim’s nervous system. The Indian grey mongoose has a type of neurotransmitter that binds to the poison, rendering it harmless.

However, if the mongoose is unlucky enough to get bitten too many times, its immune system may become overwhelmed by the amount of venom in its body, causing it to die.

But because of how agile the mongoose is, the snake rarely lands one strike home before the mongoose bites it on the head, killing it.

Honey Badgers

Scientific Name: Mellivora capensis
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

Contrary to its adorable name, the honey badger is anything but sweet. Despite their diminutive size, these small but powerful animals are renowned and feared throughout their native Africa, mainly due to their ferocity.

Honey badgers are known to be among the most fearless animals in the world. They will comfortably face down hyenas or even lions!

These creatures are deceptively challenging, with deadly jaws and stocky, robust bodies.

Honey badgers also have remarkably thick, loose skin, resistant to porcupine quills and even dog bites. This enables them to twist around, in seemingly impossible ways, in a predator’s grip and bite them back, usually in the face.

In addition, honey badgers have an incredibly strong immunity to venom, so they will also hunt scorpions and snakes given the opportunity.

Ants

small but strong ant carrying a big leaf

Scientific Name: Formicidae
Type of Animal: Insect
Diet: Omnivore

Known and feared throughout the world as destroyers-of-picnics, ants certainly know how to make their presence known.

While they may only be considered a pest to most, ants are actually quite incredible in their own right.

Their tiny bodies are able to withstand as much as 5,000 times their own weight! This enables them to lift and carry objects up to 100 times heavier than themselves.

The reason for their super-strength is, paradoxically, their tiny size. Because their bodies are so small, they have a sizeable muscle-to-body ratio.

Ants also have intricate neck joints with a large surface area, made up of many folds and bumps, which enable them to shoulder massive loads.

Hero Shrews

Scientific Name: Scutisorex somereni
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

Hero shrews are small, fuzzy, mole-like creatures, utterly harmless and distinctly adorable.

So why on earth somebody decided to see what would happen if they stepped on one is an absolute mystery, and a disturbing one at that. Incredibly, what happened was nothing. The shrew was completely unscathed.

As unlikely as this sounds, the hero shrew is indeed able to withstand the weight of a full-grown man without sustaining injury. This is because of its absurdly strong spine.

The hero shrew’s spine is not only incredibly dense but also equipped with bony protrusions which interlock when the shrew contracts its muscles, temporarily fusing its spine.

This physical ability makes a hero shrew a mammal with the sturdiest spine relative to its size, which is ridiculously resilient and almost unbreakable.

Crowned Eagles

small but powerful crowned eagle on a tree branch

Scientific Name: Stephanoaetus coronatus
Type of Animal: Bird
Diet: Carnivore

The crowned eagle is not the biggest bird in the world, weighing less than 10 pounds (4.5kg), but it is arguably the strongest bird globally.

Known as Africa’s “leopard of the sky,” these formidable birds can take down prey over six times their own weight. Not only that, but they can lift and carry them too!

Their mighty wings and talons make for the perfect weaponry. Like leopards, crowned eagles are stealth hunters.

Related: List of Strongest Birds

Crowned eagles wait silently for the perfect moment to attack their unsuspecting prey, then swoop down at high speed onto the animal’s head, neck, or back, crushing its skull or spine in their lethal talons.

These magnificent eagles feed on anything from rodents to monkeys to even small antelope, such as bushbuck. They are also highly protective of their nests and will fiercely defend them against anything they perceive as a threat.

Gila Monsters

a black and pink Gila monster showing its tongue

Scientific Name: Heloderma suspectum
Type of Animal: Reptile
Diet: Carnivore

The Gila monster is an orange and black lizard found in North America and Mexico. It only grows to around 20 inches (55cm) and is slow-moving and shy.

So what makes it mighty? Its bite.

The Gila monster is one of the very few venomous lizards on the planet, along with the Komodo dragon and some species found in Australia.

Its bite is said to be excruciatingly painful and, very occasionally, even fatal. Some have described it as the most painful bite of any living vertebrate.

To make matters worse, the Gila monster is known to hang on when it bites, and its jaws are extremely strong, and once they lock it down, it is almost impossible to open. Some Gila monsters have been observed spinning or flipping over as they bite, like a crocodile “death-roll.”

This is thought to help pump more venom into the wound. The teeth of the Gila monster are razor-sharp and backward-curved, making it even harder to escape their grasp.

But many people all over the world owe this little lizard their thanks. The venom of the Gila monster was used to create medication for Type-II diabetes (fortunately minus the painful side effects).

Black-Footed Cats

Scientific Name: Felis nigripes
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

The black-footed cat is the last member on our list of small but strong animals. Tiny, beautiful, and adorable, the black-footed cat is as deceptive as they come.

These pint-sized felines are insanely efficient hunters, with a success rate of 60%, over three times that of a lion. This makes them the most successful hunters of all the cat family and one of the most efficient hunters in the world.

The black-footed cat can average around 14 kills in one night, or one kill every 50 minutes or so.

The reason for their voracious appetite is their unusually high metabolism (lucky them!). They burn energy at such a high rate that they are almost constantly hungry and in need of food.

Their muscular yet agile bodies, excellent night-vision, and hypersensitive hearing make the black-footed cat a truly formidable predator.

Read Also: Strongest Wolves in the World

Further Reading:

https://www.britannica.com/animal/dung-beetle

https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/crowned-eagle

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/tasmanian-devil

https://www.forestwildlife.org/why-are-mongooses-and-snakes-enemies/

https://www.sanbi.org/animal-of-the-week/honey-badger/

https://www.insidescience.org/news/ants-are-even-stronger-you-imagine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsnake

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/gila-monster

https://www.livescience.com/63992-deadliest-cat.html