5 ‘Ugly’ Animals Who Deserve More Love

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on September 15, 2013

It’s official: The blobfish is the ugliest animal in the world. There was a vote, so it has to be true, right? I guess this might lead a sane person to ask: Why are we voting on the ugliest animal? Also, what the heck is a blobfish?

Good questions.

According to the Guardian, 3,000 people voted in an online poll in favor of giving the blobfish this dubious distinction. The campaign was organized by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society with the goal of drawing attention to the needs of our less cuddly and fluffy — but no less endangered — animal cousins.

And that’s an idea I can get behind. I mean, come on. Look at that face.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

How could you not want to help?

Frankly, I have a hard time calling animals ugly. They are all wonders of evolution, adapted over the millennia to fit perfectly in their environment. How do we respect these marvels of nature? We call them ugly. For shame, everyone. For shame.

That said, I do think the voters missed the mark on this. There are way uglier animals out there that are amazing in their own ways. They aren’t endangered like the blobfish, but they still deserve some recognition for being awesomely hideous and hideously awesome.

I decided to compile my own list of the top five ugliest animals. My criteria? Whimsy.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Naked mole rat

naked mole rat

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

My classification of the naked mole rat as an ugly creature might be a bit unreasonable because these little suckers are actually pretty cool. The rats are mammals, but they don’t regulate their own internal temperature like humans or dogs, for example. A naked mole rat’s body temperature tracks the ambient temperature.

Naked mole rats were also the first mammals discovered to be eusocial, like ants or bees. There is a queen naked mole rat that breeds with only a few males, while the others in the colony are workers.

2. Star-nosed mole

star-nosed mole

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I don’t really want to put any non-conventionally adorable animal on blast, but that nose will haunt my dreams. Even though I may not want that snout waking me up in the morning, it’s actually an awesome evolutionary adaptation.

The star-nosed mole is functionally blind, so it has to find its food using its highly specialized nose, which is crowded with very sensitive touch receptors.

It’s also the fastest-eating animal. On average, it only takes 227 milliseconds for a star-nosed mole to identify and consume individual items of food.

3. Goblin shark

goblin shark

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Good lord! To be fair, it’s possible that I’m mistaking “ugly” for “terrifying” with this one. Is that a sword on its head? Will it kill me? Probably not, actually. It lives too deep in the ocean to have any interactions with humans.

The goblin shark’s long snout is covered with electroreceptors called ampullae of Lorenzini that allow it to sense tiny electrical fields emitted by its prey. When prey is detected, the goblin shark pops its jaw out and chomps.

Seriously, nothing should be able to do that.

4. Anglerfish


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The anglerfish might be scary or just curious, depending on where you meet it. If you encounter the creature at an aquarium, no problem. But if you meet it in its natural habitat… Well, you might pee your pants. Simply put, this fish is glowy and terrifying.

You might guess the source of the anglerfish’s name – it’s related to how the animal hunts. The anglerfish grows a long spine —  actually a modified dorsal fin — with a fleshy growth on the end. The fish wiggles that around in the water to imitate another animal’s prey. Once the anglerfish’s prey is within reach, chomp! Fool me once, you get eaten by an anglerfish, I guess.

5. Hagfish

Can we agree that, for all its virtues, the hagfish is one of the grossest things on the planet? It’s otherwise known as a slime eel for a reason. Even though it’s super gross, the slime the hagfish produces is actually a pretty good defense strategy.

When the hagfish is captured or held, the 100 glands that run along its body spring into action and produce a viscous mucus. When combined with water, this snot can expand to over five gallons. Yeah, five gallons of snot in the ocean. Oh man, I’m so grossed out.

If the deluge of mucus doesn’t result in their freedom, the hagfish have another trick up their sleeve. They can tie themselves in a knot, which scrapes off the slime and frees them from their captor.

Here’s to the ugly animals! You are deceptively awesome.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Philip Watling
Philip Watlingabout a year ago

Five animals perfectly evolved to do what they do!

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lori Hone
Lori Honeabout a year ago


Margie Fabout a year ago

They are all beautiful. Beautiful from ugliness.

Jessi Walz
Jessica Walzabout a year ago

The Goblin Shark remind me of the Alien from the movies with Sigourney Weaver...

Patricia H.
Patricia Harrisabout a year ago

Valentina R., that's exactly what I thought after I first saw that picture! There are lots of strange creatures in this world, and some of them are so strange, that it's hard to believe that something like that could possibly be real.

Angelica C.
Angelica Cabout a year ago

I appreciated much your writing talent Mindy. Thanks for sharing.

Barbara P.
Barbara Pabout a year ago

They're not the prettiest, but they all serve a purpose.

Joanne p.
Joanne pabout a year ago