Humans are so small compared to some animals; next to creatures like elephants and whales, we seem minuscule. But on the other end of the spectrum are animals a whole lot smaller than us — so small in fact, that we can hardly find them in the wild, let alone understand how they survive from day to day.
From a tiny chameleon to a pygmy monkey, here are 16 of the smallest animals on Earth.
The pygmy rabbit can be as small as 9.25 inches long.
Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit
Averaging 9.25-11.6 inches (23.5-29.5 centimeters) in length, the endangered pygmy rabbit, or Brachylagus idahoensis, lives primarily on the West Coast of the United States. They tend to live in tall, dense sagebrush, which also makes up the majority of their diets.
A fully-grown dwarf lanternshark is about 8.3 inches long.
The smallest species of shark on Earth is the dwarf lanternshark or Etmopterus perryi, which grows to about 8.3 inches (21.1 centimeters). Their bodies contain light-emitting organs that allow them to camouflage in sunlight and attract small animals in darker, deeper waters.
Pygmy marmosets can wrap around a human’s finger at 4.6 inches tall.
The pygmy marmoset, or Cebuella pygmaea, is the world’s smallest monkey. The tiny creatures live in the rainforests of South America and tend to be between 4.6-6.2 inches (11.7-15.7 centimeters) tall, without counting their tails.
The Barbados threadsnake is the smallest snake at 4.1 inches long.
Believed to be the world’s smallest snake, the Barbados threadsnake, or Leptotyphlops carlae, grows to only about 4.1 inches (10.4 centimeters) on average. Some scientists believe that the entire population of threadsnakes exists within a few square kilometers in Barbados.
The Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur is just 3.6 inches long.
Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur
The nocturnal mouse lemur, or Microcebus berthae, is another tiny primate species, Found only on the island of Madagascar, they live and hunt alone and grow to be a mere 3.6 inches (9.1 centimeters).
Williams’ dwarf gecko is just 3 inches.
Williams’ Dwarf Gecko
Known by many as the Turquoise or Electric Blue Gecko, the average adult Williams’ dwarf gecko, or Lygodactylus williamsi, is just 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) long. Found only in Tanzania, the species is considered critically endangered.
The bee hummingbird grows to be about 2.2 inches.
The world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird, or Mellisuga helenae, usually grows to be about 2.2 inches (5.6 centimeters) long. Endemic to Cuba, the bird weighs less than a dime and can beat its wings up to 200 times per second.
Speckled padloper tortoises can be as small as 2.4 inches long.
A speckled padloper tortoise.
The smallest species of tortoise on Earth is the speckled padloper tortoise, or Homopus signatus. It grows to be between 2.4-3.1 inches (6.1-7.9 centimeters) long. The entire population of the species exists exclusively in the Little Namaqualand region of South Africa.
Baluchistan pygmy jerboas are incredibly tiny.
An illustration of the Baluchistan pygmy jerboa. Shutterstock
A typical Baluchistan pygmy jerboa, or Salpingotulus michaelis, has a body length of 1.7 inches (4.3 centimeters), making it the smallest rodent in the world. Native to Pakistan and Afghanistan, the creature has relatively long legs that sometimes inspire comparisons to kangaroos.
The Etruscan shrew is about 1.5 inches long on average.
Without factoring in its tail length, the adult Etruscan shrew, or Suncus etruscus, averages about 1.5 inches (11.4 centimeters) long. Found in a belt of land that extends from the Mediterranean region to Southeast Asia, these tiny animals eat up to 25 times per day because of their high metabolism.
The Kitti’s hog-nosed bat is the world’s smallest mammal at 1.1 inches.
Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat
Averaging between 1.1-1.3 inches (2.8-3.3 centimeters) with head and body combined, the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, or Craseonycteris thonglongyai, is the world’s smallest mammal. Found in Thailand and Burma, the endangered species lives primarily in limestone caves.
A Brookesia micra grows to be only 1 inch long.
The average adult Brookesia micra chameleon grows to be just over 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) long. That’s small enough to sit on top of a human finger. Researchers discovered the species, which is endemic to Madagascar, in early 2012.
The Virgin Island dwarf sphaero can be a mere 0.6 inches.
Virgin Islands Dwarf Sphaero
The Virgin Islands dwarf sphaero, or Sphaerodactylus ariasae, lives in the Caribbean and tends to be just 0.6 inches (1.5 centimeters) long. Thought to be the world’s smallest reptile, researches believe the species exists only in the Dominican Republic’s Jaragua National Park.
The Monte Iberia eleuth is a tiny frog that grows to be 0.4 inches.
The Monte Iberia eleuth, or Eleutherodactylus Iberia, is the smallest frog in the Northern hemisphere. It’s tied for the world’s smallest tetrapod with another frog, Brachycephalus didactylus. Both reach only about 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) in size.
The pygmy seahorse can grow up to 2 centimeters.
A pink and white pygmy seahorse next to coral.
The pygmy seahorse can grow up to just 2 centimeters, according to the Australian Museum. As Insider’s Jay Caboz reported, the pymgy seahorse was discovered in 2017. Pygmy seahorses can camoflage with surrounding coral.
“They are so incredibly tiny and well camouflaged that seven of the eight known species have only been discovered since the turn of this millennium,” said marine biologist Louw Claassens, Insider previously reported.
A spruce-fir moss spider is about a quarter-inch long.
A spruce-fir moss spider.
The spruce-fir moss spider is “about the size of a pencil eraser,” according to a report from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Bryophyte turfs along high-elevation, mountainy areas in the southern Appalachian region typically house the spider species.