Some of the largest and tallest animals on earth are also animals with long legs. That’s not surprising since legs generally contribute significantly to the height of an animal.
Besides height though, there are many reasons why animals have evolved to have legs longer than their body sizes. It can help them perform certain tasks easily or even radiate off heat. In contrast, have you noticed that animals in colder regions tend to have shorter legs to conserve body heat?
So, what are examples of animals with long legs, where do they live, and how do their legs help them survive? This article will answer these questions by exploring 14 animals with long legs.
13 Animals with Long Legs
Scientific name: Struthio camelus
Leg length: 4.2 ft
Ostriches are originally from the hot African savannas and deserts. They have legs making up 22% of their body length and are the largest and fastest-running animals worldwide. Their long legs allow them to run up to 43 miles per hour, quickly change direction when sprinting, and make strides of 10-16 feet when running.
Their feet also have sharp claws and their legs are muscular and powerful enough to protect them from predators. These birds can kick at a force of 2000 pounds per square inch. That’s powerful enough to kill a human or lion!
2. Giant Sea Spider
Scientific name: Colossendeis colossea
Leg span: 27 inches
As its name suggests, the Giant Sea Spider is the largest species of sea spider. Despite being called spiders, they are not true spiders but a group of anthropods, which are jointed-legged animals with no backbones. The long legs of sea spiders have their internal organs in them since their bodies are so small. They also use their legs to breathe by absorbing oxygen from the water.
You can find these spiders in the tropical and polar oceans, including the Arctic Ocean, Antarctic, Northeast Atlantic, and Indo-Pacific. Sea spiders in the colder waters tend to grow larger since there is more oxygen in the water to diffuse into their bodies and allow them to grow.
3. Red Kangaroo
Scientific name: Osphranter rufus
Leg length: 38 inches
With its long legs, the Red Kangaroo can stand between 4 feet and 7 feet tall. They also have long, powerful tails that average 35 to 44 inches in length. These features allow them to hop up to 10 feet high and 40 feet in length, giving them a top speed of 40 miles per hour.
Since Red Kangaroos live in open grasslands and deserts in Australia, they need this speed to run from predators. Additionally, their legs, which can’t walk on land, can swim very well in rivers or lakes to escape predators.
4. White Rhinoceros
Scientific name: Ceratotherium simum
Shoulder height: 1.5-1.8 m
The White Rhinoceros is the largest rhinoceros species and second-largest land mammal. Despite weighing over 2,200 pounds, their long legs allow them to run away from predators at speeds of over 30 miles per hour. Their legs also help them reach leaves and fruits from branches to eat. You can find these herbivorous animals in the grassy lands of Africa.
Scientific name: Hippopotamus amphibius
Shoulder height: 4.3-5 ft
The hippopotamus, also known as water horses or hippos, are among the most dangerous animals on earth. They are aggressive and have wide mouths with large tusks and teeth they use for fighting. Their long stocky legs are strong and fast, allowing them to travel up to 6 miles a day to find food or run up to 19 miles an hour to escape hunters or predators.
These animals live all over Africa but are native to Sub-Saharan African regions. They can live both in water or on land. The International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as a vulnerable species.
6. Arabian Camel
Scientific name:Camelus dromedarius
Shoulder height: 5.9 to 6.6 ft
The Arabian camel is native to the African deserts. Their long legs keep their bodies away from the hot sands in the desert, and their padded feet protect them from the heat and prevent them from slipping or sinking into the sand. Camels can also use their long legs to kick in all four directions to protect themselves from predators.
7. American Bison
Scientific name: Bison bison
Shoulder height: 5 to 6.5 ft
The American bison is one of the biggest land animals in North America. Despite their size, their long legs are strong and allow them to run up to 40 miles per hour. These bison are also very active and can jump 6 feet vertically. Attributes that help them easily combat or run from predators.
Although the grasslands of America used to be filled with these bison, they are currently near-threatened. They are also expected to be on the verge of extinction soon. In comparison to their massive bodies, bison actually have rather stubby legs. They made this list of animals with long legs because they’re one of the largest land animals in North America.
8. Shire Horse
Scientific name: Equus caballus
Shoulder height: 62-68 inches
The Shire horse is from England’s rural shires. Their calm, gentle nature allowed British soldiers to use them to carry armor during wars and battles. These horses are also the largest and tallest species of horse worldwide.
Their long legs have fur covering them and are muscular and powerful. They can pull loads of over 45 tonnes and kick with forces around 2,000 pounds per square inch. They can also walk for long distances and their long legs allow them to run up to 27 miles per hour.
Scientific name: Giraffa
Shoulder height: 13.1 – 15.4 ft
Leg length: 6 ft
With long legs and necks, the giraffe is the tallest mammal worldwide. Males can reach up to 18 feet tall and females 15 feet tall. Their long legs help them run fast by covering long distances in short periods. On average, they can run up to 35 miles an hour for short distances or 10 miles an hour for long distances.
Giraffes rely on their legs for many things. They can easily reach tall trees for leaves they eat, and they also stand when sleeping or giving birth. Besides their legs, giraffes also have 21-inch tongues that are the longest among animals.
10. Alaskan Moose
Scientific name: Alces alces gigas
Shoulder height: 7-8 ft
You can find the Alaskan moose in northwestern Canada, Alaska, and western Yukon. When these moose stand on their hind limbs against trees, they can reach up to 13 feet in height! Their long legs allow them to run up to 35 miles per hour, swim around 6 miles per hour, and jump up to 8 feet high. These traits allow them to run from predators. Their broad hoofs also help them walk on snow without sinking.
11. African Elephants
Scientific name: Loxodonta africana
Shoulder height: 7 to 10 ft
African Elephants are large animals from Sub-Saharan Africa. They can grow up to 9.8 feet in height and adult males can weigh up to 14,000 pounds. Their long, thick, pillar-like legs help support their size and weight. Their back legs are also slightly longer than the front to support their body structure.
These animals spend a lot of time walking, so their feet and legs are adapted to this. Their heels also have large pads acting as shock absorbers so they can walk quietly. They also use their feet to pick up frequencies in the ground to identify animals up to 20 miles away.
12. Japanese Spider Crab
Scientific name: Macrocheira kaempferi
Leg span: 144 inches
The Japanese Spider Crab is the largest arthropod worldwide and it lives in the oceans around Japan. They can reach a bodyweight of up to 44 pounds and get their name from their long, slim spider-like legs.
These marine crabs scavenge for meals and eat shellfish, plants, mollusks, and small fish. They use their long legs to move quickly on the ocean floor to stalk their prey before using their powerful pincers to catch and tear up the meat.
13. Giant Pacific Octopus
Scientific name: Enteroctopus dofleini
Limb span: 168 to 348 inches
Octopuses are soft-bodied marine invertebrates and the Giant Pacific Octopus is the largest known octopus species. It can grow to 30 feet in length and thrives in cold waters. As its name suggests, you can find them throughout the North Pacific coast.
The majority of its length comes from the eight long limbs that allow it to swim, hide, eat, catch prey, and defend itself. Each limb also has a small brain, meaning a group of nerve cells that helps control movement.