Wildlife Informer is reader-supported. When you click and buy we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

10 of the Most Flexible Animals on the Planet

The most flexible animals range in size from several feet to only a few inches. What they all have in common, however, is that they use their flexibility to their benefit. Whether it be to avoid predators or hunting for food, being flexible is a good tool to have in the animal kingdom.

The 10 Most Flexible Animals

Flexibility plays an important part in the animal kingdom, and can help animals escape dangerous situations. Keep reading to learn how the most flexible animals utilize this useful ability.

1. Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus
Giant Pacific Octopus

Octopus are by far the most flexible animal. The reason for this high level of flexibility is because the octopus doesn’t have any stiff skeleton in their arms, which means their entire arm can twist, bend and even change its thickness and length.

Because they have no bones, they can squeeze into extremely small spaces. With that said, however, octopuses do have beaks, which are the hardest part of these squishy creatures. However, if their beaks can fit into an area, just about everything else can as well.

2. Hero Shrew

Hero shrews may be small and unassuming, but these tiny creatures have a spine that is interlocking and extremely flexible. This spine is like no other animal, and scientists are not sure why the shrews have this interesting spine.

What they do know, however, is that this interlocking spine gives the shrew the ability to scrunch their body up in a similar fashion as an inchworm. Additionally, the hero shrew’s vertebrae is able to withstand force greater than normal.

3. Sea Lions

Sea Lion on a rock
Sea Lion on a rock | image by Eva via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Despite their large size, sea lions are extremely flexible and they use this flexibility to aid in catching fish. Sea lions can bend their neck back so far that it touches their heads almost touch their backs. Furthermore, these large creatures can rotate their hind flippers so that they are underneath their bodies, allowing them to walk on the flippers.

4. Snakes

Eastern milk snake
Eastern milk snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Snakes are well-known for their flexible bodies, which are filled with strong muscles. The reason for their flexibility is because the spine of the snake contains various vertebrae running from the animal’s head to its tail.

Unlike other animals, the vertebrae in the snake’s spine do not lock into place, allowing them to move and contort in various directions. They are also able to stretch their jaws open wide and in various directions.

5. Earthworms

Earthworm on a dry leaf
Earthworm on a dry leaf | image by Gilles San Martin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Earthworms are another of the most flexible animals, and their flexibility is due to their hydrostatic skeleton. This is a flexible skeleton that is filled with fluid.

It is this type of skeleton that gives the worm its ability to move easily through the soil. Earthworms can grow to be only a few inches long to up to 14 inches.

Their body is also covered in segments, known as annuli. These segments help the worm push and burrow through the dirt.

6. Weasels

Least weasel
Least weasel | image by Bering Land Bridge National Preserve via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Weasels may appear cute and cuddle, but these clever creatures can be rather vicious. Thankfully, this viciousness is usually reserved for mice, chickens, and other prey animals. The flexible bodies of the weasels give them the ability to squeeze themselves into small spaces, which makes them a force to be reckoned with in chicken coops.

You may also like:  16 Types of Animals With a Long Tail (with Pictures)

7. Centipedes

Amazonian giant centipede on the ground
Amazonian giant centipede on the ground | image by Katka Nemčoková via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Centipedes are another flexible creature found throughout the world, and can thank their exoskeleton for their flexibility. These animals also have long legs that allow them to quickly move across various surfaces.

They are often confused with millipedes, though millipedes are not as flexible as centipedes. Another difference between the two is that, unlike millipedes, centipedes do not curl up when touched.

8. Owls

Barn owl
Barn owl | Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay

Owls may not be the first animal you think of when you think of flexibility, but these interesting creatures can turn their heads 270 degrees to their right and 270 degrees to their left. They also have the ability to turn their heads upside down even when the rest of their body isn’t moving.

This wide range of motion helps the animal detect prey and avoid predators. This is especially important for the owl, since their eye sockets are fixed straight ahead.

9. Rats

Rats on lumber
Rats on lumber | Image by Silvia from Pixabay

If you have ever tried keeping rats out of an area, you probably know how hard it is. This is because these furry creatures have cylindrical, flexible bodies that allow them to squeeze through small holes and cracks.

Rats use their whiskers located on the sides of their face to determine whether or not they can fit through a hole. If their whiskers can fit in an area, no matter how tiny, then so can the entire rat.

10. Elephants

Elephant with cub on sand
Elephant with cub on sand | image by samuelrodgers752 via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

You were probably not expecting to see elephants on a list of the most flexible animals. However, these extremely large creatures are well-known for having extremely flexible trunks.

The elephant can stretch and fold the muscles and the skin on its trunk to move this appendage in various directions. In fact, research estimates that the elephant’s trunk contains about 100,000 tendons and muscles, which give it its strength and flexibility.