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The 10 Most Resilient Animals (Pictures & Facts)

Nearly every animal relies on survival skills to find food, protect their territory, and avoid threats. Some animals are able to camouflage themselves from predators, while others are able to scare away predators. All of these skills are impressive, but there are a few species that take survival to the next level. If you’re looking for creatures that are strong and tough, the animals on the following list are some of the most resilient animals in the world.

10 of the Most Resilient Animals

These animals can endure extreme conditions that would be deadly to most creatures. In fact, some species are able to thrive in hostile environments. Lots of animals are hardy, but some creatures are nearly indestructible! These 10 resilient creatures can withstand heat, cold, and other extremes.

1. Wood Frogs

Wood frog
A wood frog

While wood frogs can be found across the United States, they’re especially common in cold environments, like Alaska and parts of Canada. The harsh temperatures that they’re exposed to have given these frogs an incredible survival skill. They usually freeze in the winter, they thaw out and return to normal.

Normally, when an animal freezes, its body shuts down. While wood frogs do enter a state of hibernation during the winter, their bodies create glucose, which protects their cells from damage. Thanks to this, wood frogs can endure icy cold temperatures for months or more.

2. Alligators

Chinese Alligator on rocks
Chinese Alligator on rocks | image by Tony Alter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Food and water are essential to survival, but alligators can go without eating for a very long time. Alligators have extremely slow metabolisms, which allows them to survive without food for up to three years. When food is scarce, an alligator can make one meal last for years!

Alligators are also shielded by their scales, which function as natural armor. Beneath these scales are thick layers of skin, which give alligators even more protection.

This skin only becomes tougher as alligators age. While alligators aren’t bulletproof, there aren’t many animals that are able to pierce through their skin.

3. Camels

side view of the camel
Side view of the camel | image by Valery Kenski via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

While you can still find camels in the wild, many camels are domesticated and are used as working animals. It lives in deserts in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, where water is scarce. This environment would leave many animals dehydrated, but camels have adapted to this hot, dry climate.

Humans can only survive a few days without water, but camels can potentially survive for months without drinking. A camel’s humps are made of fatty tissue, and they can metabolize that tissue to produce food or water. These humps also help camels to withstand extreme changes in body temperatures.

4. Mummichogs

Mummichog in an aquarium
Mummichog in an aquarium | image by Virginia State Parks via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The mummichog is a type of killifish which can be found in waters along the Atlantic coast. While mummichogs are only around 1 to 3 inches long, these tiny fish are incredibly resilient. It’s able to thrive in polluted water and can survive temperature fluctuations and low oxygen levels.

Since mummichogs are an extremely hardy fish, they are frequently studied by researchers. It’s considered to be a model organism because it’s so easy to work with in research labs.

In 1973, it even became the first fish to travel to outer space! Toxins can be deadly to marine life, but mummichogs can tolerate all kinds of substances.

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5. Hydras

Freshwater hydra
Freshwater hydra | image by Przemysław Malkowski via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

In mythology, the name “hydra” refers to a giant beast with many heads. Real hydras are much smaller, measuring around 0.39 inches, but they’re still incredible creatures. These freshwater organisms have incredible regenerative abilities, which basically makes them immortal!

If a hydra loses one of its body parts, it can grow the part back, even if it loses its head. Over time, removed body parts can also grow into a new living animal. If you split a hydra in two, it can create a duplicate of itself.

Hydras also replace the cells in their bodies every 20 days. This means that hydras don’t show any signs of age. While hydras can starve to death, they can potentially live forever as long as their basic needs are met.

6. Mountain Goats

Mountain Goat  
Mountain Goat   | Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

You can find mountain goats at extreme altitudes as high as 13,000 feet. While these habitats can be difficult to survive in, mountain goats thrive in this harsh environment. They’re able to tolerate low oxygen levels and can easily climb cliffs, even if they have a steep incline.

This helps mountain goats to evade predators. Mountain goats have pads on the bottom of their hooves that give them traction and prevent them from slipping and falling as they climb.

In addition, they have powerful muscles in their necks and shoulders, which help it to climb steep slopes. Thanks to their strong hind legs, they can even jump as far as 12 feet!

7. Tardigrades

Illustration of tardigrade
Illustration of tardigrade | image by Rebekah Smith via Flickr

Sometimes called water bears, tardigrades are microanimals that usually measure between 0.5 and 1 millimeters long.  These tiny creatures can be found in many parts of the world, including rainforests, the arctic, and the deep sea. Tardigrades can thrive in almost any conditions, making them one of the toughest animals in the world.

When tardigrades are exposed to harsh environments, they’re able to enter a state of suspended animation known as cryptobiosis. Not only can tardigrades withstand extreme temperatures, but they can also survive dehydration and starvation. In fact, tardigrades are so indestructible that they can even survive outer space.

8. Scorpions

Giant forest scorpion
Giant forest scorpion | image by Nireekshit via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

These predatory arachnids are known for their venomous stings. Not only can scorpions be dangerous, but they’re extremely tough creatures. When food is scarce, scorpions are able to slow their metabolisms and survive without food or water.

A scorpion can go up to 12 months without eating or drinking. Scorpions also have unusual lungs that are able to trap large amounts of air. Once a scorpion has refilled its supply of air, it can hold its breath for as long as six days.

Thanks to this skill, scorpions are able to survive when they’re trapped underwater. They also have very strong exoskeletons that function as built-in armor. If you try to crush a scorpion, it can even flatten itself out, which makes these arachnids very difficult to kill.

9. Pompeii Worms

Also known as bristle worms, Pompeii worms are an unusual creature that can only be found in the Pacific Ocean. It can only be found in hydrothermal vents deep beneath the sea. The water that comes from these vents is scalding hot and can reach temperatures as high as 176 degrees!

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The bodies of Pompeii worms are covered in bacteria, which allows them to redistribute heat. Thanks to this, they can keep their bodies cool even when they’re exposed to boiling hot temperatures. Experts believe that the Pompeii worm is the most heat tolerant animal in the world.

10. Cockroaches

Madagascar cockroach
Madagascar cockroach Nathalia Cristina G Ribeiro Nathy from Pixabay

People often say that a cockroach could survive the apocalypse, and they’re not that far off. Cockroaches are able to metabolize almost any substance, even toxins. They’re extremely adaptable, and their strong immune systems help them to thrive in all kinds of environments, even unsanitary ones.

When a cockroach is submerged in water, it can hold its breath for up to 40 minutes. Thanks to its slow metabolism, it can go without food for a month or more.

A cockroach can even survive losing its head! Cockroaches have open circulatory systems, which means they don’t need a head or mouth to breathe.