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11 Slowest Animals in the World (with Pictures)

In the hustle and bustle of human life, we rarely stop to think about the little things. The flowers, the butterflies, the slow-moving animals. Most articles you find online are about the fastest, the biggest, or the most aggressive animals. It’s easy to forget about the ones that take their time. The slowest animals in the world are found all over the world, some are big, some are small, and some are in between.

The Slowest Animals in the World

In this article, we will be talking about 11 of the slowest animals in the world!

1. Manatee

manatee up close

The manatee is a large water mammal that evolved from the same ancestors as the elephant. They have toenails on their flippers that resemble those found on elephants’ feet and they are herbivorous, feeding on seagrasses and leaves.

Manatees take their time slowly moving through the water, usually only moving 1-2 miles per hour, but when they hurry they can reach speeds of up to 20mph.

These gentle giants normally stay in rather shallow water and it is thought that they inspired the story of mermaids with their graceful swimming and large tails.

2. Galapagos Tortoise

Native to seven of the islands in the Galapagos Islands, each population of tortoises has evolved to be its own subspecies. The biggest difference between each population is size and shell shape, but one thing they all have in common is uncommonly slow speeds.

Charles Darwin described the Galapagos tortoise in 1835 and believed them to travel around 4 miles per day. Scientists now know that they are capable of speeds around 1.2 miles per hour, which is faster, but not by much.

These tortoises are the largest in the world and have been documented living up to 150 years.

3. Banana Slug

Named for its bright yellow coloration, the banana slug is definitely one of the slowest moving critters on this list with documented speeds of 3.25 inches an hour. They are the second-largest slugs in the world, topping out at 9 inches in length.

These animals are the recyclers of the world, eating dead leaves, feces, moss, and dead plants and turning them into the soil, similar to a worm.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest or Alaska and have a compost pile, it’s likely you will come across a banana slug at some point. Be sure not to kill them as they do not eat healthy plants, and will only help keep your backyard ecosystem thriving.

4. Slow Loris

credit: Rushen | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

You know an animal must be slow if it has the word right in its name. The slow loris moves very slowly and with very deliberate movements, most of the time. However, when they spot their prey, they move quickly and accurately, catching and eating them with shocking speed.

Slow Loris feed mainly on insects, but they will also eat reptiles, eggs, birds, small animals, fruit, sap, and vegetation. Though they look cute and cuddly, they are actually the only primate in the world that has venom. They use this venom to catch their prey and defend themselves from predators.

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5. Garden Snail

With a slug on the list, it’s no surprise to see a snail as well. While these snails aren’t quite as slow as slugs, they only move .03 miles per hour.

These land snails move by creating a slime trail that reduces friction. This allows their large muscular foot to move them along more easily. They primarily feed on plants and fruit, and many can reproduce asexually, so if you see them in your garden you are likely to end up with lots more rather quickly.

6. Three-toed Sloth

The three-toed sloth is the poster child for slowness. These adorable animals live in the treetops in Central and South America where they feed on leaves and sticks. These animals have evolved to have very slow metabolisms that let them get their nutrition from very small amounts of food.

Not much food means not much energy and this is what keeps sloths moving slowly enough to grow algae on their fur. Sloths usually top out at around 60 feet of movement per hour, making them the slowest mammal in the world.

7. Koala

Scientific name: Phascolarctos cinereus

Often called the koala bear due to its bear-like appearance, these animals are actually marsupials. Native to Australia, koalas feed mainly on the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, but they will eat from other trees when they come across them.

Eucalyptus leaves have very little nutritional value and are also toxic. This doesn’t stop the Koala though, as they have evolved slower digestive tracts that allow them to extract the highest amount of nutrients and neutralize the toxins.

This adaptation comes with a cost and makes koalas quite slow. They travel very slowly on the ground unless disturbed and sleep between 18-22 hours a day.

8. Sea Horses

Sea horses are known for their breeding habitats where the female releases her eggs into the male’s pouch and then he carries them until they are ready to hatch. This is very unique in the animal kingdom and makes them quite special.

While they are known for their parenting skills, they are also known for being rather slow. Their speed is mainly due to how they evolved. Sea horses rarely swim, but curl their tails around sea plants and move with the current to find their food. If they are forced to swim, the only thing they have to propel them through the water is their prehensile tail, which is made more for holding than swimming.

9. Gila Monster

Scientific name: Heloderma suspectum

The Gila monster is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. It is the only venomous lizard in the United States and it is considered sacred to some southern Native American tribes, such as the Hopi and the Navajo. They believe the Gila monster can understand injuries and protect the tribes against them.

These animals move very slowly, only going about 1.5 miles per hour. While they spend most of their time underground, they do come out to hunt every once in a while and feed mainly on birds, small animals, and eggs.

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10. Starfish

Also known as the sea star, the starfish has thousands of tiny feet on the underside of its body that it uses to move around. While you may think thousands of feet would make you fast, some species of starfish only move one yard per minute.

11. Sea Hare

sea hare

The sea hare is a saltwater gastropod that can come in a variety of colors and sizes. They are herbivorous, feeding mainly on algae and seagrass and they move rather slowly. While some have parapodia which are similar to wings and are able to flap them to move and gain speed, others move similarly to slugs. Both varieties are rather slow and rely more on toxins and camouflage to escape predation than speed.

Ready for a change of pace? Check out the fastest animals in the world here.

Patricia Greene

About Patricia Greene

Patricia is a wildlife enthusiast that loves traveling and learning about wildlife all over North America and the world. Aside from being writer for Wildlife Informer, she's an avid bird watcher as well as the owner of several pet reptiles. She enjoys visiting national parks and seeing new sights in her free time.