Can You Identify the Slowest Animals in the World?



By: Ian Fortey

7 Min Quiz

Image: sdominick/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

People have a bit of an obsession with speed. We like fast music and fast cars. We like fast food and quick visits to the dentist. The faster something is, the cooler it seems to be. Just Google all the lists of fast animals online and you'll see, everyone loves to be awed by how quickly a cheetah can run or how fast a peregrine falcon can dive at its prey. Speed indicates goodness in our fast-paced, technologically-obsessed society. 

Your car should be fast. Really fast! Too fast and too furious, even. Your internet needs to be fast. Your hot water should heat up fast. Everything moves at a blazing speed. Or it seems that way.

 But it's not always so. Some things move at an extremely slow pace, too. especially in the animal kingdom. Not everyone is in a rush, after all.

If you're not too caught up in the hectic hustle and bustle of everyday life, then now's as good a time as any to slow your roll a little and take some time to appreciate the leisurely pace of some of nature's more laid back critters. If you think you know something about the slowest animals n the world, why not take the quiz?

What is this menacing looking beast can grow to over 2,000 pounds but still only moves at about 0.76 mph?

The Greenland Shark is an ocean scavenger that eats pretty much any dead thing it can find and is incredibly reclusive. No one had ever caught a Greenland Shark swimming on camera until 1995.


Flying at around 1 mile per hour makes it seem like it should be much easier to escape this pest than it is. Name it!

Mosquitoes may be the most bothersome creatures on the face of the earth, and also the most dangerous. Despite their tiny size, the fact they can so easily transmit disease makes them incredibly deadly. It's believed malaria, spread by mosquitoes, kills at least one million people per year.


What's the name of this slow-moving insect that looks like a steampunk fan?

Wheel bugs are very unusual creatures that are a part of the assassin bug family. As that name might indicate, the wheel bug can be a creepy and dangerous fellow. A wheel bug bite is incredibly painful and can linger for days.


Do you know what this bird that can fly as a leisurely 5 mile per hour is called?

The American Woodcock usually travels at a fairly average speed that's not unusual for numerous birds. However, when it needs to, the woodcock has mastered the art of the most leisurely flight in the animal kingdom at a stunningly slow 5 miles per hour.


In the oceans around the world, you'll find this creature which is a living thing but doesn't move in the traditional sense. What's it called?

Most people don't consider coral a thing that moves or even is alive in the traditional sense. Coral reefs are capable of a sort of motion though, given their ability to grow and expand in a direction that is more favorable to them.


Perspective is everything, isn't it? This animal seems fast sometimes but on the other hand, it can move by staying completely still and also go backward. Name it!

Hummingbirds can reach a top speed of 50 mph which should discount them for a list like this. But keep in mind that a hummingbird also possesses the uncanny and rare ability to hover right in place and is able to fly in reverse which, in a weird way, is so slow it's negative speed.


There are a wide variety of unusual looks and shapes for this slow creature that moves on tiny, tube-like feet. What is it?

Sea cucumbers don't do a lot with their time, mostly just scuttling along the ocean floor. They walk through the mud and biomatter and whatever edible bits stick to them is what they tend to eat.


What is this Thanksgiving favorite that rarely moves with any haste but can top out at around 25 miles per hour in short bursts?

Turkeys don't look like they were built for speed and weren't. These birds were almost extinct back in the 1930s thanks to the loss of habitat and hunting. The population has rebounded considerably and there are millions roaming the country these days.


Tell us the name of this animal that's not just slow, it's so lazy it'll sit still most of the day.

The slow loris isn't just a cleverly named beast, it's a legitimately slow animal. During the day a loris will not do much of anything, but at night the little guy is capable of traveling nearly 5 miles.


At a top speed of around 0.1 mph, this little guy isn't winning any foot races. What is it?

Banana slugs are known for their bright yellow color and the fact they can't move particularly fast at all. The slime on a slug isn't a liquid in the traditional sense of the word, it's actually a liquid crystal that may have healthcare applications.


In its young form, these creatures feed on plants that are toxic to most other life forms. Do you know it?

The Swallowtail Butterfly, like most butterflies, is not much of a mover or a shaker. This particular species eats toxic plants as a caterpillar as a method of self-defense. When it eats toxic plants it becomes toxic to predators as well.


What do you call this animal that has a top speed of about 50 yards an hour?

The common garden snail is the poster child for slow-moving creatures of the world. It moves by creating a sheet of slimy mucus and then contracting its weird foot-like appendage to create shear that lets it glide along. Slowly.


Can you name this creature that will only move about six inches in a minute?

In general, starfish motor along with just five arms but that's not always the case. A few species of starfish have six or seven arms, and some can get up to 15, at which point they look more like the spokes in a wheel than a star.


Often considered the slowest animal in the world, this mammal spends most of its life in trees. What is it?

Three-toed sloths are obviously pretty well known for their insanely slow speed—they're called sloths after all. The sloth isn't actually able to walk on its hind legs so part of the reason it's so slow is that it needs to drag itself along with its front legs.


Is this bulky beast with an average walking speed of about 0.18 miles per hour familiar to you?

They don't call the giant Galapagos tortoise a giant for nothing. The largest one ever recorded was 919 pounds and 6 feet in length. They can also live an insanely long time with the oldest known tortoise making it to 176 years of age.


Guinness says this is the slowest moving fish in the sea. That means it can't escape if you want a pic of it. Name it!

The dwarf seahorse is a curious little creature for many reasons. Its ability to swim at a mere 5 feet per hour is kind of sad, but at least that makes it well-suited to aquarium living since it's never planning on going very far.


Even though this animal can achieve a decent speed normally, it also has the uncanny and rare ability to hover in place which no other creature of its size can do. What is it?

The kestrel is the only bird of prey capable of moving so slowly it doesn't actually move at all, instead hovering in place like a tiny hummingbird while being much larger overall. While it seems normal for a helicopter, for a bird to have no forward momentum is pretty awesome.


What is this domesticated beast that moves at a speed of about 11 miles per hour, give or take?

Domestic pigs don't have a lot of reasons to run, and that's good because they're not the best at it. A wild pig can apparently reach speeds of about 30 miles per hour, but farm pigs don't do much better than 11 and no doubt you've seen some so big that they couldn't reach 11 by rolling down a hill.


Word is these little guys can reach 12 miles per hour, though that's mostly used running to and from trees. Do you know what it is?

Squirrels do seem kind of fast when you catch them by surprise, but that's often because you see it as it bursts into action toward safety which is usually very nearby. In a flat run, a squirrel can hit around 12 mph which is actually about 4 mph faster than your average human running speed.


Tell us the name of this animal that eats so little it just doesn't have the energy to move quickly.

Koala bears are notoriously sedentary and tend to just stay in trees all day. When they are in motion they don't tend to move faster than a couple of miles per hour thanks to a very low-energy diet that is exclusively the leaves of eucalyptus trees.


What do you call this large creature that usually swims at around 5 miles per hour?

The mighty manatee, sometimes called a sea cow, never seems to be in a hurry. When threatened it can summon a burst of speed that takes it up to maybe 15 miles per hour, but that's just a very quick effort. Its slow speed is the usual pace.


A potent venom awaits anything bit by this slow-moving creature. What's it called?

The Gila monster is one of two venomous lizards and only moves at about 1 mile per hour, meaning it should be easy to get away from if you see one coming. A Gila monster bite isn't considered fatal to humans but it will be extremely painful.


Give us the name of this common bird which you won't catch flying much faster than 15 - 18 miles per hour.

The common house sparrow can be found all over the place and is pretty much the most average bird ever. They can hit bursts of speed but usually, fly at a leisurely pace and, oddly enough, can even manage a short trip under water if they need to.


At 0.04 inches per hour, you probably wouldn't even notice this thing moving. What is it?

Sea anemones may look more like an exotic plant than an animal but they are still living creatures and some are able to creep very slowly across the ocean floor if they need to change their location.


Do you know this short-legged creature that can't move fast at all out of the water, which is just as well for people on the land?

Crocodiles can move at a good pace in the water but outside they can only run at an average speed of around 6 - 7 miles per hour with the fastest being clocked at around 11. This is less comforting when you know that the average run speed of a human is 8 miles per hour.


You need time-lapse photography to see this creature move. What is it?

Sea sponges can't sneak up on anyone. Many kinds of sponge won't move at all but those that do often manage to move only about a millimeter every single day. There are thousands of species of sponges that have been identified and all of them are just as slow.


What is this that that, even with 8 legs, won't move particularly fast?

The Honduran curly-haired tarantula is considered a fairly good beginner tarantula for people interested in keeping them as pets. They're rather docile overall and tend to stay in one place. They can lunge at prey when they need to and move in short, quick bursts but that's rare.


If it needed to this animal could outrun you but it rarely moves faster than under 2 miles per hour and will rarely travel even a mile in a day. What is it?

Giant pandas are said to be able to sprint through a bamboo forest at speeds reaching 20 miles per hour. That almost never happens however as these animals tend to move very little, and when they do is the most leisurely stroll ever.


What are these microscopic creatures that tend to wait for food to come to them rather than moving towards it themselves?

Nematodes can move in that crawling, swimming way that many microscopic lifeforms are able to move around but it's worth appreciating that literally anything this small is probably incapable of moving at any kind of notable speed because how could it?


These arachnids aren't capable of going much faster than 12 miles per hour while some species are much slower. Name them!

There are over 2,000 species of scorpion in the world, meaning finding your average scorpion speed is no easy task. While some can be rather speedy, other bulky scorpions like the tri-color burrowing scorpion are known to sit still and do very little.


Do you know this huge creature that has a toxic mouth but can only sprint at about 11 miles per hour?

Komodo dragons can grow up to 10 feet in length making them one of the most intimidating looking lizards in the world. They're also at the top of their respective food chain which may be why they don't need to move very fast. When you're the top, you get to relax a bit.


No one wants this creature to land on their food but it'll sneak in at 5 miles per hour to do just that. Tell us what it is.

A housefly is the kind of pest that's remarkably slow in theory but still fast enough to avoid you nearly every time you swat at it. Even though their only fly at about 5 miles per hour that involves beating their little wings 20 thousand times in a minute.


Is this slow swimming, East-coast-dwelling creature that lives in saltwater and freshwater something you recognize?

The American eel can get up to a length of 3 feet and weighs in at around 3 pounds. It's slow even for an eel where most species can get to at least twice the speed of the American which is only able to swim at around 2.4 miles per hour.


This creature is able to move the fastest in the water but even then it only travels at around 6 mph. On land, it's even slower. What is it?

Emperor penguins are able to swim at around 6 miles per hour while their land speed is a little less stellar. Penguins can't walk particularly fast and engage in more of a stumble-waddle which, if nothing else, is funny.


What is this animal with a top speed of over 30 miles per hour that seems fast until you factor in how big it is?

Blue Whales can swim at 30 miles per hour and that seems relatively fast, except that a blue whale is the largest animal in the world. At that side, relatively speaking, traveling at only 30 miles per hour is actually remarkably slow.


Tell us what this animal you'll find on just about any farm pecking about on the ground is.

Chickens are common pretty much all over the world, but you probably haven't spent a lot of time watching them run around unless you're on a farm. They're not built for speed and most chickens can't get above 9 miles per hour when they're in a rush.


These playful creatures can reach a speed of around 6 miles per hour. What are they?

Sea otters are very active little animals but they're definitely not speed demons. As playful as they seem, it's best to avoid them since they can be highly aggressive and it'snot unheard of for them to attack dogs and humans.


Do you know what this creature that's so slow it literally doesn't move is called?

Mussels are chiefly farmed as food these days with most of the North American mussels coming from Prince Edward Island in Canada. In Washington state, it's a multi-million dollar industry, thanks in part to the fact a mussel just can't get away.


Like their ground-faring counterparts, these unusual creatures move incredibly slowly. What are they?

Sea slugs are obviously not quick animals, they call them slugs, after all. They've even used sea slug muscles in extremely slow-moving robots. Back in 2016 researchers used muscle from a sea slug to make a robot that moves at 0.4 centimeters a minute.


Name this housebound pest that can run at 8 miles per hour, which is about as fast as you.

The average house mouse can run at about 8 miles per hour. They probably seem faster when you see them scuttling about thanks to how small they are. If you're taking their size into account, a mouse moves at a speed equal to a human that could run at about 160 mph.


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