In the not-so-long but rather dark history of humankind, size has always been an area of common if somewhat vicarious interest. Humankind loves all things large – from large mansions, to large monuments (think the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Eiffel Tower) and of course large, glittery rocks (we mean diamonds, emeralds and rubies)…
Animals are no different. No, they are not obsessed with size. As humans, we love large animals. Preferably from a distance. Our fascinations with elephants, giraffes and even dinosaurs not withstanding; here at TheRichest we bring you a list of 15 abnormally large animals that you would not think of when it comes to large creatures.
Nonetheless, in this list we also have dogs, cats and well, spiders and snails too! Sometimes nature too plays aberrant and makes a few breeds, or even just a one off creature, something to marvel and gasp at. So here are some of nature’s astounding biggies…
15 Goliath Birdeater Tarantula
Think spiders and you think of the tiny (if sometimes cute), but many times deadly critters (remember the Black Widow) that walk along on eight legs, stare at everything with strangely beady eyes and spin marvels of nature when it comes to their webs.
And mostly, spiders eat flies and in turn get eaten by birds and lizards. Now meet a marvel of nature that lives in the Amazon. The Goliath Birdeater is a member of the tarantula species, so that means it has already gained high levels of creepiness in my books. While I do not exactly suffer from arachnophobia, I am probably tarantula-phobic! Found in the rain forests of South America, it can weigh a whopping 175g or 6 ounces (that is big and heavy for a spider!) and has a leg span of almost a foot. Despite its name, it doesn’t really feed on adult birds but toads, rodents and snakes are a definite affirmative. Just a nature’s tit for tat!
14 Zeus The World's Tallest Dog
Described by its owners as a gentle giant, Zeus was certified to be the world’s tallest dog in the Guinness Book of World Records of 2013. 44 inches tall, Zeus measured 7 ft, 4 inches when he stood on his hind legs – and the owners Kevin and Denise Doorlag of Otsego, Michigan often speak about how people would come up to them and inquire if Zeus was a dog or a horse!
Sadly, Zeus passed away just three days shy of his sixth birthday, a below average lifespan for his breed. Zeus was also a certified therapy dog and to elicit smiles out of people, he would go and sit in their laps. Though at 155 pounds, we don’t know if they were smiles or grimaces!
Before Zeus, the world’s tallest dog according to the Guinness Book of World Records was Giant George – another Great Dane who was just an inch shorter than Zeus and also passed away at just 7 years in 2013.
13 Africa Giant Snail
Frogs and snails and puppy dogs tails. That’s what little boys are made of, according to a popular rhyme of yore. However, even the original writer would balk at this snail. You would expect the African Giant Snail to be big; the word giant is a pretty good indicator. But this big? Egads, no!
Slimy and huge, almost the size of a human hand at roughly 8 inches in length and contrary to its name; the African Giant Snail is not geographically limited at all – found in many places, it’s a huge pest problem for crops. Given its size, it has an immense appetite and also multiplies rapidly making it one of the top 10 invasive species on earth.
Considered a pest, it is also capable of aestivating itself – meaning in times of severe drought, it seals itself up in its shell with a calciferous compound and basically takes a very long nap. Big, tough, hardy and slimy – Mother Nature messed up big with this!
12 Darius The World's Largest Rabbit
Meet Darius. Look at him from a distance and you are likely to think of him as a dog. Albeit a fat one, with slightly unusual coloring. Then you see his ears, and this might be when you scream like a girl and run for your momma. For this dog-sized dude weighing in at a whopping 50 pounds, and measuring 4 ft 4 inches, is a bunny.
Gasp, you say! Well wait until you meet his son Jeff, who still has a bit of growing to do, and yet already measures 3 ft 8 inches. To put it all in perspective, this beastly bunny duo is from a giant rabbit breed called the Continental rabbits which do reach the magnificent length of approximately 4 feet.
The father-son giants tend to chomp through 2000 carrots and 700 apples a year, and feed on a bale of hay each week as well as a bowlful of rabbit food each day; costing their loving owner, 63-year-old Annette Edwards, upwards of 5000 pounds a year.
11 Chinese Giant Salamander
Think salamander and you’d think of these small lizard-like reptilian creatures that live near water bodies and are somewhat slimy and icky to be around. Mostly, you’d be right. Salamanders are not reptiles but basically amphibians and they look like a cross between a frog and a lizard. Most salamanders are about 6 inches long, some even smaller than that – the smallest one is not even an inch long. But with 600 species, there’s got to be an errant one.
Enter the Chinese Giant Salamander that can grow up to a ginormous 6 feet long. Yep, lizards as long or tall as your next door neighbour. And if one disturbingly big species weren’t enough, you also have the Japanese Giant Salamander which can grow up to 5 feet and the American Hellbender which is smaller at 2-3 feet. For the Chinese Giant though it may soon be curtains for they are on the luxury food list and being heavily poached for their meat, and for their apparent medicinal value.
10 Ludo The World's Largest Cat
Maine Coons are relatively big domestic cats. Known for their distinctive furry tails, they are about 40 inches from nose to tail. Ludo, a Maine Coon moggy, was already 45 inches and 24.5 pounds at 17 months old. Maine Coons are gentle cats, and Ludo is no different though he is much bigger than the average cat.
The owners, Kelsey & Mathew Gill from Ryhill, West Yorkshire, UK are themselves surprised at the size of their pet and the fact that despite being bigger, he tends to eat less than their other smaller cats. The world’s longest cat according to the Guinness Book of World Records was Stewie who measured 48.5 inches before finally passing away in 2013 from cancer.
And while these gentle giants of the domestic cat world are very friendly, their larger than average size is often a deterrent for many. Come to think of it, you need to be brave to pet a dog-sized cat.
9 The Goliath Frog
The Goliath or the Giant Slippery Frog is scary, but only if you have a general fear of frogs and amphibians and things that go hop and splash in swamps and marshes in the dark and have big sticky tongues and eat icky insects and… Scared myself there!
Even if you are not scared of frogs, having this gargantuan croak at you from out of nowhere might just give even the strongest of hearts the heebie-jeebies! The largest frog that I have encountered was about the size of my fist. This goliath here is more than a foot long from snout to vent. With legs extended, it’s even longer! And while they are like other frogs, even their tadpoles being the same sizes as tadpoles of other smaller frog species – they just keep growing a whole lot bigger. Found only in a part of Africa in Cameroon, they are also particularly bad parents. Once the eggs are laid, the parents scram. A whole new meaning to big and mean!
8 Big Jake The World's Tallest Horse
Horses are big, sure, and short of ponies, they are mostly taller than the average human. Even then, Big Jake will take you by surprise. This handsome stallion stands an official six feet, ten and three-quarter inches tall (210.2 cms).
In horse lingo, this 11-year-old horse is 20 hands; two and three-quarter inches tall and weighs in at an astounding 2,600 pounds. At birth itself, Big Jake weighed in at 240 pounds, which is almost 50 pounds more than the average foal weight of this breed. He was bought to Smokey Hollow Farm in Poynette, Wisconsin as soon as he was weaned from his mother and has been a hitch horse at the farm for a while now.
Despite his big size, Big Jake is surprisingly good with people and has quite the fan following too. And not to be left behind, at the same farm is another big Belgian – Almighty Bruce who is shorter but heavier than Big Jake. Owner Jerry Gilbert is back to doing his Guinness Record paperwork again.
7 Hercules The Liger
Think cats and other than the musical and the domestic meows, you’d think of the big jungle wildcats – lions and tigers. The biggest cat is the Siberian Tiger, but there's yet another wildcat that overshadows even this fierce and majestic creature. The liger. No, that’s not a spelling mistake. A liger is the offspring of a male lion with a female tiger aka a tigress and today, the world’s biggest surviving cat is Hercules the liger who is 131 inches long (more than 11 feet) and weighs in at 922 pounds.
Just FYI, the offspring of a female lion (lioness) and a male tiger is called a tigon but tigons are not as big as ligers. Ligers inherit the social nature that lions have, contrary to the solitary nature of their tiger genes. Hercules too is a sociable animal, as much as a wildcat can be, and is the world’s largest non-obese carnivore.
6 Japanese Spider Crab
Think crabs and you think of lovely beachside dinners accompanied with a fine Merlot with music on the side. This culinary dream will go pop when you meet the Japanese Spider Crab. An abnormally large species that weighs in at a whopping 42 pounds and can reach 5.5 meters (18 feet) from claw to claw – this is the stuff that monster movies are made of…
And yet, like with most of the animal world biggies, despite its large and ferocious appearance the spider crab is reported to have a gentle disposition. With its cream body color with orange spots and a rather bumpy appearance, it camouflages well into the ocean floor. To further this illusion, it even decorates its shell with sponges and other sea floor creatures.
Surprisingly, the spider crab is hunted for food and in most parts of Japan, considered a delicacy. Its numbers have been declining due to over-fishing and conservation efforts are on to protect the largest arthropod of the world.
5 Blosom The World's Tallest Cow
The tallest cow ever, Blosom, was officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records a little before she passed to greener pastures. A Holstein cow has an average weight of 1500 pounds; Blosom blossomed into a cow that weighed way more at 2000 pounds. At 6 feet 4 inches, she indeed was the biggest moo of them all. Having been born to two normal-sized cows, her vet and foot trimmer quickly noticed her larger-than-average size.
And when it was discovered that Blosom could not bear any calves, her owner Patty Meads-Hanson decided to keep her as a pet rather than send her to the slaughter house. She soon became the official greeter at Patty’s farm – and was soon recognized for her distinctive size.
However, after Blosom seemed to have a fall and damaged a ligament in her hip, she couldn’t stand again. And when no vet could figure out what was wrong with her, she had to be put down.
4 Jeff Corwin Catches Record Breaking Stingray
Stingrays are infamous for their sting. In fact a rather villainous one killed of one of our favorite wildlife TV personalities Steve Irwin in a sad and heartbreaking incident.
Not to be left behind, Jeff Corwin, yet another wildlife conservationist and TV personality, caught what is believed to be the largest stingray or perhaps even the largest freshwater fish ever to be caught (on line and reel) from the wild. 14feet, 800 pounds – this aquatic giant was caught by line and reel and it took Corwin and his team over two hours to reel it in – at the Mae Klong river in Thailand.
Several of Corwin’s team took turns slowly, painstakingly reeling this goliath in. The fish was then shifted to a special netted pool to be measured. After that, Corwin tweeted, “Potential world record freshwater fish, giant stingray, 14ft X 8ft! in Thailand filming for ABC's Ocean Mysteries”…
3 Medusa The World's Longest Snake
So the Guinness World Record-holder, when it comes to a snake that’s the longest ever, has been awarded to Madame Medusa – a reticulated python who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. When measured in 2011, Medusa was an astounding 25 feet 2 inches long, about the size of a mid-sized sedan. It took 10 men to hold up this long wonder so that she could be successfully measured.
Part of the family of Full Moon productions, Medusa resides as the star attraction of their haunted house exhibit, "The Edge of Hell," where a common, once-in-two-weeks dinner for her is a 40-pound deer! Before Medusa, the title of the longest snake ever was held by another reticulated python named Fluffy, who measured a respectable 24 feet.
There were also reports of an even longer snake being captured in Malaysia in April 2016, which according to official reports measured over 26 feet and over 550 pounds. Sadly three hours after its capture, the snake died. And so Medusa remains the queen, for now.
2 Lolong The World's Largest Crocodile
So okay, crocs are biggish, right? But Lolong certainly takes the cake when it comes to being the biggest and the baddest of them all.
Caught in Bunwan creek in the Philippines province of Agusan Del Sure in September 2011 by a joint co-operative team of the local government unit, local residents and crocodile hunters of Palawan Crocodile & Wildlife Reservation Center; Lolong was hunted over a period of three weeks before he was finally caught. It took almost 100 people to drag him onto land – and Lolong was definitely in no mood to be captured! Estimated to be at least 50 years old, this goliath of a croc was suspected to be a man eater as well as a hunter of water buffaloes. He was named after one of the veteran hunters of Palawan who died of health problems before the actual capture.
At 20 feet 3 inches (6.17m) and weighing 2,370 pounds – Lolong died in captivity in 2013 after suffering from pneumonia and then cardiac arrest.
1 Big Bill The World's Largest Pig
Big Bill. Doesn’t the name say it all? If it doesn’t, then Big Bill held the title of being the world’s largest pig with an astounding weight of 2,552 pounds. Owned by Elias Buford Butler of Jackson, Tennessee; Big Bill was 5 feet tall, 9 feet long and though he set the record way back in 1933 – no other pig has come close to his gargantuan size.
There were also reports of the Liaoning Provincial Agricultural Museum having appealed to Guinness World Records to recognize a 1984-pound pig which died in February 2009, aged only 5 years, as the biggest pig ever. The pig apparently died because of health problems that originated because he was too big to move – at death, the pig was 2.5 meters long and had a waistline of 2.23 meters! Perhaps the pig got to know about Big Bill…
That said, Big Bill still rules over as the king of all pigs, even posthumously.