The Top 8 Slowest Animals in the World

Written by Rebecca
Updated: September 23, 2022
Image Credit Ernie Cooper/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points:

  • The sea anemone tops our list for the slowest animal in the world. Based on time-lapse photography, it is estimated that they move about 1 centimeter (about 0.39 inches) an hour. The sea anemone uses its pedal disc to slowly shift along on a rock or coral.
  • Some starfish only travel about 15 centimeters each minute, or .005 miles per hour. If they want to travel farther distances, they are able to utilize ocean currents for a faster pace.
  • While the slow loris lives up to its name in general, the sluggish animal is capable of extreme bursts of speed when pouncing on prey such as insects, birds, and small mammals. Otherwise, they travel about 1.15 miles per hour when on the hunt at night.

You’ve probably heard that the cheetah, capable of running up to 70 miles an hour, is the fastest land animal. But do you know what the slowest animals in the world are? Ready to find out? We’ve put together a list of the 8 slowest animals in the world. Continue reading to discover just how slow some animals move!

#8. Slow Loris

Slowest Animals: Slow Loris
A Slow loris hanging on a tree. The movement of a slow loris is snakelike. This is because a slow loris has more spinal vertebra than other primates.

Nachaliti/Shutterstock.com

The name may be a giveaway, but the Slow Loris is a very slog animal. They move at just 1.18 miles per hour. These nocturnal primates typically travel about 5 miles at night looking for prey. While they typically move very slowly, when they find prey, they are able to move a bit quicker to strike.

The Slow Loris is the only venomous primate in the world. Their mouth and elbows contain toxins that work to protect them from predators. They’ll spread these toxins over their fur to provide additional protection. This is likely one of the reasons this animal is able to move so slowly without being constantly attacked by predators.

#7. Gila Monster

Slowest Animals: Gila Monster
Rather than injecting venom through hollow fangs like venomous snakes, Gila Monsters have enlarged, grooved teeth in their lower jaw.

Vaclav Sebek/Shutterstock.com

The Gila Monster may be faster than some of the other animals on this list, but not by much! They are only capable of running at speeds of about 1 mile per hour. So, while they are the largest lizards that are native to the United States (at about 20 inches long), they are not even close to being the fastest lizards in the country. Most of the day, Gila Monsters spend their time sunbathing.

Gila Monsters are found in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. They live in the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Mohave Deserts. Knowing how slow (and lazy) a Gila Monster is, it should be surprising to find out that they look for easy-to-catch pretty. This often includes newborn mammals and eggs. Gila Monsters swallow food whole. They are also able to store fat in their tails and live off of this during the winter when they will remain in the underground home.

#6. Banana Slug

Slowest Animals: Banana Slug
A Pacific Banana Slug eating bright purple flower petals. Slugs don’t have teeth or tongues. They have a special organ called a radula that has thousands of tiny protrusions that help them grind up their food.

Heidi Besen/Shutterstock.com

Banana Slugs are another one of the slowest animals on the planet. Banana slugs travel at a pace of around 0.186 miles an hour. That is a staggering 6.5 inches per minute.

They have one foot that makes muscular contractions. These contractions secrete mucus. The mucus turns into slime that allows the slug to lubricate their path to help them move. While slugs are very slow, they are typically faster than their Garden Snail cousins. This may be because they don’t have a shell weighing them down as a Garden Snail does.

Banana Slugs have the ability to rappel down from heights. Their tale holds a mucus gland that allows the slug to make a cord to help them get down.

#5. Giant Tortoise

Slowest Animals: Giant Tortoise
A Seychelles giant tortoise on a beach. While the tortoise would not beat the hare, they have been known to travel 3 or 4 miles in a day on rugged terrain.

Jenny Sturm/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve ever heard the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” you may have guessed that a tortoise would make this list. The Galapagos Tortoise is one of the Giant Tortoise subspecies. They only move about 60 yards every 10 minutes. This is a pace of about 0.186 miles per hour. This means it could take all day for a Giant Tortoise to move just four miles. Some Giant Tortoises may move a bit faster with a maximum speed of around 1.2 miles an hour.

The shell of a Giant Tortoise is quite heavy, but it can bear its burden due to the fact that the shell is not solid, but instead composed of honeycomb structures that enclose small air chambers. While the shell no doubt slows the animal down to an extent, another contributing factor is that the front legs of a giant tortoise are turned inward. This causes the animal to move from side to side when it walks, rather than in a straight line.

The Galapagos Tortoise may live to be over 150 years old. Tortoises have also lived on Earth longer than most other creatures. They were around during the time of the dinosaurs.

#4. Three-Toed Sloth

Slowest Animals: Three-Toed Sloth
A happy sloth hanging from a tree in Costa Rica. Sloths sleep in trees – some 15 to 20 hours every day

jdross75/Shutterstock.com

Three-Toed Sloths are very slow animals. Most of the day, they stay in the treetops and hardly move at all. It is believed that their very low metabolic rate is the reason that this mammal is so slow. Sloths move at a speed of just 1 foot each minute or about 0.011 miles per hour. This is such a slow speed that algae even grows on their coats!

Due to a sloth’s slower metabolism, they don’t need to eat very much. They can get by with eating just a few twigs and leaves. Sloths also have a different anatomical structure from other mammals. While their arms are very long, their shoulder blades a very short. This allows them to easily reach farther distances without needing to move too much.

#3. Starfish

Slowest Animals: Starfish
A Fromia seastar in a coral reef aquarium tank. Starfish are unique among aquatic life because they have the ability to regenerate an arm when they lose one.

Vojce/Shutterstock.com

Most Starfish move very slowly. Some only travel about 15 centimeters each minute. This works out to be about .005 miles per hour. A Starfish’s arms have special tubes that they use for moving. If a Starfish is looking to travel a farther distance, it may use the ocean currents to help it move more quickly.

Did you know that there are about 2,000 Starfish species? You can find an eye at the end of each arm on a Starfish, and some starfish have as many as 40 arms. Despite their name, Starfish are not fish. Unlike fish, they don’t have scales, fins, or gills. Rather, they are part of the Echinodermata phylum, making them related to sea urchins and sand dollars. Many Starfish, as with other echinoderms, display radial symmetry. This means that the parts of their body are symmetrical around a central axis. This means you can’t clearly tell which side of a Starfish is the “top” or “left side.”

#2. Garden Snail

Slowest Animals: Garden Snail
Common garden snails have a top speed of 45 m (50 yards) per hour. Making the snail one of the slowest creatures on Earth.

Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.com

Did you know that Garden Snails only move about one meter each hour? This is a pace of around .0006 miles per hour! To move, the garden snail’s boneless foot makes muscular contractions.

This releases mucus, or slime, that allows the snail to lubricate its path to help them move.

Due to their thick shell on their back, speed isn’t really a necessity for snails trying to escape a predator. They can simply retract into their shell for safety. The heavier shell also slows down its speed.

Some snails have lungs while others still use gills to breath. They are also herbivores and are closely related to the slug, which isn’t the same thing as a snail. If kept alive, some garden snails can actually live from 10 to 15 years! Some snails have been documented to have lived up to 25 years.

#1. Sea Anemone

Slowest Animals: Sea Anemone
Anemones act as homes to small shrimp that use the anemone as a base station for cleaning parasites off of reef fish, which leads to larger and healthier fish populations.

Natalia Fedori/Shutterstock.com

Sloths may be the slowest land animals, but Sea Anemones are even slower. Most of the time, sea anemones stay still attached to rocks or coral. They like to hunt fish or another pretty that swim close by. However, they will occasionally move from their position. Based on time-lapse photography, it is estimated that Sea Anemones only move about 1 centimeter (about 0.39 inches) an hour! To move, a Sea Anemone uses its pedal disc to slowly shift along on a rock or coral. They are also able to swim and float.

Sea Anemones are invertebrates that use their tentacles to catch prey. Their tentacles sting prey and help guide them into the mouth of the Sea Anemone. Sea Anemones look similar to a flower. Their size can vary quite a bit from a diameter of just 0.5 inches to 6 feet. Most Sea Anemones can be found in tropical waters, but some have made adaptations to living in cooler water.

If you ever feel you’re moving too slowly and can’t keep up with the daily grind, think about some of these sloooooooow animals and how much faster you are than them! Have you seen any of these slow animals in person? Were you surprised by any of the animals that made this list?

RankAnimal
1Sea Anemone
2Garden Snail
3Starfish
4Three-toed Sloth
5Giant Tortoise
6Banana Slug
7Gila Monster
8Slow Loris

Up Next…

Slowest Animals

Ernie Cooper/Shutterstock.com
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About the Author

My name is Rebecca and I've been a Professional Freelancer for almost a decade. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessing over cats and pet rats.

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