Top 10 Most Harmless Animals in the World

Written by Krishna Maxwell
Updated: September 12, 2022
Image Credit Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points

  • Even the gentlest animals can be fierce when defending themselves or others.
  • The Giant African Millipede and the butterfly are the most harmless.
  • Many of these animals are in danger of extinction.

Some animals are truly terrifying, and we have good reasons to keep a respectful distance from them. Nobody wants to tangle with a crocodile, shark, or coyote, but are there any harmless animals in nature?

To compile our list, we looked at animals who don’t prey on other animals. Every animal needs to eat, but being a skilled predator takes many wild animals off the “harmless” list. We also looked at animals that don’t typically attack other animals, raid their nests, or otherwise cause destruction.

The harmless animals on our list have calm, peaceable natures. They’re safe around other animals and just want to be left alone to feed, sleep and raise their families. Here are the top 10 most harmless animals in the world.

10. Llama

Llamas have been certified as therapy pets.

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Llamas (Lama Glama) are related to camels. While llamas have long been associated with Andean cultures, they have become very popular in the United States and Europe. Their intelligence, gentle natures, and soft, fluffy fur make them irresistible.

Llamas are as gentle as they seem. They enjoy being around humans and have even been certified as therapy pets. Despite this gentle nature, llamas make excellent guard animals for livestock. If they bond to the animals they’re protecting, they will fearlessly fight off coyotes and other predators.

9. Manatee

Manatees form strong attachments to each other.

Thierry Eidenweil/Shutterstock.com

The manatee (Trichechus) is an herbivore that is not aggressive and doesn’t prey on other species. A manatee is a peaceful beast that spends much of the day sleeping and swimming lazily.

Manatees are sociable creatures who form strong attachments to each other. These harmless animals use body language and physical touches to communicate with other manatees. Despite their large size, they are not aggressive and don’t fight with other animals.

Manatees are critically endangered. Most countries have bans on hunting or fishing them, and many others have passed laws requiring boats to move slowly through manatee breeding areas. Their biggest threat comes from boat propellers as these gentle giants prefer shallow water. Many of them are killed or badly injured by small boats, particularly speed boats.

Climate change is also threatening manatee populations as warming waters are not able to produce the food that manatees rely on.

8. Red Panda

Red pandas spend their days sleeping and nights eating.

dean bertoncelj/Shutterstock.com

Despite its name, the red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is not related to the giant panda that is native to China. The red panda lives in the mountain ranges of the Himalayas.

Red pandas are incredibly cute with their bright, raccoon-like faces and bushy red tails. These gentle herbivores are harmless. They prefer to spend their days sleeping and their nights munching on plants.

Once hunted almost to extinction, red pandas now face threats from habitat loss and climate change. They are critically endangered.

7. Manta Ray

Manta rays can grow up to 25 feet wide.

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This giant version of the stingray is a harmless sea creature. It is the largest of the ray species. A manta ray, also known as a devilfish, can grow up to 25 feet wide.

Despite its size, the manta ray (Cephalopterus manta) fits on our list of harmless animals. Unlike the stingray, it does not attack other animals or humans.

In some countries, it was once common for divers and swimmers to catch rides on these gentle giants. They usually live in tropical waters and feed on smaller fish.

6. Giant African Millipede

The Giant African Millipede is native to the African rainforest.

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Despite its intimidating size, this gigantic, prehistoric-looking beast has no stinger. A native of the African rainforest, this dark, scaly insect is one of the largest millipede species in the world. It can grow 15 inches and four inches thick, and it has more than 200 pairs of legs.

While these guys may look creepy, this huge millipede (Diplopoda) is harmless. It doesn’t bite, can’t sting, has no venom, and eats only plant matter. It is an important part of the rainforest ecosystem.

5. Opossum

Opossums clean up waste, bacteria, and ticks from the environment.

Holly Kuchera/Shutterstock.com

The only marsupial native to North America, the opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a common sight in the United States and Canada. This shy, nocturnal animal spends much of its time sleeping. When it’s not dozing, it’s spending its time cleaning up the trash left by other animals.

Opossums clean up waste, bacteria, and even ticks from the environment. In return, they ask for nothing except the chance to be left alone and raise their young. Opossum babies are adorable, especially when they swing from tree branches with their tails.

Some people think opossums are dangerous because of their fierce looking teeth and rat-like tails. However, they are some of the most harmless animals in the wild. Opossums do love eggs and cat food. If you keep cat food out on you porch, don’t be surprised if you turn the light on one night and see an opossum hissing up at you. Similarly, if you have chickens, you may reach into a nest box to collect eggs and find a sleepy opossum curled up waiting for more eggs to be laid.

4.Butterfly

Butterflies populations are essential to most ecosystems.

Sari ONeal/Shutterstock.com

Butterflies bring joy and color to the world. These delicate, colorful members of the Lepidoptera family are common in almost every country. There are around 18,000 butterfly species, and they’re all beautiful in their way.

Butterflies help pollinate flowers and trees. Most butterflies eat tree sap and leaves, but one species eats insects.

These beautiful animals truly are harmless to plants, humans, and other animals. Butterflies are not even able to defend themselves. The worst they can do is make one of their predators feel ill after it eats a butterfly. Conservationists have stressed that healthy moth and butterfly populations are essential to most ecosystems.

3. Aye-Aye

The Aye-Aye is native to Madagascar.

javarman/Shutterstock.com

This nocturnal primate (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is native to Madagascar. The aye-aye has large eyes, bony claws, and a long nose. An aye-aye weighs an average of 25 pounds with a long, bushy tail.

It comes out at night to hunt insects and grubs on the forest trees. It is a harmless, solitary creature that is one of Madagascar’s endemic animals.

Despite its shy behavior, local superstition holds that the aye-aye is a harbinger of death most likely because of its nocturnal nature and Gollum-like appearance. For this and other reasons, including habitat loss, the aye-aye is critically endangered.

2. Rabbit

Rabbits are social and use to often be hunted for their fur and meat.

Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com

Shy, cute bunnies (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are a welcome sight in any garden – unless they are eating your vegetable patch. These harmless animals are herbivores. They are quiet, well-behaved, and don’t leave a mess behind. They might like to munch on your grass or vegetables, but they are not destructive.

Rabbits are a major food source for many predators, and they are keystone species in many ecosystems. Humans once hunted them extensively for their fur and meat, but that is less common today. Most people find them irresistible. Rabbits are playful and social with each other, and they don’t chase, eat or bother other animals.

1. Sheep

Sheep form close bonds with their humans and each other.

N-sky/Shutterstock.com

The gentle sheep (Ovis aries) is sometimes mocked for its docility, but its sweet nature doesn’t mean this animal is stupid. A sheep has an amazing memory and can recognize more than 50 individual animals and humans. Some researchers believe a sheep is as intelligent as a pig.

Sheep have been domesticated for thousands of years, and many people appreciate their calm, wise personalities. They enjoy the companionship of goats, horses, and dogs. Female sheep are caring mothers who can recognize their lambs from their voices.

Sheep are social, gregarious animals who form close bonds with their humans and each other. That’s why these helpful, harmless animals are at the top of our list.

Summary

Nearly all animals have some means of defending themselves at the least, although there are some who can’t even do that. These are some of the most benign animals.

RankAnimal
1.Sheep
2.Rabbit
3.Aye-Aye
4.Butterfly
5.Opposum
6.Giant African Millipede
7.Manta Ray
8.Red Panda
9.Manatee
10.Llama

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About the Author

Krishna is a lifelong animal owner and advocate. She owns and operates a small farm in upstate New York which she shares with three dogs, four donkeys, one mule, and a cat. She holds a Bachelors in Agricultural Technology and has extensive experience in animal health and welfare. When not working with her own animals and tending her farm, Krishna is helping other animal owners with behavior or management issues and teaching neighboring farmers about Regenerative Agriculture practices.

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