Which Animals Have The Largest Claws On Earth?

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: May 18, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Saddako
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When people think about animals with enormous claws, their minds most times drift to the wild cat family only. Could this be true?  The truth is that there are select animals in the world that get people’s attention, however, their giant claws set them apart from the rest. Let’s take a look at the animals with the largest claws in the world. The animals you will find on the list might surprise you. Let’s get to it. 

Claws, Talons, and Paws: Are they the same? 

People often get confused about the meanings of these words and how they are interrelated, but luckily for us today, we will kill the misconceptions straight away. Not all claws are talons, and talons are not paws. Each one is different and for a fact, paws are the soft-foot-like part of a mammal. The claws are like fingernails, but greatly extended and pointed, while the talons are explicitly used to describe the pointed claws of predator birds. 

Do All Animals Have Claws? 

Grizzly bear claws
Not all animals have claws.

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No, all animals do not have claws. Different animals make use of different body parts to fend for themselves and surprisingly, there are many strong creatures in the world today that do not have claws, but still survive in the wild.

What Are The Functions Of Animal Claws? 

Animal claws have a variety of functions that differ from one species to another. While animals like the giant anteater depend on their claws for tearing ants and termite hills open, the armadillo uses its huge front claws for digging. Bears also dig and excavate, while top predators like tigers and harpy eagles depend on their claws for hunting and killing prey. 

Are All Animals With Claws a Threat To Humans? 

Not all animals with claws are a threat to humans; the armadillo, for example, with its big claws, is not considered dangerous, although it can potentially transmit diseases when eaten or touched. 

Which Animals Have The Largest Claws? 

Here is a list of some animals with the largest claws on the planet. Sorry, the lion doesn’t get to make this list. 

Armadillo (8 inches) 

Sleepiest Animals – Giant
Giant armadillos have the largest claws of any animal in the world – 8 inches long.

Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock.com

The giant armadillo is a weird mammal with an impregnable armor around most of its body. This enormous animal weighs more than 70 pounds and grows up to 59 inches long. Giant armadillos are closely related to anteaters and have an insatiable appetite for insects. They also eat small vertebrates and plants and their front claws are enormous and can grow up to 8 inches in size, the largest of any animal. These claws are used to dig up holes when hunting for insects or hiding away from some threat. In some cases, the armadillo depends on its intimidating claw for protection against predators like jaguars

Giant Anteater (4 inches) 

Weakest Animals
With the help of their 4-inch claws, giant anteaters tear open anthills.

The giant anteater is another mammal that has enormous claws. These solitary animals weigh up to 140 pounds and grow in length between 5 to 8 feet long. Like their armadillo cousins, they feed on insects, particularly ants. They have no teeth but depend on their long tongues to satisfy their huge cravings for ants and termites. These animals use their 4 inches claws to tear open anthills before using their tongues to finish the job. Giant anteaters are generally not aggressive but can fight off predators like the puma and jaguar with their claws. 

Harpy Eagles (5 inches)

Largest Eagles in the World: Harpy Eagle
Known to weigh up to 20 pounds, harpy eagles are among the strongest bird predators in the world.

Harpy eagles are native to America and are known to be one of the strongest bird predators in the world with a weight between 11 to 20 pounds. Eagles are known to have life mates and these subspecies are not different. They form lifelong bonds and only raise one chick per time and their 5 inch claws come in handy during hunting sessions. A harpy eagle can snatch a full-grown sloth with its claw; that’s how powerful these fantastic beasts are. 

Grizzly bear (4 inches) 

Incredible Grizzly Bear Facts - Baby Grizzly Bear
Grizzly bears have claws around 4 inches long that help in digging up roots.

Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock.com

The grizzly bear belongs to the brown bear family. It is known to be one of the deadliest predators in the world and they grow between 7 to 8 feet and weigh over 700 pounds. These ferocious beasts are known to be solitary. However, they can be seen congregating to hunt fish together. Grizzly bears also have a diet that includes nuts, berries, fruits, leaves, rodents, and roots. Their enormous claws are around 4 inches and are helpful in digging up roots and excavating dens. 

Sloth (3-4 inches) 

sloth hanging in a tree
Sloths have claws that grow between 3-4 inches and often defend themselves with them.

iStock.com/Parkol

This animal looks slow, vulnerable, and harmless, but this is not entirely the truth about them. Sloths are herbivores and they grow between 2 to 2.5 feet and weigh between 10 to 17 pounds. These slow animals live in the trees, and they have their claw to thank for the stability it offers them when climbing trees. Sloths have claws that grow between 3-4 inches and often defend themselves with them. 

Siberian Tigers (4 inches) 

Largest cats - Siberian tiger
Siberian tigers have retractable 4 inches claws.

Jan Stria/Shutterstock.com

The siberian tigers are known to be native to Asia. These carnivorous animals can grow up to 6 feet in total length and weigh up to 650 pounds. They are considered the world’s largest cats and are known to be very deadly in their hunt. These mammals live a solitary life and are very protective of their territories. Their retractable 4 inches claws, which come in handy in hunting, are bigger and stronger than those of other wild cats

Komodo Dragons (2 inches)

Animals that reproduce asexually – Komodo dragon
The Komodo dragon possesses 2-inch claws that help then when they hunt.

Don’t get alarmed yet, as these aren’t the dragons from fantasy tales. The Komodo dragon, also known as the Komodo monitor, is a giant reptile. This giant carnivorous lizard is native to the island of Komodo, from which it gets its name. They are the top predators in their habitat and can attack any animal, including pigs, buffalo, and deer. Their 2-inch claws aid them when they hunt. They use their claws for digging also. 

Species Of Mammals
A Nine-banded Armadillo in the Florida wetlands. Armadillos are covered in bony plates that create their 'armour'. They are the only living mammal to wear such a shell.
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