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12 Weird But Adorable African Animals You Didn’t Know Existed

What are the top 10 weirdest animals you ask? We’ve done one (or two) better and given you 12. Africa is the second largest continent on Earth and is home to over 1000 animal species. Yet, when you think African safari, you tend to think lion, rhino, elephant, or leopard (if you’re lucky enough to spot one), but what about the plethora of rare, strange, and sometimes adorable animals that make up part of the 1000 plus species on the continent?

 

Not only is African Dream Foods committed to natural African flavors, we’re also dedicated to wildlife conservation and that includes advocating for all the splendor that Africa has to offer in vegetation, landscape, and in this case—rare African animals. We’ve compiled a list of Africa’s most unusual species so next time you’re traveling through the Savanna you can keep your eyes peeled for a little more than the Big Five. Enjoy our list of these weird African animals!
1. African Civet

The African civet has striking black and white spots, a black stripe across its eyes, and its hind legs are longer than its front legs. Safe to say it’s a strange creature in South Africa. African civets are the only remaining member of their genetic group and although they appear cat-like, they are not feline at all but are more closely related to small carnivores like weasels and Mongoose. They are found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa in densely vegetated “jungle” regions and feed on small rodents, lizards, snakes, and frogs but are also known to enjoy berries and fallen fruits.

Fun factAfrican civets secrete a musk (civetone) to mark their territory that has been used in the perfume manufacturing industry for centuries.

2. Guereza Colobus

Guereza Colobus, sometimes referred to as Colobus Guereza, is a specific species of Colobus (African monkey genome) and is distinct for its long shiny black and white fur. They are heavy-bodied animals and adults grow up to four feet including their tails. They are pretty resilient and can survive in both dry and moist forests and are mostly found in Northern Africa. These cute African mammals are herbivores and feed mostly on leaves.

Fun fact—Guerezas only have four digits on each hand. Their thumbs are absent but sometimes have a small nail that protrudes from where there would be a thumb. Evolutionary biologists think this may be an adaptation for quick movement through trees.

3. Klipspringer

Ever find yourself pondering… what are some cute African animals… what is the cutest animal in Africa…what is the cutest animal ever? Us too, and the answer is the African Klipspringer. Klipspringers are herbivores native to Southern Africa. Their name means “rock-jumpers” in Afrikaans and, as their name suggests, they live in rocky, arid landscapes. At their tallest Klipspringers might grow to two feet and they weigh between 18 and 40 pounds.

Fun fact— klipspringers walk on the tips of their hooves as an adaptation to their rocky terrain.

4. Bat-Eared Fox

Just like with the klipspringer, it’s all in the name and bat-eared foxes have enormous ears, especially in comparison to their heads, similar to bats. Native to Southern Africa, Botswana, and Kenya. They primarily feed on termites and are an important part of termite control for the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these beautiful and unusual bush foxes are considered valuable for their pelts and human populations are encroaching on their habitats.

Fun fact— A single bat-eared foxes can eat up to 1.15 million termites per year.

5. Elephant Shrew

What is the smallest animal in Africa? Don’t let the “elephant” in elephant shrew fool you, it might just be the elephant shrew. These tiny creatures have distinctive “trunk-like” noses that help them feast on insects like ants, millipedes, termites, and worms. They generally live in couples and are mostly found in the Democratic Republic of Congo but sadly their population is rapidly declining due to deforestation and lack of access to food because of drought, fire, land division and deforestation.

Fun fact— Elephant shrews share more genetic make-up with elephants, aardvarks, and manatees than with mice.

6. Okapi

Is it a zebra? Is it a horse? A giraffe? Well, it’s sort of all three. The okapi is a strange African animal native to the Democratic Republic of Congo (they used to be found in Uganda as well but are sadly now extinct there). They have horse-like bodies, long giraffe necks, and zebra stripes down their legs. Also, they live in dense forests both dry and wet, and are herbivores that feed on leaves, grass, shoots, and fungi.

Fun fact— okapi have four stomachs and don’t defecate for the first few months of their lives.

7. Black Rain Frog

The black rain frog has a perpetual frown on its face and when threatened it puffs up, enlarging its body to seem intimidating. This frog is found off the Southern Coast of Africa at elevations of up to 3,300 feet. It doesn’t need open water to survive as it is a burrowing species and can create tunnels of up to six inches deep to find water and insects for feeding. This sad avocado-looking creature is definitely a weird African animal!

Fun fact— during mating, females secrete a sticky substance to ensure males don’t slide off.

8. Prickly Bush Viper

They are also known as spiny bush vipers, and are vibrant green vipers are small in size but lethal in toxicity. They are native to Central Africa and feed on mammals, birds, lizards, and frogs. Their claim to fame is their spiky, dragon-like dorsal scales that protect them from predators.

Fun fact—prickly bush vipers have prehensile (capable of grasping) tails that allow them to hang upside down.

9. Gerenuk

The gerenuk, also known as the giraffe gazelle, is an antelope species found in East Africa. They are extremely shy and so little is known about their diet and behavior. What we do know is that gerenuks can stand on their hind legs and use their very long necks to reach into thorny trees. They live and travel in herds and only the males have horns.

Fun fact—“gerenuk” means giraffe-necked in Somali.

10. Lowland Streaked Tenrec

The lowland streaked tenrec is a weird African animal that is part shrew part hedgehog. It’s known for its vibrant yellow and black quills that shoot up like a mane when it feels threatened. These feisty creatures are native to Madagascar and are unique in that they can survive in solitude or groups. They typically feed on worms and so prefer moist regions close to water sources.

Fun fact—lowland streaked tenrecs can match their body temperature to the air to conserve body heat and energy.

11. Dugong

Dugongs are found off the coastal region of the Pacific and Indian Ocean (primarily in East Africa). Dugongs are herbivorous sea-cows and they graze on seagrass. They can live up to 70 years and grow up to 13 feet and 595 pounds. They are thought to have evolved from elephants and are closely related to manatees. Dugongs are extremely rare and sadly due to habitat destruction; their numbers are dwindling rapidly.

Fun fact—dugongs have very small brains compared to their body size. This may be because they did not have to develop complex hunting systems to capture prey.

12. Hammer-Headed Bat

We saved the best for last because this might be one of the weirdest looking animals out there. The hammer-headed bat is a nocturnal African animal and is the continent’s largest bat with a wingspan of 38 inches. These bats feed on fruits like figs, guavas, bananas, and mangos. Unlike other bat species which segregate on sex, hammer-heads work together and take on specific foraging strategies within a group dynamic. They are native to Central Africa and prefer moist forests, swamps, and mangroves.

Fun fact—during mating season male hammer-headed bats produce between 60-120 “honks” per minute to attract females.

On our list of 12 weird yet adorable animals, you might be wondering which animal is only found in Africa? The answer is all of them, except the dugong, are solely found on the African continent making them that much more unique. Each one is part of a complex African ecosystem and if you’re wondering which is the most random animal? There isn’t one. They all play a part in sustaining vegetation, keeping population numbers down, and are integral in balancing natural life cycles.

Sadly, every one of the weird African animal on this list is also under threat. Mass deforestation, land degradation and division, poaching, and climate change are disrupting delicate ecosystems. Take this list as a call to action, if you didn’t know these animals existed imagine how many more species are out there that rely on conservation efforts. African Dream Foods has made it our mission to be a part of wildlife conservation and we hope you’ll join us in our efforts. With every bottle sold we donate between .10 and .40 cents to African wildlife conservation organizations, protecting the planet and its inhabitants has never been this easy (or delicious).

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