It is difficult to find agreement on what the largest land animals are as one must take into account height, weight, mass and length. Hence, we decided to make a list by weight. Some similar animals are grouped together; for example, although there are three species of elephants of varying weights and characteristics, a top 10 list would become redundant if we posted every type of elephant, all 5 species of rhinoceros and so on. Additionally, there will always be outliers where a specific animal grew much larger than normal. With that being said, please enjoy our list of the heaviest land animals.
There are three main species of elephants: the African bush elephant, Indian (Asian) elephant and African forest elephant. The largest of which is the African bush elephant – it sometimes reaches a weight of over 15,000 lbs. That’s approximately the weight of 7.5 average-sized cars. Furthermore, they can stand at over 13 feet tall. It is easy for an elephant to eat hundreds of pounds of food in a single day and drink around 50 gallons of water as well. To accomplish this, they spend around 15 hours a day grazing and drinking. Elephants have a vegetarian diet and are generally harmless unless agitated. They also have a fairly high intelligence; having self-awareness, problem solving capabilities and emotional connections.
An adult hippo can be anywhere from 9.5 to 14 feet long and weigh from 5,000 to 8,000 pounds. The heaviest known hippopotamus was approximately 9,900 pounds. The male hippo continues to grow throughout its life. They spend most of their time in rivers, lakes and swamps trying to stay cool. The name “hippopotamus” itself aptly means “river horse.” These animals, after staying in water most of the day, will emerge at dusk to graze for several hours. It is not uncommon for a full-grown hippo to eat up to 150 pounds of grass in a 5 to 6 hour span.
Of the five main types of rhinoceroses (White, Black, Indian, Javan and Sumatran) the largest are the white rhinos. The average white rhinoceros weighs in at around 7,700 lbs, but the largest ever recorded tipped the scales at nearly 10,000 pounds. They can grow to be nearly 14 feet long. Interestingly, white rhinos are not white and black rhinos are not black. They are, in fact, both grey in color with the main distinction being that white rhinos tend to be slightly larger and have differently shaped lips. These huge creatures might look overweight and slow, but they have a top speed of up to 40 miles per hour. Sadly, the white rhinoceros is now an endangered species as they have low birthrates and many are unnecessarily killed for their horns which superstitious people believe have healing powers.
A full-grown adult male walrus will typically weigh around 3,700 pounds. There have been confirmed reports of some exceeding 4,400 lbs. Walruses tend to eat clams, but other foods they will ingest include: crabs, sea cucumbers, mollusks, shrimp and sometimes even seals. On an average day a walrus can eat up to 250 pounds of food and it is not uncommon for one walrus to eat thousands of clams in one day. Dominance is established by weight and tusk size. The heaviest bull with the longest tusks is almost always the leader, with smaller males and those with broken tusks having low social rankings. Because of their massive size, the only threats to walruses are polar bears, killer whales and humans.
Giraffes are the world’s tallest animal and can grow to heights of up to 20 feet. The average male giraffe can weigh around 3,500 pounds, but some have been found to tip the scales at nearly 4,200 lbs. A fair amount of the giraffe’s height lies in its neck which can sometimes be almost 7 feet long. Giraffes have massive hearts in order to pump blood all the way up to their brains. A giraffe heart can weigh a whopping 25 pounds and produce approximately twice the blood pressure of a human heart. Additionally, their intestines have been found to be up to 260 feet in length. Giraffes typically feed on acacia leaves and other shoots and grasses. They use their long (up to 20 inches) tongues and the roofs of their mouths to pull leaves off of trees.
Also known as an Indian bison, the guar is the tallest type of wild cattle in existence. They can weigh up to 3,300 pounds and be over 7 feet tall at the shoulders. It is not entirely uncommon for a gaur to grow to lengths of over 10 feet. Both males and females have horns that can be over 45 inches in length. Because of their size, a gaur’s only true enemies are saltwater crocodiles, humans and tigers. When threatened, gaurs will frequently make a circle around the younger and more vulnerable members of the herd in order to protect them. They have also been known to form a phalanx and walk toward tigers in order to scare them away.
7) Wild Asian Water Buffalo
Wild Asian water buffaloes can weigh in at 2,600 lbs and be nearly 10 feet in length. The larger buffaloes easily reach over 6 feet in height at the shoulder. Their horns are the longest of any other bovid and they have been found to have a spread from tip to tip of up to 79 inches. These buffaloes are endangered, with an estimated 4,000 or less left in the world. Their numbers have decreased by 50% in the past 30 years. Habitat loss, interbreeding with domestic buffalo, hunting and diseases are the main cause of their dwindling numbers. They can still be found in Cambodia, Thailand, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal.
8) Saltwater Crocodile
This type of crocodile is the largest living reptile. The average male saltwater crocodile can weigh around 2,200 pounds and be around 17 feet in length. Rare gigantic saltwater crocodiles have been found to weigh up to 4,400 pounds and be up to 23 feet in length. This species is capable of taking down and killing larger animals such as the wild Asian water buffalo and the gaur. The saltwater crocodile has the most powerful bite of any living creature. In fact, it is capable of crushing a full grown cow’s skull. These animals are very territorial and predacious. They are not very picky eaters and will often attack any animal that comes close. Saltwater crocodiles have been observed preying upon deer, wild boar, monkeys, jackals, kangaroos, pythons, orangutans, antelope and many other species.
9) American Bison
The American bison is the largest land animal in the Americas. Large bison can weigh around 2,200 pounds, but the record heaviest known bison had a weight of 2,800 pounds. American bison can be over 11 feet long and more than 6 feet tall at the shoulder. Even though they are very large, bison can run at a speed of nearly 40 miles an hour. A bison’s horns can grow to be up to two feet long. This animal encounters people frequently in Canadian and U.S. national parks and they will charge and attack a human if they feel threatened. Bison were hunted by humans to near extinction in the 19th century and are slowly making a comeback. Currently their main enemies are wolf packs.
10) Wild Yak
Wild yaks can be over 7 feet tall and 11 feet in length. Males are about 1/3rd larger than females and can weigh up to around 2,200 pounds. Yaks are unique and often noted for their long shaggy hair which keeps them warmer in the colder climates that they tend to inhabit. They actually have a dense undercoat of fur that is overlaid with the longer hair. Wild yaks have very broad hooves that enable them to walk more easily over thick snow. They tend to be fairly docile and easy to train. Wild yaks can be found in the Himalayan area of Asia, near the Tibetan Plateau and up into Russia and Mongolia.
Heavy Animals Honorable Mentions
– Giant Eland up to 2,200 lbs
– Banteng up to 2,000 lbs
– Alaskan Moose 1,500 lbs, record of 1,800 lbs
– Kodiak Bear 1,500 lbs
– Polar Bear 1,500 lbs