9 Animals With Big Noses In 2024 (With Pictures)

Last updated on March 20th, 2024 at 07:48 pm

The nose, a universal feature among animals, serves as a sensory marvel and a life-sustaining conduit for air. Yet, evolution has sculpted certain creatures into possessing exceptionally elongated noses, and as is often the case with nature’s innovations, these elongated proboscises serve distinct and vital purposes. Among the many fascinating adaptations in the animal kingdom, big noses animals stand out as remarkable examples of evolutionary ingenuity.

As we journey through this exploration of nine animals with big noses, we delve into a world of captivating adaptations discovered across the globe, both on land and beneath the ocean’s depths. What unites them all is the prominence of their ‘big noses,’ each uniquely crafted by evolution, whether long, sharp, star-shaped, or pointed – a testament to nature’s endless capacity for innovation.

9 Interesting Animals With Big Noses

1. Elephant Shrew: Nose as a Meal Forager

Animals With Big Noses
  • Scientific Name: Rhynchocyon
  • Habit: Elephant shrews use their long, flexible noses to forage for insects and small invertebrates.
  • Where Found: Elephant shrews inhabit various regions of Africa, including forests, savannas, and shrublands.

Do You Know:

The elephant shrew, despite its big nose resembling a shrunken elephant trunk, isn’t compensating for sensory deficiencies. This tiny mammal possesses exceptional sight and hearing, complementing its keen sense of smell. Unlike the flexibility of an elephant’s trunk, the elephant shrew uses its nose similarly to aardvarks – sweeping the ground to disturb insects and small invertebrates before consuming them. This effective technique has allowed them to increase across Africa.

These remarkable creatures play a vital role in their ecosystem by regulating the populations of native insects, particularly ants, and termites. Additionally, they utilize their big noses for scent tracking, a standard behavior among these monogamous and territorial animals, often marking their territory with scent glands.

2. Aardvark: Nose as a Foraging Tool

Animals With Big Noses
  • Scientific Name: Orycteropus afer
  • Habit: Aardvarks are nocturnal, solitary mammals with distinctive long snouts, primarily using them to dig for ants and termites.
  • Where Found: Native to sub-Saharan Africa, aardvarks inhabit savannas, grasslands, and woodlands.

Do You Know:

The aardvark, with its quirky appearance, is famous for its big snout, which it uses to sniff out food. Despite poor eyesight, it relies on excellent hearing and strong claws to dig for its meals. Active at night, it spends days in underground burrows. Despite looking like anteaters, aardvarks are surprisingly close to elephants genetically. They use their snouts to hunt, digging up termite and ant nests with their claws and sucking up insects with their noses. In one night, an aardvark can eat up to 50,000 insects without chewing. Their noses, along with a keen sense of smell, help them navigate in the dark, and they’ve even evolved to seal their nostrils to keep them clear while digging.

3. Star-Nosed Mole: Nose as a Navigation Aid

Animals With Big Noses
  • Scientific Name: Condylura cristata
  • Habit: Star-nosed moles are small mammals known for their unique star-shaped noses. They inhabit wetlands and marshy areas, where they are excellent swimmers and burrowers. They use their sensitive noses to detect prey underwater.
  • Where Found: These moles are primarily found in eastern North America, particularly in areas with moist soil and ample insect prey.

Do You Know:

The star-nosed mole, with its 22 tentacles forming a super-powered sniffer, is one of nature’s fastest foragers, boasting approximately 100,000 nerve endings. Adapted due to poor sight, these tentacles help the mole quickly find food, often small worms and fish, by touching up to 12 objects per second. Despite its underground habitat, this mole can swim and smell underwater, making it a formidable hunter. Although uncommon in the wild, star-nosed moles are found in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, spending most of their time digging tunnels and utilizing their long noses to seek prey. With its unique appearance resembling a hybrid of a rat and an octopus, the star-nosed mole stands out as one of the world’s most uncanny-looking creatures.

4. Proboscis Monkey: Nose as Built-In Amplifier

Proboscis Monkey has her baby wrapped around her
  • Scientific Name: Nasalis larvatus
  • Habit: Proboscis monkeys are known for their comically large, pendulous noses. They inhabit the mangrove forests and swamps of Southeast Asia, primarily Borneo and Sumatra. Their distinctive noses are used for communication, amplifying vocalizations in their dense forest habitats.
  • Where Found: Proboscis monkeys primarily inhabit Borneo and Sumatra, where their specialized noses play a crucial role in communication within their swampy habitats.

Do You Know:

The proboscis monkey, known for its large nose, boasts the biggest nose among all primates, reaching up to 6.5 inches. Despite its size, female monkeys find it attractive, as scientists believe it amplifies mating calls, garnering attention and potentially intimidating rivals. Found in the jungles of Borneo, these monkeys are skilled swimmers and primarily feed on seeds, leaves, and unripe fruits, occasionally supplemented with insects. However, they face endangerment due to habitat loss and predators, including humans.

Male proboscis monkeys maintain harems of females, relying on the size of their noses for evolutionary success. Larger noses project mating calls to a wider group of females and signify a male’s ability to protect against threats. Researchers also note a correlation between big noses and smaller canines, enhancing foraging efficiency.

READ ALSO: Fearless Animals

5. Tapirs: Nose as Grocery Grabber

Tapirs is standing in the forest
  • Scientific Name: Tapirus
  • Habit: Tapirs are large, herbivorous mammals known for their flexible trunks. They inhabit various regions across Central and South America and Southeast Asia, including rainforests and grasslands. Their unique noses are used for grabbing leaves and vegetation.
  • Where Found: Tapirs are primarily found in the rainforests and grasslands of Central and South America and Southeast Asia.

Do You Know:

Tapirs, often referred to as “living fossils,” have ancient origins dating back 50 million years and share ancestry with primitive horse and rhinoceros species. Despite their long history, their large noses, resembling an elephant’s trunk, evolved relatively recently. These prehensile noses are handy for tapirs in gripping branches and plucking fruit.

Unlike aardvarks, tapirs rely on both vision and hearing, with their trunks enhancing their sense of smell. Through the Flehmen response, where they expose their teeth, tapirs can detect food, threats, and potential mates.

READ ALSO: Dirtiest Animals

6. Sawfish: Nose as All-Purpose Hunting Tool

Animals With Big Noses
  • Scientific Name: Pristidae
  • Habit: Sawfish are unique, shark-like fish with elongated, tooth-studded rostrums that resemble saws. They inhabit warm coastal waters and estuaries, often lurking along the seafloor. Their saw-like snouts are versatile hunting tools.
  • Where Found: Sawfish typically inhabit tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the world, including regions of the Americas, Africa, and Australia.

Do You Know:

The sawfish boasts not just a big nose but a nose suspiciously shaped like a chainsaw. Their lengthy, flat noses, lined with sharp scales, may not rev up, but they serve as effective hunting tools. Scientists have long observed sawfish using these noses to sift through sand and locate crustaceans for their meals.

Recent discoveries have unveiled another facet of their nose’s utility – they wield it as a lethal weapon during hunting. Beyond sand sifting, tiny sensors dotting the nose’s surface enable sawfish to detect the electric fields emitted by living organisms.

Though sawfish are not known to attack humans, their sheer size, with some individuals reaching up to 25 feet in length, can be intimidating. These creatures typically inhabit shallow, murky waters, making accidental encounters a possibility.

7. Elephant: Nose as All-Purpose Tool

  • Scientific Name: Loxodonta and Elephas
  • Habit: Elephants are massive, herbivorous mammals renowned for their trunk, an incredibly versatile and dexterous appendage. They inhabit a range of environments, from savannas and forests to swamps and deserts.
  • Where Found: Elephants are native to various regions of Africa and Asia, where they roam in both the wild and protected reserves.

Do You Know:

Elephants possess remarkable trunks capable of various functions beyond sniffing, including touching, tasting, breathing, and picking up objects. They can even use their trunks as hoses or snorkels while swimming. With nostrils at the trunk’s end, elephants boast a heightened sense of smell, detecting water sources up to 12 miles away. Their flexible trunks, extending up to seven feet and weighing up to 400 pounds, result from the fusion of the elephant’s nose and lip, showcasing their adaptability and intelligence.

Observers have witnessed elephants creatively using their trunks, from swatting away flies to relieving itches and crafting tools from branches. Despite their ancient ancestors having two sets of trunks, hindering feeding, evolution led to the development of a single trunk, facilitating eating and contributing to their species’ thriving.

Final Words

In the intricate tapestry of the animal kingdom, noses come in all shapes and sizes, each adapted to serve a unique purpose. From the proboscis monkey’s extravagant nose, designed to attract mates, to the practicality of the tapir’s grocery-grabbing snout, nature’s ingenuity is on full display. The sawfish wields its chainsaw-like nose as both a hunting tool and a sensory powerhouse, while the star-nosed mole’s intricate nose aids in navigation and prey detection. Meanwhile, the elephant’s trunk stands as a testament to versatility, from tool manipulation to delicate touch and communication.

These remarkable noses, whether foraging, mating, or hunting, reveal the breathtaking diversity of the animal kingdom’s adaptations. They underscore the marvels of evolution and the vital roles each species plays within its ecosystem.


1. What is the purpose of these unique noses in animals?

These unique noses in animals serve a variety of purposes, from foraging and hunting to communication and mating. Each species has evolved its nose to fulfill specific needs within its ecosystem.

2. Are there any risks associated with these specialized noses?

While these noses are adapted to serve various functions, they can also make animals vulnerable in certain situations. For example, the sawfish’s saw-like nose can become entangled in fishing nets, posing a threat to their survival.

3. Do these noses provide any advantages in the animal kingdom?

Yes, these noses offer significant advantages. They allow animals to navigate their environments, locate food, communicate with each other, and even attract mates. These adaptations are essential for their survival and reproduction.

4. How do these noses compare to human noses in terms of function and adaptability?

These animal noses often surpass human noses in terms of their specialized functions. While humans primarily use their noses for smelling and breathing, these animals have evolved their noses to serve a wide range of functions, from hunting to communication.

5. What are some conservation efforts in place to protect these animals and their unique noses?

Conservation efforts for these animals focus on preserving their natural habitats, reducing human interference, and addressing threats such as habitat loss and climate change. Additionally, regulations and initiatives to prevent overfishing and protect endangered species like sawfish are crucial for their survival.



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