The sense of hearing plays a vital role not only for humans but for a wide variety of animals as well. Interestingly, some species of birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians lack external ears yet have found other ways to hear.
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Meanwhile, we can’t help but notice the diverse ear shapes amongst animals that do have external ears. Today, let’s put the spotlight on small-eared creatures. Get ready to meet seven of the world’s tiniest-eared animals, demonstrating once again that size doesn’t matter when it comes to hearing prowess.
7 Animals With Small Ears
Scientific Name – Castor
Diet – Herbivore
Beavers are fascinating animals that are well-known for their impressive natural architecture. Spending most of their time in self-built homes known as lodges, they are a unique group of semi-aquatic creatures that live both on land and in water.
What’s more, they have a varied diet consisting of water plants, bark, woods, and other aquatic vegetation. But, what sets beavers apart is their exceptional sense of hearing, despite being animals with small ears. This trait helps them keep an eye out for danger and stay safe from predators. Not just that, but they can hear underwater too!
An intriguing fact about these semi-aquatic rodents is their ability to recognize the sounds of various predators, enabling them to emit distinct warning calls to their family members in case of potential danger.
Scientific Name – Ursus maritimus
Diet – Carnivore
Polar bears are adorable marine mammals commonly found in and around the Arctic Ocean, residing within the Arctic Circle. They hold the title of being the largest surviving carnivore on land as well as the largest bear species.
Interesting fact: polar bears have black skin and translucent fur that only appears white as it reflects visible light.
Their small ears aid them in retaining heat, a vital ability to survive in the freezing climate of Antarctica. With large ears, they would be unable to conserve their body heat, ultimately leading to their demise.
In comparison to their superior sense of smell, polar bears possess average hearing abilities. According to research, their hearing is similar to that of humans, allowing them to perceive sound frequencies between 11,200 and 22,500 Hz.
The primary prey of polar bears, seals, emit sounds less than 2,000 Hz. Hence, polar bears’ exceptional listening abilities are not a crucial factor in hunting their preferred diet.
Scientific Name – Gorilla
Diet – Herbivore
The equatorial region of Africa is home to two species of gorillas, the eastern and western gorillas, with a combined population of only 1,063 in the wild according to the latest census. It may surprise you to learn that gorillas share 98% of their DNA with humans. Unfortunately, gorillas have not developed the necessary immunities that humans have.
Gorillas are massive and robust creatures that can weigh up to 226 kg (500 pounds) and stand over 5’5″ tall. They have broad chests and large stomachs.
Despite having small ears, gorillas have a well-developed sense of hearing. This ability comes in handy as they primarily live in dense vegetation habitats with restricted visibility, making hearing an essential tool to locate troop members or sense danger.
Gorillas, like humans, have 32 very strong teeth, which help them to consume tough vegetation. Mountain gorillas spend a quarter of their day eating shoots, leaves, ants, snails, and bark.
Gorillas are very family-oriented animals. Mountain gorillas live in groups of 2-12 members, with one dominant adult male and multiple females. Both males and females care for each other, especially infants.
Scientific Name – Vulpes lagopus
Diet – Carnivore
If you’ve ever wondered whether foxes can be cute, just take a look at the Arctic fox and decide for yourself! These white foxes, also known as polar foxes or snow foxes, inhabit the Arctic regions and have warm, thick fur that provides insulation and helps them adapt to the harshly cold and freezing climate.
The small ears of these animals help maintain body temperature by minimizing the escape of body heat. With sharp senses of hearing and smell, Arctic foxes are able to track the scent and movement of their prey underneath the snow.
The feet of Arctic foxes are insulated with a thick fur layer that serves like snow boots, perfectly suited to their habitat.
The colour of Arctic foxes ranges from white to brown to even blueish-grey, depending on the time of year. As winter approaches, they shed their dark-coloured fur and grow white fur to camouflage themselves and protect against attacks in the snow.
Scottish Fold Cats
Scientific Name – Felis catus
Diet – Carnivore
The Scottish Fold is a feline breed that possesses a dominant-gene mutation, resulting in its ear cartilage folding, creating a distinct owl-like appearance. This unique ear feature gives the cat a charming and delightful look.
In 1961, the first Scottish Fold, named “Susie,” was discovered on a farm in Scotland, and she became the ancestor of all Scottish Folds. Originating in Scotland, these cats are now cherished as beloved domestic companions. They have a well-proportioned, round, and compact body.
Apart from their distinct ear shape, Scottish Folds are known for their ability to sit like humans, which is often referred to as “the Buddha sit.” These cats have gained popularity as pets due to their friendly temperament, in addition to their charming appearance. They are affectionate and love to be showered with attention, particularly from children.
Scientific Name – Lutrinae
Diet – Carnivore
Otters, adorable aquatic creatures, can be found on all continents, except for Antarctica. These creatures belong to 13 different species, and they are either semi-aquatic, aquatic, or marine. As natural-born swimmers, otters mainly feed on fish as part of their diet.
Despite their small ears, otters have excellent hearing both on land and underwater. When submerged, their ears close up to prevent water from entering.
Otters have a well-developed sense of smell in addition to their sharp hearing. However, biologists suggest that hearing is more crucial than smell when it comes to detecting danger.
Furthermore, otters use their senses not only to protect themselves from predators but also for hunting. These skilled hunters can spend up to five hours a day searching for prey.
Scientific Name – Ovibos moschatus
Diet – Herbivore
The final animals on our list with small ears are the Musk Oxen. These creatures were once widespread throughout the Arctic region, but hunting has drastically reduced their numbers. Nowadays, they can be found scattered across Arctic North America and Greenland, standing at an average height of 4-5 ft and weighing between 180-410kg (400-900 pounds).
Like many other animals that thrive in cold climates, the large body of Musk Oxen helps them to maintain their body heat. Short legs and small, furry ears also aid in reducing heat loss by minimizing surface area. These herbivorous animals feed on easily found plants and dig through ice and snow in the winter months using their hooves to access lichens, roots, and mosses.
Do camels have small ears?
Despite their large size, camels actually have relatively small ears compared to other animals. But don’t be fooled by their appearance – their ears are perfectly adapted to their environment. These unique animals can close their nostrils and their ear openings to protect themselves from sand and dust during sandstorms. Additionally, their ears are covered with hair to keep out insects and prevent sunburn.
Do monkeys have small ears?
After researching the topic, it turns out that the size of a monkey’s ears can vary depending on the species. Some monkeys like the spider monkey have small ears, while others like the probosci’s monkey have large ears that stick out from their heads. It’s interesting to consider how different physical features of animals can evolve over time and adapt to their specific environments.
Do snakes have ears?
Contrary to popular belief, snakes do have ears, but they are not like the ones we are accustomed to. Instead of external ears, snakes have internal ears that are tucked away behind their eyes. These ears allow them to pick up on sounds and vibrations from their environment, which is crucial when hunting prey or avoiding predators.
Which animal has small ears?
While some creatures are recognized for their large, floppy ears, others are known for the exact opposite. In fact, there is one animal in particular that stands out for its petite ear size. These small-eared animals are often overlooked, but they are no less fascinating than their counterparts with more prominent auditory organs.
Which animal has smaller ears than humans?
While many animals have much larger ears than us, there is one animal in particular that has smaller ears – the kangaroo.
Animals with small ears may not always get the recognition they deserve. While some may argue that large ears like those of elephants or rabbits are impressive, small-eared creatures should not be overlooked.
Take, for instance, the fennec fox, a small nocturnal animal with distinctive large eyes and small ears. Its small ears help regulate body temperature and minimize water loss in the scorching desert heat.
The African pygmy mouse also sports petite ears, but they are crucial to the impressive hearing that allows it to locate prey and avoid predators. The point is, size doesn’t always matter when it comes to ears.
Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.