15 Animals That Are Always Hungry

Animals That Are Always Hungry

Some animals seem to be like endless black holes that can devour food all day long. Amazing animals on our list that are always hungry might look small, but trust me, they can eat up to a couple of times their body weight in a day!

1) American Pygmy Shrew

Weighing in at as little as 2 grams, these shrews are among the smallest mammals in North America. Their populations range along the Boreal region of North America, stretching from all the way from the Alaskan tundra to parts of Northern Tennessee.

Pygmy shrews measure only about 80 to 91 mm in length with a long tail that accounts for nearly a third of their total body length. They have a narrow head and pointed nose perfectly suited for borrowing and searching for food.

These prolific omnivores need to eat 3 times their body weight in food daily, which means they must find food every 15 to 30 minutes day or night. Talk about hungry! The Pygmy shrew can only live for about 2 hours without food.

When faced with a shortage of prey many Pygmy shrews have been known to feast on the decomposing bodies of other small mammals such as mice and voles. This flexible diet is essential to the survival of the insatiable shrew.

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2) Blue Whale

The Blue Whale is the largest animal on the planet, so it stands to reason that they would also be one of the largest eaters. With mature adults weighing in at 200 tons and having a heart the size of a small car, these massive creatures can reach nearly 100 feet in length.

Found in all the world’s oceans, with the exception of the Arctic, most Blue Whales migrate yearly from their summer feeding grounds(commonly near the poles) to winter breeding grounds (found near the equator).

Despite their Hulking size, these marine mammals feed exclusively on krill, small shrimp-like crustaceans that never reach more than 2 cm in length. They catch krill through a process known as filter-feeding. Can you imagine filling a 2-ton stomach with 2 cm potato chips? Me either! But the Blue Whale can eat up to 40 million krill in a day!

3) Hummingbird

There are over 340 species of hummingbirds. They can all be found in the Western Hemisphere, ranging from the mountains of South America to southern Alaska. Most hummingbird species range from just 2 to 20 grams and measure 3 to 4 inches in length.

While their small size might be deceptive, these winged pixies have the fastest metabolism of any animal on the planet. This speedy digestion causes them to eat nearly 3 times their body weight every day! Because hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar, this means over 100 flower stops in a day.

Not all species of hummingbirds can be seen migrating, but of the few that do, their eating patterns reflect this immense journey.

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Before migration, many hummingbirds feed intensely, reaching a state called hyperphagia. Ornithologists (scientists who study birds) predict that this state of over-eating produces enough fuel to fly over 500 miles at 35 mph. A total of 14 hours by car. To obtain this fuel, most hummingbirds will eat continuously from sunrise till dusk.

While nectar is the primary diet of these tiny troopers they also often eat small ants, aphids and other insects for extra protein, you know just in case they need an extra snack between massive meals.

4) Star-Nosed Mole

Star-nosed Mole
Star-nosed Mole

The Star-nosed mole is native to Eastern North America and can be found all around this region. These wet land dwellers can be easily identified by their star shaped nose that has 22 tentacle-like feelers. Like a few other buffet-frequenters on our list, the Star-nosed mole is relatively small, measuring only about 6 to 8 inches and weighing as little as 35 grams.

Because the Star-nosed mole frequently lives inside marshes or near other bodies of water their diet consists of earthworms and aquatic prey such as leeches. The star-shaped feelers on their nose allow the moles to move quickly through dirt and sediment, so quickly in fact that the Star-nosed mole is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Fastest Eater!

It takes between 120 and 230 milliseconds for the average Star-nosed mole to identify, capture and consume prey. For reference, it takes a human an average of 650 milliseconds to respond to a traffic light… I wonder how they would hold up in a hot dog eating contest!

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5) Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark
Tiger Shark

While there are as many as 1000 different species of shark, the Tiger shark made this list not because of its propensity to occasionally attack human swimmers (which is still greatly exceeded by the Great White) but because of its tendency to eat EVERYTHING.

Tiger sharks can reach 18 ft in length and can weigh nearly 2000 lbs. They live in tropical and subtropical waters, often being spotted around China and the Pacific Islands. Tiger sharks are dubbed as aggressive eaters and also have been known to eat man-made garbage. With a diet of seabirds, sea turtles, marine mammals, stingrays, smaller sharks, sea snakes, and scavenged dead animals, it’s no wonder the Tiger shark is one of our hungriest animals.

6) Pig

Perhaps you might have heard (thanks to movies like Snatch and Pigs) that one way to dispose of a human body is by feeding it to pigs. While this is not a very common occurrence, it is enough to land these omnivores, tasty beasts on our list. The movie Snatch boasts that pigs can dispose of a 200 lb body in just about 8 minutes. Both domestic and feral pigs are known to eat anything they encounter, including pork, making the horrific movie twists a potential reality.

While it is incredibly rare that domestic pigs would develop a taste for much more than milled corn and wheat, the possibility is always there. You never know just when they could be hungry enough.

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7) California Condor

The California Condor is a species of vulture that lives along the entire Pacific coast of North America. With a wingspan of nearly 10 feet, these scavengers can carry up to 5 lbs in flight but primarily feast on the carcasses of large mammals such as goats, sheep, cattle, horses, or coyotes.

As part of the world’s most effective clean up crew these birds can consume up to 4 lbs of meat in one sitting, lucky for us they ALWAYS seem hungry to clean.

8) Tasmanian Devil

Native only to Tasmania these little devils live in logs and caves in shrub forests and agricultural areas. Adults can weigh as much as 26 lbs and are equipped with an incredibly strong jaw, fit for bone crushing and snarling.

While they are often considered livestock predators these marsupials often scavenge on the carrion (decomposing bodies) of larger mammals such as Wombats and Sheep. The Tasmanian Devil can swallow up to 40% of it’s own body weight in under 30 minutes. Not even the reigning king competitive eater could compete with this pace.

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9) Vampire Bat

The common Vampire bat is native to regions from Mexico down to Argentina and Chile. This creepy namesake is built for its specialized diet. From their pointy ears to their acute sense of smell and large eyes they are made to draw blood.

An average size Vampire bat that weighs 40 g can consume over 20 g of blood in a 20 minute period, thirsty much?!

10) Argentine Horned Frog

Argentine Horned Frog
Argentine Horned Frog

The Argentine Horned frog (also called the Argentine Wide-mouthed frog) is native to various grasslands in South America. These ornate amphibians could be the poster child for overeating: these frogs will often, successfully, take in prey that is larger than themselves.

These little guys hold the number one spot on a different top list: Biggest Mouth. Argentine Horned frogs have mouths that make up about 50% of their total body size, perfect for the animal commonly called the Pac Man frog.

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11) Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar

Although the range of these beautiful butterflies ranges from Southern Mexico they can be seen as far North as Pennsylvania. Check out the KQED cite to learn more about these fascinating critters.

The Pipevine Swallowtail, also referred to as the Blue Swallowtail, has larvae that are characterized by their red spikes and black bodies. From the time they eat out of the egg to adulthood these caterpillars will gain 2,7000x their original weight.

12) Saki Monkey

White Faced Saki Monkey
White Faced Saki Monkey

Saki monkeys are native to the rainforests of South America, of the 40 related species there are 5 species of bearded Saki monkeys. These herbivores prefer juicy fruits with large seeds and have been known to eat as many as 50 different kinds of fruit in a day!

Because most of the food they consume contains seeds, Saki monkeys are essential in the spread and growth of these fruiting plants. Just another reason to love these big little appetites.

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13) Macaroni Penguin

These medium-sized, feather-headed penguins can be found on the edge of Antarctica and the islands South of Africa and the Americas. Like many other penguin species, Macaroni penguins migrate.

To fuel this long journey the penguins have been observed traveling nearly 250 miles in search of hunting ground. The primary diet of the Macaroni penguin is actually krill. Which if you will recall is also a favorite of our Blue Whales.

14) American Beaver

An adult beaver typically weighs between 45 and 60 pounds. These “busy bodies” populate the greater North American stream scape. As semi-aquatic mammals, beavers have webbed hind feet, large incisor teeth, and a broad, flat tail used to swim.

Because beavers need to digest wood and other stalky plant matter they have special intestinal microorganisms that help to break down cellulose. Biological adaptation so you can eat more of your favorite food? Yes, please!

15) Burmese Python

Albino burmese python wrapped around a man. Its a popular pet in Thailand.
Albino burmese python wrapped around a man. Its a popular pet in Thailand.

In 2018 there was a news story out of Florida that blew many people away. A 32 lb python was seen eating an entire white-tailed deer. It was later announced that the deer had outweighed the snake by over 4 lbs. This was the greatest prey-predator ratio recorded.

The Burmese python is one of the largest python species with adults weighing upwards of 80 lbs. They are native to Southeast Asia but are also a very common invasive species in the North American Everglades.

It is no wonder these ravenous reptiles made our list, next time you see a bacon hamburger as big as your head… think python and dig in.

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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.