Top 5 Biggest Small Animals!

What animals do you think of as typically small and cute? Butterflies? Frogs? For every tiny species, there’s got to be a ‘biggest’ one of the bunch, right? So, to celebrate the publication of AQUILA’s Giants issue, we’ve rounded up our top 5 biggest small animals!

Biggest butterfly – Queen Alexandra’s birdwing

The Queen Alexandra birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae) is a butterfly in the swallowtail family. It can be found in the rainforests of the Oro Province, in eastern Papua New Guinea. The wingspan of its females can reach a huge 28 cm (11 inches), they can have a body length of 8 cm (3.1 in) and can weigh up to 12 g (0.42 oz). Sadly, this species of swallowtail is listed as endangered due to deforestation of its habitat. That is sad, ed. In 2007, a global butterfly smuggler named Hisayoshi Kojima was charged with selling a number of endangered butterflies, including a pair of Queen Alexandra birdwings, on the black market. And that’s terrible! Yep. He was fined $37,000 and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. 

Natural History Museum, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Biggest frog - Goliath Frog

Imagine a frog so big it has the name GOLIATH! Oh, he’s a big’un alright! Roughly the size of a house cat, the goliath frog (Conraua goliath) is the world’s largest living frog. It measures up to 32 cm (12.5 in) and weighs approximately 7.2 lbs (3.3 kg) – about the weight of a newborn baby! And presumably nowhere near as adorable? Um, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that. On the other end of the froggy scale is the Paedophryne Amaurensis, a narrow-mouthed frog that is found, like the Queen Alexandra birdwing butterfly, in eastern Papa New Guinea. Holding the title of Earth’s smallest-known vertebrate, its body measures around 7.7 mm (0.30 in) in length and is smaller than a pea!   

Biggest rabbit – Darius, the Flemish giant

Rabbits can range in size but they’re generally thought of as sweet and cuddly little friends. Enter: Darius, the Flemish giant. This species of rabbit originates from Flanders, Belgium, and is the largest breed of domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus). In 2010, Darius’s impressive stats were recognised by Guinness World Records, and he officially became the ‘world’s longest rabbit living’. At the time he was measured, Darius was 4 ft 3 in (1.3 m) long and weighed around 3 stone (19 kg)! Sadly, in April 2021, Darius, then aged 12, was stolen from his garden and is yet to be found. 

Stamatisclan, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Biggest hummingbird – Giant hummingbird

Before we explore how big the giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas) is, let’s look at its tiny counterpart, the miniscule bee hummingbird, also called the Helena hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae). This tiny bird is the smallest living bird in the world (aw, ed). The males have an average weight of 1.95 g (0.069 oz) and length of just over 5 cm (2 1⁄8 in), and the females are slightly larger. Against other birds, the giant hummingbird may not seem that giant, but compared to the Helena, it’s five times larger! They can weigh 18-24 g (0.63 – 0.85 oz), have a length of 23 cm (9.1 in) and have a wingspan of approximately 21.5 cm (8.5 in). 

Thomas Fuhrmann, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Biggest cockroach – Giant cockroach

Let’s finish with one to make your skin crawl! Megaloblatta longpennis can be found in South and Central America (I’ll stay here, thanks) and they can measure up to 97 mm (3.8 in) in length, with a wingspan of around 22 cm (4.5 in). Did you know that cockroaches communicate with each other by releasing chemicals into the air and depositing trails of faeces? No, but I do now! Sorry. For more insect insights, why not check out our March 2021 issue – Bugs!

Muséum de Toulouse, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

We hope you enjoyed this little look at big-yet-small animals! For more fun facts for kids, why not explore our other brilliant blogs and take out a subscription to AQUILA!

Words: Jennifer Newton-Brown