When it comes to the animal kingdom, some critters hit the jackpot when it comes to ear size. Whether you are talking about a large animal like the African Elephant or the much smaller Bush Baby, there are plenty of animals with the biggest ear to body ratio, which makes them the critters with the biggest ears in the world. Granted, an elephant's ears are significantly bigger than other animals, but compared to their body-size, some smaller critters' ears are considerably longer and larger than you might think.
While they may also look cuter than other animals with smaller ears, many animals with big ears have them for very good reasons. Often, they are used to aid in cooling or even warding off pests. Other animals with long ears are capable of positioning them to hear sounds from specific directions or even pick up sounds at frequencies humans can't even hear. Whatever their reason for evolving large, adorable ears, these animals are the ones with the biggest of them all.
The Caracal is a common cat native to African the Middle East, India, and Central Asia that is well known for its large, tufted ears. The Caracal has been tamed and domesticated since the time of Ancient Egypt when it was used to aid in hunting. They are medium-sized cats reaching between 18 and 40 lbs. with a height of approximately 20 inches at the shoulders.
While their ears are a prominent feature on their head, they are not unusually large for a cat species. What makes their ears unique and has landed them on this list are the unusual tufts of black fur, which are long enough to almost double the length of the cat's ears. These tufts typically extend to approximately 5 cm and can begin to droop as the cat ages. Their ears serve the same purpose as other cats, aiding in hunting and even heat dissipation to a small extent.
- Scientific Name: Caracal caracal
- Type Of: Caracal
There are many breeds of dog in the world, but the one with the largest ears is the Basset Hound. Technically, the Basset Hound is not an example of evolution that produced an animal with enlarged ears. Basset Hounds and all dog breeds are the result of specialized selective breeding done by humans from the Grey Wolf, Canis Lupus. All dogs come from that breed of wolf, but as you know, they look vastly different in size, shape, specialization, and temperament.
Basset Hounds were specifically bred to hunt hares. Their ears may be one of their most notable featured alongside their stubby legs, but their true claim to fame is their powerful nose, which is capable of discerning scents across miles of various types of brush. They were bred from bloodhounds over centuries and originated in Great Britain as far back as the late 1800s. Their long years help them track scent by both focusing it toward their nose and catching some of the scents to help them remember the smell they're following.
- Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris
- Type Of: Dog
The Galago, more commonly known as Bush Babies, are a species of nocturnal primates native to Africa, which are known for their enlarged eyes and ears. Their eyes are adapted for seeing prey in the dark while their ears have evolved into sensitive instruments capable of picking up movement and sounds over wide distances. They help the Galago to track insects as they move through the air and are somewhat bat-like in appearance.
A typical bush babies' ears will appear enlarged compared to its relatively small head and are similar in appearance to a cat's. They are well-known for their ability to hear but are most well-known for their eyes and their cry, which was used to scare children into staying indoors at night-time in Africa. Their cry sounds much like a human baby's and their eyes glow when a light is shined upon them at night.
- Type Of: Primate
The aptly-named Long-Eared Jerboa is a nocturnal mouse-like rodent found in the Palearctic ecozone of Mongolia and Western China. They are well known for their oversized ears, which is clearly where their name comes from. Their ears are more than one third longer than their heads and feature tufts of bristly hairs.
Another prominent feature is the Long-Eared Jerboa's feet, which are especially large in proportion to their body to enable the animal to jump great distances as it hunts its primary prey, which includes numerous types of flying insects. Its ears are used primarily for defense as they allow the Long-Eared Jerboa to hear predators from a great distance. They also likely help to locate flying prey nearby and hone in on their exact location.
- Scientific Name: Euchoreutes naso
- Type Of: Rodent