When you picture colorful animals, you probably imagine bright birds and reptiles. Comparatively, mammals don’t have quite the array of colors. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a few colorful mammals out there. In fact, mammals are a lot brighter than you might think!
List of Colorful Mammals
Here’s our list of the most colorful mammals in the world:
- Latin name: Mandrillus sphinx
- Habitat: Tropical rainforests in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and Republic of the Congo
- Size: Males are up to 82 pounds; females are up to 33 pounds
- Diet: Mostly insects and fruit
- Colorful feature: Male mandrills have bright, multicolored faces that are red, blue and yellow. Their rear ends are similarly brightly colored.
The mandrill is the largest living monkey in the world. Thanks to extreme sexual dimorphism, females and males are drastically different in size. These apes live in very large groups known as “hordes.” Interestingly enough, the dominant males are the most colorful. If a male mandrill loses his status as an alpha, his colors will become much duller.
2. Pink River Dolphin
- Latin name: Inia geoffrensis
- Habitat: The Madeira River, the Amazon River, and the Orinoco River
- Size: Up to 408 pounds
- Diet: Fish, crabs, and turtles
- Colorful feature: These dolphins are usually mottled in pink and grey or almost entirely pale pink.
These pretty dolphins look a lot different than the grey bottlenose dolphins most of us are familiar with. But you might be surprised at where their distinctive coloration comes from. Pink river dolphins are born mostly grey. Over time, as their bodies receive abrasions, they turn pink. Males are usually pinker than females because they get into fights much more frequently.
3. Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin
- Latin name: Leontopithecus chrysomelas
- Habitat: Tropical forests in Bahia, Brazil
- Size: Up to about 1.5 pounds
- Diet: Various plants and smaller invertebrates
- Colorful feature: These striking little monkeys are mostly black. However, they also have golden heads, tails, and legs. Their long coats are especially glossy!
Not to be confused with the golden lion tamarin, this small monkey has a very narrow range; it’s only found in forest areas in the Brazilian state of Bahia. Unfortunately, it is classified as an endangered species, mostly due to habitat destruction. The Brazilian government has created a special biological reserve in an effort to conserve the population.
4. Slow Loris
- Latin name: Nycticebus genus
- Habitat: Forested areas in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries
- Size: Up to about 4.6 pounds
- Diet: Many plant types, insects, arthropods, and smaller vertebrates
- Colorful feature: As you can see in the picture, slow lorises often have high-contrast patterns on their fur. There are a few different species in the genus, so the patterns vary considerably.
Within the native range of the slow loris, many people believe that this small primate has supernatural abilities. In some cases, they believe the slow loris can heal wounds or ward off evil spirits. Slow lorises may look like cute pets, but as they are nocturnal and have very specialized diets, they don’t tend to do very well in captivity. It’s much better to admire them in their natural habitat!
5. South American Jaguar
- Latin name: Panthera onca
- Habitat: Various habitat types in Mexico, South America, and Central America
- Size: Up to 212 pounds
- Diet: Often deer and calves, although it will hunt other prey if available
- Colorful feature: These striking cats have pale tan to yellow coats marked with black spots and stunning dark rosettes. Sometimes you may see a melanistic jaguar. These cats are all black, and they are commonly called black panthers.
This noble animal has unusually long teeth that serve a useful purpose while hunting. When this big cat bites down on the head of its prey, the teeth puncture the brain and kill the animal quickly. The teeth also can puncture the shells of turtles. The jaguar is not considered to be endangered, but it is listed as being a “near threatened” species.
6. Harp Seal
- Latin name: Pagophilus groenlandicus
- Habitat: Parts of the Arctic Ocean and northern Atlantic Ocean
- Size: Up to 309 pounds
- Diet: Many species of fish and invertebrates
- Colorful feature: These beautiful seals are named for the dark, harp-shaped markings on their silvery grey coats. Very young seals have white coats while adolescents have silvery coats with irregular black spots.
The harp seal population is usually fairly large, although it has fluctuated from as much as nine million to as few as one million. Much of that is due to seal hunting. Inuit peoples hunt the seals primarily for food. Non-Inuit people from Norway, Canada, Greenland, and Russia typically hunt the seals for commercial purposes. Now there are government-established quotas to ensure that harp seals are not overhunted.
- Latin name: Giraffa genus
- Habitat: Savannas and woodlands in scattered areas of Africa
- Size: Males are up to about 3,000 pounds; females are up to 1,500 pounds
- Diet: Fruits, flowers, and leaves of tall plants, mainly acacia trees
- Colorful feature: Giraffes are known for their striking coats. They’re marked with irregular brownish spots that are lined with pale tan.
Scientists originally thought all giraffes belonged to the same species. But now, genetic analysis has determined that there are actually different species of giraffes. All giraffe species are considered to be vulnerable to extinction. Their long necks allow them to forage at much higher altitudes than most animals; they can be up to 18.7 feet tall!
8. Snow Leopard
- Latin name: Panthera uncia
- Habitat: Mountainous areas of South Asia and Central Asia
- Size: Between 49 and 121 pounds
- Diet: Various mammals including Himalayan blue sheep and wild goats
- Colorful feature: These beautiful big cats have stunning whitish grey coats. They are marked with black spots and rosettes. Their eyes are especially beautiful; they are pale grey or greenish.
The snow leopard is easily one of the most magical-looking big cats. From its silvery coat to its soft bluish eyes to its dark-lined rosettes, it’s truly unforgettable. Unfortunately, its population has been in decline due to poaching and habitat destruction. Thanks to its unusual beauty, the snow leopard has been featured on several different seals and coats of arms in Asia. At one point, it was even pictured on currency in Kazakhstan. And in some cases, it even is used as a political symbol.
- Latin name: Equus Hippotigris (Hippotigris is a subgenus)
- Habitat: Many different habitat types in eastern and southern Africa
- Size: Up to about 1,000 pounds
- Diet: Various types of vegetation
- Colorful feature: Zebras are marked in black and white stripes that somewhat resemble tiger stripes. Like a fingerprint, each pattern of stripes is unique!
Have you ever wondered why zebras have stripes? Nobody knows with 100% certainty, but the majority of research indicates that the stripes may help deter flies from biting. There are three species of zebra: the plains zebra, the mountain zebra, and the Grévy’s zebra. The plains zebra and the mountain zebra live in herds much like wild horses. The Grévy’s zebra is unique in that it lives either alone or in very loosely-grouped herds.
10. Catahoula Leopard Dog
- Latin name: Canis familiaris
- Habitat: Domesticated
- Size: Up to about 110 pounds
- Diet: Dog food suitable for working dogs
- Colorful feature: These dogs come in an impressive range of colors. Some of the most striking ones are blue or red merles. They often have blue or green eyes, and many of them have heterochromia (where each eye is a different color).
These beautiful dogs make good pets. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has classified them as a herding breed. However, this is at odds with the breed’s development; it was originally used for hunting boars. Catahoulas have an excellent herding instinct. They will often surround a herd to keep it within a fairly small area.
11. Tasmanian Devil
- Latin name: Sarcophilus harrisii
- Habitat: Various habitat types in Tasmania and New South Wales, Australia
- Size: Males are about 18 pounds; females are about 13 pounds
- Diet: Various live animals, carrion, and sometimes plants
- Colorful feature: Tasmanian devils are usually dark in appearance. But most have bright white markings on the chest and sometimes on the rump.
These strange animals look kind of like a cross between a rat and a small dog. However, they are carnivorous marsupials. The name is accurate; these animals have an extremely loud, jarring screech. They eat ferociously and have a powerfully unpleasant odor. Currently, the Tasmanian devil is classified as an endangered species.
12. Mantled Guereza
- Latin name: Colobus guereza
- Habitat: Various forested areas of west-central and eastern Africa
- Size: Males are up to about 30 pounds; females are up to about 20 pounds
- Diet: Mostly fruit and leaves, although it eats other types of food, too
- Colorful feature: This beautiful monkey almost looks like it’s wearing a flowing robe of black and white. There is a long fringe of white hair, called a “mantle,” on either side of the spine.
The mantled guereza might not be the best-known monkey species, but it’s easily one of the most beautiful. Thanks to its high-contrast black-and-white coat, it’s often called the “Abyssinian black-and-white colobus,” the “eastern black-and-white colobus,” or just as the “guereza.” There are several different subspecies, each of which looks a little different.
13. Crowned Sifaka
- Latin name: Propithecus coronatus
- Habitat: Forests of northwestern Madagascar
- Size: Up to about 11 pounds
- Diet: Flowers, fruits, and leaves
- Colorful feature: These beautiful monkeys have coats that look like they’re an airbrushed medley of cream, black, and golden brown.
Madagascar is full of brilliantly colorful animals. Many are birds and reptiles, but as you can see, the crowned sifaka is one of the island’s more colorful mammals. It has a cream-colored body with light brown markings that seem to fade into the rest of the coat. And of course, it has a “crown” of black hair on the head. The one in the picture is a baby with bright blue eyes.
14. Red Panda
- Latin name: Ailurus fulgens
- Habitat: Forested areas in southwestern China and the eastern Himalayas
- Size: Usually between 7 and 13 pounds
- Diet: Includes bamboo, fruit, birds, small mammals, acorns, blossoms, and eggs
- Colorful feature: The red panda has a rich, red upper body with white markings on the face and ears. Its legs and the tip of the tail are black.
The red panda looks a lot different from the giant panda most of us picture when we think of a panda. This animal looks kind of like a mixture of a bear and a red fox. Genetic analysis has shown that it is closely related to skunks, raccoons, and weasels. It is classified as an endangered species, and habitat destruction is one of the major causes of its declining population.
15. Clouded Leopard
- Latin name: Neofelis nebulosa
- Habitat: Forested areas between the foothills of the Himalayas and southern China
- Size: Between 25 and 51 pounds
- Diet: Various types of forest vertebrates
- Colorful feature: This big cat’s name comes from its markings. They are an ash-like, greyish brown, and their irregular shapes look like clouds.
Not to be confused with the snow leopard, the clouded leopard is another of the stunningly beautiful big cats in the world. Its large markings look like oddly-shaped rosettes, and it has large, especially expressive eyes. Unfortunately, the clouded leopard population has been in decline for some time, and these cats are now listed as being vulnerable to extinction.
16. Blue Roan Mustang
- Latin name: Equus ferus caballus
- Habitat: Open areas in the western United States
- Size: Usually between 14-16 hands high
- Diet: Various types of vegetation
- Colorful feature: Mustangs come in many colors, and the blue roan is one of the most striking. These unique horses have coats of black and white. The black and white hairs are mixed together so the horses look blue from a distance. The legs, heads, manes, and tails are black.
The mustang has long been an iconic symbol of the American West. And while many of us call them “wild horses,” they are technically feral. That’s because mustangs descended from Spanish horses brought to America who escaped or were turned loose. Over time, various other breeds intermingled with the population, so different mustang bands will often look more like other horse breeds.
17. Golden Lion Tamarin
- Latin name: Leontopithecus rosalia
- Habitat: Forests on the Atlantic coast of Brazil
- Size: Less than 2 pounds
- Diet: Nectar, bird eggs, fruits, nectar, flowers, small vertebrates, and insects
- Colorful feature: These tiny monkeys have magnificent, flowing golden coats. They have lion-like “manes” surrounding their hairless faces.
This little monkey is sometimes called the golden marmoset. It has an interesting way of keeping itself safe from predators; each night, it chooses a different sleeping den. That way, it leaves less scent behind, making it harder for predators to locate it. The golden lion tamarin also has a structured feeding schedule: in the morning it feeds on fruit, but it switches to insects later on.
18. Cross Fox
- Latin name: Vulpes vulpes
- Habitat: Various habitat types across a range of nearly 27 million square miles in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa; it has been introduced in Australia as well
- Size: Usually between 5 and 31 pounds
- Diet: Mostly small rodents, but they will eat other animals and sometimes fruit
- Colorful feature: The cross fox is a red fox with a rare, partially melanistic coloring. It is largely red, with a wide black stripe down the back. Another black stripe crosses the shoulders, forming what looks like a black cross.
The red fox comes in an impressive array of color morphs. This is one of them. You can also find red foxes with grey, blackish-brown, silver, platinum, amber, or “Samson” (woolly with no guard hairs) coats. The cross fox is not as common as the traditional red color, but it is more common than the darker silver fox.
19. Malayan Colugo
- Latin name: Galeopterus variegatus
- Habitat: Forests in Southeast Asia
- Size: Up to about 3 pounds
- Diet: Mostly leaves
- Colorful feature: This unusual arboreal creature has a coat that looks a bit like that of a chinchilla; there is some mottling of grey and white. There are a few patches of bright skin on the face, too.
This odd-looking little animal is often called a “flying lemur.” Like other gliding animals (including sugar gliders), it is able to stretch out and glide from branch to branch. It does this with a “patagium,” or “flying membrane.” This membrane is a kite-like skin that reaches from the body out to the tips of its fingers and toes.
20. Turkmenian Markhor
- Latin name: Capra falconeri heptneri
- Habitat: Various parts of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and some parts of Afghanistan
- Size: Usually between 71 and 243 pounds
- Diet: Various plant matter
- Colorful feature: While not especially bright, these animals have interesting patterning: black dorsal stripes, white socks, and grey-brown coats.
This animal is classified as a caprine, or “goat-antelope.” It has large, twisted horns that immediately catch the eye. Males have long, silky manes of pale hair on the neck. Unfortunately, markhors are becoming rarer and rarer. They are currently classified as an endangered species.
21. Iberian Lynx
- Latin name: Lynx pardinus
- Habitat: Various habitat types on the Iberian Peninsula
- Size: Males are up to 35 pounds; females are up to 22 pounds
- Diet: Primarily European rabbits
- Colorful feature: These striking cats have a grey-tan base coat covered in black spots. They have large black, tufted ears and short tails with black tips.
This lynx looks decidedly different from other lynx species. One unique feature is the white ruff of fur beneath the cheeks and chin. It often looks like two sharp, upside-down triangles. The Iberian lynx is an endangered species that has been threatened by diseases in its prey, loss of habitat, illegal hunting, and accidents on the road.
22. Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey
- Latin name: Rhinopithecus roxellana
- Habitat: Mountain forests in central and southwestern China
- Size: Up to about 36 pounds
- Diet: Mostly lichens, although it is an omnivore that eats other foods as well
- Colorful feature: These monkeys are often tawny-colored, but their fur becomes a darker, more intense gold up toward their faces. The bright fur contrasts sharply with the darker skin around the eyes.
You may have been surprised to see that so many of the world’s most colorful animals are monkeys. This endangered monkey has a very small range in China, and you may have heard it referred to by its Chinese name, the Sichuan golden hair monkey. Most of its population decline comes from the loss of its habitat.
23. Greater Kudu
- Latin name: Tragelaphus strepsiceros
- Habitat: Woodlands in eastern and southern Africa
- Size: Males are up to 600 pounds; females are up to 460 pounds
- Diet: Mostly leaves, grass, roots, and fruit
- Colorful feature: Both male and female greater kudus have reddish coats with thin, off-white stripes crossing the back. Males have silky beards and very distinctive dark, twisting horns.
This large, deer-like animal is one of the more unusual creatures on the list. It’s considered to be a “woodland antelope,” although it is larger and heavier than many antelopes. If their horns look familiar, there might be a reason why: greater kudu horns are often used to make Shofars. These are the ritual horns used on the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.
24. Siamese Cat
- Latin name: Felis catus
- Habitat: Domestic
- Size: Usually between 7 and 11 pounds
- Diet: Domestic cat food
- Colorful feature: Siamese cats are famous for their “point coloring.” That means that the body is a lighter color, but the ears, muzzle, feet, and tail are dark. The most common color is the seal point, a cream-colored cat with seal brown points. Siamese cats also have blue eyes that make them especially stunning.
Thus far, we’ve included several colorful wildcats on the list. But domestic cats can be colorful, too! Many of us know what a Siamese cat looks like. But did you know that, as one of the oldest cat breeds, the Siamese has been foundational stock for many newer breeds of domestic cats?
- Latin name: Dasyurus genus
- Habitat: Various habitat types in Australia and New Guinea
- Size: Up to about 15 pounds
- Diet: Mostly live mammals, although it will eat carrion
- Colorful feature: Though there are different species of quolls, many of them are spotted. As you can see in the picture, this usually means they have white spots on a darker base coat.
Quolls look a bit like Tasmanian devils. They are also carnivorous marsupials. Some species of quolls have had their populations reduced by eating poisonous animals; the highly toxic cane toad has killed many northern quolls.
26. Red-Shanked Douc
- Latin name: Pygathrix nemaeus
- Habitat: Forested areas of Vietnam, Laos, Indochina, and parts of Cambodia
- Size: Males are up to 24 pounds; females are up to 18.6 pounds
- Diet: Mostly high-fiber leaves
- Colorful feature: This one may well be the most colorful primate! As you likely got from the name, it has red legs. The face is yellow, and much of the rest of the body is mottled in grey, white, and black.
At first glance, the red-shanked douc looks like a figurine or a plush toy; it doesn’t even look real. It has a kind-looking face and behavior to match. Unlike many monkey species, this one has been seen breaking off pieces of food and handing them to other monkeys in a group. Conservation is critical for the survival of this incredible animal, as it is considered to be critically endangered. Much of the threat to its population has come from hunting; these creatures are often hunted for food and use in alternative medicine.
27. Arctic Marble Fox
- Latin name: Cross red and silver Vulpes vulpes
- Habitat: Domestic
- Size: Between 5 and 31 pounds
- Diet: Dry dog food or various types of meat
- Colorful feature: These foxes have striking coats that are usually primarily white. They are “marbled” with other colors, including red and silver.
The Arctic marble fox has an exotic-sounding name, but it isn’t actually from the Arctic. It’s a cross between a silver fox and a red fox, both of which are different color varieties of the red fox. Marble foxes don’t occur in the wild; they are bred by humans. But do your research before keeping one as a pet! Having a pet fox is much, much different than having a cat or dog.
- Latin name: Macrotis genus
- Habitat: Various habitat types throughout Australia
- Size: Up to about 8 pounds
- Diet: Very small animals, fruit, fungi, insects, and similar foods
- Colorful feature: The silky, shiny coat of the bilby is certainly eye-catching. The exact coloration varies depending on species. But as you can see in the picture, many have glossy coats with dark markings.
Many of the animals on this list look at least somewhat familiar or recognizable. The bilby isn’t likely to be familiar to most people. It’s a marsupial sometimes called a “rabbit-bandicoot” for its rabbit-like appearance. The bilby is currently endangered in Australia, but the government has put forth several programs to help conserve and protect them.
29. Pseudomelanistic Zebra
- Latin name: Equus Hippotigris
- Habitat: Various habitats in eastern and southern Africa
- Size: Up to about 1,000 pounds
- Diet: Different types of plants
- Colorful feature: Though these animals are zebras, pseudomelanistic zebras have markedly different coats. That’s because of a genetic mutation that causes the white markings to become spots instead of stripes.
These zebras are fairly rare, and their mutation puts them more at risk for biting flies than striped zebras. And sometimes, when a pseudomelanistic zebra is born, it ends up making headlines. That was the case with Tira, a pseudomelanistic zebra foal spotted within Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
30. Common Dolphin
- Latin name: Delphinus delphis
- Habitat: Warm-temperate and tropical waters in several oceans around the world.
- Size: Up to about 518 pounds
- Diet: Various types of fish and squid
- Colorful feature: These striking dolphins have dark backs marked by an hourglass pattern on each side. The hourglass can be yellow, gold, or light grey at the front.
The name “common dolphin” might make you think that this creature is the same as the bottlenose dolphin. But even though fewer people have likely heard of it, it is the most abundant of all dolphins, whales, and porpoises. Their population is not listed as being threatened, but these dolphins have somewhat declining numbers since they often are caught along with large nets of fish.
31. African Wild Dog
- Latin name: Lycaon pictus
- Habitat: Scattered ranges across sub-Saharan Africa
- Size: Up to about 55 pounds
- Diet: Almost entirely meat, but it may sometimes eat other foods
- Colorful feature: If you take a good look at one of these dogs, you will realize that the coloring pattern looks a lot like that of a calico cat. There are large orangish and black patches along with some white markings.
The colors on these wild dogs are truly spectacular. But unfortunately, since 1990, they have been considered an endangered species. Disease, interference by humans, and habitat destruction are three of the main causes of the population decline.
32. Cotton-Top Tamarin
- Latin name: Saguinus oedipus
- Habitat: Forested parts of northwestern Colombia
- Size: Up to about 1 pound
- Diet: Largely insects and fluid that leaks from plants
- Colorful feature: These colorful small monkeys have bright white bellies and a shock of white hair at the top of the head (hence the name). Their backs are a deep chestnut brown that pops against the white.
As we’ve seen on the list so far, tamarins are among the most colorful monkeys! The cotton-top tamarin is one of the smallest of all primates. It is listed as being critically endangered, as it only has 5% of its original habitat. It’s believed that there may be as few as 6,000 cotton-top tamarins left in the wild.
33. Siberian Tiger
- Latin name: Panthera tigris tigris
- Habitat: Various habitats in the far east of Russia and northeast China
- Size: Males are up to 675 pounds; females are up to 368 pounds
- Diet: Often deer-like animals, although they will eat small bears and even very small prey like rabbits
- Colorful feature: These tigers have bright orange to rust-colored base coats that are marked by striking black stripes. Their chests and bellies are usually white.
You might sometimes hear the Siberian tiger called the “Amur tiger.” It is a critically endangered species, and it’s estimated that there are only a few hundred remaining in the wild. Habitat loss is one of the main reasons it is endangered, although lack of prey animals and the presence of poaching are also risky.
- Latin name: Orcinus orca
- Habitat: Many different marine environments across the world; they are found in every sea except the Black Sea, Baltic Sea, and some areas of the Arctic Ocean
- Size: Males up to 6 tons; females up to 4 tons
- Diet: Some groups mostly eat fish; others eat marine mammals
- Colorful feature: The high-contrast patterning of the orca makes it one of the easiest mammals on the list to recognize.
Orcas are sometimes called “wolves of the sea.” They are apex predators that enjoy hunting in packs. Many orcas like to eat larger types of salmon like Chinook salmon. Orcas that mostly eat marine mammals tend to prefer to eat smaller whales of other species.
- Latin name: Nasua or Nasuella genus
- Habitat: Various habitats in parts of Mexico, Central America, the southwestern United States, and South America
- Size: Usually between 4.4 and 17.6 pounds
- Diet: Mostly fruit, invertebrates, and ground litter
- Colorful feature: Since “coati” can refer to an animal from either genus, colors will vary between individuals and species. Some coatis have ringed tails almost like raccoons. And as you can see in the picture, they may sometimes have patterns of light and dark colors.
The coati is one of the more unusual creatures on the list. It looks a bit like a mix of a raccoon and a monkey, and it has a long, turned-up nose that looks like that of a pig. For that reason, it is sometimes called a “hog-nosed raccoon.” Coatis are versatile creatures that are at home in the rainforest, on the slopes of a mountain, or in grasslands.
36. Knabstrupper Horse
- Latin name: Equus ferus caballus
- Habitat: Domesticated
- Size: Usually 15.2-16 hands, but ponies (those 14.2 hands and under) can also be found
- Diet: Commercial horse feed, grass
- Colorful feature: These horses have beautifully spotted coats. The base color is white, and there can be just a few dark spots up to hundreds!
The Knabstrupper, a Danish horse breed, can often be recognized by its smattering of dark spots. The spots are caused by a genetic mutation called the “leopard complex.” This is similar to the genetic background of Appaloosa horses, although Appaloosas and Knabstruppers developed independently of one another. But many people don’t realize that not all Knabstruppers have this striking coloration. Sometimes, one of these beautiful horses is born a completely solid color. There are also many color variants between spotted and solid.
- Latin name: Leopardus pardalis
- Habitat: Forests, swamps, and savannas from the southwestern United States to Argentina
- Size: Usually between 17.6 and 34.2 pounds
- Diet: Usually primates, reptiles, crustaceans, or other available prey types
- Colorful feature: The ocelot is one of the most beautifully marked big cats in the world. Its coat is marked with stripes, bands, and rosettes that form an intricate pattern. Usually, this pattern is colored with yellow, black, rust, cream, or similar colors.
Though the ocelot is certainly bigger than your average housecat, it’s also a lot smaller than jaguars, lions, and other big cats. It has occasionally been kept as a pet, although captive ocelots are best left to those with experience handling wild cats. The ocelot is currently not listed as being threatened or vulnerable. However, loss of habitat, road accidents, and poaching have all taken a toll on this cat throughout its range.
38. South African Oryx
- Latin name: Oryx gazella
- Habitat: Arid parts of southern Africa
- Size: Males can be up to 530 pounds; females can be up to 460 pounds
- Diet: Mostly grass, although it will also dig up tubers to eat and eat fruits and vegetables
- Colorful feature: While they aren’t extremely bright in color, these animals have stunning and unique patterning. They are often mostly taupe in color with prominent black and white markings. Their tall, slender black horns make them magnificent sights to behold!
This unusual animal, sometimes called the gemsbok, is commonly targeted by hunters for its horns. Both males and females have horns, but the females have longer, thinner horns. That makes them somewhat of an outlier in the antelope world; males are usually the more desirable trophies, but females of this species are often seen as more valuable trophies. The horns can be up to 33 inches long, and they can be made into natural trumpets.
- Latin name: Okapia johnstoni
- Habitat: Northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Size: Up to about 770 pounds
- Diet: Various vegetation, fruits, and fungi
- Colorful feature: This distinctive animal has a coat that is largely a deep red brown to seal brown. The rump and legs have brown, zebra-like stripes on a white undercoat.
The okapi is one of the strangest animals on the list. It looks a little like the mixture of a zebra and a giraffe. Fittingly, one of its common names is “zebra giraffe.” It is also commonly called a Congolese giraffe or a forest giraffe. But even though it looks like both of these animals, the okapi is more closely related to the giraffe. In fact, it and the giraffe are the only surviving members of the family Giraffidae.
- Latin name: Chinchilla genus
- Habitat: Various habitats across the Andes mountains in South America
- Size: Usually about 1-3 pounds
- Diet: Mostly plants, seeds, fruits, and insects
- Colorful feature: These soft, velvety creatures are often some shade of silvery grey. But in captivity, they have been bred to be a range of colors, including black, white, blue, brown, or even violet (a purple-blue color).
Chinchilla fur is beautiful and soft enough to use in high-end clothing. A lot of that is because the chinchilla has the densest fur of any animal living on land. The name “chinchilla” comes from the Chincha people who lived in the Andes and wore the animal’s fur.
- Latin name: Antilocapra americana
- Habitat: Open areas in central and western North America
- Size: Males are up to 143 pounds; females are up to 106 pounds
- Diet: Largely flowering plants, shrubs, grasses, and cacti
- Colorful feature: As you can see in the photo, the pronghorn has a unique and striking pattern of red-orange and white. The male’s pronged horns are black, just like the nose.
This light, athletic-looking antelope is sometimes called the American antelope, pronghorn antelope, prong buck, or prairie antelope. Based on what they look like, you might imagine that pronghorns are closely related to impalas and similar-looking animals. But in reality, their closest living relatives are the okapi and the giraffe. It’s also the symbol of the American Society of Mammologists.
- Latin name: Cuon alpinus
- Habitat: Various habitat types in many parts of Asia
- Size: Females are up to 37 pounds; males are up to 46 pounds
- Diet: Mostly various hooved animals, although they will also eat berries, insects, and smaller animals
- Colorful feature: At first glance, the reddish color of the dhole might make you think it’s a red fox. This animal usually has a white belly and chest, while the tail turns gradually darker.
It might look like a fox or a wolf, but the dhole is more properly described as a wild dog. You might hear it called the Asiatic wild dog, Indian wild dog, Asian wild dog, red dog, whistling dog, or mountain wolf. Though it was once prevalent across much of the world, the dhole has now become an endangered species. Experts estimate that there could be as few as 2,500 individuals left in the wild.
43. Akhal-Teke Horse
- Latin name: Equus ferus caballus
- Habitat: Domesticated; developed in Turkmenistan
- Size: Usually between 14.2 and 16 hands
- Diet: Commercial horse feed, grass
- Colorful feature: The Akhal-Teke horse comes in a few striking colors, many of which are unusually glossy. The one in the photo is a golden palomino. This particular color looks genuinely metallic, especially alongside the horse’s flaxen mane and tail!
If you’re looking for an intelligent sporthorse, an Akhal-Teke may be a good choice. These lithe animals can travel long distances in the desert with very little water, making them ideal for endurance races. They are also graceful jumpers. So it’s no wonder that this breed played an important role in the development of the Thoroughbred and many warmblood breeds.
44. Ring-Tailed Lemur
- Latin name: Lemur catta
- Habitat: Forested areas of southern Madagascar
- Size: Usually around 5 pounds
- Diet: Many different plant species, although it sometimes will eat insects and small vertebrates
- Colorful feature: These striking animals have long, bushy tails banded in black and white. Their faces are a study in contrast; the facial hair is white, the skin around the eyes is near-black, and the eyes themselves are deep, intense yellow.
The ring-tailed lemur is what most of us picture when we imagine a lemur. But it has some unusual behaviors compared to other primates. The entire species is female-dominant, but males are often still somewhat aggressive toward one another. Males will often have “stink fights.” This is where they mark their own tails with a highly unpleasant odor from a scent gland and then wave the tails at each other. This striking species is classified as endangered in the wild, but it breeds readily in captivity.
45. Short-Beaked Echidna
- Latin name: Tachyglossus aculeatus
- Habitat: Most habitat types across Australia
- Size: Usually from 4-15 pounds
- Diet: Largely ants and termites
- Colorful feature: Probably the most colorful thing about the short-beaked echidna is the contrast between the fur and spines. The fur is usually dark brownish, while the prominent spines are off-white or yellowish.
Like the platypus, the short-beaked echidna is a monotreme, meaning it’s a mammal that lays eggs. Females lay one egg per year. It does seem reminiscent of a porcupine. While it cannot release its spines, it is able to curl into a ball so the spines face outward in whorls. That way, it may be able to deter would-be predators.
- Latin name: Tragelaphus eurycerus
- Habitat: Tropical jungles within small ranges in Africa
- Size: Males are up to almost 900 pounds; females are up to 518 pounds
- Diet: Shrubs, bark, grasses, and other plant matter
- Colorful feature: These lovely antelopes are a glossy, coppery chestnut in color. They have a distinctive ridge on the back, and whitish lines go down each side of the body while crossing that ridge.
You probably think of a type of drum when you hear “bongo.” But a bongo is also a distinctive-looking antelope. It is classified as being near threatened. Part of that may be because local people are more likely to hunt bongo than before. One superstition holds that if someone eats or otherwise touches a bongo, they will develop seizures.
- Latin name: Myrmecobius fasciatus
- Habitat: Forests in western Australia
- Size: Up to 1.5 pounds
- Diet: Almost entirely termites
- Colorful feature: These unique little animals have reddish or greyish bodies. But their white stripes across the rump and back are what set them apart from many other forest animals. They also have a small amount of black and off-white patterning on the face.
The numbat is often called the walpurti or noombat. It looks kind of like a chipmunk mixed with a rat, but it is actually a tiny marsupial. It is classified as an endangered species in Australia, but new reserves and conservation efforts seem to be helping the population to slowly build back up.
48. Texas Longhorn
- Latin name: Bos primigenius
- Habitat: Domesticated
- Size: Bulls are usually up to 2,200 pounds; cows are up to 1,400 pounds
- Diet: Mostly grasses and other vegetation
- Colorful feature: These striking cattle are among the most colorful breeds in the world. Most of them have coats involving some level of patterning of white and darker colors. The most common pattern includes red and white like the cow in the picture.
Texas Longhorns are among the most colorful and imposing of all cattle. Both cows and bulls can have horns measuring up to eight feet from tip to tip. Though once raised for beef, they are now usually kept for conservation purposes or bred for show. Sometimes, they are used in steer riding.
- Latin name: Monodon monoceros
- Habitat: Parts of the Arctic Ocean around Canada, Greenland, and Russia
- Size: Usually from 1,760-3,530 pounds
- Diet: Mostly cod and halibut species
- Colorful feature: These whales usually have a whitish base color. They have an eye-catching, spotted pattern that is grey to slate blue in color.
The narwhal is one of the stranger-looking marine mammals. Lots of people think it has a long horn. However, that “horn” is actually an extremely long canine tooth (or tusk). To this day, Inuit peoples still hunt narwhal for subsistence. At one point, narwhals were believed to be near threatened, but a recent survey of the existing population found that this was not the case.
50. South American Tapir
- Latin name: Tapirus terrestris
- Habitat: Throughout the Amazon Basin
- Size: Between 330 and 710 pounds
- Diet: Seeds, fruit, leaves, grasses, and other plant matter
- Colorful feature: Adult tapirs are solid-colored. But as you can see in the picture, baby tapirs have coats marked with interesting patterns of white spots and stripes.
Currently, this odd-looking animal is classified as being vulnerable to extinction. It is still poached for its hide and meat. That fact, combined with the gradual destruction of its habitat, likely explains why its population continues to decline.
51. De Brazza’s Monkey
- Latin name: Cercopithecus neglectus
- Habitat: River and swamp forests in central Africa
- Size: Males are about 15 pounds; females are about 9 pounds
- Diet: Mostly plants and fruit, although it will also eat insects
- Colorful feature: Part of what makes these monkeys stand out is their agouti hair. This means each hair has individual bands of color. These monkeys also have white beards and orange-yellow crescents above the face.
The De Brazza’s monkey is elusive, and it seems to be quite good at hiding from both predators and researchers. That means there isn’t a whole lot of knowledge of it. Even the last part of the scientific name, neglectus, refers to its ability to hide. “Neglectus” means “to not pay attention to.”
52. American Paint Horse
- Latin name: Equus ferus caballus
- Habitat: Domesticated
- Size: Usually from 14-16 hands
- Diet: Commercial horse feed, grass
- Colorful feature: As you might guess from the name, the American Paint Horse has coloration with patches of white and a darker color, making the horse look “painted.” If two paint-colored horses have a solid-colored foal, the foal can still be registered as a breeding stock paint.
Though the breed’s name makes a reference to the color of the horse, the American Paint Horse is also built like a stock horse. The breed was formed mainly from spotted horses of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse ancestry.
Nature’s Most Colorful Mammals
So there you have them. From household pets to monkeys in the jungle, there are lots of bright mammals out there. The next time you visit a zoo, go outside, or even come back to your own pet, take a moment to appreciate the color that mammals bring to us all!