What Is the Strongest Animal?

(Last Updated On: March 3, 2021)
Fight me. And lose.

You might have wondered what the strongest animal is. Maybe more so if you’ve been required to be cooped up inside for almost an entire year and your body is literally wasting away and atrophying with every passing moment. The point is, there are a lot of animals that are stronger than you. They’d probably still be stronger even if you weren’t stuck inside all day. But that’s a crisis for another time. What is the strongest animal?

Further Reading: What Is the Fastest Animal?

Feats of Strength

If you read the post about fast animals, you know defining what it means to be a “fast” animal is important, and we have to take the feats of any animal within context. It’s a lot more impressive for an ant to lift a car than it is for a gorilla, for example. Not that ants can lift cars. Your terrarium isn’t going 

It’s a little more complicated for animals too. Some animals might not be able to lift a car, but they can definitely crush just about anything in its jaws. Biting down on something works differently than crushing it in your hands, and much more so when you’re trying to lift it or carry it. We can even throw speed into the mix. It takes a lot of strength to push yourself off the ground to launch yourself forward, but other animals make use of gravity to gain speed. The latter might go faster, but it also has more forces working in its favor. 

Anyway, determining what’s the strongest is complicated but we’ll do our best to pick out some still super impressive ones.

The Nile Crocodile

Let’s start with the jaw. The average human can bite down with about 126-162 pounds per square inch (psi), which is nothing to scoff at. We can crush seeds and all that. The human jaw is designed in an efficient enough manner to bite down with up to 1,300 Newtons of force–which is stronger than some other primates. The great white shark can bite down with 18,000 Newtons (in simulations). 

This brings us to the Nile crocodile, which can bite down with over 22,000 Newtons. Don’t get stuck in there. 

It might be a little nicer to know that the muscles responsible for opening crocodile jaws are actually quite weak–especially when you consider how long their snouts are. Torque isn’t really working in their favor. Try holding a long stick out and lift it with your arm fully extended. Harder than if you were to just pick it up from the middle. Because of this, you can pin a crocodile’s mouth shut with your bare hands, as you’ve probably seen on TV. Might not be great to try though.

Also, Nile crocodiles boast impressive biting force relative to their size. Using the bite force quotient (BFQ), we can compare the strength of an animal’s bite to its mass. After all, you being able to crunch on a soda can is probably more impressive than a massive multi-thousand pound great white. Great whites have a BFQ of ~160 for reference, which makes the Nile crocodiles ~440 BFQ quite impressive. 

The Dung Beetle

Modern Sisyphus.

Normally you see ants as some bastion of insect strength. Carpenter ants can lift things tens of times their own weight, which is nothing to just dismiss. A rhinoceros beetle can throw things around over 800 times its own weight.

But the dung beetle is on a new level. It can push dung balls over 1,140 times its own weight. The global average body weight is about 136 pounds. That’s like you pushing 155,040 pounds. That’s like pushing two fire trucks with your bare hands.

Now imagine if that was poop, because that’s the life of a dung beetle.

The Mantis Shrimp

We’ve had the mantis shrimp appear on the blog before, and that’s because they’re quite impressive animals. The mantis shrimp can punch with 1,500 Newtons of force–3,059 times its own weight. It’s a different kind of strength from pushing a big Sisyphean poo ball up a hill. 

Their punching arms move so fast mantis shrimp punches create a low pressure area that forms an air bubble underwater. Of course, that bubble implodes almost instantly, which releases a lot of energy when it does. It’s called a cavitation bubble. How fast does the mantis shrimp arm move? Well whole punch occurs in under 80 microseconds–50 times faster than your eye blinks.

So faster than you can blink, a mantis shrimp can literally create a bomb with their fists underwater. They literally punch crabs in half. That’s pretty darn strong. 

Anyway we’ve talked about crocodiles so see if you can’t identify other reptiles here.



About Kyler 706 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.