Claws are the secret weapons of many animals which they use for digging, climbing, grasping, piercing, finding food, and protecting themselves from predators.
In this article, we shall look at animals with different types of claws such as sharp claws, long claws, and retractable claws, their benefits as well as their needs with pictures .
Among many types, retractable claws are amazing as they play significant roles and are possessed by big cats and carnivores.
Animals With Sharp Claws
Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja)
A harpy eagle, also known as the American harpy eagle, royal-hawk (In Brazil), is a powerful eagle and also the largest extant species of eagles in the world belongs to the family Accipitridae and are found in South America, Brazil, French Guiana, Colombia, Venezuela, northeast Argentina and others.
The harpy eagle is equipped with the largest talons among the currently living eagle that is about 4 inches long. Its powerful and large claws are capable of crushing the skull and bones of prey quickly. Through its strong claws, It can lift the bigger prey weighing more than their own weights.
Its large claws can be comparable to the claws of a grizzly bear, and power exerted through its claws can be comparable to the jaws of a Rottweiler dog.
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
The golden eagle is a raptor that belongs to the family Accipitridae and is found in Mexico, Alaska, Asia, North America, northern Africa, Europe, and other regions of the world.
These majestic eagles have about 3 inches long talons that are relatively smaller than a Harpy eagle and longer than a bald eagle. Using these sharp and large claws along with their powerful feet and massive they can snatch up prey in the air, water, or land, especially,Its sharp claws helpful in catching fishes and snakes as it provides a great grip on slippery bodies of a fish and snakes.
You should have thick gloves while handling these eagles as their talons can exert a great amount that could pierce through your hands easily.
How do they use and attack through claws:
The following table shows the pressure excreted by the talons psi(pounds per square inch) on its prey.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
The bald eagle is a american bird of prey, similar to the other eagles it also belongs to the same family Accipitridae and is found in North America, Alaska, and other places. Interestingly, Bald eagles are called so because the adults have white-colored feathers on their head.
A bald eagle has gray-colored talons when they are very young that later turn into black colors upon reaching maturity. Thus they will get black colored talon that is about 2 inches longer. On each foot there are four talons, A forward-pointing toe is called hallux which is the longer talon than other talons, while the other three talons point backward in direction.
Female Bald eagles have longer hallux talons than the males of bald eagles.
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
A great horned owl, also known as the tiger owl, or the hoot owl, is a nocturnal predatory bird and also a relatively large owl species found from the Arctic to South America and other places.
They have large, powerful, and fully feathered feet that are equipped with long and sharp talons for grabbing and killing the prey instantly. Its talons are about 4 inches long with a dark gray that can exert about 300-pound per square inch that is comparable to the force exerted by an adult human hand.
Its talons are its secret weapons. For example, the female of a great horned owl has gripping power that can be comparable to those of the golden eagle.
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
A barn owl, also known as the common barn owl is a nocturnal raptor in the family Tytonidae and is distributed in a wide region of the world except polar and other regions.
The barn owls have two powerful feathered feet, each with four long toes, sharp talons that are about 3 inches in length that are long enough to catch the hidden prey under the grasses. Its feathered feet guard its foot against cold and biting prey such as snakes.
During attacking prey its toes and talons spread away from each other so that they can increase the probability of catching and gripping its prey.
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
The red-tailed hawk, also known as buzzard hawks, or red hawks, is a raptor species of hawk in the family Accipitridae that is found in North America, Central America, Alaska, Canada, Panama, West Indies.
These hawk species have strong feet with each bearing four toes with talons, 3 pointing backward and one pointing forward. It has sharp and long talons of about 1-2 inches in length.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
A peregrine falcon is also called the peregrine, or duck hawk(North America), is a fast-flying bird among the other species of birds and other species of animals. It belongs to the family falconidae and is usually distributed all over the world except Antarctica.
During the flight, they attack their prey through their powerful beak and talons in the air. Its sharp, curved, and long talons can snatch up flying prey, usually birds, while catching them firmly in its talons if it is smaller to carry in mid-air.
Falcons fly rapidly to gain enough momentum to impart knockout blows against flying prey, especially if it is larger than itself.
The osprey, also known as the sea hawk, river hawk, or fish hawk, is a piscivorous bird of prey (fish-eating bird of prey) in the family Pandionidae that are found in the Indian Subcontinent, Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, and the Americas.
Ospreys have sharp talons with pointed ends adapted to pierce through the bodies of prey, especially into a fish body. They have specialized feet for holding fishes firmly along with claws that are more curved than any raptors.
Interestingly, Among four toes, one of its toes is reversible, where its two toes grasp in forward and the remaining two toes are in the backward direction.
Osprey toes have micro spines or spicules below their toe surfaces that can provide enough grip against slippery fishes.
Bats are nocturnal mammals adapted for different diets such as omnivorous, carnivorous, while all of them belong to the order Chiroptera. These are distributed in almost every place such as trees, caves, bridges where there is darkness.
They have sharp claws that are enough to attach themselves to the branches and trunks of a tree, walls, even to the cave rocks. Its claws are strong enough to bear the whole weight of an adult bat when they are hanged upside-down to rest without the need for extra efforts by them.
Its claws can’t be used to grab prey during flight or in mid-air similar to other birds of prey such as hawks, and eagles.
Animals With Retractable Claws
Siberian tiger(Panthera tigris altaica)
A Siberian tiger, also known as Amur tiger, Manchurian tiger, Korean tiger, or Ussurian tiger, depending upon different locations where it lived, is one of the largest tigers in the world existing today that belongs to the Felidae and is found in Russia, Northeast China, and North Korea.
This large tiger has enormous paws that act like snowshoes in snow regions and is also armored with retractable, sharp, and large talons about 4 inches in length that can be used to grab and hold the prey, scratching on the barks to mark their territories, climbing rocks, and trees, and show dominance.
Male siberian tigers use their claws to defend themselves from other males by showing or even attacking them through their claws.
Lion (Panthera leo)
A lion is a large carnivorous animal in the genus Panthera and family Felidae that is found in sub-Saharan Africa, southern Africa, Tanzania, and other places.
These famously known felines have sharp and long claws about 1.5 inches in length that are hidden inside the fur of the massive paws. As these claws are retractable they can be passively retracted or actively retracted out of its paws while praying. All species of lions sport 18 claws, 5 claws in each forelimb including one that is like a thumb called the dewclaw, and 4 claws in each hindlimb.
Its fearsome and razor-like sharp claws used to firmly grab the prey by digging into the flesh immediately when they came in contact with it.
Cougar (Puma concolor)
A cougar, also known as mountain lion, puma, catamount, or panther, is a wild animal in the family Felidae and is found in the Americas, Canadian Yukon, the southern Andes, and other palaces.
There are 18 claws present in the cougar, 5 claws in each front paws including a dewclaw, and 4 claws in each hindlimb. Each claws are about 1.5 inches long and are retractable.
These claws are helpful in hurting prey and also to firmly hold them as they are sharp and retractable claws.
Domestic Cat (Felis catus)
A cat is a domestic species of small omnivorous with the carnivorous tendency that belongs to the family Felidae and is found throughout the world as they are domesticated by humans for companionship and as pets.
They have five claws in their forelimbs including a dewclaw and four claws in their hindlimbs, thus in total, they have 18 claws. Its claws are retractable, sharp and curved. They use their claws in efficient manners and for many activities when compared to other large wild cats.
They use to catch prey, kill them, fight against predators, and even against herbivorous animals such as pigs to protect their nests and territories.
Interestingly, these sharp claws remain inside their skin folds, and fur while they are playing but stretched outside in need.
A jaguar is a carnivorous species in the family Felidae and is found in South America, Argentina, Brazil, and other places as well.
They have 5 claws in each of its front paw including dewclaw and 4 claws in each hindlimb that altogether make 18 claws in total. Its claws are sharp, curved and about 2 inches long like in many large cats that are useful for preying, gripping, defending, piercing through prey’s flesh, and also for climbing trees as well.
Jaguars use claws to mark their territory and also by its scent marking.
Animals With Long Claws
Giant Armadillo(Priodontes maximus)
The giant armadillo is the largest living species of armadillo in the family Chlamyphoridae and is found in South America, Andes, Argentina, Formosa, Chaco, Salta.
Currently, the giant armadillo is one of the animals with the largest claws about 8 inches that is about 22% of their body length because it has the longest claw-to-body ratio. These sickle-shaped claws are also used to open termite and ant mounds, and other insects.
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
The grizzly bear, also known as the North American brown bear, simply grizzly, is a species of bear in the family Ursidae that is found in Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Southern Colorado, Western Canada, and other places.
These large mammals have long claws about 2-4 inches long, especially those claws in its front paws are relatively longer than its hindlimbs paws. These front claws aid in digging roots, ground squirrels, and penetrating through fruits. These sharp and pointed claws also enable them to catch prey such as fishes as they provide firm grips.
Some claws of Grizzly bears occasionally grow above 4 inches.
Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus)
The sloth bear is a species of bear in the family Ursidae that feeds on termites and ants and is found in Indian subcontinent, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
An adult sloth bear has large, thick, and sickle-shaped, blunt claws about 3 inches long that they primarily use for digging termite and ant mounds. Like other bears these bears can’t climb trees as its claws are less adapted for climbing.
When they encounter predators instead of climbing trees like other bears, it has to face them directly, thus they are adapted to fight against the predators, even against tigers through their claws.
Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
The polar bear is a carnivorous species of bear considered as a marine mammal belonging to the family Ursidae and is found in Arctic Circle, North Pole, Hudson Bay of Manitoba, Canada, Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Greenland.
These giant marine mammals have thick, curved, sharp and long claws about 3.5 inches that is longer than the claws of black bears. In some polar bear claws may exceed above a typical length of about 3.5 inches. These claws are used for penetrating ice surfaces from below or above and for climbing on ice land, ice surfaces, or icebergs, gasping and walking or running.
Its thick, curved, and sharp claws provide better grip against frozen sea ice, slippery prey such as fishes and seals.
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
An American black bear is a species of bear that, like other bears, belongs to the family Ursidae and is found in North America, Alaska, Canada, Northern Mexico, and other places.
These black bears have long curved claws about 2 inches in length that are strong enough to climb the trees and they do it easily through it. They also use them to dig, and attack prey. However, Its claws are not very sharp to hurt and hold the prey firmly.
Interestingly, Its claws are usually used to climb trees as an escape mechanism and also to tear the old rotting wood logs to find insects.
Cassowary including northern cassowary and the dwarf cassowary is a flightless bird classified as a ratite that belongs to the family Casuariidae and is found in New Guinea, Indonesia, East Nusa Tenggara, the Maluku Islands, and northeastern Australia.
Cassowaries have strong feet with three toes in each of their feet equipped with 3 sharp claws that are about 5 inches long. Through their powerful legs and long claws, they can deliver a swift kick strong enough to hurt prey by deeply penetrating into the flesh.
Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)
The giant anteater, also known as the ant bear, is an insectivorous animal in the family Myrmecophagidae and is found in Central America, South America. and other places.
They have long claws about 4 inches that can be used for digging the termite and ant mounds, to catch the prey, and to fight against predators even against puma or jaguar. However, If they feel threatened they will defend themselves by standing on its hind limbs while balancing through its tails, shows or tries to harm via its deadly claws.
A kangaroo is a large-sized marsupial in the family Macropodidae and is found in Australia and Zoos of many countries.
They have muscular limbs which are equipped with curved and pointed claws that can really hurt any animal including other kangaroos and can penetrate through a human abdomen either by a kick by long-clawed feet or by sharp-clawed paws. It has 3 claws on its feet, among the 3, two are medium-sized and the middle one is longer and thicker, while each hand has 5 claws that are curved and pointed similar to daggers.
While boxing, Kangaroos keep their head and neck away to avoid injuries that can happen by the claws present in hands as they’re curved and pointed.
The aardvark is a burrowing nocturnal insectivorous mammal in the family Orycteropodidae and is found in sub-Saharan Africa, Africa.
They have long and thick claws that they mainly use for digging the hard crust of a termite and ant mound, holding or eating fruits such as aardvark cucumber, and defending themselves from predators.
Upon encountering predators or potential threats, they remain motionless and can quickly lash all the claws of limbs against the intruder when they are approached very close to them.
A Pangolin including the Indian pangolin, the Chinese pangolin, the Sunda pangolin, and the Palawan pangolin, also known as a scaly anteater, in the family Manidae and is found in Africa south of the Sahara Desert, India, and other places.
They have claws in both limbs that are thick, curved, and long enough to dig to demolish the nests of termites and ants, to burrow ground to sleep, and rest. While walking, They balance on the edges of their forefeet by tucking foreclaws underneath.
Interestingly, they can also climb trees using their claws.
Sloths are arboreal mammals with a slow movement that belong to the order Pilosa and are found in Central America, northern South America, Brazil, Peru.
They have 3-4 inches long claws that are curved, and sharp that are used to hang from trees, for natural defense, and also to drive the intruders away, predators or to wound them in order to protect themselves.
Interestingly, Its unique adaptation of hands along with long, curved, and thick claws enable them to hang upside-down from branches with less effort.
Unfortunately, they can’t move or walk on the land fast because of their own long claws. However, they can swim three times faster compared to walking.
Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis)
The honey badger, also known as the ratel, is an omnivorous mammal in the family Mustelidae and is found in sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Southwest Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.
These honey-loving animals have powerful limbs with claws that are sharp, thick, and are about 1.4 inches long. Its claws are used for digging, tearing the beehives to find bee larvae, climbing trees, and defending themselves by the intruders and predators such as hyenas and wild cats.
Its claws are its weapons that are used to fight against its predators.
The wolverine, also known as glutton, carcajou, or skunk bear, is an omnivorous animal in the family Mustelidae and is found in Northern Canada, the U.S. state of Alaska, Europe, Western Russia, and Siberia.
These powerful animals have claws in all four feet, the front feet have five semi-retractable long claws that get longer when they try to climb trees, while they also have claws in their hindlimbs.
Interestingly, Its semi-retractable claws get longer in length as they try to climb trees, scaring, and even sometimes attacking predators.
The meerkat, also known as suricate is a small species of mongoose carnivorous in diet, that belongs to the family Herpestidae and is found in southern Africa, southern Namibia, south-western Botswana, north and west South Africa.
These cute-looking animals make you feel like having them as pets but have you thought about their claws, then Let’s know.
They have 4 claws in each limb, thus a meerkat has a total number of 16 claws that are thick, sharp, long about 1 inch in length that makes sure that no prey can escape from them. These claws are used to dig their burrows to find hidden prey and to defend against their common predators such as snakes, jackals, cats, and eagles.
They look cute and loving especially, In groups, When they stand on their hindlimbs to watch the distantly located prey and predators.
The koala, also known as the koala bear, is a cute-looking arboreal herbivorous marsupial mammal that belongs to the family Phascolarctidae and is found in Australia.
A koala or koala bear has 5 claws in each of the front paws and 4 claws in each of their hindlimbs that are sharp, long, and pointed adapted for climbing, gripping tree barks, trunks, and branches.
Interestingly, one of its toes(opposable toe) in hindlimbs doesn’t have claws, While there are two fused fingers that some people considered as only one finger bears two claws and even weird is they have two thumbs in a front paw, that’s a really amazing fact to share.
Note: Claws of animals are classified as sharp claws, long claws, and retractable claws for understanding purposes. However, There are some animals with sharp claws as well as long claws that are classified into either sharp claws or long claws which does not mean they are actually as we classified them.