Animal claws comparison: which animal has the biggest claws?

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The chart below compares some wild animals’ claws (including the Siberian tiger, African lion, Jaguar, Cougar, Grizzly bear, Harpy eagle, and Polar bear).

Harpy eagle’s feet and claws are the strongest among the birds

It seems the longest claw in the animal kingdom belongs to the Grizzly bear (or Kodiak bear? Kodiak bear claws are not in the collection, but since Kodiak bears are larger than Grizzly bears, I would not surprised if their claws are also bigger). Harpy eagle comes a close second after these brown bears. Its feet and claws are also the strongest of any bird.

The harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) is also called the American harpy eagle to distinguish it from the Papuan eagle, which is sometimes known as the New Guinea harpy eagle or Papuan harpy eagle. It is the largest and most powerful raptor found in the rainforest, and among the largest extant species of eagles in the world. It usually inhabits tropical lowland rainforests in the upper (emergent) canopy layer.

Destruction of its natural habitat has caused it to vanish from many parts of its former range, and it is nearly extirpated in Central America.

In Brazil, the harpy eagle is also known as the royal hawk (in Portuguese: gavião-real).

Golden eagle’s spectacular claws

Golden eagle’s claws are also spectacular. is one of the best-known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widely distributed species of eagle. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their napes. Immature eagles of this species typically have white on the tail and often have white markings on the wings.

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Golden eagles use their agility and speed combined with powerful feet and massive, sharp talons to snatch up a variety of prey, mainly hares, rabbits, marmots, and other ground squirrels.

Tiger vs lion claws

Tiger is the biggest living cat on Earth, but I am still surprised by how big its claws are compared to that of the African lion.

A tiger’s paws are powerful enough to smash the skulls of domestic cattle and break the backs of sloth bears. With these claws, it’s no surprise that the tiger can take down these large animals easily.

Both tigers’ and lions’ claws are incredibly sharp. A brown bear’s claws are much bigger and longer, but relatively blunt in comparison to a tiger’s or any other big cat’s.

Brown bears (Kodiak bear, Grizzly bear, and Kamchatka brown bear)

Brown bears have non-retractable claws. Large brown bears’ claws (Kodiak bear, Grizzly bear, and Kamchatka brown bear) can be as long as 4 inches (10 cm). They use their claws to defend themselves and fight with other bears, but Kodiak bears primarily use their claws to dig for roots and other food and to grip food. Even though their claws look large and clumsy to us, they are actually quite dexterous and capable of manipulating small objects.

Sloth bears also have enormous claws

Despite being smaller than the brown bears, sloth bears are considered one of the most dangerous animal in the world. The number of sloth bear attacks annually rivals and may even exceed the total number of all bear attacks.

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They do not feed on humans (they primarily eat termites and ants), but they are extremely protective of their cubs. They are known to go after anyone (human, animal, even tigers!) who gets too close of their offspring.

Habitat loss and human expansion also increase human-sloth bear conflicts and potential deadly attacks.

Cassowary claws

Not included in the image above, but cassowaries have very big and deadly claws too. They have big, three-toed feet with sharp claws which are fearsome, and they can sometimes kick and injure, and even kill humans and other animals with their powerful legs.

Sources

  • Harpy eagle on Wikipedia
  • Golden eagle on Wikipedia
  • Kodiak Bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) on Munsey’s Bear Camp
  • “How to behave in sloth bear territory” on the Research outreach website
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>