Did you know that some animals use their noses not only for breathing and smelling?
That’s why in these unique creatures, which include primates and fish, the noses are extra large to fit the bill.
To help you expand your animal knowledge, in this post, we explore 15 animals with big noses, learning how each applies its asset.
Let’s dive in.
15 Animals With Big Noses And How They Use Them
1. Proboscis monkey
Also called the Nosy monkey, the proboscis monkey has the longest nose of all primates.
The enormous and bulbous noses of Proboscis monkeys can grow as long as 17 centimeters and are much more expressed in males than in females. And there’s a reason for that. The males use their large noses to attract mates by producing loud honking sounds to wow the females.
Males with the longest noses are much more successful in wooing the opposite sex, thanks to their enhanced quality of vocalizations. And while these amplified calls impress females, they are intimidating to male rivals and are a warning to steer clear.
Where to find proboscis monkeys
Proboscis monkeys only live in the jungles of Borneo. They’re a common sight near the island’s swamps, rivers, and mangrove trees.
But the fascinating creatures are endangered according to the IUCN Red List.
Aardvark is a stocky, burrowing mammal native to Africa. It’s surprisingly more related to elephants despite its anteater looks.
Aardvarks have soft, rounded, furry long noses, which act as foraging tools for these animals and compensate for their poor eyesight.
The long noses have a refined sense of smell, which helps the animals sniff out ants and termites at night in the most hidden places. After finding the food, aardvarks lay up their sticky tongues in an anteater style to swallow their catch.
Where to find aardvarks
Aardvarks can be found in almost all African reserves and parks. But they’re elusive, and the best time to spot one is during night drives.
Elephants are arguably the most common animals with big noses. And while it’s commonly referred to as a trunk, it is an actual nose that serves multiple functions for the massive terrestrial creature besides breathing.
The trunk grabs branches when the animals are feeding and swats away flies from the elephants’ skin. Also, elephants can drink and bathe using their nose.
What’s more, the mammals can use their noses in the most creative ways to show their high intelligence. For example, they use their long trunks to hold and strip branches and convert them to tools. They also use their noses when comforting their young ones.
Where to find elephants
Chobe national park in Botswana hosts one of the largest elephant populations in the world. Wanderlust also details the best places you can find elephants.
4. Elephantnose fish
The Elephantnose fish is a pretty fish that looks like a combination of an elephant and a sword.
While the fish is common in aquariums, in the wild it lives at the bottom of freshwater rivers with various obstacles such as roots, logs, branches, and aquatic plants.
And to help the fish survive and find food in this low visibility environment, it has a long nose that looks like a sword. Thanks to its electroreceptors, the nose is extremely sensitive and acts as a navigation tool, guiding the fish through these dark waters.
5. Long-Nosed Bandicoot
The Long-Nosed Bandicoot is a rabbit-sized marsupial known for digging and leaving tiny holes in the ground.
The marsupial gets its name from its distinctive long fleshy trunk-like nose that it uses primarily for feeding. While the small animal uses its sharp claws to dig holes in the ground in pursuit of insects, the slim nose comes in handy as it slots in to grab and feast on the prey.
Where to find Long-Nosed Bandicoots
They range from New South Wales and Victoria to Queensland in Eastern Australia.
Tapirs are large pig-like herbivorous animals from the Tapiridae family. They might resemble pigs, but these animals are closely related to rhinoceros and horses.
One of the distinctive features of tapirs is their prehensile trunk, which is actually an extension of the nose and the upper lip.
Like the trunks of elephants, the long nose of tapirs is multipurpose. These herbivores use their extended snouts primarily for feeding, pulling vegetation and fruits that would otherwise be beyond their reach.
The prehensile trunk also doubles up as a navigation tool, allowing the animals to move between objects in the sophisticated environment where they live. Researchers also suggest the long noses of tapirs could be vital in amplifying the animals’ sense of smell.
Where to find tapirs
Large populations of Tapirs are found in South America, ranging from Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, and Paraguay. Only the Malayan tapirs live in Asia.
7. Domestic pigs
There are more than eight breeds of domestic pig, all having big, flat noses – although the size depends on the breed.
Interestingly, according to bioweb, pigs lead with their noses. And although the nose is not as sensitive as humans, it has an acute sense of smell, allowing them to explore their surroundings. That’s why they can find food easily and move surrounding objects with their noses doubling up as shovels.
Mandrills are large primates and one of the world’s most colorful mammals, adorning blue and red skin on their faces, while the humps are strikingly hued.
Like proboscis monkeys, male Mandrills have big noses for attracting mates. The male with the biggest and the most colorful nose has high success as these features impress females.
Besides mating, the long noses help these primates during feeding as they make them excellent foragers of seeds, nuts, and small animals.
Where to find Mandrills
Mandrills are native to the tropical rainforests of equatorial Africa. They are, however, vulnerable species according to the IUCN Red List.
Sawfish is a family of large ray fish known for their trademark long, narrow nose extension edged with sharp teeth to look like a saw.
According to a study, Sawfish use their long noses as an all-purpose tool. The extended snout contains thousands of sensors that allow the fish to sift through the bottom-water sand to find crustaceans to munch on.
When not feeding, the long noses help Sawfish swiftly and fiercely attack other fish in the water. That’s because the receptors in the noses can detect electric fields of other sea animals to help the fish initiate the attack.
Where to find Sawfish
Sawfish are worldwide, inhabiting tropical and subtropical regions. But they’re found in large numbers in Florida and Northern Australia.
10. Longnose gar
Also known as longnose garpike, the longnose gar is a large freshwater fish with primitive looks.
The distinctive feature making the longnose gar appear primitive is the long, narrow nose from which the fish gets its name. The beak-like nose takes about 15% of the fish’s body length.
The nose of longnose gar is packed with long, sharp, prominent teeth for snapping and munching on prey. Unlike others that pursue their targets, the longnose gar has a unique hunting style. After spotting the target, it lies motionless, patiently waiting to ambush like some snakes.
Not only for hunting, but the long noses also help the garpike ward off any potential predators. And in fact, the fish has only a few predators.
Where to find longnose gars
Longnose gars live in North and Central America, with their ranges spanning Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas.
11. Pinocchio frog
Pinocchio frog is a surprising addition as frogs are not known to have long noses.
But in 2008, while hiding from the rain in the Foja mountains of Indonesia,
a team of researchers unearthed a curious-looking frog.
Only the male Pinocchio frogs sport these flesh-spiked long noses, though. And you can guess why. When mating, the males stick and elongate their noses to make a call. When done, the nose will droop downward, back to its usual size – although significantly huge.
What’s more, according to Paul Oliver, a scientist at Queensland Museum and Griffith University in Australia, suggests that the Pinocchio frogs could also use their spiky noses to identify their others as the mountainous forests are home to more than 450 species of frogs.
12. Elephant seals
Elephant seals are massive earless seals that spend most of their time in the water.
These giant seals have trunk-like noses, which is why they are named after elephants. However, they use their unique features for other purposes, unlike elephants.
After reaching puberty at the age of seven years, the noses of male elephant Seals grow into large, inflatable trunks, which they use to establish dominance among the group.
Males inflate their noses and produce loud roaring sounds to scare and threaten other males, especially when mating. Before one male surrenders, the fights often turn violent, biting each other with the noses.
Where to find elephant seals
Northern elephant Seals are found in California and Baja California, while their southern counterparts live in the cold Antarctic and sub-antarctic waters.
Bushpigs are wild members of the pig family. They share several similarities with domestic pigs, including the long, blunt muscular nose.
Bushpigs use their elongated snouts in similar ways to their domestic counterparts. When feeding, Bushpigs uproot grass and roots and dig the ground for small vertebrates and insects using the long nose, which boasts a great sense of smell. That comes in handy as the animals have poor eyesight.
Besides foraging, the long snout helps Bushpigs make alarm calls by producing long, resonant growls.
Where to find bushpigs
Bushpigs can live in East and Southern African countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Namibia. They inhabit various habitats, including woodlands, forests, and riverine vegetation.
14. Star-nosed mole
The star-nosed mole is a weird-looking creature, with its head resembling a tiny octopus.
The unique creature lives in dark environments, particularly swamps and marshes. That’s why it has a long nose to ease navigation. While being the smallest of all animals with long noses, the weird creature makes the best of this feature.
But that’s understandable, as the nose has 22 tentacles containing more than 100,000 nerve receptors – remember the human hand has only about 17,000 of these nerve receptors. Thanks to these tentacles on their noses, the tiny animals can effectively locate and gobble down prey in milliseconds to make it the world’s fastest eater.
What’s more, star-nosed moles use their noses to smell underwater by blowing air bubbles before sucking them back.
Where to find Star-nosed mole
The mammals are native to Eastern North America, with their ranges spanning Quebec to Newfoundland to North Dakota. They inhabit areas with poor drainage and moist soils.
15. Snub-nosed monkeys
Also called Yunnan monkeys, Snub-nosed monkeys consist of five species, and all fall under Old World Monkeys.
Alongside the protuberant pink lips and powder-blue mask is the big upturned nose with the nostrils facing upwards, which makes these primates stand out from the rest.
But unlike other primates, Snub-nosed monkeys use their flattened noses as protection against frostbite in freezing conditions.
Where to find Snub-nosed monkeys
The monkey is amongst the most endangered primates and is mainly found in Fanjingshan Nature Reserve and Baima Snow Mountain National Park in China.
Primarily for breathing, noses are vital organs for the survival of all animals.
But in some animals, the functions of noses go past breathing. In these fascinating creatures, the noses are prominent and play other equally critical roles, such as attracting mates, like the case with proboscis monkeys, and acting as tools for finding food in Star-nosed moles.