The round boys (and girls) of the animal kingdom

By Rosie Turner

There are many animals in the world, and many that are round. Here we take a look at the best circular creatures and how their ball-like shapes help them to adapt to the environment around them.

Here for your spherical joy we present to you a selection of the best round boys and girls of the animal kingdom!

A puffafish puffed out into a ball
Puffer fish are sometimes round.
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“Sometimes I’m round and sometimes I’m not, but mainly I am.”

The pufferfish family (Tetraodontidae), also known as the blowfish, is first on our list. These spherical swimmers puff up to a ball-like shape to defend themselves against predators. They achieve this look by absorbing large amounts of water into their elastic-like stomach, making the puffer look extremely undesirable and hard to eat.

Although these little inflatable balls might be fun for us humans to look at, they should not be touched. Most of the more than 200 species of puffies contain a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin, a substance that's up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide! Some pufferfish also have spines on their skin to make them even less tasty to prospective snackers. Having said that, they do occasionally end up as a delicacy on plates in Asia!

An armadillio rolled into a ball
Armadillos are round some of the time. © leekris | Getty


“Is this the way to Armadillo?”

Next up are armadillos. Their name in Spanish means “little armored one”. There are 21 varieties of armadillo balls with the smallest being the ‘pink fairy armadillo’ (Chlamyphorus truncatus) at only 6 inches long. Armadillos are sleepy circles and usually nap for around 16 hours per day. You could also say they are fashionable animals, coming in shades such as red, yellow, grey, black and pink.

A tawny owl in a hole in a tree
Tawny owls can be round. © Andyworks | Getty

Tawny Owl

“Hoot hoot, I’m a majestic fluff circle.”

The tawny owl (Strix aluco) is the largest of the common owls native to the United Kingdom. Tawnies have fluffy, round heads that they can turn 270 degrees to help them spot prey. The mating call of tawnies usually begins with the male who starts the song with a long ‘hoooo’ followed by a softer ‘hu’ and finishing with a ‘huhuhooooo’. The female tawny makes a ‘Kee-wick’ sound back to the male and during mating the pair create a duet. The next time you hear these calls just close your eyes and appreciate the beauty of nature. It truly is a Sonny and Cher moment… but with owls.

A ringed seal in the sea in front of an iceberg
Ringed seals and round much of the time.


“There’s no business like seal business!”

Now before you get confused (because we were too) this is definitely a seal and not a really big pebble with a face.

Say hello to another rotund beauty. This chunky specimen is a ringed seal. They are generally solo animals but come together for mating season. This round (boy/girl) and (his/her) friends swim on average at about 10km per hour but can reach up to speeds of 30km per hour in bursts. Ringed seals generally live between 25-30 years and we’ve heard that they really are the circular talk of the ocean!

A hedgehog rests in a woman's hands
Hedgehogs are often round. © Davin G Photography | Getty


“I’m a shape and that shape is round.”

The hedgehog, or affectionately named Erinaceus, tucks itself up into a spiky ball to protect itself from predators. This circle shape helps them to protect the areas of their body which aren’t prickly. There are 15 species of hedgehog found across Europe, Asia and Africa, all of which are nocturnal. We like to imagine them all balled up together like a gift basket of muffins.