Animals with the best sense of smell in the world

Posted on Jan 18, 2008 in Mind and senses

© Alaskan Dude – flick

Champion sniffer – The bear

A bear’s brain is a third of the size of ours, yet the part devoted to smell is five times larger. They possess big noses and the inside surfaces of their nostrils are enlarged with folds that make room for thousands of smell receptors. Their sense of smell is certainly better than a bloodhound’s and, quite possibly, is the best of any land animal.



© Andro –

Best lunch detector – The Shark

Two-thirds of a shark’s brain is dedicated to smell and it can detect the tiniest drop of blood from more than a mile away. Astonishingly even uninjured fish are not safe from a shark’s surveillance. A merely nervous fish emits chemicals to warn others.  Unfortunately for them, these signals can be picked up by…yep, you’ve guessed it.


© Amy Love Yah – flickr

Best ‘mate’ detection – The Moth

Imagine being able to sniff your future wife from 6-7 miles away. Well, that’s what a moth does using its feathery antennae.


© SuperFantastic – flickr

Best detective – The dog (Bloodhound)

A bloodhound can stay on the trail of a person after several days, even if that person has walked through busy shopping centres and streets. In fact their sense of smell is so good, it’s better than the best man-made odour detecting machines. Some dogs can even detect certain types of cancer and they do so with greater accuracy than state-of-the-art screening equipment.


© Tim Vickers

Best air sniffer - The snake

We’ve all seen a snake flick out its tongue. They do this because, unlike us, they smell with them. So when a snake starts flicking its tongue rapidly, it’s a sure sign it has smelt something interesting in the air.


© Oleg Kozlov –

Best landmine detector – The rat

Like dogs, rats can be trained to use their exceptional sense of smell - they can smell in stereo with each nostril working independently of the other - to detect land mines. In a test on a real minefield, a team of six giant Gambian pouched rats found all 20 hidden land mines. The great advantage of using rats is that they’re cheaper to keep and train than dogs.


© Staphy –

Best bird sense of smell – The albatross

Most birds rely on keen eyesight and have a poor sense of smell. The albatross is one of the exceptions. This great bird spends its time hovering above the ocean on the look out for food. And to help it do this, it has an extra-large nose on top of its beak. This over-sized honk helps the albatross detect food floating on the sea, even when it is dark.


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