Which land mammal is the only one that does not have paw pads?

Of all the land mammals that have paws, which land mammal is the only one that does not have paw pads?

Mammals are vertebrate (backboned) animals with fur or hair, a neocortex (a region of the brain) and the females have mammary glands to feed milk to their young. Mammals include humans, cats, dogs, horses, bears, rats, mice, rabbits, hares, weasels, elephants, etc. 

A paw is an animal’s foot with claws and paw pads. 

Not every mammal has paws. Ungulate (hoofed) mammals do not have paws – they have hoofs (or hooves).

Paw pads are hairless, usually dark-coloured or pink-coloured cushions on the soles of the feet of some land mammals. Paw pads help animals to grip the ground, making it easier to walk and run over its land terrain.

Not every mammal with paws has paw pads.

Lion paw with paw pads

The rabbit does not have paw pads. It is the only mammal on Earth that does not have paw pads.

The rabbit has small feet. Instead of paw pads, the rabbit has tough, leathery skin and thick fur on the bottom of its paws – i.e. on the soles of its feet. The rabbit has one area of hard skin, that is like a pad, on each front foot, and two leathery skin parts (like pads) on its back feet.

Zoologists think that rabbits have no paw pads because they move in a different way to most mammals. Instead of walking like cats and dogs, for example, rabbits hop in a flat-footed manner. The thick fur on the soles of their feet are thought to provide sufficient protection as they move around their terrain.

Bear paw with paw pads

Location of photographs: Paris Zoo, France

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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