Most laboratory-based research on obesity is carried out in rodents, but there are a number of other interesting models in the animal kingdom that are instructive. This includes domesticated animal species such as pigs and sheep, as well as wild, migrating and hibernating species. Larger animals allow particular experimental manipulations that are not possible in smaller animals and especially useful models have been developed to address issues such as manipulation of fetal development. Although some of the most well-studied models are ruminants, with metabolic control that differs from monogastrics, the general principles of metabolic regulation still pertain. It is possible to obtain much more accurate endocrine profiles in larger animals and this has provided important data in relation to leptin and ghrelin physiology. Genetic models have been created in domesticated animals through selection and these complement those of the laboratory rodent. This short review highlights particular areas of research in domesticated and wild species that expand our knowledge of systems that are important for our understanding of obesity and metabolism.