The most clumsy animals in the world are not so because of their laziness only, contrary to popular beliefs.
Most of these animals are clumsy because they’re not lucky with body shapes. There are also a few individuals whose clumsiness is partly due to their relatively low IQ.
But regardless of the root of their clumsiness, many of these animals are a joy to watch.
Curious to learn more about these animals and their clumsiness? This post is an eye-opener, exploring 15 animals with such behaviors and their source of it.
15 Most Clumsy Animals
Giraffes take the crown of the tallest animal on the planet. And part of their incredible lengths is their legs and extended necks, which are taller than the average person (about six feet).
It’s no wonder such animals with such long legs are clumsy – although their walking styles are just fine as other animals.
The problem arises when the time comes for the giraffes to drink water. The poor animals need to stoop down, for about 10 feet, to reach the water. And to achieve the ideal position, they spread their legs out in an awkward, uncomfortable position hoping they won’t trip over and fall.
Sloths are small tailless arboreal mammals infamous for their slowness of movement.
Sloths spend the better part of their lives just hanging on trees (even upside down), especially on barks of trees in tropical rainforests.
The mammals are flexible, which is why they’re excellent at climbing trees. But they get clumsy at it. And their flexibility doesn’t stop sloths from falling from branches and barks as they perform their antics.
The funniest part is when the sloths fall. They’re not in a hurry to get back and often roll on the ground, all because of their laziness. And even more, when they try to climb back, sometimes they don’t do it on the first attempt, as they occasionally slip and fall again.
And while baby sloths are born strong enough to hold on to their mothers’ fur, they also get clumsy and sometimes fall from the canopy. While the mother climbs down to rescue their offspring, people have developed myths depicting sloths as poor mothers who abandon their young ones.
Penguins are not new to many people (even if you’re not an animal lover). In fact, the flightless birds are popular, and many people adore them for various reasons, including their unique singing and feathery and chubby appearances.
But have you ever observed penguins walking? Whether in a nature documentary or live? Well, they move by awkward short hops, and it gets more clumsy when they call upon their tails or bills for help when they need to move in steep climbs.
The Penguins’ clumsy movement is understandable, however. The poor birds cannot control it as all they have to do is put their entire weight on their legs. That’s why they’re so uncomfortable while walking.
But their clumsiness ends on land. Penguins are well adapted to aquatic life and are, in fact, agile swimmers, using their wings as flippers to propel them through the water.
Ferrets are small weasel-like mammals kept as pets for more than 2,000 years due to their hunting skills.
The critters are also adorable pets, thanks to their dancing antics. When excited or happy, they usually mimic the weasel war dance, where they look like they’ve lost control of their senses and limbs. But that’s where the clumsiness sets in. The animals are generally uncoordinated and often collide with walls and nearby furniture due to their uncontrolled clumsiness.
And not only when dancing, ferrets often trip over water bowls when just walking.
But you can forgive these adorable critters for their awkwardness. Ferrets have poor vision (they see about 3 feet away) and poor depth perception. The animals depend on their sense of smell and hearing, which are so acute to outmatch humans by far!
A national symbol of Australia, koalas are cute little animals with large rounded heads, black noses, and big furry ears. Imagine a gray baby doll you find in stores to give you a clear picture.
Like sloths, koalas spend about 20 hours a day sleeping on trees because of their low-energy diet. They spend much of their energy on breaking down the toxic leaves they eat during the little time they’re active. That makes the animals not only less resourceful but also less energetic.
That’s why koalas are clumsy, as they’ve insufficient energy to stay on high trees. They’re inherently awkward and sometimes slip and fall, although they never get hurt. It seems clumsiness is part of their lives.
That’s also why according to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, the clumsiness of koalas is not out of laziness but need to save energy to use while on the ground and avoid potential predators.
But despite their clumsiness, koalas are ambassador species for native wildlife in Australia, helping people learn more about issues that affect animals and their habitats.
6. Giant Pandas
Giant pandas are a bear species endemic to China and some of the rarest animals in the world.
The round body shapes of giant pandas, plus the short limbs, are responsible for their clumsiness. So with a lack of balance, the animals have no idea how to walk well, and they often fall. And funnily, the falling behavior of pandas is a natural phenomenon according to scientists. In fact, the animals seem to enjoy their predicament as they take all the time on earth to get up – they even roll!
Pandas’ clumsiness is also rooted in laziness. Pandas are one of the laziest animals in the world, as researchers in China found that the animals use only about a third as much energy compared to mammals of their size. The laziness is attributed to the pandas’ bamboo diet, which is high in fiber and low in calories, meaning the animals have little energy to burn.
Ostriches are giant flightless birds known for their naked, long legs, which can cover 15 feet in a single stride.
Unlike giraffes, whose long legs are the root of their clumsiness, ostriches’ legs do not pose such a challenge. In fact, the legs are largely why the birds are so agile, reaching about 70km/h.
Ostriches are clumsy because they’re particularly not intelligent, as their brains are smaller than their eyes. Mind you, the diameter of the eyes is around 5 centimeters – or put another way, the brains of two adult ostriches can fit into one teaspoon!
Due to their clumsiness, ostriches are prone to accidents as they sometimes collide with objects and suffer injuries.
8. Baby Elephants
Well, all babies are clumsy. But we’ve included elephant babies because they take it too far and are even cute at it.
The good thing about baby elephants’ clumsiness is it’s not out of laziness or body shape (although it can be a part of it) but is a result of their curiosity, always wanting to interact with nature and each other.
The young elephants do all sorts of stuff. You can see them on top of tree logs looking like they want to balance themselves, which they struggle with, and often fall (but they don’t take much time to get up like pandas). They also have a peculiar behavior of sticking their tongues into the mouths of adults. Furthermore, they tend to eat anything, including the dung of other elephants!
But the most amusing? Baby elephants are so clumsy that they happily charge at vehicles that often move around the parks. And unlike the adults who would do so out of aggressiveness, babies do it in good faith. They create a fascinating scene that tourists and guides alike can’t get enough.
9. Red Pandas
Also called lesser pandas, the red pandas are small adorable mammals with reddish-brown fur found in Asia.
Red pandas are close relatives of giant pandas that spend most of their time on trees. Adapted to an arboreal lifestyle with super sharp claws, red pandas are skilled climbers that can come down a tree head first.
But the where all their agility ends. On the ground, red pandas walk awkwardly and often fall. And like their cousins, giant pandas, red pandas also seem to enjoy it as they take their time to get up. It’s also cute to watch their clumsiness.
Duck is an umbrella name for waterfowls (small birds with short necks compared to geese and swans). The ducks you see in many homes are part of the group.
Many ducks (forgive the ducklings), if not all, are clumsy. They have a hobbling style of loitering around, although damn pretty.
Furthermore, ducks, especially the domestic species, often take their clumsiness too far. Trying to penetrate through tight spots in the farm, they get their heads stuck and sometimes get scratches and severe injuries.
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of solenodons. Imagine an overgrown mouse with a long, pointed snout to get an idea.
But unlike their almost-look-alikes, solenodons are damn clumsy. They’re slow, with an awkward gait that makes them walk in a zig-zag. That’s why they’re prone to attacks from most animals, including dogs and cats.
And while they’re clumsy to afford traveling for distances to forage, solenodons have outsmarted death by choosing to munch on anything to survive, according to research by Stanford University.
Dogs, humans’ best friends, are also clumsy in certain respects.
Dog’s clumsiness is out of curiosity and playfulness and not low IQ – as they’re far from being dumb animals.
Their clumsiness depends on the breed, but some take it too far while playing in the house to cause damage. The Labrador Retriever, for example, is known for wagging its tail near the table with no regard for the objects you’ve placed on top.
And the greyhound, while being the fastest dog on earth, doesn’t avoid the clumsiness trap. While sprinting at top speeds, due to a lack of spatial awareness, these dogs sometimes run into objects, including people and fellow dogs.
While the mysterious and cool cats are intelligent animals, like dogs, they’re always entertaining with their awkward moments.
Their clumsiness sometimes results from their miscalculations. The cats can miss their target or mark when jumping to find themselves stuck in objects. They can also fall into buckets, especially when playing with others.
While such clumsiness is understandable and natural, you should also watch out for the behavior, especially when it becomes more often. In this case, it can be due to ataxia, a neurological condition that causes the pets to have abnormal clumsy movements.
Bears are large and stocky short-tailed mammals found in the Americas and Eurasia.
The body shapes of bears resemble those of giant pandas, which makes these carnivores slow and clumsy when walking on their own.
However, unlike most animals, bear clumsiness ends when they spot predators, including humans. So don’t be fooled by their clumsy appearances, as bears are unpredictable, and when they attack, they can cause severe injuries and even death.
15. Common Loons
Loons are migratory birds and agile divers that spend most of their time in the water.
But out of the water, the birds have the most awkward movement of any animal as their legs are far back on their bodies. In fact, the birds are named after their awkward walking style on land. The word loon is adopted from loom, a combination of the Swedish word lom and Icelandic word lomr, which both mean clumsy.
But in all honesty, it’s not fair to name birds so good at swimming as loons after their clumsy movement on land, a habitat where they spend a fraction of their lives. Isn’t it?