We’ve all been there – had a terrible itch that needed immediate attention. Yet while humans and apes are blessed with deft fingers that are useful for reaching and scratching, imagine having four legs (needed for standing up on) and just paws, hooves or teeth to help out on the scratching front.
As you might imagine, hilarity ensues when certain animals get an itch they’ve got to scratch but can’t quite reach, and so become involuntary contortionists. Case in point: can you look at this cow without laughing? Fourteen other funny animal pictures like this one follow.
Photo: Kangaroo image from Bigstock
With their short forelimbs, long, sturdy hind-legs and thick, long tails, kangaroos can look pretty disproportionate at the best of times. Throw a baby roo in its pouch into the equation, plus an itch that's just gotta be scratched, and you have a marsupial that looks well and truly off balance! Awkward indeed!
Photo: Wing-Chi Poon
Not to be outdone by the bigger four-legged creatures featured here, this squirrel’s giving it all it’s got – and still manages to look almost elegant! With one forefoot outstretched while it balances on the other one, the squirrel then uses its hind foot to scratch its armpit. And the scratching is so vigorous that the foot has become a blur!.
This donkey looks like it’s going bonkers trying to reach that itchy spot. If only a helping hand were in sight! As it is, the poor creature’s eyes appear ready to pop out while it’s biting its tail in desperation. Hard to surp-ass, this one!
The blacktail buck pictured here found out that a terrible itch can be a real pain in the butt. At least the three-legged aerobics (which attest to an amazing sense of balance!) look like they brought some relief.
Photographed in Africa, this male springbok is trying hard to attain the same position achieved so effortlessly by the blacktail buck. He’s almost there… Just up a bit with the leg and reach with the neck… Stop shaking now! Easier said than done, though. Maybe this antelope should ask a sympathetic peer for help instead – even if it’s a different animal altogether, because as we’ve found out, interspecies grooming does happen.
The meerkat seated here is another animal that displays amazing agility while trying to get to that hard-to-reach spot.
Why do animals itch in the first place? For the same reasons we humans do: dry skin, is a prime cause, or it might be down to an allergy or skin disease. However, parasites tend to be a bigger problem for our furry friends than they are for us. Yes, ticks, fleas and mites can really make their lives miserable. And as we’re seeing, when you’ve got an itch, you’ve just got to scratch it!
Though this wild horse is having trouble reaching its itchy flank, it does achieve the scratching feat – with a good twist of the neck and a hearty bite, followed, perhaps, by a quick lick. Athletic, to say the least!
If the itch happens to be a little higher, somewhere on the back for example, four-legged animals can sometimes manage a little better, as this impala stag, snapped in Namibia, demonstrates. A vigorous bite with those teeth, and whatever was infesting the fur is gone, we’re hoping. Or at least the itch is assuaged. Impressive bend of the neck too!
Photo: Buffalo image from Bigstock
An itchy nose can be really irritating, as this buffalo found out. Still, it managed with the help of its hoof, retaining a kind of stoic grace even on three legs. Respect!
What if all you have to scratch a slippery body with are flippers? Simple! Just bend a bit and use one of the flippers as we humans would a hand. In fairness, this isn't that much of an awkward looking position – but it's still a great photo! If this sea lion’s closed eyes and contented expression are anything to go by, it must have been one heck of a satisfying scratch. Ah, relief!
Photo: Adrian Pingstone
This magpie goose had an itch right where its head ended and its long neck began. Still, nothing a well-aimed scratch with the old webbed foot couldn’t solve. That’s one scary-looking foot, though! Those long, well-formed toes make it look like a giant claw – and it’s almost as big as the bird’s head! Yikes!
This red-eyed tree frog surely falls into the awesome category. Resting coolly on its belly, the frog manages to scratch (or perhaps clean) its right knee with its left foot, all while balancing on a leaf. Like a true amphibian – and a natural contortionist – it remains as cool as a cucumber while twisting one slender leg over the other.