Although we may not always think about it, many animals are actually very clean. Whilst humans stay clean by showering, animals have different routines and techniques they use to practice personal hygiene.
The Cleanest Animal in The World
It may be a surprise to many, but pigs are considered one of (if not the) cleanest animals in the world. Their reputation of being filthy creatures is misled and they actually keep themselves and their environment clean and hygienic.
List of the Most Hygienic Animals in The World | Identification
This article lists 10 of the cleanest animals in the world, providing a description of their appearance, behaviour, habitats, and most importantly, the characteristics that make them so clean.
Scientific Name: Formicidae
There are more than 13,000 species of ant on the planet. They range from around 0.08 to 1 inch in length and are often yellow, black, red, or brown in colour. Typically, ants have a large head, a smaller thorax, and a large, ovular abdomen.
Ants have thin, elbowed antennae, long legs, and two sets of jaws. Certain ant species also possess a stinger on the tip of their abdomen.
Most ant species are harmless to humans and are more of an annoyance if they find their way into your home. However, a handful of species are dangerous, despite their small size. The bulldog ant is very aggressive and can inject venom strong enough to kill a grown man.
They are a social species and live-in organized colonies, which have a single queen and either hundreds, thousands, or millions of workers. The majority of ants live in nests, which are often an elaborate array of underground tunnels. They are found on every continent on Earth apart from Antarctica.
Ants are incredibly clean insects. They keep themselves clean by regularly grooming using their front legs and oily saliva. They clean their important antenna by licking a hairy patch on their front limbs and rubbing them over the antennae.
As well as themselves, ants also keep their habitats clean. They remove debris and dead individuals from the tunnels and chambers, in order to keep their nests tidy and minimize the spread of disease.
Cleanest Domesticated Animals
2. Domestic Cats
Scientific Name: Felis catus
The domestic cat, or house cat, is the smallest member of the Felidae family. There are around 70 breeds of domestic cats in the world. They are defined by their elegant, elongated bodies, long tails, and softly pointed ears.
Each species has a unique coat that can be one colour, patched, or intricately striped. Common colours include black, white, ginger, and any shade in between. A handful of species, including the sphynx cat, are hairless.
Domestic cats have sharp teeth and retractable claws that are specially adapted for hunting. Like their wild ancestors, they are carnivorous and highly agile. By nature, they are solitary creatures.
Domestic cats are kept as pets due to their relaxed nature. They can be very affectionate but are usually rather picky about when and where they direct their affection. They can be found virtually anywhere with human habituation and live-in homes but also venture outside frequently.
Household cats (and also wild cats for that matter) are incredibly clean animals. They spend a large amount of time grooming themselves with their barb-covered tongue. It allows them to easily comb through their fur, removing dirt, dead skin, and pests from their coat.
Despite being known for hating water, a handful of domestic cat species including Manx and Bengals, enjoy the occasional bath. House cats can also be litter trained, meaning their waste is contained in a single space, keeping their living environment clean.
Scientific Name: Sus domesticus
Pigs have stout and compact bodies with short legs that end with trotters. They have a characteristic flat snout and a short, curly tail. They have thick skin coated in short, wiry hair that is generally pink, black, brown, or a combination of them.
Pigs are omnivores and eat a wide variety of food including vegetables, fruits, flowers, fish, grains, dead animals, and just about anything in between. These mammals are ranked the fifth most intelligent animal in the world, even more so than dogs.
Pigs are social animals and live in small groups and spend a lot of their time resting and a fair amount of time eating. Domestic pigs can be found virtually all over the world. They occupy pastures, farmland, wooded regions, and scrubland.
Despite their reputation, pigs are very clean animals. They have been branded as dirty as a result of human farming, where pigs are kept in small spaces. Under the appropriate environmental conditions, pigs are considered clean due to the fact they choose not to defecate in areas where they sleep or eat.
To keep cool, pigs wallow in the mud because they cannot sweat. Their resulting muddy appearance has led to the common misconception they are dirty when this is far from the truth.
Scientific Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
There are around 29 species of rabbit. These mammals are defined by their characteristic long ears, round, fluffy tails, and hopping locomotion. Rabbits come in a variety of colours including black, white, grey, brown, and ginger. They can be either plain, patched, or patterned.
Rabbits are social animals that require companionship. They are herbivores, consuming hay and leafy green vegetables. They have very strong and powerful hind legs which allow them to jump over 2ft in height and 4ft in length. Hopping is a fast and efficient mode of locomotion.
Habitats for rabbits include grasslands, forests, wetlands, and deserts. They dig complex, underground burrows where they can sleep, raise young and avoid predators. Rabbits can be found on every continent apart from Antarctica.
Rabbits are meticulously clean mammals. They do not have a particularly strong odour and due to their herbivorous diet, their faeces barely smell. In fact, it is only their urine that has a strong scent, which is what can be smelt in domestic rabbit hutches.
When in a large enough environment, rabbits avoid defecating near their beds or food. They can be easily trained to use a litterbox. Rabbits also groom themselves and each other, to keep their fur clean.
Most Clean Wild Animals and Birds
Scientific Name: Panthera tigris
Tigers are the largest member of the Felidae family. Their tail is 3ft long and they weigh around 450 pounds. They can be divided into 6 subspecies, all of which are powerful and ferocious. Tigers are known for their iconic black and orange striped coat with white bellies.
Tigers are solitary and territorial. They are the most vengeful animals on the planet and are one of the only species to kill just for fun. When they kill to eat, they hunt at night on a variety of large animals including deer, wild pigs, buffalo, baby rhinos and elephants, livestock, and just about anything they can get their paws and claws on.
Like all cats, tigers have retractable claws. In combination with their sharp teeth, strength, and size, tigers stealthily ambush prey and kill them by severing the jugular. They inhabit a wide variety of environments including rainforests, grasslands, savannas, and swamps. They range across Asia.
Similarly, to their other feline counterparts, tigers are very clean individuals. They have a barbed tongue which they use to clean themselves and their cubs, removing dirt and pests. Tigers also enjoy going for a swim, which helps to wash their fur and kill any parasites.
Tigers do not urinate or defecate in waters from which they swim or drink. Additionally, they do not take kills into their den, avoiding the diseases, germs, and decomposers that come with carcasses.
6. Polar Bears
Scientific Name: Ursus maritimus
The polar bear is renowned for its snow-white coat of fur. They are also called the white bear, sea bear, and ice bear. They have stocky bodies with small heads and males can reach around 5.3 inches tall and weigh 1600 pounds.
They have thick fur to help keep them warm in the arctic conditions. Sunlight is able to penetrate the fur and reach the skin, where the heat is absorbed by the black skin. Polar bears also have a thick layer of blubber that provides them with insulation.
Hairy, padded feet help the bear jump across the ice without slipping. Their sharp claws provide traction and long with their pointed canines are used to kill prey. Seals are the main prey of polar bears. They break into pup dens or wait for them to emerge from water holes. They also consume carcasses of fish and whales.
Polar bears are found throughout the Arctic region. Although they are excellent swimmers, they live on top of the ice. However, due to the rapid melting of the ice sheets, polar bears’ habitats are declining, meaning they are now considered vulnerable.
Due to their dense, thick fur, polar bears must keep clean. When feeding, the white fur gets covered with blood and other dirt. This must be cleaned as dirty, matted, and wet fur does not provide sufficient insulation.
After feeding, polar bears swim in the icy water or roll around in the snow to clean their fur.
7. Naked Mole Rat
Scientific Name: Heterocephalus glaber
The naked mole rats are not likely to win any beauty contests. As their name suggests, they are furless creatures aside from a few wiry, randomly planted hairs on their pale pink, wrinkly skin exposed. They have thin tails, large feet, and elongated incisors that protrude from the front of their blunt face.
Naked mole rats are essentially blind and deaf, meaning rely heavily on their olfactory senses to obtain information from their surroundings. These rodents are fairly small and weigh around 80 grams.
The habitats for these rodents are dry and arid environments in Eastern Africa. They dig burrows using their long teeth, where they live in colonies. They also use their incisors to gnaw at the underground plant roots and tubers.
They also engage in coprophagy, because their faeces contain microorganisms that help digest the fibrous plant matter. They do not drink water as they get all of their hydration from their diet.
The naked mole rat is a key organism in terms of scientific research, due to their immunity to cancer and slow rate of ageing. They can also survive low oxygen conditions and are impervious to some types of pain.
Despite their somewhat gross appearance, naked mole rats are actually quite clean rodents. When excavating their tunnels, naked mole rats kick any dirt and debris out of their burrows.
Although they consume faeces, they have designated chambers in which they defecate. Once this chamber is full, they close it off and create a new one. Their burrows are also neatly organized, and they recover tubers to ensure the continued growth of food.
8. Birds of Paradise
Scientific Name: Paradisaea apoda
There are around 45 species of birds of paradise. These birds show sexual dimorphism and the males are best known for their extravagant plumage. Males also have elongated feathers that extend from their tails. These birds also boast vivid colouration.
Fruits and arthropods constitute the majority of this bird’s diet. Birds of paradise use their slender and pointed beaks to glean their food. The dominating food type depends on the species, and some may feast in social groups whilst others are more solitary and territorial.
Birds of paradise frequent tropical forests including swamps and rainforests. They favour warm, moist conditions and can be found across New Guinea and Australia.
Like other bird species, birds of paradise keep themselves clean by preening their feathers. Preening removes dust, dirt, and parasites from their feathers. Additionally, whilst preening birds distribute oil from the uropygial gland at the base of their tail to their feathers to help keep them waterproof.
9. Rattle Snakes
Scientific Name: Crotalus cerastes
Rattlesnakes are characterized by their segmented tail tip that rattles when it is shaken. The noise is made by the rapid movement of these hard rings of keratin. Adults usually reach around 6.6 feet in length but may reach up to 8.2 feet.
Most rattlesnake species are light brown coloured, though can be orange, pink, red, or green. They are patterned with darker diamond, hexagon, or rhombus shapes along the length of their body.
Typically, rattlesnakes are not aggressive and will prefer to flee from humans than attack. However, if they feel threatened or are provoked, they will strike. They have a venomous bite that can cause major bleeding due to preventing the blood from being able to clot. Their venom is also cytotoxic meaning it causes necrosis.
Rattlesnakes are vipers and predators. They frequent arid habitats and are nocturnal, hunting for prey, mainly small mammals, under the cover of darkness. Vipers have heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils, that allow them to see through heat detection.
Rattlesnakes live in burrows under the ground or find shelter among rocks in crevices. They are native to the Americas, ranging from Canada to Argentina.
Rattlesnakes don’t undertake any particular self-grooming, but they do keep their surroundings very clean. Once they have found the perfect area to ambush unsuspecting prey, they use their head and neck to remove any debris from the area.
It is thought they do this to remove any potential obstacles that could hinder their strike and cost them their next meal.
Cleanest Sea Creatures
Scientific Name: Tursiops truncates
Although they are often thought to be fish, dolphins like whales, are mammals. They have sleek, silver-grey bodies and beak-like snouts. Their morphology makes them very streamlined and adept for swimming and diving.
Dolphins are iconic for their elegance, intelligence, and playful nature and as such are adorned by many. They are carnivores and consume a variety of fish, squid, shrimp, and other aquatic creatures, that they catch using their sharp, conical teeth.
Dolphins occupy a wide variety of aquatic habitats including harbours, estuaries, and the open ocean. They favour tropical and temperate waters across the globe, absent from only 45 degrees latitude from both the North and South pole.
Dolphins are one of the cleanest animals in the ocean. Dolphins have been observed rubbing themselves against coral, scrubbing away to remove dirt and parasites from their skin.