Discover the 10 Dumbest Animals in the United States

Written by Crystal
Published: April 27, 2023
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What are the top ten dumbest animals?

Certain animals, like elephants, dolphins, and gorillas, are known for their intelligence. But not all animals have a reputation for being brainiacs. Take, for instance, bullfrogs who unsuccessfully try to eat animals six times their size or opossums who can’t stop drooling.

This article will uncover which species have a reputation for being dumb. Whether it’s their intelligence level or something goofy they do, every animal has earned its spot. Read on to discover the top ten dumbest animals in the United States.

Top 10 Dumbest Animals in the United States

Which animals aren’t the brightest? Here are the top 10 dumb animals in the United States:

  1. Bighorn Sheep
  2. Opossums
  3. American Black Bear
  4. Turkeys
  5. Armadillos
  6. Raccoons
  7. Skunks
  8. Eastern Gray Squirrels
  9. American Bullfrog
  10. American White Pelican

Are these animals dumb, or are they just misunderstood? Let’s explore how each species landed on this list to find out.

1. Bighorn Sheep

Are sheep stupid? Bighorn sheep don’t look smart when ramming their bodies into each other until bloody. Ouch! But, while the behavior can seem stupid to an onlooker, there is a reason behind their violent ways.

The head-butting battles happen during the breeding season, and it’s a way for bighorn sheep to establish dominance. The dominant ram gets access to the female. It’s a natural part of mating rituals. The idea is that the strongest male passes on their genes.

Along with being big and strong, bighorn sheep are skilled climbers. Their hooves are designed for climbing, helping them scale steep cliffs and rocky terrain.

More About Bighorn Sheep

Another thing that makes bighorn sheep a bit dumb is inbreeding. Many species do it, but for the bighorn, it may be risking their survival.

In Arizona, researchers are concerned about decreased horn size over the last 30 years. It’s possible that environmental changes, like they’re not enough rain, are contributing to the decrease. It’s also possible that the bighorn sheep are inbreeding. And the inbred sheep are less capable of growing bighorns.

The large horns are made up of keratin. It’s the same material that makes up hair and nails. The sheep’s horns continue to grow throughout their lives and can weigh as much as 30 pounds.


The sheep’s horns continue to grow throughout their lives and can weigh as much as 30 pounds.

©Trace Hudson/

2. Opossums

Looks can be deceiving, especially when you’re dealing with an opossum. This critter has a reputation for looking stupid. Whether playing dead or drooling excessively, opossums tend to look dumb.

Opossums don’t have strong facial muscles; they can barely control the faces they make. So sometimes, out of nowhere, they’ll start drooling like a big dog with loose jowls.

More About Opossums

Are they as stupid as they look? It turns out opossums are just playing dumb; they’re really expert survivalists. Opossums have a survival trick up their furry little sleeve; a resistance to venom. They resist the venom of bees, snakes, and other animals. A special peptide in their bloodstream can also neutralize rattlesnake venom.

Using their prehensile tail, possums are also excellent climbers. They can quickly scale trees, fences, and almost any object that crosses their path. Their tail is like a fifth hand. They use it to balance, climb, and explore.

Animals That Play Dead opossum

Opossums are opportunistic omnivores that eat a wide variety of animal and plant matter.


3. American Black Bear

The American black bear is about as intelligent as a 3-year-old human. And there are a lot of 3-year-olds out there who are pretty smart! However, we had to include this playful mammal because they like to goof off.

Black bears can be seen wrestling with each other and engaging in tug-of-war games. They play tug-of-war with sticks, food items, or anything they can find. The games help the silly bears pass the time while also practicing their foraging skills. Young bears are usually the only ones who play the day away, but sometimes the adults join. When they feel extra goofy, black bears even slide down hills.

More About American Black Bear

American black bears are the smallest of the three bear species in North America. These omnivores enjoy a very diet of berries, insects, and small mammals. They’ll also eat the remains of other animals (carrion). Black bears can pinpoint a meal miles away using their highly-tuned sense of smell.

black bear

American black bears play tug-of-war with sticks, food items, or anything they can find.

© Crossman

4. Turkey

You had to see it coming! Turkeys definitely belong on the list of the top dumbest animals in the United States. These birds look silly and can be downright ridiculous.

Popular for their distinctive gobble and Thanksgiving appearances, turkeys have a variety of vocalizations. Along with gobbling, turkeys can also purr and cluck. Turkey purr when they’re relaxed, just like a cat. And they cluck when alarmed. They’ll also cluck to get their friend’s attention. As if clucking and purring weren’t goofy enough, during breeding season, things get even sillier.

During the breeding season, male turkeys begin strutting around, making loud gobbling sounds. They puff up their feathers, fan out their tails, and do whatever it takes to impress the females.

More About Turkeys

What else should you know about big dumb turkeys? These birds also have a reputation for staring at the rain. Some owners report that their pet turkeys will only eat water from an upward direction. They’re just that used to drinking from the sky!

Even though they landed a spot as the dumbest bird, turkeys still deserve our appreciation. These famous birds have a unique way of dealing with the heat. Underneath their neck, they have a distinct-looking wattle; some call it a gobbler. The fleshy appendage does more than look cool; it also serves as a thermal regulation tool. Turkey releases body heat through the wattle, similar to the rock-barred chicken.

Royal palm turkey in a field

Popular for their distinctive gobble and Thanksgiving appearances, turkeys have a variety of vocalizations.


5. Armadillo

Next on our list of the top dumb animals in the United States we have the armadillo. Watch videos of armadillos encountering a new object if you want to laugh. When these little guys discover something new, they sometimes become confused and start running in circles.

The armadillo doesn’t roll up into a ball and roll away. But rather, it begins running around. The behavior is known as circling, most commonly observed in the nine-banded armadillo. Once the armadillo starts circling, they don’t stop. At least not for a few minutes. As they roll aimlessly, they sometimes bump into things or trip over their feet.

What’s the reasoning behind this apparently dumb behavior? Circling might seem stupid, but it serves the survival purpose for the armadillos. It lets the armadillo safely investigate the new scents around. Since armadillos have poor eyesight, they use their sense of smell to navigate their environment. Circling is one of the best ways to get their nose to cover a lot of ground. And the more they smell, the more they know about what’s happening.

More About Armadillos

Armadillos are nearly hairless mammals that are native to the Americas. Aztecs called armadillos turtle rabbits; their Spanish name translates to little armored one.

Armadillos are wonderful diggers. They use their sharp claws to build burrows underground and forage for food. Then, when they find tasty insects, they use their long, sticky, flexible tongue to snatch them up.

Interesting animals – Nine-banded Armadillo

When armadillos discover something new, they sometimes become confused and start running in circles.

©Heiko Kiera/

6. Raccoons

Smart animals know not to play with their food. It’s one of the first things you learn growing up. But mischievous animals, like raccoons, are always looking to bend the rules. Some think it’s silly, and others find their behavior dumb. Either way, they’re irresistibly cute.

Raccoons are omnivores; they eat some plants and some meat. When they find something interesting or exciting, they begin playing with it rather than chowing down. Sometimes raccoons will toss their food in the air or roll it around. If you’ve ever seen a house cat play with a lizard, it’s a lot like that.

More About Raccoons

With unmistakable black masks surrounding their eyes and ringed details, raccoons live throughout North America. These nocturnal animals will eat almost anything that they can. They’ll feast on garbage, insects, vegetables, and small animals. Using their dexterous front paws, raccoons can manipulate objects almost as if they had human hands. The next time you see a raccoon, look at its little paws. They really look like hands.

raccoon in a tree

Mischievous animals, like raccoons, are always looking to bend the rules! Their little paws look like hands, and they are very dexterous.


7. Skunks

Why are skunks on the list of the top 10 dumb animals? It has to do with the way they respond to predators. Instead of running away, skunks will do a headstand to warn the predators not to approach. This gymnastic behavior (seen here) can seem pretty dumb, but there’s a good reason for their sudden inversion.

When threatened, a skunk will stand on their front paws and raise their back end into the air. This body language lets predators know to back off! If the predator doesn’t back away, the skunk can use their powerful scent glands to spray a strong-smelling liquid up to 10 feet away. The handstand helps them aim their spray more accurately while also increasing range.

Skunks also exhibit silly and goofy behaviors that make them seem dumb. They like to waddle around with their short stumpy legs, hang out in trash cans, and make a lot of weird sounds. Skunks squeal, snort, hiss, squeak, and grumble.

More About Skunks

Skunks might be able to hear and smell danger, but it’s difficult for them to see it. Their eyesight is poor, to say the least. They barely have any peripheral vision. All skunks see is what’s in front of them, and that’s if it’s close up. Not being able to see makes them quicker to startle.

If something threatens them, skunks try to scare away the threat before spraying their foul-smelling liquid. Some of the warning signals skunks use include stomping their feet, growling, and hissing. If they must flee the scene, these mammals can run up to 10 mph.

Baby skunks are born blind and helpless. They don’t develop the ability to spray until they’re at least eight weeks old.

Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus humboldti) searching for food in Valle Chacabuco, Patagonia, Chile

Instead of running away, skunks will do a headstand to warn the predators not to approach.

©Jeremy Richards/

8. Eastern Gray Squirrel

Has a squirrel ever startled you on the road? Every day, squirrels dart out into traffic, putting themselves in danger of being hit by cars. Their reckless behavior earned them a spot on the top 10 dumbest animals list.

Why do squirrels run out into the road? The exact reason isn’t fully understood. But there are several possible explanations.

Squirrels might run out into the road in food-seeking, mating, territorial, or escape behavior. Whether they’re searching for food or trying to reproduce, they don’t pay any attention to the vehicles barrelling in their way. Squirrels are one of the most common roadkill victims.

During mating season, male squirrels become even more ridiculous. Their behavior becomes aggressive, active, and they’re more likely to behave recklessly. If a male squirrel sees a potential mate, they’ll cross a busy highway to pursue them. Or at least they’ll try.

Along with behaving dumbly and recklessly, the mating season also brings about vocalizations. You’ve probably heard squirrels making different clicking sounds. But did you know they can also make a little sneeze sound? When it’s mating season, the Eastern gray squirrel can be heard making a tiny sneezing sound. The little “achoo” is their mating call.

More About Eastern Gray Squirrels

Eastern gray squirrels are a common squirrel species, and they’re arboreal. Almost all of their lives are spent in trees. They use their sharp claws and agile body to grip the tree bark and maneuver branches. Some of the ways squirrels communicate with each other include clucks, clicks, and tail flicks.

Squirrels are famous for their food-storing abilities (caching). This meal-planning skill helps them survive when times are tough. One Eastern gray squirrel can store up to 10,000 acorns in a single fall.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Along with behaving dumbly and recklessly, the mating season also brings about vocalizations.

© Harris

9. American Bullfrog

When it comes to meal planning, American bullfrogs are just plain dumb. They’ll try to eat whatever they think they can fit in their oversized mouths, even if it’s too big. You can see for yourself in this video that it captures an American bullfrog trying to eat an American coot.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t eat with your eyes”? The saying warns anyone is filling up their plate with too much food. When your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you wind up with more than you can handle. And this is often the case for the American Bullfrog. They’ll attempt to capture and swallow things that are obviously too big for them.

More About American Bullfrog

American bullfrogs are the largest species of frog in North America. They can grow up to 8 inches in length! Known for their distinctive croaking call, these frogs are most vocal during mating season. When an American bullfrog calls out, it sounds like a male cow, which is why the word bull is in their name.

American Bullfrog

American bullfrogs try to eat whatever they think they can fit in their oversized mouths, even if it’s too big.


10. American White Pelican

The last animal on our list is a big bully! And there’s nothing smart about bullying. American white pelicans are guilty of kleptoparasitism (food piracy). They use their large size to bully and steal fish from other birds. Some of the birds the white pelicans steal from include the double-crusted cormorant, osprey, great blue heron, and girls. They even steal from their own species, sometimes violently.

More About American White Pelican

Exactly how big are American white pelicans? Their wingspan can be up to 9 feet long. They’re one of the biggest birds in North America. They have distinctive white feathers, big throat pouches for catching fish, and bright orange bills.

These birds are strong swimmers and are usually found in flocks. They fish in the shallow waters and work together to corral fish into a group. Once all of the fish are gathered into one spot, they can scoop them up with their beaks. White pelicans can swallow fish whole and store pounds of food in their pouches.

American white pelican in Wisconsin

American white pelicans use their large size to bully and steal fish from other birds!

©Jerek Vaughn/

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Harry Collins Photography/

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About the Author

Crystal is a dedicated writer at A-Z Animals, focusing on topics related to mammals, insects, and travel. With over a decade of experience in the world of research and writing, she also fulfills the role of a skilled video and audio engineer. Residing in sunny Florida, alligators are Crystal's favorite animal.

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