The 20 Funniest Animal Memes

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"They Said I Could Be Anything...Even a Funny Animal Meme"

The internet is literally choking itself to death with cute dog and cat memes—but what about other, less photogenic animals like sharks, shrimps and spiders? On the following slides, you'll discover the funniest memes devoted to bears, geese, armadillos, and all the rest of the earth's critters that don't yet have their own line of Purina pet chow.

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"Turtle Rat"

It's true—if you crossed a turtle with a rat, you would wind up with something that looks very much like an armadillo. And if you crossed a giant prehistoric turtle with a giant prehistoric rat (we're thinking something along the lines of Josephoartigasia), you'd wind up with a two-ton armadillo like Glyptodon.

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"I Felt a Great Disturbance in the Force..."

If you catch them at the right time, even chickens can have uncannily human-like expressions. And if Obi-Wan Kenobi were a chicken, he'd look something like the subject of this meme, lamenting the fate of the millions of his brethren slaughtered every day for our nuggets and bargain buckets.

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"Can't Forget It"

Do elephants really have better memories than other animals? That's largely a myth, but there's no disputing that pachyderms are unusually smart and social, and even capable of using tools (like tree branches) when circumstances demand.

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Sloth or Croissant?

Don't you hate it when you visit your favorite breakfast spot for a fresh chocolate croissant, and you wind up taking home a sloth instead? Perhaps the resemblance between these sleepy mammals and this popular breakfast treat can be chalked up to convergent evolution.

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"Let Me Play You the Song of My People"

Why are geese so loud? As is the case with other birds, they don't intentionally intend to drive humans crazy; rather, their unique vocalizations evolved so they could attract mates and signal their fellow geese during their annual migrations.

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"Come at Me Bro"

Do hedgehogs know how small they are, in the greater scheme of things? Not usually, which, along with their overall spikiness, makes these mammals big in the animal-meme community. (By the way, "Come at Me, Bro" is a popular headline for all sorts of animal memes, but it works with this particular hedgehog best.)

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"They Start Out As Just a Potamus"

Search as much as you want, but you will never find a cuter baby animal than the "potamus" features in this meme—a reminder that even multi-ton mammals begin their lives as small, big-eyed, relative helpless juveniles wired by evolution to provoke extreme tenderness in their parents.

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"Controversial Opinion Koala"

Many people assume koala bears are cute and cuddly, which couldn't be further from the truth—these marsupials can be extremely vicious when approached (much less hugged). If you're looking for the perfect meme with which to counter trolls on your Facebook page, you can stop your search right now.

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"A Whim Away, a Whim Away..."

The song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" has a deep evolutionary history. It was first recorded in South Africa in 1939 (under the title "Mbube"), then covered by various folk groups in the 1950's, and then propelled into the big time in 1961 by the doo-wop group The Tokens. This song has also been recorded by artists as diverse as Brian Eno, Billy Joel, and They Might Be Giants.

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Caffeinated Owls

Are owls active at night because they drink coffee? It's an enticing theory, but the fact is that these birds have been hard-wired by evolution for a nocturnal lifestyle. As to their larger-than-normal eyes, those can be explained by the exigencies of hunting in the dark, when it's crucial to make the most of every stray ray of light.

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Chameleon on a Matchstick

Not quite a meme, perhaps, but an irresistible image nonetheless--and a reminder that chameleons come in various sizes, some of which can fit on the head of a match. It's possible that this particular lizard adapted its color to match its perch, but it's also possible that its skin was that dark-grayish-brown hue to begin with.

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"I Can't Look"

Another wordless meme, and apparently authentic, this polar bear with a paw clapped over its face conveys volumes about the current state of our environment—especially global warming, which, if left unchecked, threatens to render the polar bear extinct, along with its fellow seals and penguins.

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"Oh No! There's a Human Trapped in This Cage!"

It's not like anyone has ever had a conversation with a great white shark, so how do we know, for sure, that this particular individual is looking for its next dinner or just trying to help a fellow aquatic creature down on its luck? (The same, by the way, applies to those Velociraptors at the end of Jurassic Park; did they really want to eat those kids, or just rescue them?)

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"So Long, Shrimp!"

Occasionally, SpongeBob SquarePants does a great job of calling out stereotypes, even as it indulges in them. In this episode, Mr. Krabs sends Plankton packing after yet another unsuccessful attempt to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula. Krabs shouts "So long, shrimp!," and the hurt expression on this cartoon shrimp's face says it all.

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"I'm Better Than You..."

Think about it: we idolize superheroes like Spider-Man and Ant-Man, but there's never been a crimefighter modeled after a duck (if you forget Howard the Duck, as most people already have). As this meme conveys, ducks do have some impressively amphibious capabilities, and being cute is just icing on the avian cake. 

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"They Told Me I Could Be Anything..."

There's a whole meme subculture devoted to animals pretending to be other animals. Usually the culprit is a dog or cat, but occasionally a larger species is caught indulging in an unintentional bit of mimicry. Not only is this bear blissfully unaware that it resembles a frog, but it would undoubtedly kill and eat any nearby frogs without any hesitation.

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"Put Down the Shoe"

There should be a law that, before you're allowed to smash a spider, you should look into its big, black, multiple eyes and attempt to reason things out first. The fact is that most spiders are completely harmless, and killing an animal just because you don't like its looks isn't a very neighborly (or, for that matter, humane) thing to do.

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"Come With Me, Human"

What is it with the human attraction to penguins—penguin cartoons, penguin documentaries, penguin books, penguin plushies? The fact is that these birds are easy to anthropomorphize—look, they're marching! They're acting like real parents!—but they are actually driven by instinct, like other animals. Not that penguin instincts are necessarily worse than human instincts, as this meme points out.

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"Go to the Beach, They Said"

OK, this is not a funny meme, unless you happen to have a twisted sense of humor. But it does call attention to the plight of whales, the navigational instincts of which are increasingly flummoxed by pollution and global warming, with the result that they often beach themselves and either have to be rescued or put out of their misery. Are you still laughing?

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"They Said I Could Be Anything" (Part II)

To round up our slideshow, another "they said I could be anything" meme—this time featuring a tardigrade, a microscopic invertebrate that looks like a visitor from the Andromeda Galaxy. Not only do tardigrades resemble living gas masks, but they are virtually invulnerable to radiation and the deep vacuum of space—meaning they may wind up inheriting the earth when us human beings render ourselves extinct.