Five Things You Can Learn About Grooming From Animals

Our furry friends our bursting at the seams with self-care advice.


There’s no shortage of lessons we humans can learn from animals: Cats remind us to get plenty of sleep; dogs teach us to love unconditionally; and chimpanzees show us how to accurately throw handfuls of fresh poop at unsuspecting strangers.

These lessons also extend into the realm of grooming—something many animals have developed unique ways of doing. Here are five grooming lessons we learned from our furry (and sometimes slimy) friends:

Exfoliating is Important
To relieve their itchy skin, brown bears rub up against trees and scratch their furry mugs with barnacle-covered stones. “The animal repeatedly picked up barnacle-encrusted rocks in shallow water, manipulated and re-oriented them in its forepaws, and used them to rub its neck and muzzle,” biologist Volker Deecke writes in his 2012 report. “The behaviour probably served to relieve irritated skin or to remove food-remains from the fur.” We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Exfoliating does wonders for your skin. Even bears know that.

Clean Teeth Are Sexy
In search of water, elephants use their trunks to dig pits and gouge holes in trees (they’re particularly fond of baobab trees, which can store up to 26,000 gallons of water in their spongy centre). As a bonus, their tusks are scrubbed clean in the process. This isn’t only beneficial for their dental health: When polished and kept clean, their trunks are rumoured to be attractive to other elephants. Clean teeth, for the win.

Clean Ears Are Nirvana
Bats spend at least an hour per day washing themselves with their tongues. They pay special attention to their ears, cleaning them with their saliva-moistened wing thumbs (they also massage their wings with their tongues to keep them soft). Now, we don’t recommending licking your ears, but occasionally using a Q-tip to clean the outer ear is necessary to avoid gunky buildup. It’s just like your mom told you: Don’t forget to wash behind your ears.

Moisturiser is Life
Amphibians (like frogs) tend to have thin skin, which essentially helps them breathe: Oxygen is able to enter and exit their body through the skin. But their fragile skin also puts them at an increased risk of dehydration. To stay moist, amphibians generally remain in habitats that are particularly damp (think swamps and ponds). While we won’t die from dryness—like these slimy fellas might—maintaining moist skin can certainly take a few years off our appearance, which is still a pretty good reason to moisturise.

Hair Care Is Necessary
Beavers tend to groom their fur coats whenever they make their way to shore, using the double-claw toenail on the second toe of each hind foot to comb their hair and whiskers (they also uses their forepaws to shake water out of their ears). They then excrete a waterproof oily substance, which they comb through their fur to keep their coats clean—something you can achieve with the occasional dab of conditioner. This will keep your hair as shiny and healthy as a big, hairy… beaver. Wow. We really didn’t think that sentence through.