The “Legs on the Floor” Riddle: Can You Solve It?

Don’t get tripped up by the viral "legs on the floor" riddle

Math riddles can be hard, especially when they require actual mathematical calculations. But some hard riddles only seem hard because they’re designed to con the mind into ignoring the glaringly obvious. The solutions could be simple … but only if we allow ourselves to keep things simple. In the “legs on the floor” riddle, we’re offered a little bit of both the mathematical and the annoyingly simple. Perhaps that’s why it’s been causing such a ruckus on the internet, not to mention stirring up its share of friendly squabbling at social gatherings.

The “legs on the floor” riddle does, in fact, require you to do some actual math. But before you even get to the math, you’re going to have to give at least some thought to how many legs various animals possess. When you learn the solution (assuming you don’t figure it out on your own), will you realize it’s actually an easy riddle? Check it out for yourself.

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What is the “legs on the floor” riddle?

The “legs on the floor” riddle is a relatively short riddle that has been overheard in many forms, but the answer is always the same. So let’s go with this one:

You walk into a room, and you see a bed. On that bed, there are two cows, four dogs, one cat, a bear, three chickens flying above the bed and a goose. How many legs are on the floor?

The hint

We already gave you the most important hint, which is that the answer is always the same, regardless of which and how many animals happen to be in the room. It may also help to know that “legs” include the feet, paws, talons and claws that are attached to them.

The answer

There are six legs on the floor.

The explanation

If you lost your (ahem) footing here, it’s likely because you got caught up in keeping track of which animals have two legs, which have four and how many of each happen to be in the room. Indeed, all those details are meant to distract unsuspecting riddle-ees from the riddle’s two essential tenets.

The first is that no matter how many animals are in the room in whatever version of the “legs on the floor” riddle you may hear, only one of those animals is neither on the bed nor flying above it. That animal is you. You have two legs, and both of yours are on the floor. The second is that legs are not exclusive to living beings. Inanimate objects have legs too. And that includes beds, which have four legs—all of which are on the floor.

Doing the math, that’s your two legs on the floor plus the bed’s four legs on the floor, which equals a total of six legs on the floor. Want to decipher more clues? Try these tough long riddles next.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.