Analysis / Animal Stereotypes

Common Animal Stereotypes Used Can Include:

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  • Armadillos: Usually represent a character Made of Iron or are shown as extremely cowardly because of their natural defense mechanism of curling up into a ball. If not for defense mechanism, they may curl into a ball for Rolling Attacks. Armadillos are also popular characters to represent Western Characters and will rarely NOT show up in The Wild West (regardless of how close the story actually takes place to the Southwestern United States).
  • Antelopes and Gazelles: Gentle, graceful, and very swift. Usually female. If male, very likely to be a Bishōnen.
  • Aye-Ayes: Eccentric and creepy looking witch doctors or shamans with (demonic) supernatural powers.
  • Baboons: Like other monkeys, but fiercer and more aggressive, even females. More likely to be portrayed as Maniac Monkeys.
  • Badgers: Cranky, curmudgeony, down-to-Earth loners. "My home is my castle." In a pinch, they're stubborn and tough. Usually not evil, but sometimes their cynicism and irritability leads them to mistrust or look down on the hero. On the other hand, they may show up in the hero's True Companions as a Knight in Sour Armor.
  • Bats: Nocturnal, often bloodthirsty and most likely evil. They are often depicted as bloodsucking or outright vampiric, even though the only bats that suck blood are three species in Latin America and they'll mostly go for animals that won't slap them off their bodies, like cattle. Another portrayal has them quirky, eccentric or downright insane, possibly due to their severe disorientation in daylight and/or habit of sleeping upside down. They might also be depicted as having poor eyesight, which will cause them to fly in people's hair, against all of nature's logic (so expect them to wear glasses or at least contacts). They tend to have high-pitched voices, most likely a reference to some species' use of echolocation. Remarkably, they can be portrayed as either cute or sexy depending on the theme. May at times be Creepy Awesome. Usually male.
  • Bears: Intimidating and powerfully ferocious when provokedfemales with cubs are especially vicious and short-tempered — sometimes portrayed as Boisterous Bruisers. They may also be depicted as calm, wise and slow-moving when not angered. Sometimes lazy — don't bother them when they're hibernating. Young bears will be portrayed as cute, cuddly and brave. Despite their reputation, however, they are commonly depicted as being comic reliefs or friendly.
  • Beavers: Industrious, often with an air of a practical and unpretentious tradesman, but sometimes to Workaholic levels. Usually male. Like to chew through trees and build dams.
  • Boars: Extremely aggressive and irritable. Not predatory, but tough and quite dangerous if provoked. Almost Always Male; wild sows rarely exist in fiction, but when they do, they usually have several striped piglets following them. Often regarded by humans as Worthy Opponents.
  • Bulls: Short-tempered, especially around anything red. Intimidating, tough and extremely strong, but somewhat stupid. May be portrayed as clumsy ("a bull in a china shop") or, more rarely, as Gentle Giants.
  • Camels: Often portrayed as storing water in its hump in fiction even though in Real Life, that hump stores fat. Not very energetic, but slow and steady once they get going; they can endure any hardship (they can survive long in harsh deserts). Cranky, stubborn and bad-tempered, but not actually aggressive. Likes to spit.
  • Cats (domestic, that is): Clever, curious, sometimes playful, but often rather arrogant and vain, with a lazy and hedonistic streak. Aloof and independent, often something of a Tsundere toward potential friends and allies. Often vicious, manipulative and smug, but may be cute or heroic instead. Usually female; tomcats — especially strays — are sometimes portrayed as tough, streetwise, buffoonish, belligerent, and/or oversexed rather than elegant and dignified. Usually obsessed with fishes or mice. Some breeds (especially the long-haired, white-furred, or slender, oriental types) can represent wealth, aristocracy and prestige. Has its own stereotype trope.
  • Cheetahs: Known for their speed. Indeed they are the fastest land animal (though they get tired quicker than dogs). Mostly female.
  • Chimpanzees: Either portrayed the way monkeys are portrayed despite being apes or as erudite and snarky. Will be shown making grimaces that humans interpret as smiles.
  • Cows: Even-tempered, contented and docile, in stark contrast to bulls. Not especially bright. Often gossipy, something like less panicky hens. Sacred Cow in India. Often assumed to be so dumb that they are easily pushed over.
  • Coyotes and Jackals: Cunning and tricky, although their antics can backfire and make them look like the foolish ones. Lacking in courage when it comes to direct confrontation; may be The Starscream. Jackals tend to have more of a cruel streak than coyotes, which are a little more likely to appear as heroic tricksters as long as Roadrunners don't get involved and they aren't being manipulated by genocidal sorceresses to hunt down families of foxes. Jackals may at times be Creepy Awesome.
  • Deer: Delicate and unperilous. Their grace hints at wary senses and swift flight, and so being hard to find. Stags, with their impressive antlers, symbolize nobility without being predatory, though their tendency to simply look majestic and fight over females means they may be depicted as vain braggarts.
  • Dogs: Loyal and friendly, unless they are the wild dogs or an Angry Guard Dog (or a Hell Hound). Possibly not too bright but can smell things very well. May also be overly concerned with their "territory," and with burying (and then losing) bones. Certain breeds have their own characteristic stereotypes. More often male, except for showy breeds like poodles, which are almost Always Female. Also, easily distrac-SQUIRREL!
  • Dolphins: Cheery, playful, clever, and extraordinarily graceful in the water, much like otters, despite the fact that real dolphins are almost universally sociopaths. Always friendly and sociable creatures, at least among themselves. See Heroic Dolphin, Friendly, Playful Dolphin, and Sapient Cetaceans.
  • Donkeys and Mules: Humbler, more hardworking version of a horse. Proverbially stubborn, which may be portrayed as either a good thing (the donkey as Determinator, or the Only Sane Man willing to speak truth to power) or a bad thing (the donkey who doesn't Know When to Fold 'Em to the point of sheer stupidity). Often rather irritable. Usually male.
  • Elephants: Powerful, majestic and wise, with great memories; sometimes extended to be outright brainy people. Usually Gentle Giants, but you don't want to insult their dignity or otherwise piss them off. Very protective of their young. Inexplicably afraid of mice. (This last point was tested on MythBusters and, contrary to everyone's expectations, actually got a reaction — Truth in Television?) African elephants are often female, Asian elephants are mostly male and always Indian (accent optional).
  • Ferrets: Clever and extremely playful, often hyperactive. Usually more like a land-based version of otters than like their weasel cousins, although evil, scheming, malevolent ferrets sometimes appear.
  • Foxes: Tricky, pragmatic, and confident. Unlike their coyote and jackal cousins, which are otherwise portrayed similarly, foxes often have connotations of sexiness, although not all of them do. Interestingly, these tropes transcend culture; both European and and East Asian mythology not only portrays the red fox as a trickster, but associates vixens with beautiful, seductive women.
  • Giraffes: Almost always friendly. May be portrayed as comical, but more likely to be caring parental figures. Very pacifist.
  • Goats: In older European works, goats symbolize paganism, evil, and lust. Today they're mostly just portrayed as surefooted, constantly hungry, and a bit weird, due to their habit of eating things like tin cans. They're also humble and quite stubborn, a little like donkeys, and can be surprisingly aggressive for smallish herbivores.
  • Gorilla: Intelligent like Monkeys, but much calmer and more serious, and immensely strong. They are also seen as possessing a melancholy dignity, as if the authors assume they know their species is dying out. Alternately, monstrous savage creatures which respond to everything with violence, though, like King Kong, sometimes capable of reason and as much victim as villain. Always Male if only one gorilla appears in a work of fiction — females only show up if there's a whole troop.
  • Hare: Somewhat comical but also admired for their fast and cunning flights. Independent and a little mysterious, even magical, particularly in older folklore. See also Hare Trickster. Occasionally, a terror to be reckoned with.
  • Hedgehogs: Fearful cowards or Crazy-Prepared survivalists. May symbolize a person who is "prickly" and difficult to get close to. Also rather prone to executing a Rolling Attack in a similar fashion to armadillos, especially when the hedgehog in question is very, very fast.
  • Hippos: Contented and gluttonous giants of the river. Obese, lazy, and often rather stupid. Surprisingly graceful in water. Rarely as incredibly aggressive and dangerous in fiction as they are in Real Life. Will be depicted as Always Female in comic strips and cartoons.
  • Horse: Elegant, noble, passionate and spirited. Sometimes proud and vain. More often male in fiction; authors usually portray the stallion as not only dominating but leading the herd (rather than the boss mare, as in real life).
    • Draught horses are always Gentle Giants slow in both movement and wit, sometimes depicted as calm enough to sleep through an outright apocalypse. This is Truth in Television; draught horses are specifically bred for huge strength and calm temperament. Destriers used to be just as big but bred for battle, which made them so dangerous that they virtually disappeared as a breed as soon as they were not needed to carry an armored knight in combat.
  • Humans: If they're counted as animals, you can expect a Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My! setting. Humans fit into Black and White Morality, and either Humans Are the Real Monsters/Humans Are Cthulhu or Humans Are Special (but more so the former).
  • Hyenas: Basically The Hyena. Either a harmless jokester or the animal version of a horrific Monster Clown. Laughs like a maniac for no reason. If the writer is aware that hyenas are one of nature's few thoroughly matriarchal species, females may be bigger and stronger and dominate males, but don't count on it. Sometimes found playing the role of undertaker/mortician as (in fiction at least) they tend to be scavengers more than direct hunters.
  • Kangaroos: Extroverted, good-natured characters, athletic yet laid-back. Usually female (although joeys are more likely to be male), they're devoted mothers. More often than not, they have pouches, even if they're male.
  • Koalas: Cute and friendly but rather lazy, or else irritable, gruff and not too bright (a little closer to the truth).
  • Lemmings: Like the sheep (below), but with a greater emphasis on following obviously self-destructive "popular" practices; i.e., to the classic question "if everyone were jumping off a bridge, would you?", a lemming will enthusiastically reply "yes!" Note that real life lemmings committing suicide by jumping off cliffs is almost entirely an urban legend.
  • Lemurs: Flamboyant party animals who often have feminine interests like performing arts and fashion.
  • Lions: Brave, proud, noble, majestic and powerful. Top of the food chain, "King of the Jungle". Can be lazy and vain; lionesses are a bit less likely to be portrayed this way, as most people are aware these days that it's the lionesses who do the hunting. Males appear more often in fiction, however.
  • Llamas: Like camels, but weirder and a little more even-tempered, if equally prone to spitting.
  • Mice: Cuter and far more sympathetic than rats. Mice are more likely to be prey, whereas rats are almost always tough survivors. Often meek, humble, gentle and inoffensive. They are sometimes portrayed as huge cowards with a tendency to jump at little things, but heroic and courageous mice are common as a subversion. Likes eating cheese. Expect some puns to be made about a computer mouse.
  • Moles: Bright, technically minded, and a bit nerdy, often with a special talent for digging or engineering in general. Usually short-sighted, though often in possession of Nerd Glasses that let them see after a fashion. What happened to the star nose? Sometimes they are in miner attire. Usually male. May sometimes be treacherous to their group.
  • Mongoose: Vaguely resembles a weasel, but is a cute and fearlessly heroic defender of the innocent (Rikki-tikki-tavvi is probably the Trope Maker). Although they look harmless, they take on terrifying enemies and win through a combination of agility, wit and boldness; their fighting style resembles the swashbuckler rather than a burly brawler. If paired with a specific enemy, it will always be a snake, usually a cobra. Usually male.
  • Monkeys: Hyperactive, skilful, curious and mischievous. They'll sometimes be referred to as closer to humanity (mostly in the worst ways) than the other animals. Known for throwing their own feces at people. Chimps are inevitably also thrown in the same group. Though they can also be dangerous Maniac Monkeys.
  • Opossums: Often portrayed as "rednecks" or "hicks". Or just as having Southern accents. Or, alternately, as being somewhat raccoon-like in personality. Whatever the case, they're always known for Playing Possum.
  • Orangutans: The middle road between Gorillas and Monkeys: they possess the strength and determination of the first and the agility, goofiness and trickster nature of the second. More dangerous than they look.
  • Orcas aka Killer Whales: Originally ravenous merciless mammalian predators, now like Wolves, respected master hunters of the sea whom even the great white sharks fear. Furthermore, they are friendly fellows like giant dolphins when well fed and in a good mood. Think the fierceness of sharks, with the color and build of pandas.
  • Otter: Fun Personified. Joyous, playful, expert swimmers and acrobats, very similar to dolphins. Laid-back and optimistic, they "go with the flow" rather than worrying how things will work out. Think Surfer Dude, except that otters are usually portrayed as rather clever, rarely The Ditz. Almost always likeable and heroic, never as aggressive in fiction as real otters can be. Usually male.
  • Pandas: Gentle, peaceful and cuddly, usually a bit lazy and often fat. Usually male.
  • Pigs: Greedy and slovenly in a comical way (but at times may be shown as more filthy), but often intelligent and good-natured. More often male. Tends to be bankers, good businessmen, or at least very money-savvy (think piggy banks).
  • Porcupines: Pragmatic and fearless, being well aware of how respected their defensive abilities are. May be either gentle and innocent, or prickly and irritable. Sometimes depicted as being able to actually shoot their quills, which they cannot do in Real Life.
  • Rabbits: Sweet, innocent, and cuddly, but also trickster rabbits for the purposes of self-defense, like Bugs Bunny. Breed like crazy. Fast runners.
  • Raccoons: Sneaky, clever, bold, and rather cute. Often thieves (due to their facial markings, which resemble a bandit's mask), but usually heroic or at least likeable ones. Usually male.
  • Ram: Always ready for a fight. Tough, perhaps surprisingly so, but perhaps a bit dim. Something like a cross of the bull and the sheep.
  • Rats: Traditionally nasty, cowardly, indecent, aggressive, greedy, licentious, and cunning. Often associated with filth and disease (think the Black Death). Often shown to be an Extreme Omnivore after their tendency to bite on many things (of course, they're just being rodents). Knows a lot about the criminal world, often a thief. Always a tough survivor type, whether good or evil, and virtually Always Male. Recently, more realistic representations have been presented in media, showing rats as being very clean (relative to their surroundingsnote , but both are significantly cleaner than their mouse counterparts), even-tempered, and much friendlier than just about every other pet out there after dogs.
  • Rhino: Powerful but somewhat dim. Incredibly dangerous when threatened, but prone to charging headlong without considering the consequences. Often have poor eyesight, which is Truth in Television. Somewhat similar to bulls, above.
  • Seals and Sea Lions: Cute and playful. Adorably clumsy on the land, but breathtakingly graceful in the water. Associated with magic and the sea. Always hungry for fish. Alternatively, they can be terrifying brutes.
  • Sheep: Passive and gentle, but rather dimwitted. Prone to suffering from "herd mentality" and blind, unquestioning obedience toward authority. Easily frightened and incapable of depending themselves, although rams may be more of a threat.
  • Skunks: Gentle, innocent, and totally fearless, owing to their well-known natural defenses. Often depicted as producing a foul scent all the time, which they themselves are unaware of — or, somewhat more accurately, the stink may be portrayed as a form of Fartillery. May be somewhat crude and socially awkward, as the infamous stench associates them with the stereotype of the Gasshole.
  • Sloths: Slow, sleepy and harmless. Tends to hang upside-down from tree branches. Not so much with prehistoric ground sloths.
  • Squirrel: Agile and graceful, but hyperactive and perhaps a bit crazy. Short attention span. Brave considering their size, and often somewhat hot-tempered, but more likely to retaliate with verbal scolding than a physical attack.
  • Tanuki (or raccoon dogs): Sneaky, clever, bold, and rather cute. Often thieves (due to their facial markings, which resemble a bandit's mask), but usually heroic or at least likeable ones. Usually male. Also portrayed as highly sexual and having large testicles.
    • Note that although they look similar to raccoons, and tanuki in Japanese works are often turned into raccoons in Western adaptations, tanuki are not very closely related to racoons — they're actually in the dog family.
  • Tasmanian Devils: Often destructive, gluttonous and voracious. Savage and psychopathic killers with superior strength, eternal hunger and dangerously bad tempers.
  • Tigers, Panthers, Jaguars, and Leopards: Charismatic, exotic predators with an air of grace and power about their every move. Awe-inspiring even as they crush you. Black panthers in particular tend to emphasize the big cats' skill at stealth. For tigers especially, they may see the dragon as their one true rival. Equally likely to be on the side of good or evil. Their dignity and grace may be subverted by putting a big cat in a comic relief role.
  • Walruses: Cute and contently fat, but comically dignified. Always Male, because of their Badass Moustache, usually benevolent but may sometimes be pricks. May or may not wear a monocle and/or top hat.
  • Weasels, Stoats, Martens and Polecats: Scheming, treacherous, cunning and malevolent villains, or else just plain out of their minds.
  • Whales: Gentle, mysterious giants of the deep, slow-moving and very wise. In older works like Moby-Dick, a furious force of nature able to destroy anything they choose, as powerful and inscrutable as the ocean itself. Today, in the post-whaling era, the latter role tends to be given to giant squid instead.
  • Wolves: Evil, murderous, and voraciously hungry or powerful, majestic, and beautiful, depending on when and where the story was written. May be portrayed (especially in older works) as stoic, badass loners, or more realistically as being unshakably loyal to their pack. Likes howling at the moon. Sometimes harsh toward those they love, but god forbid any of them be threatened by an outside force or entity.
    • The "lone wolf" in media is too cool or too tough for help, a badass who won't take nothin' from nobody. In reality, wolves are highly social and have difficulty functioning without a pack. Individuals found alone are usually young adults looking for a mate to start a new pack, and won't last long if they don't find one.
    • In works where wolves are portrayed as social, the pack functions as a strict hierarchy, with an alpha male at the top and a bullied omega at the bottom; low-ranking wolves increase their status by defeating their superiors in one-on-one combat. Up until recently, this was thought to be true of real wolves, but in fact it's not — it was based on studies of strange wolves thrown together in captivity, which tend to become neurotic and start acting out Prison Tropes. In the wild, a wolf pack is essentially a nuclear family; the alpha male and female are simply the parents of the lower-ranking wolves, who never rise up and challenge their parents for leadership — they just leave and start their own packs once they're a few years old.
  • Wolverines: Territorial loners, utterly fearless even toward the largest and most intimidating foes, and able to back it up with sheer savage aggression.note  Scary not because of their size or strength (though they tend to be pretty damn strong), but their utter ferocity. Almost Always Male.
  • Zebras: When in presence of horses, they are often Soul Brothas or some kind of Black Best Friend. Otherwise, they are tougher versions of the antelopes, brave and fiercely independent, although not always very strong fighters. Almost Always Male. If there is more than one zebra, you can expect You ALL Look Familiar and all the zebras will have similar personalities, owing to their habit of walking around in groups to confuse predators. And since they are preyed upon, you can expect Designated Victim. If sports are involved, they will always be seen as referees.

  • Albatross: Often compared with the seagulls, they tend to be stronger and fiercer, as well as crafty fish-hunters.
  • Birds of Prey: Fierce, dignified and serious, though they may kidnap young children, even though they wouldn't be able to lift them in real life.
  • Chickens: Often cowardly and prone to self-destructive panic.
    • Hens: Incurable gossips and not very bright, something like a more high-strung version of cows. Highly protective of their chicks but prone to self-destructive mass panic in a crisis. Unable to defend themselves unaided.
    • Roosters/Cocks: Proud and loud. Often singers, but not very good ones. Pompous and arrogant. Very prone to get in literal Cock Fights and highly possessive of the hens. Often the chief of the farm, or at least the barnyard fowl. Unlike the hens, cocks won't go down without a fight, and can be quite fierce as well. Will often be shown crowing at dawn, even though roosters make noise all the time.
  • Cranes: Majesty, grace, and strength without aggression. Often knows martial arts, owing to the Chinese. Like many great migrating birds, a symbol of finding one's way. Also known for their spectacular mating dance.
  • Crows and ravens:
    • Creepy Crows: Cunning and often ominous; an archetypal symbol of death. Slightly more often evil than good.
    • Clever Crows: Due to their intelligence, corvids tend to be more knowledgeable, often as a counterpoint to owls, the owl will be book-smart, the crow will be street-smart.
    • Heroic corvids will be clever and somewhat mischievous Guile Heroes, but they sometimes have a slightly morbid sense of humor.
    • Crows are occasionally portrayed as being African American. More often male.
    • Ravens can be among the creepy awesome as they are unnerving and dark in appearances. In Edgar Allen Poe's poem The Raven one coldly plays with the emotions of a mourning man taunting and aggravating him, while only replying "Nevermore" to spook the Gent.
    • Magpies: Cunning thieves with a penchant for shiny objects. Sometimes gossipy chatterboxes. May be good or evil.
  • Cuckoos: A harbinger of spring. Also, a symbol for women who secretly make their husband raise another man's children (real cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds' nests). Sometimes portrayed as punctuate and Clock Kings (cuckoo clocks, anyone?). Insanity is another motif associated with cuckoos (see Cloudcuckoolander).
  • Dodos: Generally associated with stupidity and, unsurprisingly, death and extinction (e.g "gone the way of the dodo"). Sometimes, the stupidity and death go hand in hand. Could likely be given the Back from the Dead or They Killed Kenny Again treatment. More rarely, there end up being hints that they never went extinct at all.
  • Doves: Close cousin to the pigeons, and are equally easily scared of anything, but they tend to be portrayed as more down-to-earth, peaceful and pacifistic, if a bit homely.
  • Ducks: Clumsy and a little dim, but also possessing a strong will and perhaps a hidden grace. A little weird. Anthropomorphic cartoon ducks are traditionally highly temperamental and selfish, at best being attention whores and at worst outright sociopaths (though rarely as serious villains).
  • Eagles: Noble, respected, strong Giant Flyers who command impressive heights. Not above eating human flesh if they're starved for meat.
  • Falcons: Swift and agile fliers but often cruel, vicious, and evil.
  • Flamingos: Often bright, energetic creatures who love to party, almost always living in pretty blue lagoons (instead of the boiling, sulfurous crater lakes they inhabit in real life). Also graceful, and at times vain.
  • Frigatebirds and Skuas: Bigger, meaner and nastier versions of gulls, oftentimes with more pirate-like qualities, like thievery and brutality.
  • Geese: Like ducks; more arrogant and irritable, but also more graceful in flight. Also can be portrayed as silly ditzes that are easily distracted. A symbol of good luck, abundance, endurance, and the ability to find one's way home.
  • Guineafowl and Turkeys: Dignified but snobbish, unpleasant and uptight. Usually bigger and a bit tougher than chickens, although not as aggressive as roosters. Not very bright, but not as amazingly stupid as real-world domestic turkeys can be either. Usually male.
  • Gulls: Greedy and undignified but also brave in defying adversity and a symbol of freedom and travel. Gregarious, almost always seen in groups.
  • Herons: Graceful and calm. Patient, with split second reflexes. Tends to be a loner. Sometimes associated with martial arts, much like the mantis, due to the reflexes.
  • Ostriches: Panicky and frightened and will always stick their heads in the sand, even though none of them do this in real life. Rather fast runners, and prone to be Extreme Omnivores.
  • Owls: Wise and mysterious. Smaller species of owl may be portrayed as Absent Minded Professors or even Ditzy Geniuses, perhaps reflecting owls' disorientation in daylight. Alternatively, scary harbingers of doom.
    • Note that Real Life owls have terrible memories in relation to human training.
    • In Italian, "civetta" has the literal meaning "screech-owl" and the figurative meaning "coquette."
    • At times may be Creepy Awesome.
  • Parrots: Will be portrayed as talkative to the point of being annoying. Can overhear important things and remember them to the disadvantage of those who want to keep it a secret. Will also be able to communicate in full sentences and fluent dialogues with humans, in sharp contrast with the low brain capacity and very monsyllabic nature of real parrots. Will be seen in Parrot Pet Position on somebody's shoulder, usually as Pirate Parrot.
  • Peacocks: Vain, elegant, pompous. Often associated with nobility and if you have a couple of these wandering around your yard, chances are you have Impossibly Cool Wealth.
  • Pelicans: Often portayed as a klutzy, comical, lovable goof. Usually male. Their throat pouches will be used as a Bag of Holding for about everything, even stuff that would definitely be unable to carry.
  • Penguins: Inherently comical. Dignified, but clumsy except in the water. Rather cheery and optimistic, even in harsh climes. Usually male.
  • Pigeons: They always fly in flocks, and are easily scared of anything, and are infamous for pooping a lot. Will almost always live in urban areas even though most species (aside from the famous city pigeons) live in places like forests.
  • Roadrunners: Cheerfully optimistic speedster which are most likely to be athletes.
  • Songbirds: A symbol of vitality, freedom and joy. Idioms such as "bird with broken wings" or "caged bird" are used to describe the figurative "death of the soul".
  • Sparrows: Humble, cute and happy, agile and surprisingly brave.
  • Storks: Frequently cast as a Delivery Stork, specialized in bringing newborn babies to their parents.
  • Swans: Beautiful, graceful, and pure. Also a symbol of love, as swans mate for life. Sometimes vain, but rarely as large and aggressive as real swans are. Also known for having chicks that are not as pretty.
  • Vultures: Birds of bad omen, especially the evil-looking turkey buzzard. Fond of Gallows Humor. (Compare with the hyena above.) In a more humorous portrayal can see Vultures as Sport Commentators watching the players bruise and batter each other as they joke about the chaos. May sometimes be Creepy Awesome.

    Reptiles and Amphibians 
  • Chameleon: Changeable and able to blend in with their surroundings, both literal and social. May be self-serving collaborators with no true values of their own. Often stealthy tricksters. Rather weird.
  • Crocodiles and Alligators: Lazy but strong. Usually vicious bullies or unknowable forces of nature. Often more savage than other animals, but are sometimes gentle giants (though this is usually an intentional subversion). Alligators are more likely to be portrayed in a positive light than crocodiles are.
  • Frilled Lizard: An anomalously cute and hyperactive little reptile. May sometimes be vain and boastful.
  • Frogs: Jolly musicians or luck-bringers, usually cheerful and friendly if kind of weird. Associated with rain and water in general. Usually male and always use their tongues to catch insects in the air. In school they will be subject of dissection, but luckily freed in the end.
  • Geckos: Cute and likeable, but a little on the odd side. Always shown climbing walls and ceilings and licking their own eyelids, even if they happen to be Leopard Geckos or other Eublepharids, which have eyelids, unlike other geckos, and have claws on their toes, meaning they can't climb surfaces.
  • Snakes: Pure evil and talk with a lot of "S"-es. Almost always cunning, deceptive and manipulative. More often than not, snakes play the villainous role, and the odd protagonist snake is usually a Sociopathic Hero. More rarely, they are used to represent wisdom, rebirth, and/or immortality. Can also be charming, seductive and/or sexy. Another portrayal is they are excellent dancers (considering how flexible snakes are), and in more positive light are loyal to those who are more respectful to them example: Nagini from Harry Potter, Viper from Kung Fu Panda, Kaa from The Jungle Book. May at times be Creepy Awesome.
  • Toads: Ugly Cute and clumsy. Hidden beauty that reveals itself if you're being kind to it. Always Male.
  • Turtles and tortoises: Slow but wise, except if they are snapping turtles, in which case they're bad-tempered. Often very long-lived. Also, shy and prone to hiding away in their shells whenever danger looms. Nerds of the animal kingdom.

    Sea/Water Creatures 
  • Barracudas and Pikes: Badass but cruel, ruthless and often evil. Voraciously hungry, expert killers.
  • Carps: Tend to not look like much but have strong determination and hidden power/talent, owing to the legend of carps that swim up waterfalls to become dragons.
  • Eels: Tend to be sly, slimy and eccentric, quite like snakes; toned down if they're good guys. If they're the electric ones, expect them to be psychos.
  • Fish: Friendly and mild-mannered individuals who are obviously good swimmers, since their life is (literary) water. Although unique, carefree and creative, they tend to be neurotic when it comes to predators (like sharks!).
  • Manta rays/Stingrays: The (usually) harmless weirdo, usually depicted as friendly and smiling but may have hidden deadly side when provoked enough (owing to their venomous stings).
  • Octopi and Squids: Weird and otherworldly, probably the closest thing on Earth to alien life. May be either charmingly weird and likeable Cloudcuckoolanders or malevolent and terrifyingly alien, but octopi tend to lean toward the former more. May sometimes be a pervert, whether portrayed in a funny or dramatic way.
    • Giant Squid: A raging force of nature that pulls ships and sailors to their doom. Natural enemies with the sperm whale, whom it violently battles with in the deep seas.
  • Piranhas: Tend to be social creatures, but irritable. Highly voracious, a danger in big numbers as they devour everything on their way in alarming speedsnote .
  • Sharks: Hunger and menace personified (except in the rare case of whale sharks, the most commonly used example of a shark that's no threat to humans). Cold and emotionless to the point of being sociopathic. Tend to go psycho once they get a whiff of blood. Will usually be portrayed as great white sharks, because other species are less impressive. In particular, hammerhead sharks tend to be nerdy.
  • Swordfishes: Graceful, suave predators of the sea, commonly portrayed as skillful swordsmen.

  • Ants: Hard-working to the point of losing all individuality. Ant society is usually portrayed as a harsh, conformist Police State or World of Silence based around a Hive Caste System; it may be rather militaristic, evoking army ants. Tend to be stronger than their size implies, especially when working together to lift things much bigger than their bodies. They are matriarchal, but it's usually less emphasized than with bees, and as with bees, fictional works may or may not realize the workers are Always Female.
  • Bees: Hard-working, dutiful and territorial (due to the common gag of a bee's nest being disturbed). They live in a Matriarchy; queens are almost always a stern and serious version of The High Queen. Fictional works may or may not be aware that workers are Always Female.
  • Butterflies: Shy, meek and inoffensive as caterpillars, but bold and beautiful as adults - this contrast often symbolizes transformation or death and reincarnation. Usually female and fragile. More rarely, vain and superficial (just like peacocks).
    • Moths: The Darker and Edgier version of butterflies, due to their association with the night. Harbingers of death and sorrow but also madness and suicide, being irresistibly drawn to light and fire. Think "like moths to a flame".
  • Cockroaches: At best: dirty, will live in any shithole they can find and crawl over everything in sight. At worst: will swarm en masse and devour everything in sight. Mentions of cockroaches supposedly being able to survive nuclear warfare is common.
  • Crabs and Lobsters: Crabby, unhelpful and easily angered. Often Ineffectual Loners. On the bright side, tough fighters and not afraid to engage much stronger foes.
  • Fleas: Often portrayed as likable, sympathetic hobos who associate with their hosts on a friendly basis. Also portrayed as associating only with dogs and cats despite being external parasites to many species of mammal in Real Life.
  • Flies: Often considered of ill-omen, sometimes associated with the Devil, due to their habit of buzzing around people as well as feeding and breeding on rotten meat and feces. They're also depicted as bringer of plagues. May be gluttonous, owing to it being the symbol of gluttony in Seven Deadly Sins. Often symbols of disorder, peskiness and insignificance.
    • Maggots: Disgusting, filthy, repulsive, and mindless larvae of flies. Symbols of rot, decay and corruption.
  • Hercules and Stag Beetles: Commonly seen more in the East, they're Japanese Beetle Brothers. They're either friends, rivals or bitter enemies to each other. Individually, they tend to be strong, both physically and mentally, and fierce fighters.
  • Leeches: Like maggots and worms with the addition of bloodsucking, associated with putrid waters and the basest of natural instincts. In some cultures, associated with medicine as they can be used to suck off tainted blood.
  • Mantis: Badass. Regardless of if they're good or evil, getting in close quarters with one is a major death wish. Interesting example since people tend to love them despite the fact we frequently use them as villains. Graceful killers in melee. Often associated with Martial Arts, thanks to the Chinese and Kung Fu Panda. When female, almost always a Femme Fatale and/or The Vamp (due to how female mantises devour the male's head after they mate). Likely to be Creepy Awesome.
  • Mosquitoes: Pesky, annoying, sometimes even dangerous bloodsucking flies. Like the flies, they're also depicted as bringer of plagues. Often portrayed as bloodsucking even if they're male.
  • Scorpions: Vicious, venomous assassins who hide and stalk in darkness, and often sting for the sake of stinging. See The Farmer and the Viper (AKA Scorpion Dilemma). Sometimes portrayed as tanky, durable fighters due to their thick carapace. Can be either good or evil. When heroic, they tend to be Blood Knights or Proud Warrior Race Guys. Or both. A realistic portrayal would show them to have glasses or contacts (as Scorpions have bad eyesight), and can be very sociable, calm and even docile (considering most Scorpions tend not to attack straight away). May at times be Creepy Awesome.
  • Snails and Slugs: Very slow and fearful but contented and usually good-nature. Slugs tend to be portrayed in a little less positive light than snails are.
  • Spiders: Patient tricksters or venomous antagonists (similar to many other arachnids and insects). Just about Always Female. Often sexy and seductive in very dangerous ways, reflecting the fact that females of several species devour the males after mating (the term "Black Widow" comes from a spider of the same name). Some can be portrayed wearing glasses for a few species have worse eyesight than others.
    • Sometimes portrayed as eccentric artists, locked away in their own room/web creating things. Or, in modern times, locked away in their room surfing the Web, being internet-social (but more withdrawn in real life); being a troll optional.
    • More positive portrayals can see them as, Amazing Stylists and Models, Accurate Weavers, and perhaps effective Doctors (like how most Spiders tend to eat their prey from the inside). May at times be Creepy Awesome.
  • Termites: Destructive little critters with a powerful taste for wood. They behave kinda like ants but they are often an insect version of Tasmanian Devils.
  • Wasps and Yellowjackets: Aggressive, nervous, bitchy, and highly prone to mass fury. Often female. At constant war with bees.
  • Worms: Disgusting, filthy, repulsive and mindless. Symbols of rot, decay and corruption.
    • Earthworms: Usually portrayed in a more positive light than other worms but just as unattractive.

    Prehistoric Creatures 
  • Archaeopteryx: The "first bird". Often acts very much like a modern bird, despite how primitive it's supposed to be.
  • Dromaeosaurids: Fast, intelligent and ferocious hunters. Usually associated with packs like wolves, even though this is controversial.
  • Neanderthals: The archetypical Caveman. Often stupider, taller and stronger than modern humans; tough survivors in fur skins always holding spears; carnivorous. Cavewomen are usually depicted as mannish and intimidating but can be of any shade between the Nubile Savage and the Brawn Hilda.
  • Pterosaurs: More commonly known by the colloquial name "Pterodactyl". Often depicted as large, dragonlike predators that swoop down and carry away animals and people to be eaten. Almost always depicted as resembling the famous Pteranodon.
  • Sauropods and Stegosaurs/Ankylosaurs: Large and strong, yet slow and dim-witted. Gentle giants unless they are threatened.
  • Spinosaurus: Giant and powerful predators, even more so than Tyrannosaurus rex. Basically a fin-backed land crocodile that walks on two legs. Rarely portrayed as a semi-aquatic piscivore/generalist hunter like it might have been in Real Life.
  • Triceratops: Basically a dinosaurian bull or rhinoceros, bad-tempered and prone to charging, but is often portrayed in a heroic role. Tyrannosaurus rex's greatest rival or archenemy; the two would usually fight to the death whenever they meet.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: Powerful, unstoppable, vicious hunters, like a land-based combination of shark and crocodile. Shown to be quite badass and top of the food-chain. See Stock Dinosaurs.

    Mythical Creatures 
  • Dragons, Wyverns and the like: May vary depending on where the work is produced.
    • In the West, they tend to be fierce, monstrous menaces, whether at low levels (like wyverns) or high levels (like dragons). If they're tamed, they can be very loyal towards their owner. Heroic dragons tend to be determined and altruistic, although don't expect them to be nice. At high levels, they tend to be the ultimate creature of the bad guys, if not the main menace itself in the story. Sometimes they're greedy and likes hoarding riches.
    • In the East, they're highly mystical creatures, at times being as powerful as the gods, if not being actual gods. Usually Older and Wiser, and less likely to be evil or antagonistic as the western ones (but when they are evil, everyone's screwed). They may mentor the good guys when they have a chance, sometimes being Trickster Mentors. May have tigers who oppose them.
  • Sphinx: Old, smart figures who loves riddles.
  • Unicorns: Innocent, highly mystical creatures who prefer to be left alone. Tend to be hunted for their magical blood or other bodily things.

Animal Stereotypes by Culture Can Include:

Different cultures can have different stereotypes for any one species or type of animal. For example, cats are often seen as mean in Western culture, but are usually seen as cute in Japanese culture.

Western and European Animal Stereotypes



  • The busy or workaholic beaver

  • The cool or clever cat
  • The lazy cat
  • The evil or villainous cat
  • The cute kitten
  • The warrior wildcat
  • LOLCats

  • The thieving magpie

    Reptiles and Amphibians 
Crocodiles and Alligators
  • The weeping and hypocritical crocodile
  • The villainous alligator or crocodile

  • The gluttonous piranhas

  • The diligent ant
  • The militant ant
  • The thieving or bothersome ant

East Asian Animal Stereotypes

  • The cute bear
  • The cruel bear

  • The cute kitten
  • The lucky cat
  • The acquisitive cat

  • The loyal dog
  • The savage dog

  • The brave panda
  • The proud panda

  • The proud tiger
  • The cruel tiger


  • The grateful magpie
  • The loyal magpie

  • The joyful songbird

    Reptiles and Amphibians 
  • The friendly snake

  • The friendly fish

  • The comical octopus
  • The lecherous octopus

Native American/First Nations Animal Stereotypes

Crows and Ravens
  • The clever trickster raven.