Somewhere, a Mammalogist Is Crying

Dr. Meridian: Well, let's just say that I could write a hell of a paper on a grown man who dresses like a flying rodent.
Batman: Bats aren't rodents, Dr. Meridian.

Most writers are mammals, yet we still get some things wrong about mammals.

One of the most egregious examples is mistaking cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) for fish. Then there's the way that just about any small mammal is mistaken for a rodent, including rabbits (lagomorphs); shrews, hedgehogs, and moles (eulipotyphlans, lipotyphlans or "insectivorans"); bats (chiropterans); and weasels (carnivorans).

Another example is referring to saber-toothed cats, mammoths, and other Pleistocene megafauna as dinosaurs just because they are fierce and extinct, and/or portraying them as being around during the Mesozoic era. An especially egregious example is when woolly mammoths are portrayed in a tropical or dry environment, despite the long fur being meant for insulation against cold temperature.

People also draw male kangaroos with pouches, which only the females possess; elephants drinking with their trunks instead of sucking up the liquid with their trunks and then squirting it into their mouths, like real elephants; gorillas beating their chests with clenched fists, rather than open or cupped hands like real gorillas; rabbits with paw pads and wet button noses like a cat or a dog, as opposed to fur-covered paws and "V"-shaped noses real rabbits have; and on and on.

Nothing to do with breasts. Yes, all mammals have mammary glands for, well, obvious reasons, but it's not the focus here. For that issue, see Non-Mammal Mammaries.

Subtrope of Artistic License – Biology. Supertrope of Kangaroo Pouch Ride, Killer Gorilla, Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying and Wolves Always Howl at the Moon. See also Funny Animal Anatomy and Misplaced Wildlife.


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    List of common errors 
  • As pointed out on QI, dogs don't do it Doggy Style: due to the coupling knot, they should be depicted tail-to-tail facing away from each other during climax.
  • Dogs don't have packs reliant on alpha males. In fact, feral dogs don't form packs and wolves don't form packs as generally conceived by mass media. Wolf packs tend to be organized like families from the old country, in which the old patriarch is in charge of all his descendants until the family gets so large and tensions so great that one of the kids decides to take his descendants elsewhere. The lay understanding of canine social behavior is based on findings with wolves tested in highly artificial captivity before scientists understood the influences of environment. The findings we generally not replicated, indicating that the reported structure was more how a particular group of unrelated wolves dealt with captivity. People generalized the findings to dogs because dogs and wolves are closely related.
    • Related, the use of the words alpha, beta and omega in relation to wolves is considered outdated now, the logic being that these words imply a strict hierarchy where lower ranking wolves constantly vie for dominance, rather than the usually unchallenged family unit that a pack is. Wild wolves do not normally fight over dominance, instead they leave and form their own packs. These words are more suited for wolves in zoos and the like, who being unrelated individuals, have the strict hierarchy and vie for dominance like it was once assumed that all wolves do.
  • Many Furry Fandom artists who draw cats draw them with torsos that taper toward the hind legs like dog torsos. Cheetahs may have torsos that look a bit like that, but other cats have more or less parallel torsos.
    • There is also a slight tendency for some (but by no means all) Furry artists to presume that all mammals go about... certain activities... in ways similar to either Humans or Dogs, or at least how some people presume dogs to go about them (see above). Then again, an Acceptable Break from Reality, as when did Rule 34 care about anatomical correctness even when it was just humans involved?
  • Depicting Pleistocene megafauna as extremely ancient (or even Mesozoic); in fact, they shared the planet with early humans.
  • Any Christmas movie or TV special that shows female reindeer (a.k.a. caribou!) without antlers, or male reindeer retaining their antlers into December, fails biology forever. Females of the species need antlers to guard their young from predators, whereas males shed theirs after the rutting season, with one exception: males retain antlers in winter if they have a "special operation". Older Christmas specials tend to show extremely dainty brown deer that don't resemble reindeer at all.
    • In almost all Christmas-related art or movies, at least for the animated ones, the reindeer tend to resemble Whitetail deer or Blackbuck antelope rather than actual Reindeer, being far too small and delicately built.
    • They're also never shown with the correct type of harness for pulling a sleigh. A proper harness places the burden on an animal's shoulders and flanks; in holiday art, they're usually shown dragging Santa along by leads tied to their necks, which would strangle them.
  • Many a work draw certain mammals with noses shaped like cat-noses or dog-noses when they're not supposed to have them in real life. Particularly rodents, lagomorphs, apes, monkeys, walruses, ruminants and sloths.
  • Many a work has depicted ferrets as being wild animals; even a few places where ferrets are illegal have made this mistake, much to ferret owners' dismay. Ferrets, the pet animal, are a domesticated animal—specifically, domesticated European Polecats (a kind of weasel)—which have been domesticated at least since Ancient Egypt, which some ferret owners unfortunately forget when they "release" them into the wild if they get tired of the ferret, leading to feral populations. It may be mix-up with the wild black-footed ferret, but the latter are highly endangered and generally live only where prairie dogs have a large population. Domesticated ferrets come from European stock, while Black-footed ferrets are uniquely American.
  • The urban legend of the "Mexican pet" loses any veneer of plausibility to anyone who has ever seen a rat up close, or knows anything about their behavior. Even an extremely near-sighted tourist would've surely caught on that an animal with grasping toes on all four feet, which climbs things and clutches food in its front paws while eating, can't possibly be a dog.
  • Rats are often depicted in animation as having a mouthful of shark-like teeth. A real rat has four flat incisors in the front of their mouth, molars in the back, and nothing between. They certainly don't have pointed canines (or any canines at all).
  • Cartoons and other works often depict characters entering a whale's mouth and gut, then emerging through the blowhole in a spray of water. Cetaceans' digestive and respiratory tracts are entirely separate, and they expel exhaled air, not water, from the latter.
  • Anteaters in cartoons are sometimes depicted with flexible snouts like an elephant's trunk. Real anteaters' snouts are bony, unlike the boneless, muscle-filled trunk of an elephant, and thus cannot flex their snout around like elephants. Not to mention they are sometimes portrayed having their mouths at the base of the snout rather than at the tip.
    • Conversely, though usually only in poor-quality animation, occasionally elephants are seen with their mouths in the tips of their trunks, like anteaters.
  • Elephants and camels do not have "four knees". They have the same limb joints — shoulder, elbow and wrist in front; hip, knee and ankle in back — as with every other mammal. They merely have thick callouses on the anterior sides of their wrists, which look something like their actual knees' surfaces.
  • Big cats such as lions and tigers are often drawn with slitted pupils not unlike those of domestic cats, even though in real life big cats have round pupils.
    • Similarly, some mammals with vertical pupils such as foxes and pandas are almost always drawn with round pupils instead.
  • Generally in Western animation, such as Tiny Toon Adventures, skunk spray is depicted as gaseous rather than fluid and coming from the tail when actually coming from anal glands.
  • Many cartoon chipmunks, namely Chip and Dale, are usually drawn with short tails similar to a deer's. Real chipmunks have longer tails resembling that of a squirrel's, only thinner.
  • Hyenas are often referred to as dogs and/or drawn as resembling such. Despite their canine resemblance, hyenas are actually more closely related to mongoose which in turn are more closely related to cats.
    • There's also the portrayal of the hyena's laugh as actual laughter. In real life, the "laugh" of the spotted hyena is a form of vocalization when the hyena is in distress or fighting with another hyena.
    • Anything that portrays spotted hyenas as being dumb and exclusively scavengers. Believe it or not, lions are not as intelligent as hyenas, who are among the most intelligent animals on earth, and lions scavenge more than they do. Hyenas kill 75% of the food they eat whereas lions scavenge over 50% of what they eat. Hyenas prefer to eat their prey alive, mostly due to lions stealing their kills (which, contrary to popular belief, happens more often than the other way around). With that said, some species of hyena are indeed primarily scavengers, namely the brown hyena and the striped hyena. By contrast, the fourth living species of hyena, the aardwolf, is an insectivore and doesn't even eat from carcass.
  • Porcupines shooting their quills as projectiles, despite the quills being basically modified hair. North American porcupines swing their tails at their enemies so their easily detachable quills dislodge in their faces, while Old World porcupines ram backwards at their enemies.
  • Cartoon beavers are usually drawn with white incisors. Real beavers have orange or yellow incisors.
  • Koalas in media are usually portrayed with only one thumb on each paw, despite real koalas having two thumbs. Although this may be because a two-thumbed hand is considered too unrealistic and freaky.
    • It is often believed that eucalyptus leaves make a koala become inebriated, which is why they spend most of their time sleeping. In reality, koalas sleep because they are conserving their energy since eucalyptus leaves do not provide enough of it.
  • Jaguars in cartoons often lack the dots in the center of their rosettes which distinguishes them from leopards, possibly because of confusion between the two big cats. Both jaguars and leopards will also sometimes have solid spots like cheetahs.
    • Conversely, cheetahs are often depicted lacking the distinctive stripes on their tails and sides of their muzzles.
  • Many cartoon chimpanzees and gorillas are portrayed with brown fur, when these apes have black fur in real life.
  • Horns and antlers being considered the same thing. Antlers are bony structures possessed by cervids such as deer and moose which are branched, covered in skin, and are shed when the growth is finished. Horns however end in a point, are covered in keratin, do not shed, and never stop growing.
  • Portraying tree squirrels as hibernating through the winter. This may be because they are rarely seen in cold temperatures, but in reality they're huddling inside their dens to keep warm while not actually hibernating.
  • Portraying opossums sleeping by hanging from tree branches with their tails alone. While real opossums do use only their tails to stabilize their position, they can only do it for short periods of time because of their body weight.
  • Referring to opossums and possums as one and the same. "Possum" refers to the Australian marsupials of the Phalangeriformes suborder in the order Diprotodontia, whereas "opossum" refers to the New World marsupials of the order Didelphimorpha.
  • Confusing porpoises with dolphins. Dolphins have conical teeth and curved dorsal fins, whereas porpoises have spade-shaped teeth and triangular dorsal fins. Also, porpoises have shorter mouths than most dolphins.
  • Long tails of monkeys are invariably portrayed as prehensile, even if the work is set in Africa or Asia. In real life, prehensile tails are a trait exclusive to New World monkeys. Also, most monkeys have legs longer than their arms, unlike many cartoons which show them having longer arms than legs.
  • Contrary to popular belief, apes are monkeys and not a separate group of primates. Apes are a sister group to the Old World monkeys in Catarrhini which is one of the 2 subdivisions of infraorder Simiiformes, the other being Plathyrrhini a.k.a. the New World monkeys. So yes, it is accurate to call a gorilla or a chimp or even yourself a "monkey".
  • It's commonly claimed that lions are the only truly social cats, even by professional sources such as documentaries. Most male cheetahs (but only rarely females) form coalitions (usually with their brothers but sometimes with unrelated males) that stay together for life to hunt, court females, and defend territories together. House cats may bond socially with other cats in the house, or if feral, form clans in the wild. Tigers sometimes exhibit borderline social behavior; sharing kills (but not hunting together) and overlapping territories and interacting whenever they come across one another.
  • Cartoons usually portray the common hippopotamus as a cute, friendly, lovable, and contented animal. In reality, hippos are extremely aggressive and violent, attacking anything that comes within their territory or even their very presence, to the point they're considered the most dangerous animals in Africa.
    • Hippos are also almost always portrayed swimming. Despite being semi-aquatic, hippos actually cannot swim and walk underwater instead, since they sink to the bottom.
  • Portraying female elephants as tuskless. While this is true for Asian elephants, female African elephants possess tusks like the males do. And even then tusks are present in some female Asian elephants, but these are very small and unnoticeable at first glance.
  • Referring to elephants or any elephantine creature as a "pachyderm". Despite being cute, the name is now completely outdated and should be forgotten (it arguably would have been if Dumbo hadn't remained so popular). It originally referred to a taxonomic group that included elephants, rhinos and hippos. But now, thanks to anatomical and genetic evidence, we know that, other than being placental mammals, these animals have literally nothing to do with one another. In fact, rhinos are more closely related to horses than they are to elephants, hippos are more closely related to whales, and elephants themselves are more closely related to manatees AKA sea cows.'
  • Cows are often depicted as being able to give milk anytime, regardless of whether they've had offspring.
  • Mandrills are often confused for baboons, due to their faces being shaped similarly. But mandrills have colorful faces and stubby tails, unlike baboons.
  • Common werewolf portrayals are often guilty of this regarding wolf biology. Besides having a taste for human flesh (wolves rarely attack humans let alone eat them) and having razor-sharp claws (wolves have blunt nails), the association of werewolves with the full moon is based on the misconception that wolves howl at the moon.

  • In an H2OH commercial, the narrator voice comments how cool it is that nature gave spikes to the hedgehog, instead of you (human). In the video, though, the guy shoots spikes all around. It's said that porcupines can shoot their quills — porcupines are not hedgehogs, however, and the popular belief is in fact false. Porcupines may have their spines dislodged while swinging their tails around because the spines are very loosely attached to the porcupine so that they'll come out once they've been lodged in another creature's skin; however, they don't deliberately shoot their quills at a target. They're much more likely to reverse into your leg and fill it with hooked barbs.
  • An ad for Napa auto parts features a hunter crouched in the marsh with his gun and, instead of a regular hunting dog, he has a fluffy white Poodle with a pink bow in its hair. The tag line is: "Having the wrong auto part makes even less sense." This is absolutely hilarious to anyone who knows that Poodles were bred to be wetland hunting dogs, and the dog doesn't care if it's white, fluffy, and wearing a ribbon: when there's a bird to be retrieved, it will be retrieved, no matter the amount of mud involved. Also, those ribbons and poofs and whatnot that look so fancy are all relics of their hunting days — the ribbons were color-coded to their owners, and those poofs were originally for the purpose of keeping the dog's hair out of its eyes. Also, the poodle cut, now known for being the prissiest hairstyle one can give their dog, was actually designed to make it easier for the dogs to move through the wetlands, while still protecting vulnerable areas of the body like joints and their chest, which were essential to keep warmer and more protected. In the past, the poodle cut was the sign of a hardworking hunting dog, not a prissy lap pet.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Saber Tiger by Hoshino Yukinobu:
    • The narrator says "despite its name, the saber-toothed tiger was actually the ancestor of the lion," and not tigers. Lions and tigers, and by extension, leopards, jaguars and house cats, are more closely related to each other than any of them are to saber-tooths, what with the saber-tooths being on one branch of Felidae, and all living cats being on another branch.
    • Time travelers pontificate about how the mammoths are/were doomed because there was an evolutionary trend for the tusk tips to overlap. There were already two rather successful species of mammoths (the Columbian and Imperial) in North America with tusks that had overlapping tips.
  • Wolf's Rain: Hige, Toboe, and most of the minor character wolves are more brown then any real wolf, and every wolf that has markings is over simplified—although realistic ones would be hard to animate. The only visually realistically wolves are the pure white Kiba and pure black Blue. The pure black Darcia would count too, if not for his eyes being different colors.
  • Similarly, Holo of Spice and Wolf has completely light brown hair (in both wolf and humanoid form), as do the non-magical wolves she associates with.

  • Before The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand painted between 1879-80, artists drew horses with highly unrealistic gaits. Horses in gallop were depicted with all four limbs extended off the ground. Once the earliest cameras were invented, people discovered that there was a moment in the horse's gallop where all four limbs were off the ground... but they're tucked under the body rather than extended outwards.
  • One very early European artistic depiction of Mauritius (by an artist who had never been there) shows a fruit bat perched in a tree, hanging BY ITS THUMBS. And no, it wasn't shown relieving itself, which is the only time you will see one holding itself in such a position. Otherwise, they either hang by their feet like any other self-respecting bat, or use both their feet and their thumbs, monkey-style. Even worse, the particular species depicted is so large and heavy that it spends much of its time on the ground.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 
  • Bambi:
    • Thumper is depicted with paw pads in the movies, something real rabbits do not have. Though if he didn't have them, people probably would have thought it was an error. Also, his nose is drawn as looking like a cat's nose as opposed to the "V"-shaped noses actual rabbits have.
    • The Great Prince is shown with fully-grown antlers in spring, summer and winter, even though deer shed their antlers and grow new ones every year.
    • Bambi gets "twitterpated" in the spring, but the mating season of white-tailed deer is in the autumn. Likewise, Bambi should have been born in late spring and not seen snow until he'd lost his spots and was living on his own.
  • Monstro from Disney's Pinocchio is a sperm whale with upper teeth and lines on his belly. Real sperm whales only have lower teeth and do not have lines on their belly. Belly lines only appear on baleen whales, and sperm whales are toothed whales. Not to mention his head is much too wide and his mouth is cavernous; real sperm whales have laterally-flattened heads with a skinny lower jaw.
  • Ice Age:
    • There is a creature which is identified as an aardvark, but though it has the ears of an aardvark, it has the bushy tail of a giant anteater, and its snout is weirdly elongated to be reminiscent of an anteater (not an aardvark), but that animal would have a tiny mouth at the tip of its snout, whereas the cartoon critter has its mouth at the base.
    • The series also has a habit of playing very loose with geography. There are several species mixed in that are South American.
    • The glyptodonts in the series are depicted with armor plating on their bellies and the ability to retract into their shells just like turtles.
    • Sid and the other sloths walk perpetually upright and flat on their feet (sloths walk on all fours and on the sides of their feet, not unlike an anteater), and have heads shaped like a hammerhead. They also have noses more like a dog's, though it's most likely ground sloths had pig-like noses since both 3-toed and 2-toed sloths have them.
  • In The Legend of the Titanic, dolphins can jump as high as Titanic decks and even fly for a short amount of time by flapping their fins. It should be obvious to anyone with any grasp of biology — or hell, logic — why this doesn't work.
  • Ferngully has one. Batty's wings keep changing from one free claw with four fingers supporting the wings, to one free claw with one finger holding the wing, or the complete opposite of Ptero Soarer: three or four free claws with one finger holding the wing. Most obvious in the rap.
  • Disney's The Jungle Book and Goliath II have elephant herds led by a male. In real life, female elephants lead herds while males are solitary.
  • Dumbo briefly showed a family of hyenas laughing. Said hyenas are shown to be striped hyenas, which do not make the "laughing" sounds like their spotted cousins.
  • Peter and the Wolf: At one point in the 2006 animated adaption, the wolf slashes Peter across the face with its claws. While this is not technically impossible, it is still odd for a wolf. Wolf claws are dull because they are used for traction while running and cannot be retracted. Swatting with a paw is a very cat-like action, and not something canines tend to do because they rely mainly on their jaws for fighting.
  • Tarzan:
    • Tarzan's often able to win over others' sympathy through his eyes, including the gorillas. In reality, gorillas do not like direct eye contact, perceiving it as a challenge. Locking eyes with one of them is demanding a fight.
    • A human walking on his knuckles as Tarzan does would be extremely painful, and cause severe damage to the bones in the hands. Gorillas get away with this due to thicker knuckle bones and arms longer than their legs, unlike humans. As he's spent most of his life walking on all fours, Tarzan's pretty fortunate that his back isn't wrecked as well.
    • The alpha baboon has the colorful face of a mandrill, something real baboons lack.
    • The female African elephants in the film are portrayed without tusks. Female Asian elephants have no tusks, but African ones do.
    • Played for Laughs with Tantor's trunk, which he accurately uses as a snorkel like real elephants... and as a periscope, complete with radar noises! Does he have eyes inside his trunk? Or maybe it's just a visual representation of him sniffing?
    • In a scene, gorillas are shown eating termites, fishing for them with sticks. While lowland gorillas do occasionally eat termites, only certain tribes of chimpanzees use a stick to fish for them.
    • Sabor, the leopard that killed Tarzan's family when he was only an infant, is somehow still alive and dangerous when Tarzan is an 18-20 year old adult, despite the fact that leopards don't usually live past their late teens. There are exceptions, but such an elderly cat would definitely not be so insanely fast and agile.
    • Sabor is shown to have slitted pupils. Big cats actually have round pupils, while slit-pupils are present only in smaller cats.
    • Albeit with great difficulty, Tarzan does manage to physically hold Kerchak back to stop him from attacking Jane. Though it is difficult to gauge their strength with any precision, a silverback male gorilla usually tips the scales at about 400 pounds and is many times strong than any human. A human attempting to take on an angry silverback in real life would literally be crushed in a heartbeat.
    • Hippos are portrayed as docile and passive creatures, one is even shown letting young Tarzan ride on its snout. Anyone with even a faint familiarity with hippos knows that in Real Life they're the exact opposite. Luckily, this is fixed in the TV series.
    • It's easy to miss, but Professor Porter refers to rhinos and baboons as Rhinoceros bihornius and Theropithecus babunious respectively, neither of which are the actual scientific names of any real life species of rhinoceros or baboon. Rhinoceros bicornis was the actual scientific name of the black rhinoceros during the time period the movie takes place, though (it dog renamed to Diceros bicornis in 1911, with the genus Rhinoceros kept for the one-horned Asian species). Theropithecus is a legitimate genus, but it refers to the gelada, a cousin of baboons living in the Ethiopian highlands, while baboons belong to the genus Papio.
    • On the other hand, this is averted when Kerchak pounds his chest; he does it with open hands like real gorillas, rather than clenched fists like in most cartoons. Unfortunately, the TV series forgets this and has gorillas pound their chests with clenched fists.
  • The Lion King:
    • The lions:
      • Going by the way prides of lions are structured, Nala's father should be Mufasa or Scar, making her related to Simba, who became her mate.
      • Lions in this film have larger dew claws than in Real Life, which they can use as thumbs to make human-like hand gestures. It's the most conspicuous with Scar, who grabs Banzai by the neck during his Villain Song.
      • The movie was originally going to be called King of the Jungle and be about African lions living in the jungle. This idea was dropped when the production staff realized that lions don't actually live in the jungle.
      • Given that they are very close to the same age, realistically, Scar and Mufasa would have been kicked out of their natal pride by their father at or around the same time, and worked together to take over a pride. Which they would then lead and father cubs for together. The same would have happened to Simba, had Mufasa lived. But, that doesn't make for a very good Disneyfied version of Hamlet, now does it?
      • In general, the pride operates much closer to a human monarchy than an actual lion pride, with a clear line of succession, a monogamous ruling couple, and even royal advisers and arranged marriages.
      • A relativity small thing, but none of the cubs in either of the movies seem to be part of a litter. Though lionesses typically have small litters (usually just two or three cubs at a time)and having a single cub is certainly possible, to have all of these cubs being single births is quite bizarre.
      • None of the cubs have spots, as real lion cubs do. note 
      • All of the lion roars heard in the movie are actually tiger roars because the people making the movie felt like the lion roars weren’t powerful enough.
    • The hyenas:
      • The hyenas in the film are supposed to be spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). They actually bear some resemblance with striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena), with grey hair, large shaggy black manes, black ears and low-hanging head.
      • The decision to portray the hyenas as stupid feels odd when you realize that they are among the most intelligent animals in real life, and are comparable to the great apes in that regard. They have a very complex social structure (the most complex of any predator), and can work together and problem solve better than chimpanzees can, as elaborated on here.
      • The hyenas also bark, drool, and whine like dogs. In real life, hyenas belong to their own family (Hyaenidae), which is more closely related to the cat family (Felidae), or the Mongoose family (which includes animals such as meerkats), compared to the dog family (Canidae.) To show how wrong this is, they could meow or purr and it would be more logical than barking (but still very wrong, as said they belong to their own distinct family which has it's own distinct vocalizations; mainly whooping or giggling noises.)
    • Rafiki is a mandrill with a tail of a baboon and living in the savannah instead of in the forest.
    • Pumbaa is a reddish brown warthog that looks more like a big-headed pig than a warthog.
    • Timon is an always-bipedal meerkat with human-like teeth and that says "Ugh, Carnivores!" even though he belongs to the order Carnivora as well.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The original Planet of the Apes films have gorillas as the violent, militaristic apes. But in reality, chimps are known to be much more violent than gorillas. Probably a case of Science Marches On, as gorillas were often depicted as violent in the past. Also probably why the 2001 version had a chimp as the main antagonist. Also, the orangutans are the leaders of the ape society due to their wise looks and supposed social skills... and it's been proven they often live very far from each other (researchers might spend years seeing the same orangutan on a large area).
    • It's funny that they make fun of the "apes mistaken for monkeys" thing in the Planet of the Apes (2001) remake, but played straight in that to make them seem more attractive, the female apes were given eyebrows, something real apes do not have, and human-sized breasts, evident when the female ape is being "sexy" for the Senator Nado.
  • In Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Ace has a phobia of bats (one of the few animals he's not friendly with) and often calls them "rats with wings". However, this is more likely to be a derogatory term rather than an actual fact.
  • In Gremlins 2: The New Batch, one of the scientist twins who find Gizmo describes him as a rodent. Even though it's not clear what he is, a biologist examining him would be more likely to think he was some kind of primate, like a tarsier or bushbaby.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy identifies the large winged creatures flying overhead as "giant vampire bats". Vampire bats are indigenous to South America, not India; given their size and the fact they're flying in broad daylight, the animals in question are almost certainly harmless fruit-eaters. Possibly Indy was just yanking Willie's chain, since giant vampire bats were real creatures, but they've been extinct for tens of millions of years.
  • Wolfen claims that wolves — not just its urban superwolves, but real ones — have thermographic vision.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket is frequently referred to as a rodent. Besides the fact that raccoons are part of the Order carnivora, Rocket himself isn't even a raccoon, just a genetically modified alien that looks like one. On the other hand, it's justified in that it's normally said derogatorily, something which Rocket drunkenly makes clear actually hurts him immensely on Knowhere.
  • An infamous example in Beastmaster, with the very un-ferret-like behavior and vocalizations by Kodo and Podo. Several scenes show the ferrets gnawing through ropes in a manner more typical of movie-hero rodents, and although ferrets do have vocalizations, they rarely make them outside of play or as an alarm call, and certainly don't make the squeaking sounds they're depicted making in the films. The pair of them are also identical in size, yet are shown to have produced babies at the end; real male ferrets are much larger than females.
  • Several works by Dingo Pictures prominently feature a raccoon, a squirrel, and two gophers that for some reason move like a kangaroo! Legend of Atlantis had dolphins with nostrils on the base of their beaks instead of blowholes on the top of their heads.

  • Mariel of Redwall, from the Redwall series, mentions Gabool the Wild having gold "replacements" for his canine teeth. Gabool is a rat, and rodents do not have canine teeth.
  • In the books, movie, and PBS kids TV show, Curious George is referred to as a monkey even though he resembles a chimpanzee. And yet, George doesn't match a chimpanzee either, standing much too erect. According to author H. A. Rey, George's original design (as Fifi... yes, male... in Rafi et les 9 singes (Rafi and the 9 Monkeys)) had a tail. Due to art complications — the long-necked giraffe main character plus nine monkey tails made the art "look like spaghetti" — the tails were removed, making Fifi (and thus George) a tailless monkey. Rey did the research. He lived by the zoo. But when you're making a picture book, the art wins over accuracy. And even if George was a chimpanzee, it would still be technically accurate to call him a monkey considering modern taxonomy.
  • In Prince Caspian, Reepicheep the talking mouse has lost his tail in battle, and he argues with Aslan over whether it needs to be regrown. Both of them seem to think a mouse's tail has no practical value, and is of use only as a badge of honor or vanity, but the tails of mice and rats are actually important thermoregulatory structures, without which he'd be quite vulnerable to heat stroke. This is more likely Science Marches On, rather than a failure on C. S. Lewis's part. Research on thermoregulation in rodents was not common knowledge in 1950-51, when the earliest reference to it was published in 1958. It makes even less sense in Reepicheep's case since wielding a sword would probably be much easier with a tail to balance with.
  • The above mentioned tail problem does not seem to be an issue for the narrator in Roald Dahl's The Witches after he gets turned into a mouse.
    • Considering that he swings from his tail, it still invokes this trope. Mice do not have prehensile tails, nor can the tails support the weight of a mouse for more than a couple of seconds.
  • According to his backstory from James and the Giant Peach, James Henry Trotter's parents were eaten alive by an escaped zoo rhinoceros. In real life, rhinos are supposed to be herbivores. Fortunately, the book lampshades this as being very strange behaviour for a rhino, and the film adaptation averts it by changing said rhino from an actual rhinoceros to a large rhinoceros-shaped demon made entirely out of thunderclouds.
  • Kim Harrison persistently seems to think ferrets are rodents in a couple of her books about The Hollows.
  • Averted in the Discworld. Don't call the Librarian a monkey. In fact, don't even say the word, or any combination of words that could sound like "monkey". It makes him displeased. Remember "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, especially simian ones. They aren't that subtle."
    • Granny Weatherwax once Bowdlerized a summary of Nanny Ogg's favorite song as being about "a rodent that can't be persuaded to be bothered by anything". The actual song title is "The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered at All", and hedgehogs are eulipotyphlans ("insectivorans" of traditional usage), not rodents.
  • In Domain, a horror novel about giant killer rats, one of these aggressive rodents gets stuck twice — once by its shoulders, again by its hips — while squeezing its body through a gnawed hole in a door. Any exterminator, or any rat-fancier who's ever tried in vain to put a collar on one, knows that real rats can fit their entire bodies through any opening large enough for their heads.
  • E. T. A. Hoffmann describes dolphins as having scales in The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and has them blowing water through their nostrils. (Dolphins have a single blowhole on the top of their head, and they don't actually blow water out through it.)
  • Many writers wishing to dramatise a transformation between human and animal forms choose to describe a molding-type process, as opposed to a puff of magic smoke. Faces lengthen, ribcages change shape, teeth sharpen — all ok. And then a joint turns over. All mammal joints actually are present in the human form — as the heel of the foot being the equivalent of a hock. No turn-overs would need to ever happen. Prevalent in Harry Potter Fan Fiction.
    • J.K. Rowling herself seems to have gotten this even more wrong, as Wormtail's transformation in the third novel mentions his tail slipping through one of the manacles he'd been wearing in his human form. Unless he'd been wearing the manacles clamped around his coccyx, his tail had no business being inside one, in the first place.
  • The 2015 edition of Guinness World Records repeatedly calls elephants ungulates, i.e. hoofed mammals. One look at their feet should tell you why this isn't correct. Their closest living relatives are dugongs, manatees and hyraxes, and any relation to actual hoofed mammals is far, far removed.
    • To make things worse, it cites the African elephant as the largest ungulate. Elephants aren't ungulates, but whales are.
  • Rick Riordan referred to weasels as rodents in The Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, the bat Needle eats three grapes and a plum without his stomach exploding. The largest bat species in Europe is only half the size of a plum, and it's a bird-eating carnivore.
    • Bubo, being a pack rat, has no business being in England or scavenging the Good Doctor's research leavings. Pack rats are North American, and herbivorous.
  • People Of The Wolf: Elephants do not keep harems, and there is no reason to assume mammoths were any different. Living elephants segregate by sex: females live in herds with their immature offspring, and males are mostly solitary, though sometimes they associate with other males. As mammoths are such close kin of Asian elephants (roughly 99 percent genetically identical) there is no reason to depict them living like horses instead of like their living relatives.
  • Among other inaccuracies and instances of Science Marches On, Moby-Dick has a substantial section in which the narrator tries to argue that whales aren't mammals and that anyone who thinks they are is delusional. The extent to which this is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek—if at all—is left for the reader to decide.
  • Jan Brett's children's book Honey... Honey... Lion! not only utilizes the apocryphal myth (commonly depicted as fact in older sources) that honeyguide birds lead honey badgers to bee hives, but also has the honey badger being frightened by a lion... despite the fact that honey badgers in real life are known nowadays for being vicious and virtually unstoppable in spite of their small size, and could easily fight off a lion with little to no difficulty.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Angel: In the episode "Through the Looking Glass", the gang is discussing the picture of a male red deer. Had Wesley simply used the term "hart" or "stag" in the layman fashion (to refer to any male red deer regardless of its age), it might not have been accurate but it wouldn't have been comment-worthy. Unfortunately, he goes into detail saying a hart is "a male red deer or staggard" indicating the script-writers may have attempted to research the proper naming convention that exists for male red deer (that or they thought a "stag" and "staggard" meant the same thing). A staggard is a male red deer in its fourth year of life. A stag is a male red deer in its fifth year of life. A hart is a male red deer over five years old (i.e., in its sixth year of life). The picture itself shows a 10-point deer (5 tines on each antler) which is a "great hart" (a stag over six years old, i.e., seven years old or older with 10-16 tines). By using generalised layman terms, it all could have been handwaved as an ordinary conversation or at least the "hart" being a contraction of "great hart" where the picture itself was concerned. The attempt to be clever by referring to "staggard" simply exposed that the writers had been sloppy about research.
  • In one episode of QI, Jimmy Carr claims that all native Australian mammals are marsupials, and Steven "corrects" him that they are therefore not mammals. Both are wrong — marsupials are indeed a subgroup of mammals, and there are non-marsupial mammals native to Australia such as monotremes (platypus and echidna), dingoes, bats, and various sea mammals.
  • The Sesame Street segment "African Animal Alphabet" states that "C is for cheetah running underneath the moon". Cheetahs are diurnal.
  • An episode of the Animal Planet series Pets 101 claimed that kinkajous are marsupials, when they're actually members of the raccoon family.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring King Dinosaur has Joel and the 'Bots mistaking a kinkajou for a lemur.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Ravenloft darklord Urik von Kharkov, a panther-form shapeshifter, is described as acquiring slitted pupils like a cat's when he loses his temper. But Kharkov's feline form is a leopard, one of the big cats, and their pupils are oval rather than slitted.

  • Beanie Babies:
    • A weasel-like Beanie Baby named Runner has Mustelidae officially listed as its species. The "mean poem" that the toy was originally released with (itself a Crowning Moment of Funny for the franchise) all but stated that it was a mongoose, while the replacement poem said that it could be "a ferret, mongoose, weasel or mink." Although the other three species are legitimately mustelids, mongoose are kind of on their own classification-wise, and are actually more closely related to felines and hyenas than anything else.
    • Seaweed the Otter is depicted with seaweed in her paws, as if she were eating it. Sea otters largely eat marine invertebrates and fish.

    Video Games 
  • A few examples in World of Warcraft
    • The devs don't know how horses run (the game animates them the same way as a cheetah, with legs outstretched in the suspension phase instead of collected). In the current version, this has been changed.
    • Elekk (a pseudo elephant mount) freakin' gallop. Come to think of it, so do the mammoths. Knee joints of adamantium! This was also eventually corrected so they run like actual elephants.
    • The wolf mounts, and by extension all wolf mobs using the worg model run nothing like an actual wolf would run. Wolf mobs using the alternative wolf model run pretty much properly.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Diddy Kong is often called a chimpanzee (and, in some instances, referred to as Donkey Kong's nephew), even though he has a tail.
    • In fact, the Kongs themselves. Having the same last name implies they're more or less related, despite them being very different species of apes and monkeys. Cross-species adoption, maybe?
    • Worse, Cranky Kong is explicitly the original DK from the arcade game. He was a gorilla then. He's currently somewhere between Chimp and Baboon, with a demonstrably different bone structure, body shape, set of limb proportions, and cranial shape. Miniature Senior Citizens as applied to non-human primates?
    • For that matter, they're nearly all colored brown, one color non-human apes DON'T come in.
  • Clanker from Banjo-Kazooie is claimed to be a metal whale note  despite the fact that he has gills. His teeth also make him look like a shark.
  • Ape Escape: Pretty much okay as a title for the game, yet everyone seems to call the titular primates monkeys. This is a case of Lost in Translation, as the original title was "saru getchu"; Saru meaning monkey. Although this becomes a case of Accidentally Correct Writing, when you realize apes are technically monkeys or simians.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Knuckles looks nothing like an echidna. Not even remotely. Few Sonic characters resemble the animals they are based on, with Tails being the closest to looking like an actual fox (barring the two tails, of course).
    • The Western cartoons also had Dr. Robotnik derisively call Sonic a "rodent", which hedgehogs are not.
    • Several countries mistranslated "hedgehog" as "porcupine"(though ironically, Sonic being a porcupine would make Robotnik's "rodent" assessment accurate).
  • In Scribblenauts, writing "monotreme" gives you a porcupine (not an echidna, an actual porcupine).
  • Far Cry 3:
    • Tapirs can be killed by chasing them into water so they drown (even though real tapirs take to the water to escape predators). Not to mention they are referred to as "Asian tapirs", when they have the coloring of a Baird's tapir (native to South America). Interestingly, the game also has a Malayan tapir, but it's referred to as a "white-bellied tapir" and is regarded as an alternative skin coloring.
    • White tigers are portrayed with yellow eyes, despite having blue eyes in real life. This mistake is fixed in Far Cry 4.
  • In Labyrinths of the World: Shattered Soul a hedgehog, once fed, curls up and rolls away like a soccer ball.
  • The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals:
    • A springhare is portrayed as a rabbit, despite being correctly described as resembling a cross between a mouse and a kangaroo.
    • The game states jaguars do not roar, when they do in real life (and are shown doing so in the game).
  • The in-game databank of Ōkami erroneously refers to hares as rodents (they're actually lagomorphs).

    Web Comics 
  • In Off-White, a conversation between Othala and Raigho suggests that a female wolf leading a pack is unusual. In reality, wolf packs are a nuclear family structure, and having the eldest female parent lead a pack is not at all unusual.
    • The pack is shown hunting a bull elk. This is (possible but) unlikely because wolves, like most predators, usually target the sick, the young, the weak and anything else less hard to catch than a healthy adult animal.
    • There are a blue-eyed and a red-eyed raven, and Iki, a wolf, has blue eyes, mostlynote  unnatural colors for those animals. This is intentional, it indicates the color of their spirits.
  • The Blackblood Alliance:
    • Most of the wolves have body proportions that look too thin for gray wolves, let alone dire wolves.
    • Also, a real Saber-toothed cat probably would have broken its sabers off if it tried to use them the way the ones in the comic do.
    • The Blackbloods being able to survive on bats in an oasis in the desert may qualify as this.

    Web Original 
  • The flash clip Dugong begins with words 'Dugong, dugong it's a cow of the se-e-e-a. Dugong, dugong, also known as the manatee'. The problem is that dugong (Dugong dugong) and manatees (genus Trichechus) are different animals. Furthermore, the song contains the phrase "Compared to dolphin, its very close cousin...". Dugong and dolphins are water mammals, but hardly 'very close cousins'. Manatees and dugongs (Sirenia) are more closely related to elephants and aardvarks than to dolphins, while cetaceans are closer to hippopotamuses and swine.
  • The "Dramatic Chipmunk" is actually a prairie dog.
    • Similarly, the "Dramatic Lemur" is a tarsier, and there are many popular Youtube videos of pet lorises (a concept that is already questionable for unrelated reasons) with titles like "cute lemur getting tickled".
  • This customer from Not Always Right, who believes that chickens are mammals because they "have meat."
  • The short film "Dream Come True (A Mule Mom's Story)'' has a "coyote" that is clearly a wolf that just sounds like a coyote.

    Western Animation 
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In one episode, someone pitches ideas for an "inaction figure" based on Perry the Platypus, one of which is "The Mad Marauding Marsupial of Death." Right continent, wrong kind of mammal. The platypus is a monotreme, not a marsupial. Ferb also once stated that the platypus is the only mammal that lays eggs; this is inaccurate, as the Echidna also lays eggs.
    • In another, Candace calls Perry Phineas's stupid rodent pet. Rodents have teeth, while platypuses do not — among innumerable other differences. Granted, this one can probably be chalked up to merely being an insult.
    • Perry is also occasionally depicted as having a full set of teeth. Baby platypus do have teeth and extinct platypus species had molars, and living adult platypi lack them. This could probably be chalked up to anthropomorphism.
  • Yin Yang Yo! had at least one episode where Yin and/or Yang throw up. However, since Yin and Yang are rabbits, they shouldn't be able to barf.
  • In one King of the Hill episode, when Bobby gets a summer job for a guy who cleans poop off lawns, he and his employer gross out his folks by describing an incident at work: their discovery of deposits of gigantic turds, scattered all over an estate's grounds. Turns out it was alpaca poo, as a neighbor's damaged fence had let a whole herd go trespassing ... and it also turns out that the writers chose the worst possible animal to blame it on, as alpacas produce lots of tiny "beans" of dung, and herds of them do so all in one place. Obscure, but a single phone call to a petting zoo could've rectified this one.
  • Barnyard treats cows and bulls as entirely separate species — the main character is a male cow with udders (in the video game adaptation he squirts what the devs probably wish you thought was milk), while udderless bulls have also appeared.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Somewhat averted, surprisingly enough. While real ponies can't talk, aren't colored in pastel colors, and don't have magically appearing pictures on their flanks indicating what career they're going to have, the show is quite accurate in other respects. In particular, the ponies (mostly) move in realistic ways for equines, with their joints and legs moving in the proper order (something many other forms of media get wrong). There're also small touches, like ponies putting their ears back when angry or afraid, accurate references to equine anatomy in the song "The Art of the Dress", and so on. On the other hand they are able to eat stuff that would normally be poisonous to real ponies, like chocolate or quince. Any complaints about the differences pretty quickly begin to look like arbitrary nit-picking. they pretty clearly aren't meant to be particularly realistic.
    • While they do walk with the proper motions, their wrist and knuckle joints seem to have merged into a single joint, or else they have a wrist set farther down the leg and no knuckle (an equine's hoof is essentially a giant toenail protecting a single large toe upon which the animal balances). This is most likely due to the animation style, though, as accurate joints might look a bit strange on the somewhat chibi designs. Other joints have a greatly increased range of motion, to allow for some of the more human poses and motions they pull.
    • Played straight at other times. Fluttershy takes care of domestic ferrets as if they're wild animals and one scene even shows them eating nuts. A carnivorous sparrow also popped up once.
  • Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable has a pet naked mole rat named Rufus that he carries around with him. This would be incredibly difficult in real life as, despite being mammals, naked mole rats are eusocial and cold-blooded, relying on the warmth of their colony or the coolness of their inner dens to regulate body temperature. Rufus is also shown eating cheese, but real naked mole rats eat potatoes and yams (multiple times, as they even eat their own poop to re-digest them).
  • One episode of The Snorks had what's clearly a baleen whale referred to as a killer whale. To make it worse, it seemed to be trying to eat a baby whale.
  • One episode of the 2006 edutainment series I'm An Animal had a black rhino with only one horn and a white rhino that was actually white.
  • One episode of Dino Squad had a baby gorilla with a tail.
  • Timon & Pumbaa:
    • "Cooked Goose" had the hyena trio, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, being manipulated by a pair of cheetahs by sending them through a literal wild goose chase to prevent them from disturbing their hunts. Their first meeting has the hyenas obviously being intimidated by the cheetahs. Shenzi even puts her paw over Ed's mouth when he rudely demands what they want from them, and then immediately tries to defuse the situation with flattery, calling them "big, bold, brave cheetahs". In reality, the exact opposite would occur. Despite their speed, hyenas are much stronger than cheetahs, and since hyenas hunt in packs most encounters between the two species involve hyenas stealing prey from cheetahs. As a result, cheetahs will actively avoid hyena packs as much as possible. Also, among the animals that fell prey to the cheetahs by the end of the episode are implied to be a rhino and a hippo, which cheetahs do not prey on due to large size and immense strength.
    • In "Brazil Nuts", Timon called a capybara-like rodent a marmoset (a type of monkey). Clearly he might have meant a marmot, but marmots do not live in Brazil or in rainforests.
    • Elephant skeleton are frequently shown to have bones which represent trunks, despite an elephant's trunk being mostly made up of muscles and containing no bone.
    • Averted in that Boss Beaver has yellow teeth, just like a real beaver.
  • In the animated Watership Down series, all the rabbits have pads on the bottoms of their paws. In the feature film version, the Heartbeat Soundtrack at the end of the "Bright Eyes" sequence is from a human heart, not the much, much faster one of a rabbit.
  • Episode 7 of W.I.T.C.H. has a scene with a fox hunting a rabbit. The fox makes noises that are probably stock dog noises, and the rabbit squeaks like a rodent.
  • One episode of The Magic School Bus features a possum making rodent noises.
  • The Lion Guard has more than a few cases of inaccurate facts involving animals, despite it being an edutainment cartoon. For example hyenas are described as scavengers when they hunt just as much, if not more, than they scavenge (and we even see hyenas hunting in-series). Although there have been times when the show averts this. Namely the elephants are led by a female, have funerals when a member dies, communicate through infrasound, and are deathly afraid of bees.
  • Elmer Fudd, an episode of The Angry Beavers, and Mr. Whiskers erroneously call rabbits rodents.
  • The Old Man of the Mountain: The animal at the beginning, which is apparently a mountain lion, has a mane. Unlike lions (which are a different species), mountain lions do not have manes. This may or may not have been intended as a Visual Pun.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Tigers are constantly portrayed as being only orange with black stripes, lacking the white on their muzzles, cheeks, paws, and undersides. "Luca$", however, showed a tiger with realistic colors and patterns.
    • The koalas in "Eight Misbehavin'" are shown devouring the carcass of an antelope without ill effects, even though koalas can only ingest gum (or eucalyptus) leaves. They are also drawn with only one thumb instead of two, though that may be because everyone has Four-Fingered Hands.
    • In "Bonfire of the Manatees", Caleb claims manatees and dugongs are the same animal, when they aren't (though they are both sirenians aka sea cows).
    • In the third act of "Treehouse of Horror XI", dolphins have no trouble moving on land (by Tailfin Walking) and are not worried about dehydration or sunburn. Plus there's the whole "dolphins used to live on land until humans banished them into the ocean where they suffered for millions of years" thing.note  Of course, the Treehouse of Horror episodes aren't known for realism anyways. They did throw in a bit of accuracy by having King Snorky's mouth not sync when he speaks, referencing to the fact dolphins use their blowholes for communication since they cannot breathe through their mouths.
    • "Simpson Safari" has a rhino hatching from an egg, a giraffe living underground, and a hippo being afraid of water. All of which are Played for Laughs and lampshaded by Lisa.
    • Rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and guinea pigs are frequently drawn with button noses and vaguely human-like faces, though exceptions have occurred.
    • Sloths, bighorn sheep, and elks are drawn with noses more like a dog's than in real life.
    • Averted in "Homer's Phobia", which showed reindeer that actually look like reindeer for once.
    • "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" had a clearly male Asian elephant (complete with visible tusks) referred to as female.
  • Sandy Cheeks of SpongeBob SquarePants has a cat-like nose and protruding incisors and hibernates during winter, none of which are real life features of squirrels.