Viewer Species Confusion
Wait, you mean you're not a badger?

Similar to how Viewer Gender Confusion is the audience thinking the character is of the opposite gender (or isn't sure which gender the character is in general), Viewer Species Confusion is when the audience thinks the character is of a different species. Usually it happens when the character is oddly colored, or if the character barely resembles the species he's supposed to be.

This is an Audience Reaction. Informed Species if intentional, I Am Not Weasel if in-universe, and Cartoon Creature if it's not even supposed to be recognized.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Jewelpet
    • Io is a species of rabbit characterized by having droopy ears; it's easy to think that he's a dog, especially in Twinkle, where he forms a trio with two dog Jewelpets. This mistake was canonized by the fourth season.
    • King is supposed to be a French bulldog, but his color scheme makes him look like some sort of creature who decided to wear a pink rabbit outfit... with a pig-like tail. Truly the stuff that Mind Screw is made of.
    • Coal is the little known capybara. People tend to think he's a bear or a hippo.
  • Menchi in Excel Saga is a dog and is constantly referred to as such, but most people would guess "cat" upon seeing her.
  • The Mokonas from Magic Knight Rayearth, XxxHolic and Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- are usually thought to be a rabbits, when really they're just Mokona.
  • The Trope Image here is My Hero Academia's Nedzu, the Principal of U.A. Academy. As lampshaded by the complimentary quote and caption, no one really knows what he is. The obvious answer would be a mouse or a rat (due to his long tail, his name being a pun on "nezumi", the Japanese word for "rat", and the obvious association between rats and experimentation). However, that leaves his size unaccounted for. His face also resembles a bear's somewhat, while his paws are closer to those of a feline or a canine. His Quirk does not provide an explanation for any of this. Whatever species he was originally, he is most likely heavily mutated, perhaps by the experiments he was put through. Some fans theorize that he is now a "chimera" of sorts, a fusion of several animals.
    • It's also worth noting that this series has lots of animalistic characters who are actually human, so fans could have easily assumed that he was too. Instead, human is the one species that we know he can't be.
  • Terriermon from Digimon Tamers is supposed to be a dog, like the name suggests, but he looks more like a rabbit. It doesn't help that his twin, Lopmon, actually is a rabbit. The dub decided to just straight up change him into a rabbit.
  • Much like Terriermon above, Sanrio's Cinnamoroll is a dog but could easily be mistaken for a lop rabbit.
  • Sarah in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie is actually a cat girl, but since the American edit removed all scenes depicting her cat ears, American viewers often mistook her for a monkey. A good majority of the fanbase also thinks of her as a human, not a Cat Girl.

    Films — Animation 
  • The titular character of Bolt has been mistaken for a bull terrier, a mutt, or just a generic cartoon dog. He's actually a White Shepherd (a white version of the German Shepherd breed) but is very small for his breed. He's the same size as a house cat despite being an adult.
  • Cinderella 3D has multiple examples of this trope:
    • It's unclear whether Cinderella is a antelope, deer, cougar, fox, or something else entirely.
    • Cinderella's stepmother. Is she supposed to be a dog?
    • One of the characters looks like either a turkey or a vulture. If she is a vulture, this adds a another level of weirdness to a already weird film, because they ride non-anthropomorphic vultures.
  • Rudy from the third Ice Age film is supposed to be a Baryonyx. Some viewers think he is a Suchomimus or even an evolved Spinosaurus. Also the Guanlong, Triceratops, Troodon, Harpactognathus, and Pterodactylus are often thought to be raptors, Chasmosaurus, Compsognathus, Pteranodon, and Quetzalcoatlus respectively (though the latter two weren't specifically identified by Word of God).
  • In "Rite of Spring" segment of Fantasia, the little animal stealing a clam from the Plateosaurus is actually a Kannemeyeria (a dicynodont) according to Word of God, not a Protoceratops like many people assume. Also, the Troodon attacking the Archaeopteryx is often assumed to be an Ornitholestes and the Hallopus climbing the tree above the Stegosaurus are thought to be Compsognathus or Hypsilophodon. Not to mention the Tyrannosaurus rex is often called an Allosaurus due to its three-fingered hands.
  • Mort from Madagascar is a very cute animal with buck teeth and a bushy tail, but he isn't a squirrel. He's a "mouse lemur" (which a primate, not a rodent).
  • Captain Celaeno from My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) was thought by some to be a griffon when her design was first revealed, since only her top half was visible and she had a similar design as the griffons in the show the film was based on, along with long pointed ears similar to the kind griffons in other media are sometimes depicted with. Others pointed out her name doesn't start with a "G" like the other griffons in the show, and is a reference to a harpy from Greek mythology. Then her toy was revealed, showing she didn't have lion parts and looked more like a humanoid parrot than a griffon. That said, the confusion still persisted among many reviewers for a while, due to her brief appearances in the trailer.
    • Despite official sources calling him a hedgehog, many fans call Grubber a badger due to his black and white coloration.
  • Due to his lack of a wattle, Panchito Pistoles from The Three Caballeros is not immediately identifiable as a rooster by many viewers. For instance, Doug Walker called him a woodpecker in his Disneycember of the film.
  • A mild example. Brutus and Nero from The Rescuers are crocodiles, but viewers often refer to them as alligators (most likely due to the film being set in the bayou, where alligators are common). It should be noted gators are distinguished from crocs by possessing an overbite, whereas Brutus and Nero both have interlocking teeth appropriate for crocs. Although the concept art suggests they were initially going to be gators.
  • In You Are Umasou, there is a purple horned carnivore whom some viewers think is a Carnotaurus. It is actually supposed to be a Chilantaisaurus like in the book of the same name and this episode from the animated series (and the animal in question does have huge arms and three-fingered hands, in contrast to stubby arms and four-fingered hands like Carnotaurus).
  • Zootopia
    • Mr. Big is often called a rat, mouse or opossum. He's actually an arctic shrew, which isn't even a rodent (and neither are possums).
    • Finnick is sometimes mistaken for a chihuahua, but he is really a fennec fox.
    • A few people have also called Clawhauser a leopard or jaguar, but he's actually a cheetah.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Animal and Gonzo from The Muppets. No one has any clue as to what either of them is, to the point where the latter was frequently referred to as a "whatever". Of course, Gonzo later turned out to be an alien.
    • Gonzo bears a strong resemblance to a Russian insectivore called a "desman".

  • Even archeologists are not sure what the Egyptian god Set is supposed to be. There is an article on The Other Wiki about this.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Sheila Roo from Pluggers is, as the name suggests, a kangaroo, but since she's not drawn with kangaroo feet or a kangaroo tail, many readers assume her to be a fox, coyote or some kind of long-nosed rabbit. Interestingly, her species was more obvious back when Jeff MacNelly still drew the strip.

    Video Games 
  • In Adventure, the dragons look more like ducks.
  • Crash Bandicoot is not immediately recognizable as a bandicoot, and several gamers have called him a fox.
  • The Condor in Ice Climber looks more like a pterodactyl than an actual condor.
  • For some odd reason, people find the Insaniquarium alien Psychosquid to be an octopus, despite him not having any octopus-like traits. He has 6 arms and a coned head, two traits that belong to squids and not octopi.
  • Chica and Foxy The Pirate from Five Nights at Freddy's. Chica is a chicken, but is frequently mistaken for a duck, while Foxy is, well, a fox, but is often mistaken for a wolf or coyote. To be fair, though, their names aren't really stated in-game until the seventh night.
  • The seagulls in Metal Gear Solid 2 have been called "pigeons" by some. No, really.
  • One character from the PaRappa the Rapper franchise is Lammy, a lamb who looks more like a deer or a calf, or a human with stubby antlers, pointy ears, and round black nose.
  • Pokémon:
    • Raikou, Suicune, and Entei are often thought of as canines or felines by the fandom, when really they're based on creatures from Chinese/Japanese folklore (a Raiju, a Qilin and a Foo Lion respectively). The name "Legendary dogs" is puzzlingly prevalent for them, despite the fact that Raikou at least is clearly more akin to a sabretooth tiger than any kind of dog. Entei has some lion-like characteristics and Suicune... might resemble a very stylized leopard if you squint really hard, but "Legendary cats" is less prevalent than "Legendary dogs". Some fans sidestep the issue entirely with the sarcastic moniker "legendary gerbils". Bulbapedia simply calls them "Legendary beasts".
      • Pokémon Generations shows silhouettes of them before they died and were revived into their current forms, and they clearly look like dogs. One makes a doggy whine/howl sound.
    • Growlithe and Arcanine are striped like tigers, but also resemble and behave like dogs. They're actually based on a variation of the Shisa (A creature that could either be half-dog and half-lion or half-dog and half-tiger) from Okinawa folklore.
    • Poochyena and Mightyena are often thought of as wolves, when they're possibly based on hyenas, got half of their name from the hyena and their appearance is a mix of brown hyenas and wolves.
    • Fans tend to think that Nidoking and Nidoqueen are a strange combination of a rabbit and a rhino. In reality, they're based off of the kaiju Baragon.
    • Mew is sometimes mistaken for a gerbil by the fandom. It's actually a cat-like creature.
      • Likewise, Mewtwo is sometimes mistaken to be an alien. It doesn't help that it strikes a resemblance to both Giygas from the MOTHER video games and Frieza from Dragon Ball. Like Mew, it's supposed to be some sort of cat.
    • Fans can't seem to determine whether Eevee is supposed to be a fox, cat, or some sort of small dog. It doesn't help that its evolutions can have either canine and/or feline traits.
      • Espeon, on the other hand, is based on the nekomata. Although it's ears resemble that of a fennec fox.
      • Umbreon resembles some sort of canine. However, it is actually partially based on a black cat, and, oddly enough, a rabbit. This is because Umbreon is supposed to be a Shout-Out to the Moon Rabbit of Asian folklore.
    • Arceus has been called a horse, llama, giraffe, and a goat by the fandom. Its actually a Kirin (A unicorn-like creature from Japanese folklore. Also known as a "Qilin").
    • Lugia is often mistaken for a dragon by most of the fandom. Although it is partially based on one, Lugia is actually supposed to be a bird.
    • Cranidos and Rampardos are sometimes thought to be Tyrannosaurs, when they are clearly pachycephalosaurs (although Pokémon X and Y later introduced proper T. rex Pokemon, Tyrunt and Tyrantrum). Doesn't help that the Pokédex states that Rampardos actively hunts other Pokémon.
    • Sandshrew and Sandslash are often assumed to be mice of some sort; the English Pokédex even describes them as "Mouse Pokémon." But they're actually based on the pangolin, an armadillo-like creature unknown to most people outside Asia.
    • Zorua and Zoroark are often mistaken for wolves, with many viewers thinking that the latter is a werewolf due to it's claws being werewolf-like, when they're clearly both foxes, based on the kitsune, possibly of the more mischevious yako or nogitsune variety, contrast to Vulpix and Ninetales, who resemble the zenko kitsune in comparison.
  • Talon from Primal Rage is really a Deinonychus, but is often called a velociraptor.
  • Chocolat from Solatorobo looks like and is thought to be a cat, but she's really a dog.
  • Undertale has a case of viewer breed confusion. No one is quite sure if the annoying dog is a Samoyed, American Eskimo dog, Japanese Spitz, or white Pomeranian. The file names have "pom" in it, so it's likely the last one is correct.
  • Several Sonic the Hedgehog characters are often mistaken for other animals, since most of them don't really resemble the animal they're supposed to be. The biggest example would be Nack the Weasel/Fang the Sniper from Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble; Some say he's supposed to be a weasel true to his American name, while others say he's based on a wolf or even a jerboa.
  • Merasmus the Wizard from Team Fortress 2 has a monkey-like face and appearance, which will make some think he's a monkey for a second.
  • Komasan from Yo-kai Watch is a lion-dog who has Shiba Inu influences. However, he just looks like a Cute Kitten rather than a Precious Puppy. Even more confusing, his evolved form Komane puts emphasis on the "lion" part of his design.

  • The cats of Achewood could easily be mistaken for Pug dogs, given their round ears and black noses (and in Ray's case — let's face it — his personality).
  • Off-White: In once scene, the wolf Hati looks like a gorilla dispute the artwork being excellent.
  • Penny Arcade:
    • Hardware example: Div. Newcomers who have not yet read the older strips usually think he is a DVD player, when really he is a DIVX player.
    • Also, the wombat symbol is mistaken for a bear by newcomers.
  • DNA: Species X is a group of genetically engineered Petting Zoo People, although what animal or animals they are based on is unknown, which has lead to many readers trying to guess what they are. The author has confirmed that they are not bats, or lemurs, or dogs, or cats, or koalas, or wolves, or mice.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs: The Warner Brothers don't have a set species, thus no one has any clue as to what they are.
  • Arthur:
    • Arthur looks like a bear or a monkey rather than an aardvark. Justified in that he had nose surgery in the first book.
    • Ape and bear characters, just as Francine and the Brain, cause problems with fans. A lot of fans also just think monkey characters are human.
    • Prunella was originally a rat in the books but her curly hair has caused people to mistake her for a Poodle. This in turn has caused Creator Species Confusion as different sources refer to her as either a dog or a rat.
    • Similarly, the blind girl Marina introduced in the sixth season uses the same basic character model used for other rabbits on the series. Yet Marc Brown, the author/illustrator of the original Arthur books, once referred to her in an interview as a "variation on a dog," apparently because she has the type of nose normally used on dogs on the series. Later, however, she has been established as a rabbit.
  • Charlie And Mimmo: The main cast are indeed penguins, but one might be skeptical considering how round and cartoony they look.
  • Danger Mouse:
    • Colonel K is a chinchilla, but due to his mustache and how he appears in scenes where it's hard to judge his size, several people think he's a walrus.
    • Penfold doesn't look much like a hamster, either.
  • Disney:
    • Pete is actually a cat, but practically everyone has thought he was a dog. This even carried into Goof Troop.
    • Goofy himself has confused a number of people. That being said, anyone that knows the character's origins, knows he was originally called Dippy Dog, and even had a tail originally. The confusion comes from his species never really being focused on, much like with Pete.
  • Heckle and Jeckle are often mistaken for crows, even though they're actually magpies (yellow-billed magpies to be exact). This is an understandable mistake though—-how many cartoons can you name that star magpies as characters?
  • The Raccoons:
    • Cedric and Cyril Sneer are supposed to be aardvarks. They look more like... uhm... naked tapirs?
    • Quick show of hands: How many people knew those guys weren't supposed to be aliens?
  • Regular Show: Eileen is a mole and Pops is a lollipop, but most people assume that the former is a tailed human, and the latter is a big-headed human.
  • Newcomers to The Ren & Stimpy Show sometimes think Ren the Chihuahua is a rabbit.
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • According to some sources, Squidward is actually an octopus, but viewers assume he's a squid because he has six tentacles (two for arms, four for legs), and his name, Squidward. Word of God is that the name "Squidward" flowed better than any octopus related puns.
    • On Spongebob Wiki, Sheila was put into the 'Octopi' category when she was clearly a squid.
  • Ludo from Star vs. the Forces of Evil is often mistaken as some sort of bird through various fan-art, when in fact, he is a kappa, a mythical creature of Japanese folklore.
  • Don Karnage from TaleSpin is clearly a canine, but which kind? Fan consensus is that he's either a fox or wolf.
  • Timothy Goes to School has Fritz. Is he a skunk? A badger? Nobody seems to be sure. Even looking at official reviews for the original Rosemary Wells book that he appears in, Fritz and the Mess Fairy, doesn't shed any light on the subject. Publisher's Weekly calls him a "skunk," Kirkus Reviews describes him as a "badger." Presumably, this applies to Miss Appleberry (the occasionally-seen student teacher) by extension, as she appears to be the exact same species as Fritz.
  • In Tuff Puppy, two of Snaptrap's henchmen, Ollie and Larry, are said to be an opossum and a shrew, respectively. However, Ollie looks more like a weasel or brown rat, while Larry could easily be mistaken for an opossum, white rat or mouse.
  • Many eBay listings for Linny the guinea pig on Wonder Pets often describe her variously as a "hamster," "hampster" or "hedgehog." The I Am Not Weasel references worked into the series may have been an intentional reference to this sort of confusion.
  • Russell in Littlest Pet Shop (2012) is a hedgehog but is frequently mistaken, both in-universe and out, for a porcupine. He takes it completely in stride (at least unless he's sufficiently agitated, like in "In the Loop").

    Real Life 
  • Giant pandas have historically been considered raccoons, until the advent of DNA testing, which revealed them to be bears.
  • The red panda is often mistaken for a type of panda because of the misleading name. The two species are not closely related. Ironically, the name "panda" was first applied to the red panda rather than the better-known giant panda.
  • Koalas are sometimes thought to be bears, hence being wrongly called "Koala bears," but they are not. They are marsupials.
  • Canines:
    • The African golden wolf and it's subspecies the Egyptian wolf have long believed to be jackals until recent genetic testing by scientists discovered that the animals are closer related to the gray wolf than the jackal, leading to this reclassification.
    • It can be hard to tell what breed a dog is. Malamutes and huskies in particular are confused because of their similar appearance. The main difference is that malamutes are bigger and built stronger. They may also be assumed to be wolfdogs because of looking wolf-like, and the tendency for wolfdogs to be part husky or malamute.
  • Felines:
    • There is a urban legend that Maine coons are hybrids with raccoons, which is impossible.
    • Some tailless cats have been claimed to be cabbits (fictional rabbit/cat hybrids.) Lacking a tail is technically a deformity (even though it is intentionally bred in cats), and often results in the spine being too short, which can cause the cat to hop in a rabbit-like manner.
    • Often, any colorpoint (cat with a marking pattern triggered by heat distribution; the cooler areas of the body [legs, face, tail, ears] are darker) is assumed to be a Siamese because this is typical and iconic for the breed. Siamese cats are colorpoints, but not all colorpoints are Siamese; they may be a ragdoll, or breedless, without necessarily having any relation to a Siamese.
    • A similar issue is people thinking tabbies are a breed. All "tabby" means that the cat has a certain pattern of stripes, dots, lines, or swirling and usually a "M" like marking on it's forehead. Many cats, both breedless and pure bred, have this pattern. It's not a breed unto itself.
    • May people don't realize "domestic short-haired cat" is just a fancy term for "mixed breed."
    • The confusion surrounding cheetahs, leopards, and jaguars caused by them all being large yellowish cats with spots. Cheetahs are built lightly for extreme speed, have tear drop markings under their eyes, and have solid spots. Leopards are larger than cheetahs, hunt by ambushing their prey instead of running them down, and have rosettes (a type of spot somewhat similar to a rose, the center is yellowish like the background fur instead of being filled in like a cheetah's spots). Jaguars are larger than leopards, have larger rosettes than them, and live on a entirely separate continent.
    • "Black panthers" are leopards or jaguars with a dark coloration, not a distinct separate species unto themselves.
  • Rabbits and hares are often mistaken for one another, and both are wrongly thought of as being rodents by a lot of people.
    • Besides rabbits/hares, many small mammals are often mistaken for rodents: bats, weasels, hedgehogs, shrews, ferrets, mongooses, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and moles.
  • Ravens and crows are difficult to tell apart. Add the various species of grackles to the mix, and bird watching any of these species can quickly become confusing for the novice.
  • Good luck telling the difference between a mule deer and a white tailed deer if you're not a hunter. The main differences is the mule deer has larger ears, and different face markings and antler shape.
  • Ancient people often classified animals differently than we do today, leading to this trope. Dolphins and other cetaceans were considered fish, which we obviously now know is wrong and the fact that all cetaceans are mammals. Bats were considered birds, which makes even less sense than thinking them to be rodents.
    • The term "Pachyderm" originated as a taxonomic order that included elephants, rhinos, and hippos, which were all grouped together essentially for having superficial similarities such as being huge, aggressive, and having thick wrinkled gray skin, until it was made obsolete when it was realized these animals don't have that kind of close relation to each other.
  • The Furry Fandom has a lot of problems with this trope mainly because of the strong stylization many artists use when drawing. Often, any canine character is assumed to be a grey wolf because of the prevalence of that species in the fandom, even if it's actually supposed to be a dog, fox, coyote, or even cat (if the artist is that bad.) Sometimes the character's species is actually perfectly clear and obvious, meaning this problem is not always the artist's fault.
  • Pterosaurs, sea-going reptiles like plesiosaurs and mosasaurs, basal synapsids like Dimetrodon, modern reptiles, and even prehistoric mammals are wrongly considered to be dinosaurs by a majority of people, while avian dinosaurs such as Archaeopteryx and modern birds are equally wrongly considered not to be dinosaurs.
    • Dinosaurs themselves are often incorrectly considered to be "giant lizards". Not helped by the fact the word "Dinosaur" is Greek for "Fearfully-Great Lizard". Gets ironic when you realize that mosasaurs, often mistaken for dinosaurs as mentioned above, are true lizards.
  • People often have trouble telling crocodiles and alligators apart, since they look identical at first glance. But alligators have overbites, broad snouts, and a darker coloration.
    • Like dinosaurs, crocodilians are often thought of as lizards, when in fact they're more closely related to birds (and ergo dinosaurs) than to other reptiles.
  • Tuataras are often mistaken for lizards due to being similar in appearance. In reality, tuataras are from a separate order (Rhynchocephalia) than lizards (Squamata).
  • Pythons are not the same kinds of snakes as boas or anacondas. Pythons are Old World snakesnote  that lay eggs, unlike boas and anacondas which are New World snakesnote  that give live birth.
  • Hyenas are often thought of as dogs, due to being canine-like in appearance, but in reality, hyenas belong to their own family which is to some degree more closely related to cats and mongooses than dogs.
  • Sloths are often considered to be primates, as they look somewhat like apes. In fact, sloths are more closely related to armadillos or anteaters.
  • Decomposing animals can look weird and be hard to identify. The internet is full of pictures of mysterious animals that have washed up on beaches and have been claimed to be everything from aliens to cryptids.
  • The confusion some people have with deer and antelope and assuming they are related or the same thing.
  • The Pronghorn antelope has a misleading name, but it's not related to true antelopes. They are closer to giraffes of all things.
  • Llamas and alpacas are commonly confused due to both being domesticated camelids from South America. Llamas are larger, have more elongated muzzles, banana-shaped ears, and are mainly bred as pack animals. Alpacas are smaller, have shorted muzzles, spear-shaped ears, and are mainly bred for their wool.
  • Porpoises are considered to be the same animals as dolphins. They are not. Porpoises have spade-shaped teeth, triangular dorsal fins, and a shorter snout than most dolphins.
  • Dugongs are often confused for manatees due to similar appearances, to the point of being considered the same animal. Manatees have paddle-shaped tails with only one lobe, while dugongs have cetacean-styled tail flukes. Likewise, both "sea cows" are often considered to be related to pinnipeds or even cetaceans, when in reality, they're the closest living relatives of elephants.
  • The confusion between mammoths and mastodons. Mammoths have a high-domed skull and an upright posture, whereas mastodons have a low-domed skull and a sloping posture. Also, unlike mastodons, mammoths are part of the elephant family (but not ancestors of today's elephants, contrary to popular belief)
  • Some dinosaurs that previously have been considered separate species have been theorized to be the same species, just at different ages. It's currently being debated whether the famous Triceratops actually was a not fully gown Torosaurus, or if they truly are separate species. Various genera related to Pachycephalosaurus are also debated to be the same species.