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Analysis / Animal Stereotypes

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General list of animal stereotypes

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  • Aardvarks, Anteaters and Tamanduas: Basically living vacuum cleaners, endlessly slurping up ants. May be portrayed as oddballs or outcasts due to their awkward appearance, or conversely as antagonists if the story is told from the ants' perspective.
  • African Wild Dogs (aka Painted Wolves or Cape Dogs): When they're heroes, they're best known for being loyal, suave and intelligent. But when they're villains, they are savage predators with bad tempers.
  • Antelopes: Gentle, graceful, and very swift. Usually female; if male, very likely to be a Bishōnen. May sometimes be confused with deer, which are actually from a different family of even-toed ungulates.
  • 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 commonly used to represent The Wild West, with Wild West Armadillo (regardless of how close the story actually takes place to the Southwestern United States).
  • Aye-Ayes: Symbols of bad omen in Madagascar. Eccentric and creepy looking witch doctors or shamans with (demonic) supernatural powers.
  • 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, such as the Flying Fox variety, or sexy depending on the theme. May at times be Creepy Awesome. Usually male.
  • Bears: Intimidating and powerfully ferocious when provoked; females 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; so don't bother them when they're sleeping or hibernating.
  • Beavers: Industrious, often with an air of a practical and unpretentious tradesman or the furry version of The Engineer, but sometimes to workaholic levels. Usually male. Like to chew through trees and build dams.
  • Big Cats (including Jaguars, Leopards, Cougars, Tigers and Panthers): 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 (especially by having them behave like an overgrown house cat).
    • Lions: Brave, proud, noble, majestic and powerful. Top of the food chain, "King of the Beasts/Jungle". Equally likely to be on the side of good or evil. Can be lazy and vain; lionesses are a bit less likely to be portrayed this way, as people are aware these days that it's the lionesses who do most of the hunting. Males appear more often in fiction, however. They're also known as a national symbol of the United Kingdom, especially its monarchy (despite not even being remotely native to that country).
  • Buffalo and Bison: Similar to bulls (see Cattle). Asian buffalo might also be seen as hard workers due to the fact that many Asian cultures domesticate them, while bison are often cowboys, Texans, or Native Americans because of their role in American history. African buffalo are the least positively portrayed of the bunch.
  • Camels: Cranky, stubborn, and bad-tempered, but not actually aggressive. Not very energetic, but slow and steady once they get going; they can endure any hardship (they can survive long in harsh deserts). Likes to spit. Often portrayed as storing water in its hump in fiction (even though in real-life, their hump actually stores fat). Expect camels to be found in any story involving a long, hard trek through the Arabian or Saharan deserts.
  • Capybaras: Giant, content rodents. More recently they are seen as one of the most lovable animals, due to smaller animals tending to ride on them.
  • Cats: (domestic, that is): They're often clever, curious, and playful; but also rather arrogant, self-absorbed and vain, with a lazy and hedonistic streak. Usually aloof and independent, often something of a Tsundere toward potential friends and allies. They tend to be very sarcastic and at least a bit smugly arrogant. Being very carnivorous predators after all, they're usually obsessed with hunting birds, mice, fish, and other smaller animals.
    • Sometimes cats are vicious, manipulative, and smug jerks (especially if paired against dogs or mice); but they're otherwise just as likely to be cute, friendly, and heroic instead. Kittens are more likely to be portrayed in a positive light than adult cats are.
    • Despite their typical personalities, the cats seem to be afraid of water. While this fear is true for many cats, they can overcome it by having good exposure to the water or wet areas when they are kittens. Some breeds of cats tend to love water and don't mind baths or swimming.
    • Cats are (slightly) more likely to be female; tomcats (especially strays) are sometimes portrayed as tough, streetwise, bumbling, belligerent, and/or oversexed rather than elegant and dignified.
    • Some breeds (especially the long-haired, white-furred, or slender, Oriental types) can represent wealth, aristocracy and prestige. Certain breeds have their own characteristic stereotypes.
  • Cattle:
  • Cavies: Also known as guinea pigs; expect jokes involving their non-indicative naming. Friendly, chill big eaters, with Toilet Humour as the potential end result of all the eating. Proverbial laboratory animals, though mice might be more commonly depicted as such.
  • Cheetahs: Known for their speed. Indeed they are the fastest land animal (though they get tired quicker than dogs). Mostly female. Males are often Jerk Jocks and stay in duos.
  • Chimpanzees: Either portrayed as the Maniac Monkeys (despite being apes), or as erudite and snarky. Possibly even the Evil Geniuses due to being closer to human-like intelligence than other animals. Will be shown making angry grimaces that humans misinterpret as smiles.
  • Coyotes: Cunning and tricky Insufferable Geniuses, 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. They are also 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.
  • Deer: They're often shown as being beautiful, delicate, and (mostly) harmless creatures. Their grace hints at wary senses and swift flight, and being so hard to find. Bucks/stags (male deer), with their impressive antlers, symbolize nobility without being predatory, though their tendency to simply look majestic and fight over does (females) means they may be depicted as vain braggarts.
  • Dingoes: Impulsive, boorish, vicious predators that are often shown trying to eat human babies. Almost always scavengers or Angry Guard Dogs when they're not "proud warrior race" dogs. This particular stereotype originated as a memetic reference to "A dingo ate my baby!", a fake quote often misattributed to the mother of an Australian infant girl who really was killed by a dingo.
  • Dogs: They're often loyal, friendly, and sometimes heroic and precious animals; otherwise they are savage, vicious and annoying predators (especially if the one is a Hellhound). They're almost always unshakably faithful to their friends and family, even if they are the villains, and they can smell things very well. Some neutral-minded dogs are lazy and not too bright.
    • As a general rule of thumb, puppies are more likely portrayed as cute and sympathetic animals compared to adult dogs, even if both are portrayed in positive light.
    • Dogs will often be fond of chewing on bones, then digging holes to bury (and lose) them. They'll also enjoy a game of fetch with any object thrown over them.
    • Also, they're easily distrac-SQUIRREL! Dogs are carnivorous predators after all, and will often have a tendency to chase around cats, squirrels, and other smaller animals. Hell, if they are savage enough, they really seem to hate postal workers and other strangers, and will chase after them too.
    • Dogs are (slightly) more likely to be male; except for showy breeds like poodles, which are (almost) Always Female. Certain breeds have their own characteristic stereotypes.
    • In non-Western works, dogs are sometimes portrayed as scavengers, either good or bad.
  • Dolphins: They're usually cheery, playful, clever, and extraordinarily graceful in the water, much like otters, and they're almost always shown as being friendly and sociable creatures, at least among themselves. Or alternately, due to the fact that real dolphins can be violently aggressive animals, they can be instead portrayed as malicious bastards or disgusting creepy perverts as an intentional subversion of their usual stereotypes.
    • Orcas (aka Killer Whales): Originally ravenous, merciless, mammalian predators. Now respected master hunters of the sea whom even the great white sharks fear. More often be portrayed in a negative light compared to other dolphins, but if they're the good guys, expect them to be Sociopathic Heroes or at least Creepy Good. Alternatively, they can be 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.
  • Donkeys and Mules: Smaller, humbler, more hardworking versions of horses. Proverbially stubborn, which may be either a good thing (the donkey as a 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, and usually male. The term "ass" (synonym for "donkey") and any variations of the word, have become very common slang insults for rude and/or stupid people note . Donkeys are also seen as ugly and stupid in comparison to horses but are seen as more reliable due to their stubbornness and toughness.
  • Echidnas: While they can be a force to be reckoned with, they are not always the brightest bulbs in a bunch like Knuckles.
  • Elephants: Powerful, majestic, and wise, with great memories; sometimes even both brainy and brawny. 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.note  Alternatively, they may be aggressive brutes due to their large size, immense strength, and intimidating looking tusks. African elephants are often female, while Asian elephants are mostly male and always Indian (accent optional).
  • Foxes: Clever, tricky, pragmatic, and confident, sometimes even antagonistic, similar to their coyote and jackal cousins. On the other hand, European and East Asian mythology both portray the red fox as a trickster, but also associates vixens with beautiful, seductive women. Foxes are often depicted as (usually female) magical shapeshifters in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese folklore.
  • Giraffes: Almost always friendly, Gentle Giants. May be portrayed as comical creatures (especially because of their ridiculously long and tall bodies), but also tend to be caring parental figures. Usually very pacifistic.
  • 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.
  • Gophers: While they're not hostile, the fact that they are constantly creating holes makes them very rude and annoying.
  • Gorillas: 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. If they are the mascots (ala Donkey Kong), they will instead be gentle versions with Fun Personified attitude, as long as they don't get pissed. 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.
  • Groundhogs: The mild-mannered and reserved harbingers of summer and winter, depending on their shadows.
  • Hares and Rabbits: Often depicted as comical, sweet, innocent, and cuddly, but can also be cunning tricksters for the purposes of self-defense. Independent and a little mysterious, even magical, particularly in older folklore. They're very agile runners, and can reproduce very quickly. Due to Bugs Bunny, they're often seen eating carrots. Since magicians pull rabbits out of hats, the rabbits might know a little magic of their own. Rarely though, they can be 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 (ex: Hedgehog's Dilemma). Also rather prone to executing a Rolling Attack in a similar fashion to armadillos, especially when the hedgehog in question is very, very fast.
  • Hippopotamuses: Contented and gluttonous giants of the river. Obese, lazy, and often rather stupid. Surprisingly graceful in the water and very, very strong, especially when it comes to their biting power. Alternatively, like in Real Life, they are outright aggressive and dangerous Fat Bastards with horrifying Super-Persistent Predator tendencies. Will often be depicted as female in comic strips and cartoons, though not necessarily female every time. Males are known to be far more aggressive and territorial than females.
  • Honey Badgers: Much like wolverines, they're depicted as being small yet fearsome predators. They're very aggressive and short-tempered creatures, yet also extremely brave and fearless, and are ready to take on any opponent regardless of size (including lions). This has lead to them getting a humorously Memetic Badass reputation in pop culture.
  • Horses: Elegant, noble, passionate, and spirited. Sometimes a bit too proud and vain, or even malevolent. 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).
    • Pony breeds are usually depicted as female, and often appeal to little girls (My Little Pony is a big example of this). Otherwise, ponies are just as likely to emit some car jokes as horses do.
    • Draft 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; draft 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 we're counted as animals, and other animals in the story can talk and walk like we do, 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). Expect humans to be generally ignorant and careless towards wildlife, if the work is pushing an environmentalist message.
  • Hyenas: Basically The Hyena. Either portrayed as a harmless joker or the animal version of a horrific Monster Clown. Laughs like a maniac for no reason. Often having endless Super-Persistent Predator streaks just like in real-life. They will often be portrayed as evil, disgusting, cowardly or all the above, until the twenty-first century where hyenas have seen more positive portrayals thanks to science and facts, despite a few negative roles now and then. Often mistaken as the animal version of the Terrible Trio because of a few portrayals. Sometimes found playing the role of undertaker/mortician as (in fiction at least) they tend to be scavengers more than direct huntersnote . If the writer is aware that spotted hyenas are one of nature's few thoroughly matriarchal species, female spotted hyenas may be bigger and stronger and dominate males, but don't count on it. Oddly, despite the aforementioned matriarchy they are more likely to be male.
    • Their cousins, Aardwolves, while considered Seldom-Seen Species are generally played as adorable and shy and sometimes Sickly Neurotic Geeks. When they do show up, they're usually shown in a more positive light than hyenas.
  • Jackals: Portrayed very similar to coyotes, but they tend to have more of a cruel streak similar to dingoes. Will often be Scavengers, Sycophantic Servants, or a type of Angry Guard Dogs. They may at times be Creepy Awesome or at times idiotic Butt Monkeys and Dirty Cowards. Often associated with Ancient Egypt, due to their death god Anubis having the head of a jackal. (Although subverted on the latter, as recent genetic testing reclassified the "Egyptian jackal" as the African golden wolf.)
  • Kangaroos: Extroverted, good-natured characters, athletic yet laid-back. Usually female (although joeys are more likely to be male), they're devoted mothers. Alternatively, male kangaroos may be portrayed as vicious, aggressive thugs looking to pick a fight. More often than not, they have pouches, even if they're male. They will also invariably be associated with Australia. Rarely portrayed with Southpaw Advantage even though almost all of them are left-pawed in real life.
    • Wallabies: Like kangaroos, only smaller and often harmless.
  • Koalas: Cute and friendly but rather lazy, or else irritable, gruff and not too bright (a little closer to the truth). Much like the kangaroos mentioned above, koalas are often counted as a typical example of Australian wildlife.
  • 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. This image largely comes from the animated film Madagascar.
  • Llamas and Alpacas: Like camels, but a bit weirder and a little more even-tempered, if equally prone to spitting. Often seen as being kinda cute in an odd and goofy way.
  • Manatees and Dugongs (aka Sea Cows): Gentle, harmless, and a sort of Big Fun. Note that they are often mistaken as being the same species, despite the fact that they're different animals.
  • Meerkats: Selfish, brash, and cowardly Deadpan Snarkers.
  • Mice: Usually cuter and far more sympathetic than rats, although more people tend to confuse between these two. 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, as well as nasty swarms of mice, are common as subversions. Often having (usually unintentional) tendencies of scaring elephants. Likes eating cheese. Expect some puns to be made about a computer mouse.
    • Laboratory Mice: Often characterized as scientifically-inclined or clueless test subjects. Almost always white-furred.
  • Mink: Portrayed as sex symbols. Also hunted or farmed for their luxuriant fur. More often female.
  • 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.
  • Mongooses: Vaguely resembles a weasel, but is a cute and fearlessly heroic feline-like defender of the innocent (Rikki-tikki-tavvi is probably the Trope Maker). Although they look harmless, they take on terrifying enemies (especially snakes) 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, curious, playful, goofy, and fun-loving. Often tend to be mischievous pranksters and tricksters. 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 others. Though they can also be dangerous Maniac Monkeys.
    • Baboons: Like other monkeys, but fiercer and more aggressive, even females. More likely to be portrayed as 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. Sometimes The Smart Guy to gorillas and chimps, as studies on captive individuals show them to be possibly even more intelligent than either.
  • Otters: 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, though they can be malicious bastards as an intentional subversion. Usually male.
  • Pigs: They're often comically obese, lazy, greedy, gluttonous, filthy, and sometimes even perverted. Though despite these negative associations (see more below), pigs can be portrayed as being good-natured and fairly intelligent creatures instead. They're equally likely to be male or female.
  • Platypuses: Comically lovable, bold and quick-witted anti-heroes with defensive abilities and the fact that they lay eggs makes them a little more stranger. They may look friendly, but they can oftentimes be very obnoxious wiseacres.
  • Porcupines: Pragmatic and fearless, being well aware of how respected their defensive abilities are. May be either gentle or innocent, or prickly and irritable jerkasses with Spikes of Villainy (in which serves as a malevolent counterpart to hedgehogs). Sometimes depicted as being able to actually shoot their quills, which they cannot do in Real Life. In video games, they appear often as henchmen or Elite Mooks if they aren't a significant character at all.
  • Raccoons: Sneaky, clever, bold, and rather cute, if rather mischievous. Often thieves (due to their facial markings, which resemble a burglar's mask), but usually heroic or at least likable ones.
  • Rats: Traditionally nasty, cowardly, indecent, aggressive, greedy, licentious, and cunning. Often associated with filth and disease (think the Black Death) and usually come in swarms. 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 underworld, often being a thief. Always a tough survivor type, whether good or evil, and virtually Always Male. Recently, due to long-acknowledged confusion between mice and rats, more realistic representations have been presented in media, showing rats as being very clean (relative to their surroundingsnote , even-tempered, and much friendlier than just about every other pet out there after dogs.
  • Red Pandas: They tend to be rather feisty and energetic. Despite their similar names, red pandas are not related to panda bears.
  • Rhinoceroses: 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. Often portrayed in an antagonistic light in fiction, but not as much as they used to now that they've become an endangered species.
  • 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, the larger species can be terrifying brutes.
  • Sheep: Passive and gentle, but rather dimwitted. Prone to suffering from "herd mentality" and blind, unquestioning obedience towards authority; referring to people as "sheep" is often a way of criticizing cultural conformism and mainstream social norms. They tend to be easily frightened, and incapable of defending themselves; however, rams (especially ones with horns) may be tougher and willing to fight by headbutting their enemies.
  • Shrews: Feisty and aggressive Killer Rabbits. For this reason, the term "shrew" is used as an insult for unpleasant and bad-tempered women.
  • Skunks: Scheming, cunning, treacherous, fearless and sadistic villains notorious for their well-known natural defenses of producing a disgusting smell all the time, which their stink may be portrayed as a form of offensive Fartillery. Almost always appear as henchmen. Often seen as the unpleasant and malicious counterparts compared to mongooses or even weasels. Otherwise, they are just gentle and innocent animals whose their Gasshole tendencies are unintentional, or having some Toilet Humor.
  • Sloths: Slow, sleepy, and harmless. Tends to hang upside-down from tree branches.
  • Squirrels and Chipmunks: Agile and graceful, but hyperactive and perhaps a bit crazy, if not sadistic. Short attention span. Brave considering their size, and often somewhat hot-tempered, but more likely to retaliate with verbal scolding than a physical attack (unless said physical attack is throwing nuts). Oh, and dogs hate them.
  • 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. Also depicted in an Animal Jingoism with a Kitsune to make a Tanuki/Kitsune Contrast.
    • 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: They are often as destructive, gluttonous and voracious Extreme Omnivores and very Big Eaters. Savage and psychopathic killers with superior strength, eternal hunger and dangerously bad tempers.
  • Walruses: Cute and contently fat, but comically dignified. Always Male, because of their Badass Mustache, usually benevolent but may sometimes be pricks. May or may not wear a monocle and/or top hat.
  • Warthogs: Portrayed the same way as Pumbaa from The Lion King (1994), they are generally clumsy, sweet-natured and quite dimwitted but can be tough, fierce and protective when necessary.
  • Weasels, Stoats, Martens and Polecats: When they are the heroes or good guys, they are just plain funny and sly, if snarky and loyal, companions, sometimes with fearless tendencies to kick those mythical reptiles if they spot them. But when they're the villains, they are scheming, treacherous, cunning and malevolent henchmen.
    • 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.
    • Wolverines: Territorial loners, utterly fearless even towards 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 because of their utterly ruthless ferocity. May or may not have the eponymous Wolverine Claws despite the fact real wolverines have semi-detachable ones. Very rarely used as a Weasel Mascot compared to other weasels, but an effective one in case Bears Are Bad News.
  • 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 sharks and giant squid instead.
    • Narwhals: Often called "the unicorn of the sea" due to their drill-like tusk, and thus treated accordingly: they're elusive, at times mysterious and desirable.
  • Wildebeest: Very cowardly but ungainly runners. Frequently ridiculed for their awkward appearances that make them seem uglier and less graceful than their fellow African grazers. Usually Dirty Cowards, but they can be Creepy Awesome if they're the good guys.
  • 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.
    • The African golden wolf is often portrayed as a jackal, due to it used to be called a jackal during ancient times until scientists discovered that the animal was closer related to wolves than jackals. Often associated with Ancient Egypt if the jackals or domesticated dogs are not used, due to the following deities being based on the animal: Anubis, Wepwawet and Duamutef.
    • Finally, the Red Wolf (better known as the Coyote) is covered above.
  • Wombats: Mild-mannered and pathetic Butt-Monkey everymen.
  • Yaks: Pretty dumb and stoner-like with their shaggy hairs.
  • Zebras: When in presence of horses, they are often Soul Brothas or some kind of Token Black 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 Creepy Awesome, 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. Almost always voiced by African-American actors in animation. Sometimes shown to have supernatural powers similarly to hyenas. Might be portrayed as just striped horses, despite the fact that real-life zebras are wild and cannot be truly domesticated.

  • Albatross: Often compared with the seagulls, they tend to be stronger and fiercer, as well as crafty fish-hunters. Otherwise tends to be the marine equivalent of the swan, graceful and pure.
  • 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.
    • Cocks/Roosters: Proud, loud, charismatic, and very macho. Often singers, but not very good ones. Pompous and arrogant. Very prone to getting into literal cockfights, 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.
    • Hens: Incurable gossipers and not very bright, something like a more high-strung version of cows. When they aren't portrayed as cowardly and panicky in a crisis, hens are depicted as caring and motherly animals who are highly protective to their children.
  • 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. Non-ominous portrayals of crows might have them act like pigeons, being annoying pests to the populace.
    • 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, and Black and Nerdy if they are Clever Crows.
    • 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, or having Beautiful Singing Voices if not noisy. 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. They are either The Fools, Cloudcuckoolanders, Butt Monkeys and/or The Chew Toys
  • 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 and crazy. Anthropomorphic cartoon ducks are traditionally highly temperamental, arrogant 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. They are also very well-known as a national symbol of the United States, enough that they've given the on-site nickname of Eagleland for the country.
  • Emus: Awesome Aussie versions of ostriches. They have a reputation for confounding the Australian Army, which failed to exterminate them in an infamous 1930s pest control campaign that became known as the "Emu War".
  • Falcons: Swift and agile fliers, but more likely to be portrayed as villains than eagles and hawks. Subverted with Animal Motifs however, especially if it's a certain famous video game character that is best known for "falcon punching".
  • 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. Turkeys are also often associated with Thanksgiving. 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.
  • Hawks: Vicious and conniving Deadpan Snarker predators with unique quirks.
  • 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.
  • Ibis and Spoonbills: Not the prettiest birds but they make up for it with their intelligence and nobility. They're very gentle souls. The exception seems to be Australian white ibises, which tend to be portrayed as disgusting scavengers.
  • Kiwi Birds: Eccentric, funny and lovable birds with such complex personalities. They are very gentle, sweet-natured, snarky at times and mild-mannered and they can also be pretty timid, hapless and awkward klutzes.
  • Kookaburras: Extremely annoying birds that are iconic for their Annoying Laugh.
  • 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.
    • In certain works, especially in children-oriented styles, owls are portrayed as cute birds instead.
  • Oxpeckers: While these sycophantic birds are oftentimes helpful to certain large animals by eating parasites and alert when danger appears, they do have a dark side that involves pecking at the larger animals' wounds for blood.
  • 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 monosyllabic nature of real parrots. Will be seen in Parrot Pet Position on somebody's shoulder, usually as Pirate Parrot.
  • Peacocks: Vain, elegant, pompous, and sometimes noisy. 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.
    • Rockhopper penguins: Usually Northern rockhopper penguins. Goofy comedic relief characters due to their exaggerated crests (which are most commonly depicted as eyebrows). Often depicted as jerkasses. Always male.
  • Pheasants and Hornbills: Similar to peacocks, these birds have a sense of nobility and pomposity, but they're more Butt Monkeys who get no respect from other animals like Zazu. But pheasants are also Nervous Wrecks who are more likely to get shot.
  • Pigeons: They always fly in flocks, tend to be easily scared of anything and are infamous for pooping a lot. Some portrayals may have them act like organized criminals, or at least as an unwanted pest like rats. Will almost always live in urban areas even though most species (aside from the famous city pigeons) live in places like forests. The first choice of animal companions for the homeless.
  • Quails: Shy, paranoid and skittish game birds who's biggest purpose in life is to avoid predators and human hunters. Often females which are often Hysterical Women.
  • 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.
  • Toucans: Eccentric, lovable and hilarious blabbermouths, these birds are known for being colorful, fruity and loopy and as well as having very big mouths.
  • Vultures, Buzzards and Condors: Birds of bad omen with Bald of Evil, especially the evil-looking turkey buzzard, fond of Gallows Humor.
    • In a more humorous and positive portrayal can see vultures as Sport Commentators watching the players bruise and batter each other as they joke about the chaos. May sometimes be Bald of Awesome or at least Creepy Awesome, since vultures look similar to bald eagles.
    • Their evil role in fiction is very ironic because vultures are actually nice animals in reality (with few ferocious ones like the bearded vulture) and are very helpful when it comes to scavenging carcasses.
    • Lesser known facts about the vulture is that their survival methods rely more on resoursefulness and guile than dignity. Vultures can't hunt live prey because their talons are too weak to restrain them, so they'll wait until for a predator to cut open the carcass first so they can eat it. Their urine actually sanitises their food, helps them cool them off on a hot day, and the urine sanitises the vulture's feet by neutralising the harmful pathogens found on the carcass. In fact, a vulture's stomach acid actually neutralises harmful pathogens and diseases such as rabies, cholera, botulinum, and anthrax. Since the vulture can't kill their own prey and can't tear open a fresh carcass, they will eat the softest parts of the body first as the rest of the body becomes softer through decay, which are the eyes and anus. For the vultures, patience is not only a virtue but a lifesaver.
    • Condors seem to be portrayed in a more positive light than other vultures, partly because their status as a real-life Giant Flyer makes them more visually impressive, and partly because they are endangered and therefore seen as sympathetic.
  • Woodpeckers: Mischievous, zany and vindictive tricksters which are often causing destruction and pecking holes. Like Woody Woodpecker, they can be hyperactive, greedy and a bit deranged like Daffy Duck and also intelligent, quick-witted and sarcastic like Bugs Bunny.

    Reptiles and Amphibians 
  • Basilisks: Known as Jesus Christ Lizards, these odd reptiles have the ability to run on the surface of water. This ability could give them an extreme case of A God Am I.
  • Chameleons: 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. Will be spies or ninjas when in a heroic role, due to their ability to camouflage.
  • 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 slightly more likely to be portrayed in a positive light than crocodiles are, though they too are usually depicted as aggressive killers.note . Crocodiles are sometimes associated with pirates, likely due to Peter Pan.
  • Frilled Lizards: An anomalously cute and hyperactive little reptile. May sometimes be vain and boastful.
  • Frogs and Toads: Clumsy, Ugly Cute creatures, though they may reveal hidden beauty if you're being kind to them. Alternatively, they're poisonous and associated with witchcraft. Otherwise, they're 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 schools, they will be a subject of dissection, but will luckily be saved in the end. Traditionally toads are portrayed more negatively than frogs.
  • 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. Along with chameleons, probably the most popular choice for heroic lizards.
  • Gila Monsters: Ugly, venomous, and aggressive, almost never shown as the shy and reclusive animals they are in real life.
  • Horned Toads and Thorny Devils: Despite their prickly and intimidating exteriors, they're very timid, friendly and gentle.
  • Iguanas: Generally nonthreatening by reptile standards—they'll often be Big Eaters and Lazy Bums who just like to eat and sleep all the time. But every now and then shown as Notzilla, if involved with smaller characters (despite the fact iguanas are herbivores).
  • Monitor Lizards: Ferocious and hungry predators, especially if it's the Komodo dragon. Tend to flick their forked tongues in and out like snakes (because they use their tongues to detect odors, like snakes), but usually do not talk with "S"-es. Sometimes a reptilian version of Sinister Surveillance due to their species name. On the rare occasion that they're protagonists, they're usually Axe-Crazy Sociopathic Heroes.
  • Newts and Salamanders: May be used as an alternative to frogs and toads for Bewitched Amphibians. Axolotls are often used as Cuteness Proximity to Garnish the Story.
  • Snakes: Fear-inducing and repugnant, 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 heroic snake is usually a Sociopathic Hero or Creepy Good. More rarely, they are used to represent wisdom, rebirth, and/or immortality. Can also be charming, seductive and/or sexy. Often depicted with hypnotic powers, usually from their eyes. As predators, they are known for swallowing their prey whole due to their expandable jaws. 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. Snakes are especially portrayed as villainous if they have venom, which is somewhat justified as the most dangerous snakes in real life are venomous.
    • Cobras: Evil even by snake standards, due to their menacing-looking hoods and venom-housing fangs. Almost consistently aggressive, bloodthirsty and vindictive. The main enemy of mongooses and, occasionally, honey badgers. Can be charmed by music, despite the fact snakes are unable to hear the melody and can only feel the vibrations instead.
    • Garter Snakes, Corn Snakes, and Kingsnakes: The token harmless snakes, cute and friendly at least by snake standards. Kingsnakes, namely the scarlet kingsnake, are best known for being mimics of the venomous coral snake.
    • Pythons and Boas: Powerful, beautiful, and calm, yet frightening predators which are a force to be reckoned with, due to their Deadly Hug, especially if they're anacondas (part of the boa family) and larger pythons. Often ravenous enough to eat large prey including humans. However, when in a good mood and not hunting they can be friendly, if not noble. Their raw strength and lack of venom makes them popular choices for heroic snakes.
    • Rattlesnakes: Menacing and often antagonistic, though more likely to be portrayed positively than cobras. Usually shown shaking their rattles, whether as a warning or not. Usually would mind their own business, but they'll become fiercer if they're threatened. Always associated with The Wild West since the most well-known species, the diamondback rattlesnake, is often found in North American deserts (though it actually lives in a wide variety of habitats). Rattlesnakes are also associated with the underdog due to the symbolism of Gadsen Flag; which stated that Benjamin Franklin suggested the American colonies send rattlesnakes to the British as a thank you to parliament for sending their convicts to America.
    • Vipers: Slanderous, snide and vindictive. Almost Always Female. The usual Token Evil Teammate if they're part of a group. Even when not evil, they're still sharp-tongued and unpleasant and firm practicioners of Brutal Honesty. Can be sexy but in a Femme Fatale kind of way, due to their venomous, sometimes deadly, bite. Probably the most positively portrayed of venomous snakes, since they don't have particularly intimidating features like with cobras and rattlesnakes.
  • 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. Often hermits or nerds of the animal kingdom.

  • Fish in general: Friendly and mild-mannered individuals who are obviously good swimmers, since their life is (literally) water. Although unique, carefree and creative, they tend to be neurotic when it comes to predators (like sharks!). Fishes that form schools are often depicted as very sociable creatures who may be harmless individually but can be an ominous presence together.
  • Anglerfish: Creepy, deceptive, ravenous, and very alien in both form and behaviour. Associated with the darkest depths of the sea.
  • 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.
  • Catfish: Big species are seen as the Worthy Opponent of every fisherman or being huge and destructive (like in Japanese legends). Small species usually act like actual cats.
  • Coelacanths: The archetypal living fossil, thus thought of as being elusive, mysterious, and a living Time Abyss. Sometimes used as an ambient indication of prehistory for stories set in ancient times.
  • 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.
  • Goldfish: Seen as the dullest and most unexciting pets around, but sometimes given quirky personalities as a subversion. Often braindead due to the myth that goldfish have a 3-second memory.
  • Mantas and 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).
  • 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 .
  • Pufferfish: Often like the underwater equivalent of hedgehogs or porcupines, but with a tendency to inflate themselves at the slightest danger.
  • Salmon: The Determinators of fish, braving all manner of danger just to get to their birth streams and spawn. Often acrobatic too due to the Stock Animal Behavior of salmon leaping up waterfalls.
  • Seahorses: Act like terrestrial horses, sometimes even complete with whinnying. The fact that the males give birth rather than the females is also usually brought up. They might be portrayed as dragon-like.
  • 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, although hammerhead sharks may show up simply because they're so weird-looking. Think of wolves... in the seas.
    • Dogfish (which are a small type of shark) are portrayed as acting like actual dogs (often of the Angry Guard Dog variety), complete with a rivalry towards catfish.
  • Siamese Fighting Fish: Fierce and aggressive martial artists, often with Asian national stereotypes because All Asians Know Kung Fu.
  • Swordfish: Graceful, suave predators of the sea, commonly portrayed as skillful swordsmen. Frequently a Worthy Opponent for fishermen.

  • 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.
    • Fire Ants: Much more portrayed negatively than the usual depiction of ants, being vicious jerks who come with Scary Stinging Swarms.
  • Barnacles: Parasites that occur in whales, as well as getting stuck to ships. Otherwise, so ugly that everybody dies. The end.
  • Bees: Hard-working, dutiful, and sometimes 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. The "hard-working to the point of losing all individuality" aspect isn't usually as emphasized with bees as it is with ants. Fictional works may or may not be aware that workers are Always Female—however, bees are more likely to be portrayed as female than ants are. Compared to their usual nemesis i.e. the bitchy and jealous wasps, bees embody the Light Feminine.
  • Clams and other Bivalves: Depicted as being able to produce pearls unrealistically fast, as well as any bivalves being able to do it (in reality only oysters can). They also are portrayed as trapping people with their shells that act as mouths.
  • Butterflies: Shy, meek, somewhat gluttonous 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). Another exception to the rule of butterflies usually being female in fiction is if they are specifically monarch butterflies, due to the association of the word "monarch" with kings.
  • Centipedes and Millipedes: Their long bodies make them quite similar but their personalities are very different from each other. Centipedes appear in fiction more commonly than millipedes— they're usually portrayed as vicious, predatory, and venomous. Even protagonist centipedes often have an aggressive streak. Millipedes, which are harmless herbivores, show up less often, and when they do they're often confused with centipedes.
  • 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. Crabs are also often portrayed as greedy misers who will do anything for more wealth.
  • Crickets and Grasshoppers: Dignified, graceful, and generally friendly. Frequently portrayed as talented musicians due to the songs they make; or, due to the Chirping Crickets joke, sarcastic. Locusts (a life stage of certain grasshopper species) are seen in a more negative light, being associated with famine and disaster and ravenously eating everything in their flight paths.
  • Dragonflies and Damselflies: Graceful flying aces with a tendency to be full of themselves. In older works they're often associated with witchcraft and sometimes even seen as associates of the devil. Their aquatic juvenile forms (nymphs) and their Damselfly cousins rarely show up in media (and when the later do they tend to be refereed to as Dragonflies anyway).
  • Fireflies: Eerie glowing wonders of the night. May be associated with the fae (and the mysticisms thereof) and/or Will O The Wisps, and may be reclusive people who are only fine among their kin.
  • Fleas: Often portrayed as likable, sympathetic hobos who associate with their hosts on a friendly basis. Otherwise they are annoying and disgusting smelly bugs. Also portrayed as associating only with dogs, cats and rats 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.
    • Mosquitoes: Pesky, annoying, sometimes even dangerous bloodsucking flies. Like the more typical flies, they're also depicted as bringer of plagues. Often portrayed as bloodsucking even if they're male.
  • Hercules/Rhinoceros 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. Very often depicted as heroic characters in Japanese works.
  • Hermit Crabs: like most shelled animals, they could be either cautious or cowardly, and rely on their shell for safety. Unlike other shelled animals, however, they're nomads who like moving around and finding new "homes" (shells) to inhabit. They also tend to prefer being alone, befitting the "hermit" name.
  • Jellyfish and other Cnidaria: Often shown capable of giving electric shocks for some reason. Rarely portrayed as sentient, but when they are they are sometimes portrayed as friendly yet sad that everyone fears them. Other Cnidaria like Corrals and Sea Anemones are in a similar boat as being mostly just portrayed as simply there, and lucky if shown as anything other than equivalent of plants.
  • Ladybugs: Always Female, due to their common name. More often than not, they're kindly or heroic characters due to their beautiful red elytra, and the fact that they eat aphids, which are seen as nasty pests.
  • 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.
  • Mantises: 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.
  • Octopi and Squids: Weird and otherworldly, probably the closest thing on Earth to alien life. May be either charmingly weird and likable 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. Often seen multitasking, with each of their tentacles used for something different or, occassionally, all used for one very complex activity. Octopi tend to be portrayed in a slightly more positive light than squid. Also, watch out for their ink shots. They can also be portrayed as masters of disguise who use camouflage and other tricks to catch prey or for other purposes.
    • 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.
    • Nautiluses: Always synonymous with or indicative of "prehistoric" whenever they appear due to their reputation as living fossils and their resemblance to the extinct ammonites.
  • 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. More likely to be portrayed as evil than good. On the rare heroic role, 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. Often portrayed as enemies with spiders.
  • Shrimps: These little crustaceans are known for being shy, timid, adorable and lovable.
  • Snails and Slugs: Very slow and fearful but contented and usually good-natured. 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.
    • There're also exceptions in which spiders are actually nice not just in fiction. Actually there's a spider species that can actually can be a pet, an exotic one in this case.
  • Starfish and Sea Urchins: With the notable exception of Patrick Star, they are usually treated as Living Props. Urchins might sometimes be given traits associated with porcupines and hedgehogs.
  • Tardigrades: A.K.A. moss piglets/water bears. Daredevils and extreme risk-takers, used as stars of an Extreme Sport Excuse Plot featuring animals. This is due the fact that tardigrades are known for their appearance and their ability to survive in extreme environments.
  • 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 but male portrayals aren't unheard of, especially for hornets. At constant war with bees, mostly out of jealousy for their ability to produce honey. Also matriarchal but almost always in the negative way: if the queen bee is stern but virtuous and benevolent, the queen wasp is a spiteful and vindictive dictatrix. Compared to their rivals, wasps typically embody the bitchiest version of the Dark Feminine.
  • Worms: Disgusting, filthy, repulsive and mindless. Symbols of rot, decay and corruption.
    • Earthworms: Usually portrayed in a more positive light than other worms due to their importance to the soil, but just as unattractive.

    Prehistoric Creatures 
  • Allosaurus: Basically the Jurassic version of Tyrannosaurus rex. Will be more of a Lightning Bruiser. The main enemy of Stegosaurus as T. rex is to Triceratops.
  • Ankylosaurus: Extremely strong but slow and dimwitted like Stegosaurus (see below). Often likened to a tank due to its heavy armour and tail club. Almost always shown as the one herbivore Tyrannosaurus rex cannot take down. Many depictions are actually based on its cousin Euoplocephalus (which was even more heavily armoured and had spikes).
  • Archaeopteryx: The "first bird". Often acts very much like a modern bird, despite how primitive it's supposed to be. Frequently brightly colored, although scientists believe it was actually black like a crow based on preserved pigments in some specimens. In recent years, it is commonly portrayed as a Goofy Feathered Dinosaur trying to fly but failing.
  • Cave Bears and Short-Faced Bears: Usually possess the negative stereotypes associated with modern bears, with the positive ones being played down. Frequently treated as one and the same or being wholly carnivorous (despite the cave bear being herbivorous in real life).
  • Compsognathus: Similar to dromaeosaurs, but super tiny. Either as a Killer Rabbit or a harmless Ridiculously Cute Critter.
  • Dimetrodon: Similar to a crocodile or a big lizard, despite being more closely related to mammals than to modern reptiles.
  • Dire Wolves: Like wolves but more badass. Often more fiercer and more aggressive, and always larger (usually horse-sized, although real dire wolves were not noticeably bigger than grey wolves).
  • Dromaeosaurids: Fast, intelligent and ferocious hunters. A counteract to the image of dinosaurs as lumbering giants. Usually hunt in packs like wolves, even though this is controversial. Almost always depicted resembling Deinonychus or Utahraptor, but labeled as Velociraptor (which in real life is small and has a longer snout).
  • Eurypterids ("Sea Scorpions"): Like scorpions but underwater. Often a stock form of ambient marine life in prehistoric settings when not an antagonistic predator.
  • Ground Sloths: Similar to tree sloths but with the sluggishness taken to ridiculous levels. Usually Gentle Giants but with Beware the Nice Ones tendencies. Represented by Megatherium if large, Megalonyx if smaller.
  • Hadrosaurs: Large yet inoffensive herbivores that travel in herds and flee when threatened. Formerly duck-like to the point of being associated with water, now the dinosaurian equivalent of antelopes. Usually represented by Parasaurolophus and Edmontosaurus. Almost Always Female, perhaps due to Maiasaura (the "Good mother reptile") belonging to this group.
  • Hypsilophodon and Dryosaurus: The archetypal small herbivorous dinosaurs. The dinosaurs you can always count on to be depicted as a harmless and friendly Ridiculously Cute Critter.
  • Ichthyosaurs: The Mesozoic equivalent of dolphins, to the point of being shown playfully leap out of the water.
  • Iguanodon: Similar to hadrosaurs, though more aggressive and more likely to fight back when threatened (due to their thumb spikes).
  • Mammoths and Mastodons: Prehistoric elephants. Often act just like their modern-day relatives, though will also be more aggressive. Mammoths (and mastodons) are always portrayed resembling the woolly mammoth, an icon of the ice age.
  • Megalodon: Everything about modern sharks, as well as mosasaurs and pliosaurs below, but taken to extremes.
  • Mosasaurs and Pliosaurs: The sea's ultimate superpredators, like flippered crocodiles.
  • 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.
  • Ornithomimids: The Mesozoic equivalent of ostriches. In older workers, they are often given the same egg-thieving stereotype as Oviraptor and Troodon.
  • Oviraptor: Initially an egg-eating predator. Nowadays it is considered to be a protective parent due to the fact the type specimen was actually brooding its own eggs rather than trying to eat someone else's.
  • Pachycephalosaurus: Fiercely territorial and going around headbutting anything they see, including each other. More likely than other plant-eating dinosaurs to be cast as villains.
  • Plesiosaurs: Traditionally, ferocious sea serpent-like beasts. Nowadays, more of a gentle giant. Almost always depicted resembling Elasmosaurus due to its large size.
  • 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. If not, they'll be majestic flyers often giving animals and people rides on their backs. Almost always depicted as resembling the famous Pteranodon with some Rhamphorhynchus or Quetzalcoatlus mixed in.
  • Saber-toothed cats: Just like the big cats of today, only bigger and with longer fangs. Will usually be called "saber-toothed tigers" (despite being from a different subfamily of felines). Almost always represented by Smilodon, but will resemble Machairodus if given a long tail.
  • Sauropods: Large and strong, yet slow and dim-witted. Gentle giants unless they are threatened. Often have appetites as big as themselves. Usually of a nondescript species based on Brontosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, or Brachiosaurus.
  • 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.
  • Stegosaurus: Big and tough, but gentle unless angered. Stupidity is emphasized heavily due to its famously tiny brain. Usually the archrival of Allosaurus, although anachronistic works might depict them fighting Tyrannosaurus rex instead.
  • Therizinosaurus: The one large dinosaur species that isn't seen as majestic or badass, but thought of as an awkward and comical oddball due to its large belly, long and skinny neck, oversized claws, feathers, and the fact that it's a herbivorous theropod making it seem as if it was put together from random spare parts. Sometimes a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass due to the formidable appearance of its massive claws.
  • Triceratops: Basically a dinosaurian bull or rhinoceros, bad-tempered and prone to charging, but is usually portrayed in a heroic role. Tyrannosaurus rex's greatest rival or archenemy; the two would usually fight to the death whenever they meet. Their ceratopsian relatives, such as Styracosaurus, are often portrayed similarly.
  • Trilobites: Generally a stock form of ambient marine life in a prehistory-themed work. Peaceful and hardy; the appearance of one is always an indication that the characters in a story are dealing with something from ancient times.
  • Troodontids: Like a non-threatening version of dromaeosaurids. The smartest of all dinosaurs. Will often be portrayed as a nest-raider like the traditional portrayal of Oviraptor, with its victim being the hadrosaur Maiasaura.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: Powerful, unstoppable, vicious hunters. The "King of the Dinosaurs". Very much like a land-based combination of shark and crocodile. Often seen fighting with Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Spinosaurus. Shown to be quite badass and top of the food-chain. See Stock Dinosaurs.

Animal stereotypes by culture

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 animal stereotypes

Crows and Ravens
  • The clever trickster raven.


How well does it match the trope?

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