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Dub Species Change

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Don't forget to tune into the Australian version,
"Bob Saves the Echidnas"!
"In Italy, Linus and Sally aren't waiting for a mystical Great Pumpkin to rise from the sincerest patch around bringing joy and presents to little children. In Italy, the Peanuts characters in the story are hoping to catch a glimpse of, wait for it, the Great Watermelon. The story goes, when the tale was first released onto the small screen in 1966, Italians weren't familiar with Halloween and its traditions. So while working on the translation, they decided to go with a piece of produce that households would recognize and find particularly humorous."

Sometimes, what is presented as one species of animal in the original work, ends up being presented as or referred to as an entirely different species of animal.

The reasons may vary. Perhaps the dub/translation language doesn't have a word for the species in question. Other times, the animal barely resembled its alleged species in the original language and the translators decided to "fix" it to something more believable. In addition, perhaps the dub is geared towards a geolocation which doesn't contain the fauna in question.

For example, since Tanuki are not as endemic to North America or, to a lesser extent, Europe, as they are to Japan, many dubs or translations from such areas substitute the word for "raccoon" or "badger". Similarly, chipmunks and gophers are common in North America but not endemic to Europe, thus dubs to European languages often change the former to squirrels, the latter to moles or hamsters. Hedgehogs are common in most of Europe and Asia, but North America and Southern Europe are more likely to be familiar with porcupines, while Australia may change them to echidnas.

Regardless, the animal is referred to as an entirely different species in the dub or translation than is presented onscreen/on-page/onstage.

Compare and contrast Dub Name Change (when names are changed to fit better with the new language), Woolseyism (when other things are altered to make sense in the new language), Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" (when mundane objects have made up names), Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit" (when made-up objects have mundane names), Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff" (when mythical creatures take on the names of other mythical creatures), Adaptation Species Change (when the animal in question is an outright different species in the adaptation), Informed Species (when the species is stated by the narrative but does not look accurate), I Am Not Weasel (when the animal objects to being called by the wrong species In-Universe), Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (when a real geographic location has its name changed in the context of the story) and Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change (same).


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the original Japanese version of Aggressive Retsuko and all versions of the Netflix adaptation, there's a badger character named Anai (from "anaguma," Japanese for "badger"); however, in the English subs for the original show, he's a prairie dog named Doug.
  • In the English dub of Digimon Tamers, Terriermon is often referred to as a rabbit, even though it's supposed to be a dog (hence his name).
  • The titular character of Doraemon is a robot cat without ears that is often mistaken for something else by people. In Japan it's usually a tanuki, but in English it's changed into a seal, and in Italian into a raccoon.
  • In the English dub of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Kine, a sunfish, is described as a blue surgeon fish in the episode "A Fish Called Kine". Strangely, despite this, the later episode "The Kirby Quiz" accurately refers to him as sunfish, both in original and dubbed versions. Meanwhile, the Italian dub of "A Fish Called Kine" has Curio describing Kine with the fake Latin name of Nasellus Loquacis, implying that he's a European Hake ("Nasello" in Italian).
  • In Ojamajo Doremi Majorika, and any other discovered witch, is turned into a frog. In the 4kids dub, she is instead turned into a "green blob".
  • One Piece:
    • Tony Tony Chopper is often mistaken for a tanuki by people who don't get he's a reindeer. In some foreign dubs they instead call him a raccoon, the closest western equivalent to a tanuki.
    • The 4Kids dub not only refers to Ms. Merry Christmas as Ms. Groundhog's Day, but changes her Mogu Mogu no Mi (or Diggy Diggy Fruit)-induced animal form from a mole to a groundhog or woodchuck, despite still looking like a mole.
  • Samurai Pizza Cats: The Big Cheese was intended to be a fox in the original Japanese version (his original Japanese name is Kitsunezuka Ko'on-no-Kami; "kitsune" means "fox" and "kon" is a Japanese sound effect for a fox's bark). However, the English dub refers to him as a rat, despite not changing his design (his pointy ears and bushy tail are still very obviously a fox's and not a rat's).
  • The English dub of Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie changes Knuckles's species from an echidna to a mole. Admittedly, it could be just Princess Sera (the only person who calls him "Mr. Mole") confusing his species.
  • The Latin American Spanish dub of Sonic X refers to Sonic as a porcupine rather than a hedgehog.
  • Three of the animal-shaped mechas used by the protagonists of Time Patrol Tai Otasukeman had their species changed in the Italian dub: the seal mech became a sea lion, the frog mech was turned into a toad and the tanuki mech is referred to as a groundhog.
  • Transformers: Robots in Disguise:
    • One of Megatron's transformations is referred to as a bat in the original Japanese version, but foreign dubs changed it into a gargoyle.
    • Once Megatron gets upgraded into Galvatron, he achieves four more transformations, including a griffin and a mammoth. For some reason, the Italian dub calls both of them mammoths.

    Comic Books 
  • The Beagle Boys from the Disney Ducks Comic Universe are often renamed in foreign translations:
    • They're called "Björnbusarna" (roughly, the "Bear Bandits") in the Swedish versions of the comic books, so they seem to have changed species from dogs to bears.
    • In Italian, the Beagle Boys are called "Banda Bassotti" (Dachshund Gang).
  • In the French translation, Wolverine used to be called Serval, a wild cat native to Africa. This was likely an attempt to make him sound more badass than with a literal translation, since the actual French word for wolverine is "Glouton", which also means "glutton". This lasted until the mid-'90s, when Panini acquired the rights to publish Marvel Comics and decided to keep the English name instead.
  • In the Brazilian translation of Wonder Woman stories, Cheetah is translated as Mulher Leopardo (Leopard Woman).

    Comic Strips 
  • The Danish translation of Calvin and Hobbes is rewritten a bit so that the series takes place in Denmark instead of the US. This means that in the arc where Calvin finds a dying raccoon baby, it's changed to a squirrel instead since raccoons are not native to Denmark. It works because the raccoon is never actually shown to the readers.
  • The Italian translation of Peanuts turned the Great Pumpkin into a watermelon, since the entire concept of Halloween was fairly obscure in Italy back when the strips were first translated. This oddity is one of the few terminologies that haven't been changed in later translations over time, since it became an iconic term.

    Films — Animation 
  • Infamously, after Disney's Bambi turned the protagonist and the other deer characters from roe deer to white-tailed deer, the German dub used the German word for roe deer (Reh) for Bambi and his mother, but the word for red deer (Hirsch) for Bambi's father, the Great Prince (since he, due to his impressive antlers, looks more like a red deer than a roe deer to those familiar with European deer species). This led to the common misconception among Germans that roe deer are just female/juvenile red deer.
  • In the Hungarian dub of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, the "shrimpanzees" are translated as "gornéla", indicating they are the equivalents of gorillas rather than chimpanzees, to preserve the pun in their name ("shrimp" = "garnéla").
  • In the Danish dub of The Lion King, Timon the meerkat is for some odd reason called a "desmerdyr" which is not a species name at all, but instead an umbrella term for viverrids, mongooses and Malagasy carnivores (the term was coined back when all of these animals were assumed to belong to the same family). The actual Danish species name for meerkat is "surikat".
  • Pom Poko: The American English dub made by Disney changes the species of the main characters from Tanuki (a.k.a. Japanese raccoon dogs) to raccoons. They also refer to their magical scrotums as "raccoon pouches", though this may have been due to Bowdlerization.
  • Shrek:
    • The Norwegian and Danish dubs of the films refer to the eponymous character as a "troll" rather than an ogre, as there is no word for "ogre" in these languages. Funnily, the fourth film has Rumpelstiltskin look at a creature and say "That's not even an ogre, that is a troll." The Norwegian dub got around this by saying "That's not even a troll, that is a jötunn," a different kind of troll in Norse mythology.
    • The Lithuanian dub uses "man-eater" for the same reason, coincidentally adding an extra twist to the following line:
      Shrek: So Charming, you wanna let me out of these so we can settle this ogre to man?
    • The Japanese dub refers to Shrek as a kaibutsu, a generic term for a monster, as the word "ogre" doesn't exist in Japanese, either (the closest equivalent would be an oni, which Shrek does not resemble).
  • In the art book for Spirited Away, Lin is revealed to be a fox spirit. However, the English translation lists her as a weasel instead.
  • Winnie the PoohThe Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:
    • In the Hungarian dub, Gopher is named "Ürge", the word for ground squirrel (sometimes American ground squirrels are colloquially referred to as gophers, which may explain the translation; not to mention that the Hungarian name for gophers, "tasakospatkány", is quite a mouthful).
    • In the Italian dub, Gopher is called "DeCastor", implying that he was changed into a beaver ("Castoro" is Italian for beaver).
  • In the Hungarian dub of Zootopia, Duke Weaselton's name is translated as "Nyestelton", indicating that he's a marten ("nyest") rather than a weasel ("menyét").

    Literature 
  • The French version of Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst changed Anastasia's pet gerbils into hamsters. Since hamsters, unlike gerbils, are not social animals and you wouldn't normally expect to keep more than one in the same cage, this seems a little jarring - though since Anastasia believes her pets to be a breeding pair in fact, they are two females who are both already pregnant, her keeping them together is justified.
  • The English translation of Dragon Rider changes Sorrel from a kobold to a brownie, since kobols were obscure in English-speaking countries at the time.
  • The title characters of the Japanese Guri and Gura children's books are a couple of field mice. In the Hungarian release they were originally accidentally mistranslated as rats. As the publisher found rats unmarketable, they were changed to wood mice, coincidentally close to their original species.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the wizard students turn guineafowl into guinea pigs during a Transfiguration class. In the Hungarian translation of the book, they turn seahorses (tengeri csikó) into guinea pigs (tengerimalac) instead, to preserve the pun.
    • The first Italian translation of the books (and subsequently the movie dub) changed the Whomping Willow into a plane tree, since the translator couldn't find an adeguate alliteration. This was rectified in the second translation of the books, where the new translation team found one that was good enough.
    • In the Spanish translation of the books, Neville Longbottom's pet toad Trevor is turned into a turtle. However, the scene where he turns back into a tadpole in the third book remains.
    • The first Italian translation of the books went back and forth between turning the goblins into pixies and keeping them as goblins.
  • To avoid changing the character's gender, Old Man Willow from The Lord of the Rings has been changed into either an oak or an elm in different Russian translations, since the character is clearly a male and the Russian word for "willow" is a female noun.
  • In the Russian translation of The Talking Parcel, weasels are replaced with stoats. Probably because the Russian word for "stoat" has a much better and more mystical ring to it than the word for "weasel".

    Live-Action TV 
  • When media created by Chespirito (Roberto Gómez Bolaños) that featured his mock-superhero character "El Chapulin Colorado" was translated into English (such as El Chavo del ocho), the name was instead translated to "The Crimson Cricket", as it would not be alliterative in English if translated literally, as "The Red Grasshopper".
  • In the Portuguese dub of The Noddy Shop, the goblins are changed to gnomes.
  • Power Rangers:
  • Kippi ben Kippod, one of the main characters of the Rechov Sumsum, the Israeli version of Sesame Street, is a hedgehog. In the US co-production Shalom Sesame, he was called a porcupine in English.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing:
    • Tom Nook and his assistants, Timmy and Tommy, are tanuki in the original Japanese version, but the English translation refers to them as raccoons. The Punny Names hint at their true species.
    • Kapp'n is a Kappa in the Japanese version, but in foreign translations, he and his family seen in Animal Crossing: New Leaf are referred to as turtles. Like Tom Nook, the pun in "Kapp'n" indicates what he really is.
    • Redd is a Kitsune in the Japanese version, completing the Tanuki/Kitsune Contrast with Tom Nook. In the western releases he is just a fox.
    • The Able Sisters are supposed to be hedgehogs in all versions, but are sometimes referred to as porcupines in the English translation.
  • Minecraft has a rare plant version in lily pads. While the phrase refers to the leaves of a water lily in most versions, the Taiwanese Chinese translation changes them to the leaves of a lotus. For clarification, while water lilies and lotuses look alike, they are very distantly-related plants in real life.
  • The fossil Pokémon in Pokémon Sword and Shield are Mix-and-Match Critters made from combining two unrelated fossils. The Ice-type Arcto- body comes from the Fossilized Dino, which is called the Fossilized Plesiosaur in the original Japanese, as well as Italian and Spanish.
  • Przygody Reksia: The pirates are rats in the Polish version, but are changed to mice in the Romanian dub.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The Italian and Latin American translations of most iterations of the franchise refer to the titular character as a porcupine rather than a hedgehog.
    • Fang/Nack is a wolf/jerboa hybrid in the original Japanese version, but in the western releases he was instead referred to as a weasel. This was later changed into a wolf/weasel, and finally reverted back to a wolf/jerboa.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Arabic dub of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails' name is changed to "Sanjoob" (squirrel) because the translators thought he was a squirrel.
  • In the Italian dub of the Bob's Burgers episode "Every Which Way But Goose", Bruce the goose is changed to a duck, mainly because "goose" is a female word in Italian while "duck" is a male one.
  • In the American dub of Bob the Builder, hedgehogs are changed to porcupines. Which is somewhat odd, as hedgehogs haven't been very obscure in American pop culture ever since Sonic the Hedgehog hit the scene.
  • Jellabies is renamed Jellikins in a number of countries. The dubs that go by this name also alter the character models so that all of the jelly people are jelly bears instead. note 
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the short "Duck! Rabbit! Duck!", one of the various animals Daffy Duck compares himself to (with Bugs Bunny pulling out a corresponding "[X] Season" sign) is a mongoose. The earlier Italian dub changed it into a Bird-of-paradise, while the latter redubs translated it correctly.
    • A few early Italian dubs of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner shorts referred to the Road Runner as either an ostrich or a fictional species of bird called the Beep Beep.
    • Similarly, in Polish the Road Runner is officially known as "Struś Pędziwiatr" ("Ostrich Run-like-the-wind").
  • Sofia the First: In the Taiwanese Mandarin dub, the Jade Jaguar from "Princesses to the Rescue!" is translated as the Jadeite Leopard (翡翠金錢豹), and the Lagoon Lizards—likely a magical species—are translated as crocodilians (鱷魚, i.e. "alligators/crocodiles").
  • In the Italian dub of the Super Mario World episode "Gopher Bash", the gophers are changed to moles. Since the "gophers" seen in the episode are clearly based on the Monty Mole enemy from the games, this can be seen as Translation Correction.
  • In the Latin American Spanish dub of True and the Rainbow Kingdom, the troll from the episode "Fee Fi Fo Frookie" is changed into an elf.

    Real Life 
  • The Gopher protocol (an early alternative to the World Wide Web) was informally known as "Świstak" ("Marmot") in the early Polish internet community.

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