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Viewer Species Confusion

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

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


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Aggressive Retsuko:
    • Ookami was mistaken for a fox by some viewers but he is actually a maned wolf. This is an easy mistake to make because maned wolves are the same color as a fox and are not very well known.
    • Haida has also been mistaken for an African wild dog but is actually a spotted hyena.
    • Some people believe Manumaru to be a leopard or a bobcat, but he’s actually a Palla’s cat.
    • At a glance, most viewers would probably consider Anai to be a dog, but he is actually a Japanese badger.
  • The art-style of Ginga Densetsu Weed and Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin makes it hard to distinguish dog breeds. John the German Shepherd, for example, doesn't look much like a GS, while Cross the Saluki looks more like a spaniel.
  • Jewelpet
    • Io is a species of rabbit characterized by having droopy ears; it's easy to think that he's a dog, especially in Twinkle, where he forms a trio with two dog Jewelpets. This mistake was canonized by the fourth season.
    • King is supposed to be a French Bulldog, but his color scheme makes him look like some sort of creature who decided to wear a pink rabbit outfit... with a pig-like tail. Truly the stuff that Mind Screw is made of.
    • Coal is the little known capybara. People tend to think he's a bear or a hippo.
  • Menchi in Excel Saga is a dog and is constantly referred to as such, but most people would guess "cat" upon seeing her.
  • The Mokonas from Magic Knight Rayearth, XxxHolic and Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- are usually thought to be a rabbits, when really they're just Mokona.
  • The Trope Image here is My Hero Academia's Nedzu, the Principal of U.A. Academy. As lampshaded by the complimentary quote and caption, no-one really knows what he is. The obvious answer would be a mouse or a rat (due to his long tail, his name being a pun on "nezumi", the Japanese word for "rat", and the obvious association between rats and experimentation). However, that leaves his size unaccounted for. His face also resembles a bear's somewhat, while his paws are closer to those of a feline or a canine. His Quirk does not provide an explanation for any of this. Whatever species he was originally, he is most likely heavily mutated, perhaps by the experiments he was put through. Some fans theorize that he is now a "chimera" of sorts, a fusion of several animals. It's also worth noting that this series has lots of animalistic characters who are actually human, so fans could have easily assumed that he was too. Instead, human is the one species that we know he can't be.
  • Terriermon from Digimon Tamers is supposed to be a dog, like the name suggests, but he looks more like a rabbit. It doesn't help that his twin, Lopmon, actually is a rabbit. The dub decided to just straight up change him into a rabbit. Muddling things even further is a piece of art the official Digimon twitter released for New Years 2018, themed after the Year of the Dog, featuring Terriermon... and Lopmon, who is supposed to be a rabbit.
  • Chu-Chu from Revolutionary Girl Utena is often mistaken for a mouse due to his small size, round ears, and the fact that "chu" is typically a Japanese sound effect for a mouse's squeaking. He's actually supposed to be a very small monkey.
  • Much like Terriermon above, Sanrio's Cinnamoroll is a dog but could easily be mistaken for a lop rabbit.
  • Sarah in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie is actually a Cat Girl, but since the American edit removed all scenes depicting her cat ears, American viewers often mistook her for a monkey. A good number of the fanbase also thinks of her as a human, not a cat girl.

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

    Films — Animation 
  • The titular character of Bolt is a dog, but some people think his breed is a Bull Terrier, a mutt, or just a generic cartoon dog. He's actually a White Shepherd (a white off-shoot of the German Shepherd breed) but is very small for his breed. He's the same size as a house cat despite being an adult.
  • Cinderella 3D has multiple examples of this trope:
    • It's unclear whether Cinderella is a antelope, deer, cougar, fox, or something else entirely.
    • Is Cinderella's stepmother supposed to be a dog?
    • One of the characters looks like either a turkey or a vulture. If she is a vulture, this adds a another level of weirdness to a already weird film, because they ride non-anthropomorphic vultures.
  • Rudy from the third Ice Age film is supposed to be a Baryonyx. Some viewers think he is a Suchomimus or even a badly drawn Spinosaurus. Also the Guanlong, Triceratops, Troodon, Harpactognathus, and Pterodactylus are often thought to be raptors, Chasmosaurus, Compsognathus, Pteranodon, and Quetzalcoatlus respectively (though the latter two weren't specifically identified by Word of God).
  • In "Rite of Spring" segment of Fantasia, the little animal stealing a clam from the Plateosaurus is actually a Kannemeyeria (a dicynodont) according to Word of God, not a Protoceratops like many people assume. Also, the Troodon attacking the Archaeopteryx is often assumed to be an Ornitholestes and the Hallopus climbing the tree above the Stegosaurus are thought to be Compsognathus or Hypsilophodon. Not to mention the Tyrannosaurus rex is often called an Allosaurus due to its three-fingered hands.
  • Kung Fu Panda
    • Master Shifu is supposed to be a red panda, but due to looking very little like one, viewers have mistaken him for a rat or fox.
    • Since snow leopards were rarely seen in fiction when the first film was released, many viewers called Tai Lung a tiger, despite his lack of stripes.
  • Many have a hard time identifying Spike from The Land Before Time as a Stegosaurus due to his lack of plates and a thagomizer (most likely thanks to his young age), thinking him to be some sort of ankylosaur instead. It doesn't help that we never see any adult Stegosaurus in the first film, despite Littlefoot's mother mentioning "spiketails" when telling her son about the different types of dinosaurs.
  • Madagascar:
    • Mort is a very cute animal with buck teeth and a bushy tail, but he isn't a squirrel. He's a mouse lemur (which is a primate, not a rodent).
    • King Julien is not a raccoon, despite his face mask and ringed tail. He's a lemur.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017):
    • Captain Celaeno was thought by some to be a griffon when her design was first revealed, since only her top half was visible and she had a similar design as the griffons in the show the film was based on, along with long pointed ears similar to the kind griffons in other media are sometimes depicted with. Others pointed out her name doesn't start with a "G" like the other griffons in the show, and is a reference to a harpy from Greek mythology. Then her toy was revealed, showing she didn't have lion parts and looked more like a humanoid parrot than a griffon. That said, the confusion still persisted among many reviewers for a while, due to her brief appearances in the trailer.
    • Despite official sources calling him a hedgehog, many fans call Grubber a badger due to his black and white coloration.
  • Due to his lack of a wattle, Panchito Pistoles from The Three Caballeros is not immediately identifiable as a rooster by many viewers. Some call him a turkey, and Doug Walker called him a woodpecker in his Disneycember of the film (which he doesn't really look like either, though he does resemble Woody Woodpecker).
  • A mild example. Brutus and Nero from The Rescuers are called crocodiles in the movie, but viewers often refer to them as alligators (most likely due to the film being set in Louisiana, where alligators are common, but crocodiles are rarely seen). It should be noted gators are distinguished from crocs by possessing an overbite, whereas Brutus and Nero both have interlocking teeth appropriate for crocs. That said, the concept art does call them alligators.
  • In You Are Umasou, there is a purple horned carnivore whom some viewers think is a Carnotaurus. It is actually supposed to be a Chilantaisaurus like in the book of the same name and this episode from the animated series (and the animal in question does have huge arms and three-fingered hands, in contrast to stubby arms and four-fingered hands like Carnotaurus).
  • Zootopia:
    • Mr. Big is often called a rat, mouse or opossum. He's actually an arctic shrew, which isn't even a rodent (and neither are possums).
    • Finnick is sometimes mistaken for a Chihuahua, but he is really a fennec fox.
    • A few people have also called Clawhauser a leopard or jaguar, but he's actually a cheetah. This is probably due to him being much chubbier than real life cheetahs.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • The original Petey the Pup from The Little Rascals is a complicated example. Different sources differ on whether he's an American Pit Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier, or a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The real issue here is that the American Pit Bull Terrier is not a "real breed", at least according to the American Kennel Club (it is according to several other international kennel clubs, however). American Pit Bull Terriers are combined with American Staffordshire Terriers in the AKC. Thus, Petey is listed as an Am. Staf on their breed site despite many others considering him an American Pit Bull Terrier.

    Literature 
  • Toto from Land of Oz is a nondescript terrier. Audiences have tried to distinguish his breed, with different results. Thanks to the MGM film he's usually pinned as a Cairn Terrier.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Yellowfang's short muzzle and long fur has many claim that she's a Persian. She isn't. She's a mixed-breed just like almost all of the Clan cats. She gets her Persian-like traits from her mother's side.
    • Kinkfur's perpetually messy fur has some fans claim that he's a Devon Rex or Cornish Rex. Kinkfur is mixed.
    • Bluestar is very frequently described as a Russian Blue, even on The Other Wiki. She isn't—she's mixed. She has greyish "blue" fur and a sleek build but has blue eyes, not green. Bluestar is not from a pure Russian Blue lineage, meaning that she's not a Russian Blue. She likely has Russian Blue in her blood, however.
  • Baloo from The Jungle Book is identified as a brown bear in the text. However, many fans assume he is a sloth bear due to the story being set in India.
  • Despite his black-and-white pelt, the wolf-dog Alpha from Survivor Dogs is half-German Shepherd, not half-Husky or Malamute. He gets his coloring from his gray wolf side.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Who's Your Doggie? is a documentary about finding the background of mixed-breed dogs. It shows how easy to be mistaken about dog mixes. For example, a dog that is speculated to be a Labrador Retriever and Corgi mix actually has Chihuahua, Toy Fox Terrier, Chow Chow, and Lab in him.

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

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets:
    • Animal and Gonzo. No-one has any clue as to what either of them is, to the point where the latter was frequently referred to as a "whatever". Of course, Gonzo later turned out to be an alien. Gonzo also bears a strong resemblance to a Russian insectivore called a "desman". His puppet is a modified "frackle" monster from The Great Santa Claus Switch, an earlier Henson project.
    • There's also Beauregard. It's unclear just what exactly he's supposed to be, though some have theorized that he's a mole.

    Video Games 
  • In Adventure, the dragons look more like ducks, which was referenced in Homestar Runner.
  • All over the place in Crash Bandicoot. Combined with many of the marsupial animals being seldom seen in media, many kids mistook the characters for different animals.
    • Crash looks more like a tailless fox than a bandicoot, lacking the rodent like snout of a real bandicoot. Concept art reveals Crash was designed before he was assigned a species and his placeholder species was a wombat.
    • Tiny Tiger is officially a Tasmanian Tiger AKA thylacine, but looks more like a monstrous version of Crash and lacks the stripes of a real thylacine. Tiny has a lion like tail and roars like a big cat; as a result many kids mistook Tiny for a lion or actual tiger rather then a marsupial.
  • The Condor in Ice Climber looks more like a pterodactyl than an actual condor.
  • For some odd reason, people find the Insaniquarium alien Psychosquid to be an octopus, despite him not having any octopus-like traits. He has 6 arms and a coned head, two traits that belong to squids and not octopi.
  • Chica and Foxy The Pirate from Five Nights at Freddy's. Chica is a chicken, but is frequently mistaken for a duck, while Foxy is, well, a fox, but is often mistaken for a wolf or coyote. To be fair, though, their names aren't really stated in-game until the seventh night.
  • The seagulls in Metal Gear Solid 2 have been called "pigeons" by some. No, really.
  • Gregg from Night in the Woods is a fox, but players who are unaware have interpreted him as being a wolf or a dog, since his species isn't mentioned in-game.
  • One character from the PaRappa the Rapper franchise is Lammy, a lamb who looks more like a deer or a calf, or a human with stubby antlers, pointy ears, and round black nose.
  • Pokémon:
    • Raikou, Suicune, and Entei are often thought of as canines or felines by the fandom, when really they're based on creatures from Chinese/Japanese folklore (a Raiju, a Qilin and a Foo Lion respectively). The name "Legendary dogs" is puzzlingly prevalent for them, despite the fact that Raikou at least is clearly more akin to a sabretooth tiger than any kind of dog. Entei has some lion-like characteristics and Suicune... might resemble a very stylized leopard if you squint really hard(its inspiration was a hooved animal), but "Legendary cats" is less prevalent than "Legendary dogs". Some fans sidestep the issue entirely with the sarcastic moniker "legendary gerbils". Bulbapedia simply calls them "Legendary beasts".
    • Growlithe and Arcanine are striped like tigers, but also resemble and behave like dogs. They're actually based on a variation of the Shisa (A creature that could either be half-dog and half-lion or half-dog and half-tiger) from Okinawa folklore.
    • Poochyena and Mightyena are often thought of as dogs or wolves, when they're possibly based on hyenas, got half of their name from the hyena and their appearance looks like a mixture of brown hyenas and canines.
    • Fans tend to think that Nidoking and Nidoqueen are a strange combination of a rabbit and a rhino. In reality, they're based off of the kaiju Baragon.
    • Mew is sometimes mistaken for a gerbil by the fandom. It's actually a cat-like creature.
      • Likewise, Mewtwo is sometimes mistaken to be an alien. It doesn't help that it strikes a resemblance to both Giygas from the MOTHER video games and Frieza from Dragon Ball. Like Mew, it's supposed to be some sort of cat.
    • Fans can't seem to determine whether Eevee is supposed to be a fox, cat, or some sort of small dog. It doesn't help that its evolutions can have either canine and/or feline traits.
      • Espeon, on the other hand, is based on the nekomata. Although it's ears resemble that of a fennec fox.
      • Umbreon resembles some sort of feline or canine. However, it is actually partially based on a black cat, and, oddly enough, a rabbit. This is because Umbreon is supposed to be a Shout-Out to the Moon Rabbit of Asian folklore.
    • Arceus has been called a horse, llama, giraffe, and a goat by the fandom. Its actually a Kirin (a unicorn-like creature from Japanese folklore. Also known as a "Qilin").
    • Lugia is often mistaken for a dragon by most of the fandom. Although it is partially based on one, Lugia is actually supposed to be a bird.
    • Cranidos and Rampardos are sometimes thought to be Tyrannosaurs, when they are clearly pachycephalosaurs (although Pokémon X and Y later introduced proper T. rex Pokemon, Tyrunt and Tyrantrum). Doesn't help that the Pokédex states that Rampardos actively hunts other Pokémon.
    • Sandshrew and Sandslash are often assumed to be mice of some sort; the English Pokédex even describes them as "Mouse Pokémon." But they're actually based on the pangolin, an armadillo-like creature unknown to most people outside Asia.
    • Zorua and Zoroark are often mistaken for wolves, with many viewers thinking that the latter is a werewolf due to it's claws being werewolf-like, when they're clearly both foxes, based on the kitsune, possibly of the more mischevious yako or nogitsune variety, contrast to Vulpix and Ninetales, who resemble the zenko kitsune in comparison.
    • Due to its name, Pikachu is widely considered to be loosely based on the Pika. Amongst those who don't know what Pika are, it's usually thought that Pikachu is a mouse. According to interviews, Pikachu was originally based on a rice-cake before becoming squirrel-based.
  • Talon from Primal Rage is really a Deinonychus, but is often called a velociraptor.
  • Chocolat from Solatorobo looks like and is thought to be a cat, but she's really a dog.
  • Undertale has a case of viewer breed confusion. No one is quite sure if the annoying dog is a Samoyed, American Eskimo dog, Japanese Spitz, or white Pomeranian. The file names have "pom" in it, so it's likely the last one is correct.
  • Several Sonic the Hedgehog characters are often mistaken for other animals, since most of them don't really resemble the animal they're supposed to be:
    • The biggest example would be Fang the Sniper from Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble to the point the translators were confused. He was originally given the Dub Name Change of "Nack the Weasel" and listed as a weasel/wolf hybrid. In reality, Fang is a jerboa/wolf hybrid.
    • Jet the Hawk was mistaken for a parrot by some due to his green coloration and squawky nasally voice.
    • Sonic, Shadow, Silver, and especially Amy don't resemble hedgehogs. Their quills are very stylized compared to a real hedgehog's. Sonic and Amy have furless stomachs and arms like hedgehogs, but Silver and Shadow don't. Amy's name is "Amy Rose", not "Amy the Hedgehog", so she causes the most confusion in her Modern design. With her bob-like quills, she gets mistaken for a cat. All of the hedgehogs often get mistaken for porcupines, even in official translations.
  • Merasmus the Wizard from Team Fortress 2 has a monkey-like face and appearance, which will make some think he's a monkey for a second.
  • Yo-Kai Watch: Komasan is a lion-dog with some Shiba Inu influences. However, he just looks like a Cute Kitten rather than a Precious Puppy (likely because he is too young for a mane). Even more confusing, his evolved form Komane puts emphasis on the "lion" part of his design. The Art Shift later in the franchise makes it so he's more obviously a dog.

    Visual Novel 
  • Monster Prom: One of the main characters, the Living Shadow Oz had met some confusion in regards to what sort of monster he is exactly, with a tendency for people to think of him as either a shadow or some sort of Humanoid Abomination, while these assessments aren't exactly incorrect, Oz's species was confirmed by the creators as being the Anthropomorphic Personification of fear itself, and the little creatures that sprout from him being phobias.

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

     Web Original 
  • RWBY has a race of Little Bit Beastly people known as the Faunus, which is the cause for occasional fan confusion:
    • Neon Katt is a Cat Girl with a tail but no cat ears. As a result of her peppy personality and her Girlish Pigtails invoking big monkey ears, many fans thought she was a monkey Faunus upon first seeing her.
    • Adam Taurus is a bull Faunus, but many fans have trouble spotting his horns. They're small and they blend into his hair.
    • Downplayed with Blake Belladonna. Despite her hiding her cat ears with a bow, the fandom had her pegged as a cat Faunus from the very first episode. The only confusion is whether she's a housecat Faunus or a panther Faunus.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs: The Warner Brothers don't have a set species, thus no one has any clue as to what they are. Fans usually call them dogs for simplification reasons, but that's not completely accurate. Dr. Scratchansniff calls them monkeys but also knows they actually aren't.
  • Arthur:
    • Arthur looks like a bear or a monkey rather than an aardvark. This has been poked fun of with a Show Within a Show where the main character is a ant-eater who doesn't look it. This is because Arthur had nose surgery in the first book.
      • Though that doesn't explain why his whole family looks the same way.
    • Ape and bear characters, just as Francine (ape) and the Brain (bear), cause problems with fans. A lot of fans also just think ape characters are either monkey or outright Token Humans.
    • Prunella was originally a rat in the books but her curly hair has caused people to mistake her for a poodle. This in turn has caused Creator Species Confusion as different sources refer to her as either a dog or a rat.
    • Similarly, the blind girl Marina introduced in the sixth season uses the same basic character model used for other rabbits on the series. Yet Marc Brown, the author/illustrator of the original Arthur books, once referred to her in an interview as a "variation on a dog," apparently because she has the type of nose normally used on dogs on the series. Later, however, she has been established as a rabbit.
    • It's actually easier to list the characters in the show who don't invoke this to some extent—those being Buster (obviously a rabbit) and Mr. Ratburn (obviously a rat).
  • Charlie And Mimmo: The main cast are indeed penguins, but one might be skeptical considering how round and cartoony they look.
  • Danger Mouse:
    • Colonel K is a chinchilla, but due to his mustache and how he appears in scenes where it's hard to judge his size, several people think he's a walrus.
    • Penfold doesn't look much like a hamster, either.
  • Disney:
    • Pete is actually a cat, but practically everyone has thought he was a dog. This even carried into Goof Troop.
    • Goofy himself has confused a number of people. That being said, anyone that knows the character's origins, knows he was originally called Dippy Dog, and even had a tail originally. The confusion comes from his species never really being focused on, much like with Pete.
  • Heckle and Jeckle are often mistaken for crows, even though they're actually magpies (yellow-billed magpies to be exact). This is an understandable mistake though—-how many cartoons can you name that star magpies as characters?
  • The Raccoons:
    • Cedric and Cyril Sneer are supposed to be aardvarks. They look more like... uhm... naked tapirs?
    • Quick show of hands: How many people knew those guys weren't supposed to be aliens?
  • Regular Show: Eileen is a mole and Pops is a lollipop, but most people assume that the former is a tailed human, and the latter is a big-headed human.
  • Newcomers to The Ren & Stimpy Show sometimes think Ren the Chihuahua is a rabbit.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a character who is described as a dog despite looking, sounding, and acting like a cat.
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • According to some sources, Squidward is actually an octopus, but viewers assume he's a squid because he has six tentacles (two for arms, four for legs), and his name, Squidward. Word of God is that the name "Squidward" flowed better than any octopus related puns.
    • On Spongebob Wiki, Sheila was put into the 'Octopi' category when she was clearly a squid.
    • Many newcomers to the series, particularly younger viewers, have mistaken SpongeBob himself for a cube of cheese, based on him being a yellow cube with holes. The resemblance is even lampshaded in "Band Geeks" and "Picture Day". The entire reason his name is SpongeBob instead of simply Bob was to prevent this.
  • Ludo from Star vs. the Forces of Evil tends to be mistaken for a Kappa by fans who are familiar with Japanese media, since he has a hairstyle that kappa are often depicted with. However, Season 2 makes clear that he's really supposed to be a bird monster who never grew wings, unlike the rest of his family who are much more birdlike in appearance.
  • Don Karnage from TaleSpin was confirmed to be a wolf, but his species was never mentioned in the show. Some viewers called Karnage a fox or coyote, as he clearly looks like a canine.
  • Timothy Goes to School has Fritz. Is he a skunk? A badger? Nobody seems to be sure. Even looking at official reviews for the original Rosemary Wells book that he appears in, Fritz and the Mess Fairy, doesn't shed any light on the subject. Publisher's Weekly calls him a "skunk," Kirkus Reviews describes him as a "badger." Presumably, this applies to Miss Appleberry (the occasionally-seen student teacher) by extension, as she appears to be the exact same species as Fritz.
  • In T.U.F.F. Puppy, two of Snaptrap's henchmen, Ollie and Larry, are said to be an opossum and a shrew, respectively. However, Ollie looks more like a weasel or brown rat, while Larry could easily be mistaken for an opossum, white rat or mouse.
  • Many eBay listings for Linny the guinea pig on Wonder Pets often describe her variously as a "hamster," "hampster" or "hedgehog." The I Am Not Weasel references worked into the series may have been an intentional reference to this sort of confusion.
  • Russell in Littlest Pet Shop (2012) is a hedgehog but is frequently mistaken, both in-universe and out, for a porcupine. He takes it completely in stride (at least unless he's sufficiently agitated, like in "In the Loop").
  • Summer Camp Island very likely confused lots of viewers with respect to species. The protagonists are an elephant named Oscar and a Hedgehog named Hedgehog but you wouldn't know that by looking at them. Oscar has tiny ears and a tiny snout (unlike his elephant-looking parents) while Hedgehog looks like a weasel. They're two examples of many (for example, a wingless bat character resembles a badger, likely because he was a badger in the original pilot).
  • Launchpad McQuack from DuckTales is a duck, but his beak looks more like that of a pelican.

    Real Life 
  • Bears:
    • Giant pandas have historically been considered raccoons, until the advent of DNA testing, which revealed them to be bears.
    • There is a viral video online of an animal that many people thought was either a chupacabra, alien, other cryptid, or a undiscovered species. Close examination revealed it was a sun bear that suffered from one or more conditions that made it abnormally extremely small and hairless.
    • Despite the name, "black" bears can be brown, and grizzly bears can be black, making it possible to mistake one for the other. When encountering a bear, misidentifying its species can be very dangerous because the safety measures you are supposed to take are different for each species.
  • Canines:
    • The African golden wolf and it's subspecies the Egyptian wolf have long believed to be jackals until recent genetic testing by scientists discovered that the animals are closer related to the gray wolf than the jackal, leading to this reclassification.
    • It can be hard to tell what breed a dog is. Malamutes and Siberian Huskies in particular are confused because of their similar appearance. The main difference is that Malamutes are bigger and built stronger. They may also be assumed to be wolfdogs because of looking wolf-like, and the tendency for wolfdogs to be part Husky or Malamute. This is even ignoring more obscure husky-types like the Greenland Dog and Canadian Eskimo Dog, which also share similarities.
    • Due to its name, the Miniature Pinscher is often mistaken for a scaled down Dobermann Pinscher (similar to the Italian Greyhound or Toy Poodle). It's actually older than the Dobermann and is related to the German Pinscher. The German Pinscher itself tends to be mistaken for the younger Dobermann.
    • The Bichon Frise and Poodle are often mistaken for one another due to their similarly curly, often white, fur.
    • Poodles that don't have typical "Poodle cuts" are often mistaken for Poodle mixes.
    • The Maned wolf's note  name is a misnomer, as it's not a true wolf. It's not a very tall fox either, the other animal it's commonly mistaken for. It's only very distantly related to all other living canine species.
  • Extinct Animals:
    • The confusion between mammoths and mastodons. Mammoths have a high-domed skull and an upright posture, whereas mastodons have a low-domed skull and a sloping posture. Also, unlike mastodons, mammoths are part of the elephant family (but not ancestors of today's elephants, contrary to popular belief)
    • Some dinosaurs that previously have been considered separate species have been theorized to be the same species, just at different ages. It's currently being debated whether Torosaurus was actually a fully gown Triceratops or if they truly are separate species. Various genera related to Pachycephalosaurus are also debated to be the same species.
    • Pterosaurs, sea-going reptiles like plesiosaurs and mosasaurs, basal synapsids like Dimetrodon, modern reptiles, and even prehistoric mammals are wrongly considered to be dinosaurs by a majority of people, while avian dinosaurs such as Archaeopteryx and modern birds are equally wrongly considered not to be dinosaurs.
    • Dinosaurs themselves are often incorrectly considered to be "giant lizards". Not helped by the fact the word "Dinosaur" is Greek for "Fearfully-Great Lizard". Gets ironic when you realize that mosasaurs, often mistaken for dinosaurs as mentioned above, are true lizards.
  • Felines:
    • There is a urban legend that Maine coons are hybrids with raccoons, which is impossible.
    • Some tailless cats have been claimed to be cabbits (fictional rabbit/cat hybrids.) Lacking a tail is technically a deformity (even though it is intentionally bred in cats), and often results in the spine being too short, which can cause the cat to hop in a rabbit-like manner.
    • Often, any colorpoint (cat with a marking pattern triggered by heat distribution; the cooler areas of the body [legs, face, tail, ears] are darker) is assumed to be a Siamese because this is typical and iconic for the breed. Siamese cats are colorpoints, but not all colorpoints are Siamese; they may be a Ragdoll, or breedless, without necessarily having any relation to a Siamese.
    • A similar issue is people thinking that tabbies are a breed. All "tabby" means that the cat has a certain pattern of stripes, dots, lines, or swirling and usually a "M" like marking on it's forehead. Many cats, both breedless and pure bred, have this pattern. It's not a breed unto itself.
    • Many people don't realize "domestic short-haired cat" is just a fancy term for "mixed breed."
    • The confusion surrounding cheetahs, leopards, and jaguars caused by them all being large yellowish cats with spots. Cheetahs are built lightly for extreme speed, have tear drop markings under their eyes, and have solid spots. Leopards are larger than cheetahs, hunt by ambushing their prey instead of running them down, and have rosettes (a type of spot somewhat similar to a rose, the center is yellowish like the background fur instead of being filled in like a cheetah's spots). Jaguars are larger than leopards, have larger rosettes than them, and live on a entirely separate continent.
    • "Black panthers" are leopards or jaguars with a dark coloration, not a distinct separate species unto themselves.
    • Snow leopards and clouded leopards are not actually leopards, they are just named that because their spots make them resemble them.
    • The name "Saber-toothed tiger" is a misnomer, they are not actually tigers.
    • Wildcats have this issue. "Wildcat" is a part of their species name, not a reference to them being "wild" (AKA feral) cats. Domestic cats are thought to be descendants of African wildcats, which explains why they look so similar. The Scottish wildcat is an extremely endangered species because people mistake them for domestic cats. Due to prevalence of interbreeding with pet cats, pure Scottish wildcats are all but extinct in the wild.
  • Sea Life:
    • Porpoises are considered to be the same animals as dolphins. They are not. Porpoises have spade-shaped teeth, triangular dorsal fins, and a shorter snout than most dolphins.
    • Dugongs are often confused for manatees due to similar appearances, to the point of being considered the same animal. Manatees have paddle-shaped tails with only one lobe, while dugongs have cetacean-styled tail flukes. Likewise, both "sea cows" are often considered to be related to pinnipeds or even cetaceans, when in reality, they're the closest living relatives of elephants.
  • Ungulates:
    • Good luck telling the difference between a mule deer and a white tailed deer if you're not a hunter. The main differences is the mule deer has larger ears, and different face markings and antler shape. Another way to tell is by all things, how they move. Mule deer sometimes bounce off the ground in a behavior called stotting, whereas white tail deer do not.
    • The confusion some people have with deer and antelope and assuming they are related or the same thing.
    • The Pronghorn antelope has a misleading name, but it's not related to true antelopes. They are closer to giraffes of all things.
    • Llamas and alpacas are commonly confused due to both being domesticated camelids from South America. Llamas are larger, have more elongated muzzles, banana-shaped ears, and are mainly bred as pack animals. Alpacas are smaller, have shorted muzzles, spear-shaped ears, and are mainly bred for their wool.
  • Rabbits and hares are often mistaken for one another, and both are wrongly thought of as being rodents by a lot of people.
  • Besides rabbits and hares, many small mammals are often mistaken for rodents: bats, weasels, hedgehogs, shrews, ferrets, mongooses, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and moles.
  • Ravens and crows are difficult to tell apart. Add the various species of grackles to the mix, and bird watching any of these species can quickly become confusing for the novice.
  • Ancient people often classified animals differently than we do today, leading to this trope. Dolphins and other cetaceans were considered fish, which we obviously now know is wrong and the fact that all cetaceans are mammals. Bats were considered birds, which makes even less sense than thinking them to be rodents.
    • The term "Pachyderm" originated as a taxonomic order that included elephants, rhinos, and hippos, which were all grouped together essentially for having superficial similarities such as being huge, aggressive, and having thick wrinkled gray skin, until it was made obsolete when it was realized these animals don't have that kind of close relation to each other.
  • The Furry Fandom has a lot of problems with this trope mainly because of the strong stylization many artists use when drawing. Often, any canine character is assumed to be a grey wolf because of the prevalence of that species in the fandom, even if it's actually supposed to be a dog, fox, coyote, or even cat (if the artist is that bad.) Sometimes the character's species is actually perfectly clear and obvious, meaning this problem is not always the artist's fault.
  • People often have trouble telling crocodiles and alligators apart, since they look identical at first glance. But alligators have overbites, broad snouts, and a darker coloration.
    • Like dinosaurs, crocodilians are often thought of as lizards, when in fact they're more closely related to birds (and ergo dinosaurs) than to other reptiles.
  • Tuataras are often mistaken for lizards due to being similar in appearance. In reality, tuataras are from a separate order (Rhynchocephalia) than lizards (Squamata).
  • Pythons are not the same kinds of snakes as boas or anacondas. Pythons are Old World snakesnote  that lay eggs, unlike boas and anacondas which are (mostly) New World snakesnote  that give live birth.
  • Hyenas are often thought of as dogs, due to being very social and canine-like in appearance, but in reality, hyenas belong to their own family which is to some degree more closely related to cats and mongooses than dogs. Some people make the opposite mistake and think they're felines because of misreading or misunderstanding the "closer to cats" factoid - all this means is they are comparatively more related to felines than canines, it doesn't mean that they are actually felines. As said, they belong to their own very distinct family. To put this in perspective, this is the equivalent of claiming bears are in the dog family.
  • Sloths are often considered to be primates, as they look somewhat like apes. In fact, sloths are more closely related to armadillos or anteaters.
  • Decomposing animals can look weird and be hard to identify. The internet is full of pictures of mysterious animals that have washed up on beaches and have been claimed to be everything from aliens to cryptids.
  • Domestic ferrets are commonly mistaken for Black-Footed Ferrets. They are, however, separate species. Mistaking them is comparable to mistaking a Husky for a Grey Wolf. This confusion is so prevalent that it's led to ferrets being banned in many regions due to fears that they're dangerous wild animals who can cause harm to the environment if they got loose.
  • The red panda is often mistaken for a type of panda because of the misleading name. The two species are not closely related. Ironically, the name "panda" was first applied to the red panda rather than the better-known giant panda.
  • Koalas are sometimes thought to be bears, hence being wrongly called "Koala bears," but they are not. They are marsupials.
  • The book Shiloh was inspired by the writer's own experience. While visiting friends in Shiloh, West Virginia she came across a skinny, mistreated Beagle in 1989. Her friends ended up adopting the dog. As it turns out, Clover was a mutt not a Beagle. The fictional Shiloh, however, is an actual Beagle.

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