70+ Animal Names in GermanAnimals Vocabulary List

German Vocabulary

German animal names are really fun to learn! Most of them are a bit quirky, a little bit strange, but never boring.

Die Schildkröte: Does this turtle kind of look like a toad with a shield?

Unlike German numbers, asking for directions in German or telling the time in German, German animal names are actually fun to learn - really.

This is because German is pretty straightforward when it comes to animal vocabulary and often just takes the most obvious traits or characteristics of the animal and meshes it into a word.

Weird Animal Names
German animal names can be quite quirky. Anteater, for example, is "der Nasenbär" which literally means "nose bear". The German word for sloth is "das Faultier": lazy animal. For more of these, check out our list of 20+ really bizarre German animal names.

Just take German animal names like Nasenbär (anteater) or Nashorn (rhino): It's like somebody asked a toddler to come up with some words for these animals!

In this blog post, we'll go through the most common German animal vocabulary. We'll start with pets & farm animals and then work our way through more exotic animals ("exotic" meaning that you won't find them in German forests) as well as bugs and insects.

German Names for Pets & House Animals 🐶

Let's start out with pets. Knowing the word for lion or zebra is great. But:

You're more likely to encounter a dog or a cat in the streets of Berlin (in the parks of Münster rabbits even!), than an anteater or a pot whale.

The German word for pet is Haustier, which literally means 'house animal'. The German words for dog and cat are also useful to know, as cats are the most popular pet in Germany.

der Hunddog
die Katzecat
der Hamsterhamster
der Goldfischgold fish
das Meerschweinchenguinea pig
der Wellensittichbudgie
die Ratterat
das Kaninchenrabbit
What is the German word for dog?
What is the German word for cat

Farm Animals in German 🐮

Next up are farm animals. The expression 'farm animals' is Bauernhoftiere in German.

Young children & toddlers (at least here in Germany) can be obsessed with farm animals. So if you're learning German partly because you'd like to communicate with your 4 year old German nephew, you better memorise these words:

das Schweinpig
die Kuh (die Kühe)cow
das Pferdhorse
das Huhn (die Hühner)chicken
der Hahn (die Hähne)rooster
das Kükenchick

Little Timmy will thank you later.

Forest Animals in German 🌳

Forest animals take center stage in many German fairy tales & fables. If your goal is to read simple German stories as soon as possible, having a quick glance at these words makes a lot of sense.

Here are the most common German forest animals:

der Hirschdeer
der Dachsbadger
der Fuchs, die Füchsefox
der Haserabbit
das Reh(female) deer
der Maulwurfmole
der Wolfwolf
das Wildschweinwild boar
das Eichhörnchensquirrel
die Mausmouse
die Fledermausbat
das Wieselweasle
der Siebenschläferdormouse

Exotic Animals in German 🦁

While you won't be able to find that many lions and zebras in the Schwarzwald, it can still be very useful to know the German words for exotic animals.

Now we have good news and bad news for you.

Let's start with the good news: If you have a look at this list, you might notice that it includes a bunch of German-English cognates:

der Tiger (die Tiger)tiger
der Löwelion
der Elefantelephant
die Giraffegiraffe
das Nashornrhino
das Nilpferdhippo
der Straußostrich
das Zebrazebra
die Hyänehyena
die Antilopeantelope

The German word for tiger is simply "der Tiger" and giraffe is just "die Giraffe". While these are spelled exactly the same in German, others are spelled only slightly differently, which makes learning these words a breeze (see 'der Elefant' or 'die Hyäne', for example).

The only bad news is that you will still have to memorize the gender for each noun. 🙈

Insects in German 🪲

Now off to the world of bugs, grubs & slugs: German words for insects!

die Ameiseant
der Schmetterlingbutterfly
der Käfer (die Käfer)bug
der Marienkäfer (die Marienkäfer)ladybird
der Mistkäfergarbage beetle
die Schneckesnail
die Nacktschneckeslug
die Mademaggot
die Spinnespider

One useful thing to remember in this section is that the word Käfer is masculine: That means that every word that ends in -käfer will also be masculine. So Marienkäfer, Mistkäfer and all the other Käfer use the article "der".

Sea & Water Animals in German 🦀

Speaking from experience, there are two main reasons why people are learning the German words for sea and water animals:

First, if you're into oceanography, all things nautical or an absolute marine life nerd, then that's obviously a good reason to learn the German names for sea animals. If that's you: great. Here's your list:

der Haishark
der Fischfish
der Walwhale
der Delfindolphin
die Schildkröteturtle
die Quallejellyfish
der Schwertwalorca, killer whale
das Walrosswalrus
der Seehundseal
der Lachssalmon
der Störsturgeon
die Forelletrout
der Kabeljaucod
der Barschbass
der Aaleel
der Oktopusoctopus

It's more likely though that you're learning these words for another reason: You're into sea food and looking at this list makes you thing of Joe's Crab Shack.

If that's you, that's also fair: Bon appetit.

Birds in German 🦤

Birds are also often featured in German fables & fairy tales, so it makes sense to know the more common ones.

Note that most birds are masculine, though there are also a few whose grammatical gender is feminine:

der Vogelbird
die Euleowl
der Geiervulture
der Raberaven
der Adlereagle
der Falkefalcon
der Schwanswan
der Pfaupeacock

PS: In case you're one of those language learners who absolutely loves to read the whole Harry Potter series in every single translation there is: The German word for owl is die Eule, and Harry Potter's owl Hedwig is a Schneeeule in German. Just saying.

We also have a separate blog post, just on the vocabulary for birds in German

Reptiles in German 🐍

Reptiles are the last group of animals we want to have a look at. So that means: snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles.

Here's a short list of our cold-blooded friends:

das Krokodilcrocodile
das Chamäleonchameleon
die Schlangesnake
der Leguaniguana
der Froschfrog
der Salamandersalamander

We also have a separate blog post, just on the names for reptiles in German

What animals are masculine and feminine in German?

Now, if you want to remember the grammatical gender of animals in German, that's not always easy. Sometimes it seems very intuitive, but at other times it makes no sense at all.

💡Grammatical Gender

In German, like many other languages, nouns are either masculine, feminine, or neuter. This grammatical gender is not related to the biological gender of the animal, but it does affect the forms of the article and some of the endings of adjectives (for example).

We recommend to learn the genders for the most important animals and endings (things like -vogel, or -käfer), so that you have solid basis. After that, remember that most birds are masculine, some are feminine, but they're rarely neuter (with chickens being an exception).

Just like with learning gender in general, make sure to not fret it. There is no point in bending over backwards to remember that der Salamander is masculine, if you rarely use this word in real life anyways.

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