There are some hilariously funny German animal names that often end up sounding quite bizarre. Do you know, for example, what Germans mean when they talk about a naked snail? Or what animal the lazy animal is? Let's find out!
Funny German animal names aren't far and few between.
While we already have a post on German animal vocabulary more generally in our section on German vocabulary ,we thought that it would be fun to also give you a list of the funniest German animal names.
Have a look at this short list of funny German animal names:
- der Nasenbär (nose bear)
- das Stinktier (stink animal)
- das Faultier (lazy animal)
- die Nacktschnecke (naked snail)
- die Fledermaus (flutter mouse)
- die Schildkröte (shield toad)
Can you guess which animals they refer to? 😅
In this blog post, we'll introduce you to quite a few of these quirky animal names & explain what components those names are made up for. Enjoy!
Funny German Animal Names
1. Anteater (Nose Bear)
|Name in German||Der Nasenbär|
|Literal Translation||nose bear|
die Nase+ bear🐻
Let's start with the German word for bear, which is bear🐻der Bär.
While it's debatable whether anteaters should be classified as a bears, what's definitely not up for discussion is that they have big noses. Really big noses 👃.
In this sense then, the name is as accurate as it's weird. Which makes it easy to remember. It also makes us wonder whether we shouldn't also consider renaming elephants to 'nose-rhinos' - or something like that?
2. Raccoon (Wash Bear)
|Name in German||Der Waschbär|
|Literal Translation||wash bear|
Next is another bear🐻Bär. Here, again, it's questionable raccoons can really be called bears. But one fact is true: They love to wash.
What do they love to wash? Hint: it's not themselves! If so, then the word for "cat" in German would be Waschtiger 🐱.
The correct answer is that they wash their food before they eat it. That's where the German word for raccoon describes!
3. Bat (Flutter Mouse)
|Name in German||die Fledermaus|
|Literal Translation||flutter mouse|
|Words||old word for: to flutterFleder + mouse🐭|
4. Turkey (Threatening Rooster)
|Name in German||der Truthahn|
|Literal Translation||threatening rooster|
The word for turkey in German is "Truthahn".
Where this name comes from is not entirely clear, but one theory is that it comes from the middle high German word "droten", which means "to threaten", and is the root for the modern German word to threatendrohen.
If this is true, Truthahn literally means "threatening rooster" or "threatening chicken".
Most Germans would probably not know this, however, since most of them do not understand middle high German. We also didn't know before researching for this article!
6. Sloth (Lazy Animal)
German: slothdas Faultier
Literal Translation: lazy animal
Literal translation: lazy animal
7. Armadillo (Belt Animal)
German: armadillodas Gürteltier
Literal Translation: belt animal
der Gürtel+ animal🐾
Literal translation: belt animal
8. Platypus (Beak Animal)
German: platypusdas Schnabeltier
Literal Translation: beak animal
der Schnabel+ animal🐾
The German word for platypus is
Schnabeltier, which literally translates as
It consists of the words beak🐤der Schnabel and animal🐾das Tier.
9. Skunk (Stink Animal)
German: skunkdas Stinktier
Literal Translation: stink animal
From: to stinkstinken +
Literal translation: stink animal
10. Meerkat (Little Earth Man)
Literal translation: little earth man
11. Hippo (Nile Horse / River Horse)
German: hippodas Nilpferd
Literal Translation: nile horse / river horse
From: Nile (river)der Nil +
Literal translation: Nile (the river Nile) horse
Animals with pig (-schwein)
12. Porcupine (Spiky Pig)
German: porcupinedas Stachelschwein
Literal Translation: spiky pig
der Stachel+ pig🐷
Now let's have a look at all the different animals that Germans view as pigs. The German word for pig is pig🐷das Schwein. It's combined with the word for spike, which is spike🗡der Stachel.
So the German word for 'porcupine' literally translates as 'spiky pig'. Another translation that would work is "pig with spikes".
In German, bees & scorpions have "spikes" (that they can sting you with) and the thorns of a rose can also sometimes be described as spike, stingerStachel.
13. Capybara (Water Pig)
German: capybaradas Wasserschwein
Literal Translation: water pig
das Wasser+ pig🐷
Could you have guessed that capybaras are called 'water pigs' in German? We find this one rather difficult to make sense of. Does it look like a pig? Well, a little bit. Does it live in the ocean or in lakes? No. But does it love water and swimming? Yes!
So there you go: capybaradas Wasserschwein
14. Guinea Pig (Ocean Pig)
German: guinea pigdas Meerschweinchen
Translation: guinea pig
Literal Translation: sea piggy / little sea pig
das Meer+ pig🐷
The literal translation of guinea pig in German is is "sea piggy" or "little sea pig" - "Meerschweinchen". Combining the words sea🌊das Meer and pig🐷das Schwein gives us "sea pig". But we have piggy🐷das Schweinchen here, and not just pig🐷das Schwein.
What's the difference? What difference does the "-chen" make?
It's pretty easy: it's a diminutive. Adding "chen" to the end of a word cutifies it in German, hence ‘piggy’ instead of ‘pig’.
15. Dugong (Sea Pig)
German: dugongdas Seeschwein
Literal Translation: sea pig
die See+ pig🐷
Literal translation: sea pig
Ok this one is a seal animal & it's ending in "-schwein".
Funnily enough: Seeschweine 🐷 are technically Seekühe - which makes absolutely no sense (if you take these terms literally)!
Remember that the German word for guinea pig is Meerschweinchen, while dugong is Seeschwein. While pretty similar in meaning, those are two totally different animals.
16. Squid (Ink Fish)
German: squidder Tintenfisch
Literal Translation: ink fish
die Tinte+ fish🐟
Literal translation: ink fish
17. Sperm Whale (Pot Whale)
German: sperm whaleder Pottwal
Translation: sperm whale
Literal Translation: pot whale
From: potder Pott +
last animal that lives in the sea in our list
18. Seal (Sea Dog)
Literal Translation: sea dog
die See+ dog🐶
As you probably know, the German word for dog is dog🐶der Hund. The word sea or lakeSee is a bit more tricky, as there are two different meanings, depending on the article. With the article theder it means lake, with the article thedie it means sea.
In most animal names that include the word sea or lakeSee (like Seehund, Seekuh, Seeschwein), it most likely refers back to sea🌊die See.
So, the German word for seal, seal🦭der Seehund literally translates as sea dog - not lake dog.
19. Turtle & Tortoise (Shield Toad)
German: tortoisedie Schildkröte
Translation: turtle / tortoise
Literal Translation: shield toad
das Schild+ toad🐸
The literal translation for turtle in German is "shield toad". The word Schildkröte consists of the words Schild & Kröte.
So in a very literal sense, Germans think of turtles as toads with armour.
Very strange. It makes sense though. I guess 😅
Insects, Snails & Butterflies
20. Butterfly (Smashing Thing)
German: butterflyder Schmetterling
Literal Translation: clashing thing / smattering thing
From: to clashschmettern
Literal translation: clashing thing
If you translate the German word for butterfly literally, you get something along the lines of "smashing thing".
-ling just turns it into a noun (
Gibt es das nicht so ?
21. Slug (Naked Snail)
German: slugdie Nacktschnecke
Literal Translation: naked snail
From: nakednackt +
Literal translation: naked snail
22. Spider (Weaver)
German: spiderdie Spinne
Literal Translation: weaver
Literal translation: weaver
23. Dung Beetle (Garbage Beetle)
German: dung beetleder Mistkäfer
Translation: dung beetle
Literal Translation: garbage beetle
From: garbageder Mist +
Literal translation: garbage beetle
Meaning: dung beetle
That's it for now! Do you know any other German animals with funny names? Send us a message on Instagram or Twitter!