Bizarre German Animal Names25+ Weird Words For Animals

Do you know 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!

The Most Bizarre German Animal Names

Let's start our list with the most bizarre German animal names first.

1. Anteater (Nose Bear)

der Nasenbär
der Nasenbär. Attribution: Malene Thyssen, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in GermanDer Nasenbär
Literal Translationnose bear
Related word(s)die Nasenose + der Bärbear

Let's start with the German word for bear, which is der Bärbear.

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 GermanDer Waschbär
Literal Translationwash bear
Related word(s)waschento wash + der Bärbear

Next is another Bärbear. 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 Germandie Fledermaus
Literal Translationflutter mouse
Related word(s)Flederold word for: to flutter + die Mausmouse

4. Turkey (Threatening Rooster)

Name in Germander Truthahn
Literal Translationthreatening rooster
Related word(s)drohento threaten + der Hahnrooster

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 drohento threaten.

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)

das Faultier
das Faultier. Attribution: Daniella Maraschiello, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandas Faultier
Literal Translationlazy animal
Related word(s)faullazy + das Tieranimal

7. Armadillo (Belt Animal)

das Gürteltier
das Gürteltier
Name in Germandas Gürteltier
Literal Translationbelt animal
Related word(s)der Gürtelbelt + das Tieranimal

8. Platypus (Beak Animal)

das Schnabeltier
das Schnabeltier. Attribution: Klaus, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandas Schnabeltier
Literal Translationbeak animal
Related word(s)der Schnabelbeak + das Tieranimal

The German word for platypus is Schnabeltier, which literally translates as beak animal. It consists of the words der Schnabelbeak and das Tieranimal.

9. Skunk (Stink Animal)

das Stinktier
das Stinktier. Attribution:, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandas Stinktier
Literal Translationstink animal
Related word(s)stinkento stink + das Tieranimal

10. Meerkat (Little Earth Man)

Name in Germandas Erdmännchen
Literal Translationlittle soil man
Related word(s)Die Erdesoil + das Männchenlittle man

Literal translation: little earth man
Meaning: meerkat

11. Hippo (Nile Horse / River Horse)

das Nilpferd
das Nilpferd. Attribution: Gusjer, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandas Nilpferd
Literal TranslationNile- / river-horse
Related word(s)der NilNile (river) + das Pferdhorse

Pigs Everywhere

12. Porcupine (Spiky Pig)

das Stachelschwein
das Stachelschwein. Attribution: original drawing by Gustav Mützel, from the book 'Brehms Tierleben', uploaded to Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandas Stachelschwein
Literal Translationspiky pig
Related word(s)der Stachelspike + das Schweinpig

Now let's have a look at all the different animals that Germans view as pigs. The German word for pig is das Schweinpig. It's combined with the word for spike, which is der Stachelspike.

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 Stachelspike, stinger.

13. Capybara (Water Pig)

das Wasserschwein
das Wasserschwein. Attribution: Charles J Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandas Wasserschwein
Literal Translationwater pig
Related word(s)das Wasserwater + das Schweinpig

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: das Wasserschweincapybara

14. Guinea Pig (Ocean Pig)

Name in Germandas Meerschweinchen
Literal Translationocean pig
Related word(s)das Meerocean + das Schweinpig

The literal translation of guinea pig in German is is "sea piggy" or "little sea pig" - "Meerschweinchen". Combining the words das Meersea and das Schweinpig gives us "sea pig". But we have das Schweinchenpiggy here, and not just das Schweinpig.

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)

das Seeschwein
das Seeschwein. Attribution: Julien Willem, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandas Seeschwein
Literal Translationsea pig
Related word(s)die Seesea, ocean + das Schweinpig

Literal translation: sea pig
Meaning: dugong

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.

Sea Animals

16. Squid (Ink Fish)

der Tintenfisch
der Tintenfisch. Attribution: Nhobgood Nick Hobgood, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germander Tintenfisch
Literal Translationink fish
Related word(s)die Tinteink + der Fischfish

Literal translation: ink fish
Meaning: squid

17. Sperm Whale (Pot Whale)

Name in Germander Pottwal
Literal Translationpot whale
Related word(s)der Pottpot + der Walwhale

last animal that lives in the sea in our list

18. Seal (Sea Dog)

der Seehund
der Seehund. Attribution: Marcel Burkhard, CC BY-SA 2.0 <> via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germander Seehund
Literal Translationsea dog
Related word(s)die Seesea + der Hunddog

As you probably know, the German word for dog is der Hunddog. The word Seesea or lake is a bit more tricky, as there are two different meanings, depending on the article. With the article derthe it means lake, with the article diethe it means sea.

In most animal names that include the word Seesea or lake (like Seehund, Seekuh, Seeschwein), it most likely refers back to die Seesea.

So, the German word for seal, der Seehundseal literally translates as sea dog - not lake dog.

19. Turtle & Tortoise (Shield Toad)

die Schildkröte
die Schildkröte. Attribution: Childzy at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandie Schildkröte
Literal Translationshield toad
Related word(s)das Schildshield + die Krötetoad

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 😅

Naked Snails & Garbage Insects

20. Butterfly (Smashing Thing)

Name in Germander Schmetterling
Literal Translationsmashing thing
Related word(s)schmetternto clash

Literal translation: clashing thing
Meaning: butterfly

If you translate the German word for butterfly literally, you get something along the lines of "smashing thing". The ending -ling just turns it into a noun (Häuptling, Lehrling).

Andererseits Gibt es das nicht so ?

21. Slug (Naked Snail)

die Nacktschnecke
die Nacktschnecke. Attribution: John Hill, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandie Nacktschnecke
Literal Translationnaked snail
Related word(s)nacktnaked + die Schneckesnail

Literal translation: naked snail
Meaning: slug

22. Spider (Weaver)

die Spinne
die Spinne. Attribution: JJ Harrison (, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germandie Spinne
Literal Translationweaver
Related word(s)etw. spinnento weave sth.

23. Dung Beetle (Garbage Beetle)

der Mistkäfer
der Mistkäfer. Attribution: Charles J Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Name in Germander Mistkäfer
Literal Translationgarbage beetle
Related word(s)der Mistgarbage + der Käferbeetle

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!

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