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20+ Bizarre German Animal Names & their Hilarious Translations

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!

weird animalsfunny animal names
24.04.2022
illustration of a platypus
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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)

der Nasenbär
Name in German Der Nasenbär
Literal Translation nose bear
Wordsnose👃

die Nase

+ bear🐻

der Bär

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
Wordsto wash🛀

waschen

+ bear🐻

der Bär

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
Wordsold word for: to flutterFleder + mouse🐭

die Maus

4. Turkey (Threatening Rooster)

Name in German der Truthahn
Literal Translation threatening rooster
Wordsto threaten😡

drohen

+ rooster🐓

der Hahn

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)

das Faultier

German: slothdas Faultier


Translation: sloth
Literal Translation: lazy animal
From:

lazy🥱

faul

+ animal🐾

das Tier


Literal translation: lazy animal
Meaning: sloth

7. Armadillo (Belt Animal)

das Gürteltier

German: armadillodas Gürteltier


Translation: armadillo
Literal Translation: belt animal
From:

belt🥋

der Gürtel

+ animal🐾

das Tier


Literal translation: belt animal
Meaning: armadillo

8. Platypus (Beak Animal)

das Schnabeltier

German: platypusdas Schnabeltier


Translation: platypus
Literal Translation: beak animal
From:

beak🐤

der Schnabel

+ animal🐾

das Tier


The German word for platypus is Schnabeltier, which literally translates as beak animal. It consists of the words beak🐤der Schnabel and animal🐾das Tier.

9. Skunk (Stink Animal)

das Stinktier

German: skunkdas Stinktier


Translation: skunk
Literal Translation: stink animal
From: to stinkstinken +

animal🐾

das Tier


Literal translation: stink animal
Meaning: skunk

10. Meerkat (Little Earth Man)

Literal translation: little earth man
Meaning: meerkat

11. Hippo (Nile Horse / River Horse)

das Nilpferd

German: hippodas Nilpferd


Translation: hippo
Literal Translation: nile horse / river horse
From: Nile (river)der Nil +

horse🐴

das Pferd


Literal translation: Nile (the river Nile) horse
Meaning: hippo

Animals with pig (-schwein)

12. Porcupine (Spiky Pig)

das Stachelschwein

German: porcupinedas Stachelschwein


Translation: porcupine


Literal Translation: spiky pig
From:

spike🗡

der Stachel

+ pig🐷

das Schwein


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)

das Wasserschwein

German: capybaradas Wasserschwein


Translation: capybara
Literal Translation: water pig
From:

water💦

das Wasser

+ pig🐷

das Schwein


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
From:

ocean🌊

das Meer

+ pig🐷

das Schwein


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)

das Seeschwein

German: dugongdas Seeschwein


Translation: dugong
Literal Translation: sea pig
From:

ocean🌊

die See

+ pig🐷

das Schwein


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)!

Note

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

German: squidder Tintenfisch


Translation: squid
Literal Translation: ink fish
From:

ink🖋

die Tinte

+ fish🐟

der Fisch


Literal translation: ink fish
Meaning: squid

17. Sperm Whale (Pot Whale)

German: sperm whaleder Pottwal


Translation: sperm whale


Literal Translation: pot whale
From: potder Pott +

whale🐳

der Wal


last animal that lives in the sea in our list

18. Seal (Sea Dog)

der Seehund

German:

seal🦭

der Seehund


Translation: seal
Literal Translation: sea dog
From:

sea🌊

die See

+ dog🐶

der Hund


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)

die Schildkröte

German: tortoisedie Schildkröte


Translation: turtle / tortoise
Literal Translation: shield toad
From:

shield🛡

das Schild

+ toad🐸

die Kröte


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


Translation: butterfly
Literal Translation: clashing thing / smattering thing
From: to clashschmettern


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

German: slugdie Nacktschnecke


Translation: slug
Literal Translation: naked snail
From: nakednackt +

snail🐌

die Schnecke


Literal translation: naked snail
Meaning: slug

22. Spider (Weaver)

die Spinne

German: spiderdie Spinne


Translation: spider
Literal Translation: weaver
From:

to weave sth.🧶

etw. spinnen


Literal translation: weaver
Meaning: spider

23. Dung Beetle (Garbage Beetle)

der Mistkäfer

German: dung beetleder Mistkäfer


Translation: dung beetle
Literal Translation: garbage beetle
From: garbageder Mist +

beetle🪲

der Käfer


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!