Animals symbolize many things. Some symbolize strength, others stealth, and others wisdom.
Many spiritual people will identify so much with an animal’s symbolism that they will elect the animal as their ‘spirit animal’. They can turn to this animal for strength and inspiration. It is often the fact that other people will assign the spirit animal for you because they see that animal in your personality.
Still others might look to symbolism of animals after seeing them in a dream. Interpreting an animal in a dream is a highly subjective spiritual process, but reading up on the animal’s symbolism can help you to think through potential interpretations of your dreams.
This A-Z list of animal symbolism offers introductory paragraphs to the key meanings behind each animal. Each paragraph ends with a link to a more in-depth article that will explore the animal’s symbolism, its meaning in dreams, and how it might inspire you as your spirit animal.
Animal Symbolism A-Z
Bulls are renowned for being stubborn. A person with a bull spirit animal is likely to similarly have a strong stroke of stubbornness. You might be determined and perseverant. The secondary symbol is fertility. Bulls are masculine, fertile creatures connected with spring blooming, the coming of offspring, and a virile disposition. The bull is also held in high regard in Hinduism.
Cats are funny creatures because they can symbolize both good and bad luck. As a good luck charm, we see that cats have nine lives. You can rebound from past hurt and heartache and emerge, walking into a whole new life. But historically western culture has also seen them as bad luck symbols. In particular, seeing a black cat can be seen as a sign trouble is brewing. Lastly, cats are often associated with black magic. The cat spirit animal is often associated with people who are independent and stubborn risk takers.
The primary symbol that centipedes represent is balance. Centipedes have excellent balance, and some even don’t have eyes and rely entirely upon their own balance to get around. In dreams, however, the centipede can have many meanings. Often they’re seen negatively. For example, the dream that a centipede is in your bed is often a sign that life is trying to take advantage of you. But the dream of killing a centipede means you’re getting rid of something negative in your life.
Coyotes represent trickery and intelligence. Their symbolism is very similar to that of the fox, which is also seen as a highly intelligent and stealthy animal. White coyotes represent goodness while black coyotes represent the coming of evil. If a coyote is your spirit animal, it will remind you to stop taking things so seriously and enjoy the fun of life.
Deer have meanings that go deep into western cultural portrayals. The deer is regularly used in stories as a sign of weakness, feebleness and even innocence. In fairy tails, you’ll often see the baby deer (e.g. Bambi) as an animal that is in need of help and protection. Here, deer and youth symbolism intersect to magnify that symbol of innocence. In other fairy tales, the deer is often seen as something that’s cursed, or even a cursed person who has been turned into a deer.
Elephants symbolize royalty, power, wisdom, and success. Look into their eyes and it seems like they are ancient, wise and intelligent. It seems as if they have years of information in their minds – giving rise to the term “an elephant never forgets”. Their grandeur and size mixed with their slow, deliberate gait makes them seem even more inspiring. The elephant spirit animal encourages you to strengthen your family ties.
Foxes primarily symbolize cleverness. They seem to be very smart animals. They’re also stealthy, giving rise to the symbol of deception. But when you think of young foxes, playfulness is a primary symbol due to the ways the jump around and play with one another endlessly. If a fox is your spirit animal, it will encourage you to be adaptable and work to find creative ways to overcome your problems.
Frogs symbolize transformation and fertility. These symbols are closely tied to the frog’s life cycle, which shows significant transformations as they grow – most notably from tadpole to frog! The idea of fertility stems from the fact frogs reproduce in great numbers. The frog spirit animal might help you through tough transitions in your life.
Goats symbolize adaptability, determination and stubbornness. Goats are able to live in multiple different environments and many different harsh habitats. They can survive in arid deserts and high up mountains. But goats may also be symbols of sacrifice. For millennia, right back to the pagans, goats have been used in ritual sacrifices to the goods in exchange for good favor or a good harvest. A person with the goat spirit animal will be seen as adaptable and persistent in the pursuit of their goals.
Above all else, horses represent freedom. Their majestic dances in the plains of the midwest and highlands makes us think of a life free of constraints. Secondly, horses can be seen as noble creatures given their size but also their gentle nature. A horse spirit animal will encourage you to pursue freedom, and it tends to gravitate toward gentle people, but also people who are free spirited.
Kangaroos symbolize courage, stamina and agility. The kangaroo cannot move backwards, only forwards, which reminds us of the importance of carrying on no matter what. As a spirit animal, the kangaroo encourages you to head forward in ‘leaps and bounds’. If a kangaroo attacks you in dreams, it might mean that danger is near.
Lambs primarily symbolize innocence, vulnerability and naivety. It is their youthfulness that makes us connect the lamb with ideas of innocence and weakness. In religious texts, lambs often represent sacrifice, but they can also represent the weak that we are called to protect. This is an animal that is closely tied to religious texts, particularly Christianity.
Leopards are known for their stealth, strength and confidence. A leopard spirit animal will remind you to embrace your inner power and self-belief. Other symbols include divinity (ancient Egyptians saw them as animals for the Gods), while today we often see leopard print as a source of fashion and beauty. Leopards are great totems for people who are confident and strong.
Luna moths are animals that are rare and seclusive. Because of their seclusion, they represent mystery and secrecy. They also have a very interesting life cycle where they go through many transformations. That’s why people often think that seeing a luna moth is a symbol that you should seek, or are going through, an important transformation in your life.
The mouse represents endurance, focus and opportunism. It represents endurance because it’s a creature that can evade predators and live in the shadows for a long time. Its focus is a key to its success, too. And of course, mice are opportunistic – they will see a scrap of food and dive for it when they think they’re in the clear. The mouse spirit animal brings you a sharp eye for detail.
The monkey can symbolize a silly and playful personality for those who have it as their spirit animal. But it might also bring those people strong family ties. Other general symbols associated with monkeys are: intelligence, grace, community, and charm. The monkey spirit totem is said to bring balance and control to your life.
The moose is a grand, noble animal much like the elephant. It is a strong but temperamental animal that rules the roost wherever it roams. As a noble animal, we often associate it with the symbols of pride and strength. For people who have the moose as their spirit animal, it is said to bring you self-esteem. In dreams, the arrival of moose is often seen as a positive – and often it’s a message for you to move forward with your life.
The main moth symbolism is determination. Moths are known to be determined creates, keen to get to wherever they are going. And similarly, if you see a moth in your dreams, it often means that you should stay true to your convictions and stick to your path. You should have determination! And of course, a moth as a spirit animal would also be associated with people who have a lot of determination.
Mountain lions symbolize strength and courage. They are the spirit animal for leaders and entrepreneurs who need the courage and strength to persevere. As alpha animals and apex predators, they don’t settle for second best. Therefore, people who have the mountain lion totem will often be highly ambitious individuals.
Spiders symbolize creativity and femininity. They are said to bring feminine energy to your life, and they’re often the spirit animals of women more than men. They gravitate to women that are patient, creative, warm and caring. However, some people also think seeing a spider in your dreams means you’re repressing something that you really should address.
The biggest thing snakes represent is evil and deceit. This has its origins in Christianity, where the snake is the animal who convinces Eve to take a bite out of the forbidden apple of knowledge. Ever since, we have seen snakes to be the bringers of evil and animals you should be wary of. A snake in your dreams might mean there is someone toxic in your life you need to get rid of.
Typically we tend to think of squirrels as representing positive, fun and playful energy. If you dream of a squirrel, it will often mean that you need to have more fun in your life and seek more positive energy. An alternative interpretation may be that you need to prepare for something that’s upcoming in your life. This comes from the fact squirrels are excellent at hoarding and preparing for hard times ahead.
Tigers are very similar in their symbolism to related creatures like Leopards. They primarily symbolize instinct, confidence and a fighting spirit. Seeing a tiger in your dreams means you should try to trust your instinct more. The tiger spirit animal gravitates to people with a fighting spirit and a strong will. If a tiger in your dreams is sitting and relaxed, it may also mean you’re at peace with your life.
Toads and frogs have very similar meanings. Toads will represent fertility due to their ability to reproduce in such large numbers, and a toad in your dreams may mean you’re fertile and ready for kids! But toads are more representative of witchcraft and magic than frogs are. This is often a symbol used in fairy tale stories and other literature.
Due to their long age, turtles often symbolize wisdom and health. A turtle in your dream may be a sign that you’ll have a long stretch of health coming up, or it may be bringing you a wise message. They’re also symbolic of a chilled-out lifestyle and are often the spirit animal for people who are relaxed and follow an alternative lifestyle, such as surfers.
Wolves primarily symbolize guardianship. As spirit animals, they are there to look after and look over you. They’re also very loyal, so as a spirit animal give you loyalty and inner strength. Seeing a wolf in your dreams may mean that you’re being looked after by someone at a distance, so they’re often interpreted as a positive animal in your dreams.
Looking into animal symbolism helps us to interpret dreams, identify our spirit animals, or even become better fantasy writers. All animal symbolism is very interpretive, though, so while the articles on this website present some common interpretations, it’s up to you to think through these interpretations and identify which one might be right for your situation.
But this is a great starter list for people trying to identify what their spirit animal might be, or what an animal in your dream might mean. Thanks for visiting, and be sure to come back soon as we’re adding more and more animal symbolism articles every day to this website!
Related: 47 Best Animal Metaphors
I’m Chris and I run this website – a resource about symbolism, metaphors, idioms, and a whole lot more! Thanks for dropping by.