Animals in Spanish: A list of the most common animal names, plus a few fun expressions

Animals in Spanish: A list of the most common animal names, plus a few fun expressions

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated May 26, 2023

Expanding your vocabulary in Spanish is key to achieving fluency, so learning animal names in Spanish isn’t just for kids! In this article, we’ll review the Spanish names for pets, farm animals and wild critters alike. Then, we’ll introduce some popular idioms that feature different animals. Don’t forget — most nouns in Spanish have both a feminine and masculine gendered form. So, are you ready to get wild? 

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Names for pets in Spanish

The name for a pet in Spanish is mascota. Just as in English, animals’ names often differ depending on whether the animal is a baby or a full-grown adult. l. With that in mind, let’s look at a list of animals in Spanish that should help you the next time you’re searching for a pet. 

English nameSpanish adult nameSpanish baby name
goldfishpez doradoalevín de pez dorado
hamsterhamstercría de hamster
mouseratóncría de ratón
lizardlagartijacría de lagartija
rabbitconejogazapo o conejito 
turtletortugacría de tortuga

Names for farm animals in Spanish

Even if you don’t live on a farm, farm animals are a familiar part of our everyday culture. Let’s review a list of Spanish names for the most common farm animals. 

English nameSpanish adult nameSpanish baby name
gooseganso or ocagansito

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Names for wild animals in Spanish

Do you live in the city? So do many animals. Others you may only see out in nature. Here’s a list of Spanish names for animals that you’d see in the forest, mountains or near the outskirts of a city. It’s not totally comprehensive, but it should be enough to get you through your next nature walk or visit to the zoo.

English nameSpanish adult nameSpanish baby name
squirrelardillacría de ardilla
owlbúhopolluelo de búho
beavercastorcría de castor
hummingbirdcolibrípolluelo de colibrí
woodpeckerpájaro carpinteropolluelo de pájaro carpintero
reindeerrenocría de reno
koalakoalajoel koala
hawkhalcónpolluelo de halcón
lionleóncachorro (de león)
tigertigrecachorro (de tigre)
elefantelefantecría de elefante
snakeserpientecría de serpiente

Animal idioms

Spanish is full of interesting sayings or idioms that use animal references to make a point. After learning the animal names, don’t be afraid to jump into the world of animal-based phrases and idioms in Spanish. Start with these four sayings that may be familiar to native English speakers. 

Spanish IdiomLiteral English translationMeaning
Cuando el gato no está, los ratones bailan.When the cat’s away, the mice will play (dance).People act differently when no one is watching. 
Hijo de tigre, pintito.Son of a tiger, painted (striped).Like father, like son. 
Lágrimas de cocodrilo.Crocodile tears.Fake or dramatic tears.
Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.A shrimp that falls asleep will be carried away by the currents.If you don’t act quickly, you’ll miss something.

No seas una gallina (Don’t be a chicken!) 

In other words, don’t be shy! Learning animal names and animal-related expressions in Spanish can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re taking an intensive Spanish course.

Idioms and everyday expressions are an amusing way not only to boost your language skills but also to better understand the culture of native Spanish speakers.  So, try not to tener memoria de pez (have a bad memory like a fish) and practice these animal names in Spanish today!

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

Alison Maciejewski Cortez

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