49 Animal Tattoos That Are Highly Symbolic (Illustrated)

Zoomorphic or Animal Tattoos and Their Meanings

Animal tattoos are greatly popular choices for anyone to enjoy a fun and meaningful tattoo.

Plus, there are so many options to choose from!

Some people feel as though a certain animal is their “spirit animal” and speaks to them in a special way.

Or, other times, people have a favorite animal that they just really like and would love to have as a tattoo.

Animal tattoos can be very meaningful and create some awesome tattoos.

We have compiled a list of some of our favorites and described their powerful meanings:

Wolf Tattoos

One of the most significant meanings of wolf tattoos is independence and moving away from relying on others.

Wolf tattoos also represent leadership and strength in one’s decisions.

Wolf Tattoo

We know that life only lasts so long, and a wolf tattoo can be a reminder that the decisions we make affect our entire short lives and so we should make them count.

One last meaning of wolf tattoos is protection.

Wolf Tattoo

In folk tales, the wolf is typically representative of danger.

Therefore, wolves represent how powerful and dangerous their powers are and a tattoo of one can signify protection from anyone trying to harm you.

Tiger Tattoos

Tiger tattoos represent many attributes, including strength, fierceness, passion, and having a free spirit.

These tattoos also symbolize leadership and bravery.

Tiger Tattoo

Although you may choose a tiger tattoo because of its fierceness, remember too that there is an elegance to tigers when they strike– they attack with grace.

Tiger Tattoo

A tiger is a free spirit and is the king of its domain, so if you desire to rule your section of the universe with strength and spirit, then this tattoo might be for you.

Lion Tattoos

Lion tattoos are known for representing their ferocity and can provide you with protection.

They also represent pride, power, strength, and great courage.

Lion Tattoo

Many people choose to get their lion tattoo in simple black ink to show its enormous power.

Lion Tattoo

Lion tattoos are fit for either gender, however, they are masculine tattoos that tend to lean more towards male energy.

This is because they represent an alpha male who is on top of their game and who is unapologetically bold.

Elephant Tattoos

Elephant tattoos represent strength, wisdom, and independence.

Elephants are wise creatures and by having a tattoo of an elephant you are summoning their great strength of character and you are saying that you wish to gain more knowledge of the word.

Elephant Tattoo

Elephants travel for days looking for food and water and therefore have endurance.

By having an elephant tattoo, you are saying that you will keep searching for what you need in life and you won’t stop until you find it.

Horse Tattoos

Horse tattoos have many meanings, usually involving independence and freedom.

Horse Tattoo

They also represent bravery, strength, grace, beauty, royalty, intelligence, friendship, fertility in white horses, and in rare cases, in that of black horses, death.

As you can see, horses are extremely meaningful tattoo choices and can be chosen for a variety of reasons.

Horse Tattoo

The main takeaway is horses and graceful creatures that run wild and free– if this describes your attitude towards life, then you may want to consider this animal tattoo.

Bear Tattoos

Did you know that bears are one of the most popular animal tattoos to get?

Bears are both gentle and ferocious.

They can be viewed as soft and fuzzy creatures or animals that are full of danger with sharp claws and big ominous bodies.

Bear Tattoo

Bear tattoos are symbols of a warrior and can represent the powerful abilities of someone who is perhaps a boxer, a soldier, and who fights metaphorically through life.

Along the same line, bear tattoos symbolize bravery and mean that you would do anything to protect your loved ones.

Panda Tattoos

Panda tattoos are all about balance.

They represent the balance between masculinity and femininity, dark and light, good and evil, and so on.

Panda Bear Tattoo

Much like the yin yang symbol, the panda tattoo is all about how opposite forces relate to each other in the universe.

This tattoo is also meant for people who are trying hard to achieve something.

The panda tattoo is meant to say that you can do anything you set your mind to.

Koala Tattoos

Koala tattoos represent many things such as kindness, motherhood, and being in a state of tranquility.

These animal tattoos also symbolize trust, magic, pleasure, protection, memory, and dreams.

Koala bears are lovable animals who enjoy spending time with humans.

Koala Tattoo

They make for great tattoos because of all their great symbolism.

All in all, this tattoo is for people who have an easy-going view of life and who are not bothered by trivial manners.

Panther Tattoos

Panthers are bold creatures that are part of many folk tales and are full of mystery.

In these myths and folklore, panthers symbolize cleverness, grace, strength, protection, and rebirth.

Panther Tattoo

Although panthers are ferocious creatures, in fact, they are quite graceful.

Panther tattoos also represent bravery and boldness because of the way panthers pounce on their prey.

These tattoos are for people who may be noble and graceful but have a strong and powerful side.

Fox Tattoos

Foxes are known for being cunning creatures, and part of this is due to their extreme intelligence.

Fox Tattoo

You may want to receive a fox tattoo because you are someone who uses your intelligence and quick thinking to get what you want.

Of course, foxes also are known for an element of trickery.

Fox Tattoo

If you have a trickster side of your personality, then a fox tattoo may be for you.

It is also important to note that the Japanese tattoo meaning behind foxes involves great wisdom and strength.

Snake Tattoos

It is difficult to say whether the meaning behind snake tattoos is more positive or negative.

Of course, we have the story of Adam and Eve, where the snake represents the devil.

Snake Tattoo

On the other hand, snakes are also known to represent rebirth and starting fresh in life which can be a very positive occurrence.

Snakes also represent extreme intelligence, and snake tattoos can mean that you value your own intelligence greatly.

Japanese Snake Tattoo

Snake tattoos may have a dark side, however, in the end, the meaning behind your snake tattoo will depend on which design you choose.

Monkey Tattoos

Beyond aesthetics, monkeys are symbols of intelligence and represent using knowledge for a devious nature and to succeed in your goals.

What monkeys are most known for, though, is playfulness.

Monkey Tattoo

Monkeys are silly and are always scheming.

Monkey tattoos represent the childish side of us and the part of us that wants to be a kid again.

Rhinoceros Tattoos

Rhino tattoos are really cool and unique-looking animal tattoos to choose from.

Looks can be deceiving.

The rhino is a gentle creature that does not seek to hurt other animals.

Rhino Tattoo

Although they look ferocious and scary, they only attack if provoked.

If you are someone who looks mean but who is a sweetheart on the inside, then a rhinoceros tattoo may be a great way to display your personality.

Hippo Tattoos

Since female hippos are highly protective of their young, hippo tattoos symbolize motherhood and protection of your loved ones.

Hippo Tattoos

You may want to get a hippo tattoo if the most important thing to you is making sure your family is protected.

Along those lines, hippos symbolize fertility and childbirth.

Hippos in popular culture are popular with children, and therefore can symbolize childhood and being one with your inner child.

Giraffe Tattoos

Giraffe tattoos are an interesting choice of animal tattoo and don’t disappoint.

One of the meanings of these tattoos is adaptability.

Giraffe tattoos represent the ability to adapt to your surroundings no matter what’s going on or who you are with.

Hippo Tattoos

Giraffes are known for being unique in their look– you can pick one out of a crowd.

Due to their distinct nature, giraffes symbolize individuality.

They also represent being happy with what you look like and who you are inside no matter what others think of you.

Zebra Tattoos

Zebra tattoos have a lot of meanings, including strength, power, peace, playfulness, and having a free spirit.

Some people have all of these characteristics, while others may have just a few.

Zebra Tattoo

Zebra tattoos are popular not only for their beauty and unique style but also because they are great representations of independence and having a free spirit– they mean that you think on your feet and never simply follow orders.

Zebra tattoos mean that you are the kind of person to make your own rules.

Rabbit Tattoos

Rabbit tattoos are popular good luck charms.

That’s probably because back in the day people used to carry a rabbit’s foot as an amulet for good luck.

Rabbit Tattoo

One of the most common things these good luck charms are supposed to bring is wealth and prosperity.

Not only that, but rabbit tattoos symbolize love for nature, fertility, physical strength, and being in touch with the divine (especially in relation to nature).

Rabbit Tattoo

If you have a rabbit tattoo, it means that you love everything about the natural world and you believe in preserving it by helping animals propagate and plants grow.

Water Animal Tattoos

There are so many more animal tattoos to explore!

Next, we will take a look at water animal tattoos, which often represent tranquility and individuality.

Here are some more animal tattoos to ponder while you are deciding on your next tattoo:

Octopus Tattoos

Octopi are mystical creatures, and octopus tattoos can symbolize magical knowledge.

They also represent rapid multitasking and on-the-spot thinking.

Amazingly, Octopi have the ability to take on predators three times their size!

Octopus Tattoo

Therefore, having an octopus tattoo means that you are a powerful person who can win any battle they come across.

Lastly, Octopi come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, so octopus tattoos also symbolize being proud to be unique and an individual.

Fish Tattoos

Fish tattoos, especially koi fish tattoos, symbolize perseverance above all else.

Fish tattoos mean that even when the odds are stacked up against you, you still push through and succeed in your goals.

Koi Fish Tattoo

Plus, fish tattoos come in a variety of colors and shapes which makes for an intriguing set of designs.

Fish tattoos also mean that you value peace in your life, even possibly meaning that you are a pacifist.

Fish have long been symbols of peace and mean that you are someone who mediates in arguments and always tries to keep the peace in all aspects of your life.

Seahorse Tattoos

Seahorse tattoos are symbols of strength, mystery, and power.

They also represent calmness, tenderness, royalty, gender fluidity, friendliness, persistence, and countless other meanings.

Seahorse Tattoo

Since seahorses carry with them so many meanings, they can be great tattoos for many different types of people.

For example, seahorse tattoos also represent patience.

Many people can relate to needing more patience because it is a difficult trait to attain.

Seahorse Tattoo

They also symbolize generosity and sharing.

Many people desire to be more generous and learn to share their wealth and time with their family members, friends, and even strangers.

Seahorse tattoos are not only interesting-looking, but they apply to many aspects of peoples’ lives.

Sea Turtle Tattoos

Sea turtle tattoos are cute and trendy tattoos, perfect for anyone who loves the sea or the beach.

They represent stability, strength, creation, and immortality.

Surprisingly, turtles are highly spiritual animals.

Sea Turtle Tattoo

The Native Americans once believed that turtles created the continents using mud.

If you wish for your turtle tattoo to have a spiritual meaning, you should add other elements or lettering tattoos in your design.

Sea turtle tattoos are also spiritual symbols because Japanese seamen believed that turtles are spiritual guides, pulling them in the right direction.

Shark Tattoos

Sharks are excellent animal tattoos because of their sharp and menacing natures.

Shark tattoos represent courage, strength, and protection guidance.

Shark Tattoo

The Polynesians had many shark deities who were believed to have helped sailors find their way back to shore.

Sharks in popular culture are seen as terrifying creatures, and therefore shark tattoos often mean that you desire to show people how mean and physically strong you can be.

Starfish Tattoos

Starfish tattoos often mean that you are experiencing positive changes or growth in your life.

They can also represent positivity in general and can mean that you are content with your life at the moment and you are very happy.

Starfish Tattoo

Starfish tattoos also symbolize love and salvation.

If you are in need of protection or healing, starfish tattoos can help steer you in the right direction or can remind you that you are committed to helping others in this fashion.

Jellyfish Tattoos

One of the main meanings of jellyfish tattoos is protecting one’s family and friends.

If you have this kind of animal tattoo, it means that you would do anything to protect those you love.

Jellyfish Tattoo

Another meaning of jellyfish tattoos is a great strength, and since they are one of the oldest creatures that evolved back from hundreds of millions of years, these tattoos are for people who have an old soul.

Last but not least, jellyfish have fascinating anatomy which is so mysterious that jellyfish tattoos mean that you yourself are a man or woman of mystery.

Whale Tattoos

Whales are quite a sight to behold.

Whale tattoos have many varied and interesting meanings such as faithfulness, sincerity and kindness, devotion, psychic abilities, harmony, peace, and good luck.

Whale Tattoos

Whales are said to have an effect on people’s moods, so whale tattoos are great for those who are empaths.

Whale tattoos can also help you focus on your inner monologue and listen to the voice inside you, or in other words your gut feelings, telling you what to do and where to go next.

Penguin Tattoos

Penguin tattoos have loads of different meanings, including good luck (and increasing prosperity), getting in touch with your intuition, having vivid dreams, love and affection, protection, rebirth, and wisdom.

Since penguins live in places so cold and harsh that humans cannot live there, penguin tattoos symbolize the ability to adapt.

Penguin Tattoo

This kind of animal tattoo could mean that you have the ability to change yourself in order to survive in different circumstances.

You may also want to get a penguin tattoo in honor of your mate, due to the penguins’ lifestyle of having one mate for life.

Dolphin Tattoos

Dolphins are fun animals that while being silly are also incredibly intelligent.

Dolphin tattoos symbolize those who have a free spirit as well as playfulness.

Dolphin Tattoo

Dolphin tattoos also symbolize joy because of the animal’s happy nature, and people who are extroverted may want to get a dolphin tattoo since dolphins are highly sociable animals.

In fact, dolphins are connected to each other within a social hierarchy, which makes dolphin tattoos symbolize your love for your family member and friends and the connections you share with them.

Pet Tattoos

Some people love their favorite pet so much that they get a tattoo to commemorate them.

Whether they are alive and well or have passed, a pet tattoo can be an excellent way of celebrating a favorite pet!

Cat Tattoos

Cat tattoos can be designed in many ways.

Some people choose to have a lettering tattoo added with their cat’s name.

Cat Tattoo

Also, if you have multiple cats, you may add all of them together in a tattoo design.

However you style your cat tattoo, it symbolizes your love and affection for your cat.

Cat Tattoos

Cat tattoos also represent good luck.

Since cats have nine lives, cat tattoos mean that you hope for a long life for both you and your special kitty.

Dog Tattoos

Much like cat tattoos, there are many special designs for dog tattoos that will prove how much you love your pup.

You can even simply have their paws instead of an actual tattoo of your dog.

Dog Tattoo

Dog tattoos represent loyalty.

This can mean loyalty to your family members or friends, or loyalty specifically to your dog.

Dog tattoos also symbolize strength and resilience, which are important attributes in anyone’s life.

Paw Tattoos

Paw tattoos of either your cat or dog are great ways of showing how much you love them or for remembering or commemorating their lives.

Paw Tattoo

You can do as many paw prints as you want– you can show the paw prints as if your pet is walking, standing, or sitting.

Paw print tattoos are mainly meant to show your love for your pet and mean that you are loyal to them and vice-versa.

Bird Tattoos

Birds must feel so free as they soar across the sky, the wind flowing through the weather on their wings.

Birds make for beautiful tattoos and can be made in different styles and designs.

We will take a look at the different types of birds that are popular as tattoos and what they symbolize:

Eagle Tattoos

Eagles are powerful creatures that, as tattoos, symbolize dominance and power, while also representing freedom and spirituality.

Eagle tattoos also symbolize clarity and focus because they zoom in on their prey with extreme determination.

Eagle Tattoo

Surprisingly, having an eagle tattoo is good luck as well.

Another interesting fact about eagles is that they are considered spiritual animals by many cultures, and were even represented in the Christian religion as an apostle of God.

Raven Tattoos

Ravens are known to be dark birds with an edgy macabre mood.

Raven tattoos are popular among those who share this aesthetic, including that of witchcraft, shadows, war, secrets, and an appreciation for cunning personalities.

Raven Tattoo

However, raven tattoos are not all about the dark arts.

There are many positive characteristics associated with raven tattoos, such as wisdom, the ability to plan for the future, memories of the past, thoughts, desires, and intelligence.

Owl Tattoos

Owl tattoos tend to be all about wisdom.

Those who wish to acquire more wisdom to the point that they are experts in a subject could get an owl tattoo as a promise to attain this goal.

Owl Tattoos

Interestingly, owl tattoos are also involved in the mystical, such as clairvoyance, magic, and astral projection.

Owl tattoos can also be a beacon of hope for people who need their life to turn around and become more promising.

Owl tattoos can help to guide us through life and bring us to a point where we are deeply satisfied.

Hummingbird Tattoos

One of the main meanings of hummingbird tattoos is freedom.

For those who desire more freedom in their lives, a hummingbird tattoo can represent all of your desires for individuality and a better life.

Hummingbird Tattoo

Since hummingbirds are so small, hummingbird tattoos are also for people who may be small but are also powerful.

Sometimes, people who seem to be incapable of power are actually forces to be reckoned with.

Rooster Tattoos

Rooster tattoos are popular choices for those who love nature and farm life.

However, there’s more to them than that.

Rooster Tattoo

Rooster tattoos also represent courage, wealth, new opportunities in life, great confidence, authority, masculinity, and motivation towards working on becoming a better person.

In the Chinese zodiac, roosters symbolize good luck, loyalty, and fidelity.

Swallow Tattoos

The swallow is an important symbol for sailors because sailors would know they were near land if they saw swallows in the sky.

Important tattoo artists such as Sailor Jerry made many designs of swallow tattoos.

Swallow Tattoo

This meaning snowballed into a meaning of returning home.

Swallow tattoos mean that home is where the heart is.

Not to mention, swallow tattoos are also a symbol of true love because swallows choose one female or male to mate with for life.

Falcon Tattoos

Falcon tattoos are one of the rare bird tattoos but should be more popular because of their great meanings.

Falcon tattoos symbolize strength, freedom, bravery, focus, and hope for continued growth and new opportunities in life.

Falcon Tattoo

The falcon swoops down and grabs its prey using its extreme intelligence and swiftness.

Falcon tattoos represent using your intelligence to achieve your goals.

Hawk Tattoos

Hawks are amazing creatures that are known for their power and strong wings.

Hawk tattoos mean that you are a master of getting what you want and that nothing can stop you.

Hawk Tattoo

Hawk tattoos also represent the protection of your friends and family.

Hawks are ferociously protective and have great strength.

If this reminds you of your own personality, then a hawk tattoo may be for you.

Flamingo Tattoos

Flamingo tattoos are popular because of their bright pink color and fascinating designs that can be tattooed on the arm, leg, or shoulder blade (just some examples).

Flamingo Tattoo

Flamingos are highly social animals and therefore flamingo tattoos represent friendship and are a great tattoo for extroverts.

Flamingo tattoos represent the flamingo’s unique beauty and can symbolize your own taste in high-class aesthetics and love for beautiful objects.

Insect Tattoos

Although insects are not animals, they relate to the fact that they are moving creatures that make for great tattoos!

Let’s take a look at some fun insect tattoos and their meanings:

Butterfly Tattoos

We could go on for hours about what butterfly tattoos mean and their many designs.

However, perhaps the most important meaning of butterfly tattoos is good luck.

Butterfly Tattoo

Butterfly tattoos are good luck charms that help those who wear them achieve their greatest dreams.

Due to their wonderful and colorful wings, butterflies also represent beauty.

Butterfly Tattoo

Of course, butterflies also symbolize metamorphosis.

Just as caterpillars become butterflies, many of us transform in our lives.

You could receive a butterfly tattoo to commemorate a time of growth you have experienced in your life.

Moth Tattoos

Moths are nocturnal insects that are highly influenced by the Earth and the moon.

In fact, they use the moon as a sort of compass to find their way.

Moth Tattoo

For this reason, one meaning of moth tattoos is that you want to remember that you are following a specific course and you must remain steady on your path and follow the correct direction in order to achieve your dreams.

Also, because they only come out at night, moth tattoos can be symbols of being a night owl.

Last, moth tattoos are symbols that something great will happen if you just keep trudging along.

Dragonfly Tattoos

Dragonfly tattoos represent spiritual growth, change and transformation, being one with nature, and being in the moment.

Dragonfly Tattoo

If you feel as though you are changing and growing as a person as of late, a dragonfly tattoo is a great way to mark the occasion– whether that be spiritual growth or personal growth.

Also, dragonfly tattoos are all about being present.

These tattoos can help you with meditation and help you avoid “time-traveling.”

Bee Tattoos

One important meaning of bee tattoos is loyalty.

Bees are incredibly loyal to the hive.

If you are someone who never gives up on your friends and family, then a bee tattoo may make sense for you.

Bee Tattoo

Bee tattoos also symbolize love, because of the bees’ dedication to their own loved ones.

Bees don’t seem like romantic creatures but they in fact can represent your love for your partner.

Other meanings of bees are protection and perseverance.

Spider Tattoos

Spider tattoos can be very trendy, no doubt because of their interesting look.

Most people find spiders to be scary, while some think tarantulas to be, well, cute.

Spider tattoos symbolize caution and unpredictability, as well as wisdom, and fertility.

Spider Tattoo

The spider’s ability to capture its prey is fascinating and represents its intelligence.

Spider tattoos are also common prison tattoos and when properly placed can send a message to fellow inmates.

Ladybird Tattoos

One major meaning of a ladybird tattoo is good luck!

These tiny insects are giant good luck charms.

Ladybug tattoos can even bring good luck in love and can help you find a partner if you are single.

Ladybird Tattoo

Other meanings of ladybird tattoos are friendship and protection, and they symbolize that you believe in doing good deeds.

This last meaning is important because having a ladybug tattoo can be a promise to yourself that you will never stop giving out charity and helping people in need.


As you can see, there are countless animal tattoos to choose from, each with a unique set of meanings.

You may be at a loss because it can be hard to choose an animal tattoo out of so many.

Or, perhaps it is easy for you because you already have a favorite animal in mind.

Either way, be sure the meaning of the tattoo matches up with yourself in some way, and have fun getting your next tattoo!

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