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Unusual Animals

Over the years, a number of correspondents have written to me, asking for the names of words for weird animals beginning with certain letters of the alphabet, especially those beginning with x, q, and z. Here, finally, is a glossary of 320 unusual words describing different animals, both common and obscure. The list itself will never be complete, and is simply a selection of different species and types of animal. It is not meant to be a representative sample of the world's faunal biodiversity - it is heavily skewed towards mammals, for instance - and specifically excludes multi-word common names (e.g. 'wood warbler') and purely scientific names (e.g. 'Pan troglodytes'). The words themselves are fascinating, and reflect an extraordinary diversity of languages of origin, demonstrating the true globalization of English over the past two centuries of exploration and imperialism. They also tell a real story of tragedy; like some of these species themselves, the languages that gave us many of these words have gone extinct, leaving nothing but these names for majestic beasts, fowl, fish, and insects.

Word Definition
aardwolf South African carnivorous fox-like quadruped
aasvogel South African vulture
aberdevine alternate name for the siskin
accentor songbird
acipenser sturgeon
addax spiral-horned antelope dwelling in the Sahara desert
adjutant enormous Indian stork
adzebill prehistoric flightless bird of New Zealand
aepyornis gigantic flightless bird of Madagascar
agouti tropical rabbit-sized rodent
amberjack spiny-finned Atlantic sport fish
amphiuma aquatic American salamander with two pairs of small feet
anhinga long-necked fish-eating tropical American bird
anoa small wild ox of Indonesia
anole arboreal American lizard with ability to change colour
antechinus carnivorous mouselike Australian marsupial
argali large-horned Asian wild sheep
aurochs extinct wild ox
avocet long-legged wading bird with upward-curving bill
axolotl salamander dwelling in mountainous lakes
aye-aye nocturnal lemur-like animal of Madagascar
babirusa large wild pig of Indonesia
bandicoot small long-nosed ratlike marsupial
bangtail mustang or wild horse
banteng wild ox of Southeast Asia
barasingha deer dwelling in swamps of India
barbet stout-billed tropical bird
beira pygmy antelope
bharal bluish-gray Himalayan goat
binturong civet of southeastern Asia with long prehensile tail
biscacha burrowing South American rodent
bittern small heron
blauwbok extinct bluish-coloured antelope of southern Africa
blenny small elongated marine fish
blesbok South African antelope with white patch on forehead
bongo reddish African antelope with white vertical stripes
bontbok South African antelope with unusual coloration
borzoi wolf-hound
brach female hunting hound
brachet whelp; brat; bitch hound
brandling striped earthworm used as fishing bait
brocken two-year-old stag
bulbul gregarious songbird
bullock an ox or castrated bull
cabrilla Atlantic sea bass
caiman small alligator-like reptile
caple a horse
capybara tailless aquatic rodent of South America
caracal long-legged nocturnal cat of African and Asian savannahs with long ears
caracara long-legged South American falcon
cassowary large flightless Melanesian bird
chamois goatlike antelope of mountainous regions of Europe
chevrotain small cloven-footed deerlike animal of southeast Asia
chiru straight-horned Tibetan antelope
chital Indian spotted deer
chuckwalla herbivorous desert-dwelling lizard
civet long-tailed catlike carnivorous mammal with musk glands
cleg horse-fly
coelacanth lobe-finned fish long thought to be extinct
colobus long-tailed African monkey
colocolo wild South American cat
colugo flying lemur
conure tropical parrot-like bird of Central and South America
corella cockateel
coypu large aquatic South American rodent
culex mosquito
culver dove or pigeon
curlew long-legged migratory bird with downward-curving bill
cusk large Atlantic fish like the cod
dabchick small grebe
daw simpleton; bird of the crow family
degu rat-like rodent of South America
desman aquatic insectivorous musk-secreting Russian rat
dhole wild Asian dog
dibatag Somali antelope with recurved horns
dik-dik small east African antelope
diprotodon gigantic prehistoric marsupial with two incisors in lower jaw
dobbin workhorse
dobsonfly soft-bodied insect with large mandibles
douc southern Chinese monkey
douroucouli small South American nocturnal monkey
dowitcher long-billed North American wading bird
duarf fictitious nineteen-toed fish of Erewhon
dugong aquatic herbivorous mammal like the manatee
duiker small African antelope
dunnart mouse-like marsupial with pointed snout
earwig a small insect; to bias; to pester with demands; to eavesdrop
echidna Australian toothless spined monotreme resembling a hedgehog
eland large heavily built African antelope
emmet ant
eyas unfledged falcon or other bird of prey
falanouc carnivorous mongoose-like mammal of Madagascar
falconet small variety of falcon
fossa carnivorous mongoose-like mammal of Madagascar
francolin type of Asian and African partridge
froghopper leaping and spitting insect
galago woolly long-tailed nocturnal lemur (bush baby)
galah blue-gray Australian cockatoo
gannet large white Atlantic seabird
gaur wild ox
gayal domesticated ox with tufted tail, native to south Asia
gelada long-haired Ethiopian baboon
gemsbok large South African antelope
genet spotted long-tailed carnivorous mammal like the civet
gerenuk long-necked antelope with large eyes
gharial large Indian crocodile with long snout
goa Tibetan gazelle with backward-curving horns
goanna large Australian lizard
goral small horned antelope living in mountainous regions of south Asia
gowk a cuckoo; a fool
graphiure African rodent with pencil-thin tail
grayling silver-grey freshwater fish
grebe diving bird resembling the loon
grilse salmon first returning to the river from the sea
grison weasel-like tropical American gray and black carnivore
grivet white and olive tufted African monkey
grysbok small speckled south African antelope
guenon small, slender bearded African monkey
guereza black and white Ethiopian tufted monkey
guillemot narrow-billed Atlantic auk
gundi desert-dwelling small rodent of northern Africa with bristles on feet
gymnure hairy hedgehog
hammerkop brown African heron with hammer-shaped crest on head
harrier medium-sized scenting dog for hunting hares
havier castrated deer
hellbender large flat North American aquatic salamander
hoatzin South American tropical bird whose young have clawed wings
hocco South American bird resembling a turkey
hogget one-year-old sheep or colt
huemul yellow-brown South American deer
hutia large Caribbean rat-like rodent
hyrax small rodent-like ungulate
ibex wild mountain goat with recurved horns
ibis large stork-like bird; a pale apricot colour
ichneumon small mongoose-like carnivorous quadruped
iguana large tropical New World lizard
iiwi bright red Hawaiian bird
ipiti a small antelope
isatis Arctic fox
ithomiid tropical South American butterfly
iulus millipede
izard goatlike antelope found in the Pyrenees
jabiru large tropical stork with massive bill
jacana long-toed tropical freshwater wading bird
jade pitiful horse; a nag
jennet small Spanish horse
jerboa nocturnal desert-dwelling jumping rodent
jiboya boa constrictor
junco North American finch
jurel coastal fish of southern United States
kagu long-legged bird of New Caledonia
kaka olive-brown parrot native to New Zealand
kea green parrot of New Zealand
keffel a horse; a nag
kereru pigeon variety of New Zealand
kiang wild Tibetan horse
kine cows
kinkajou carnivorous South American raccoon-like mammal
kleenebok small South African antelope
klipspringer small African antelope
knobber a stag in its second year
kob African water antelope
kouprey wild ox of Cambodia
kudu African antelope with spiralling horns
kyloe small long-haired cattle
lammergeier giant vulture-like bird of prey
langur long-tailed Indian monkey
lechwe light brown water antelope of South Africa
leopon crossbreed between a leopard and a lion
leveret a hare in its first year; a mistress
limpkin Caribbean crane-like bird
linsang white civet-like Javanese mammal
lorikeet brightly coloured southeast Asian parrot
loris large-eyed south Asian arboreal primate
lutung small monkey of Malaysia
malbrouck arboreal monkey of West Africa
mangabey long-tailed tropical African monkey
markhor reddish-grey central Asian wild goat
meerkat small long-tailed African ground squirrel or mongoose
morel dark-coloured horse; blackish colour
muntjac small tusked East Asian deer
murre white-breasted North Atlantic seabird
nightjar nocturnal insectivorous Old World migratory bird
numbat termite-eating anteater-like marsupial with white stripes
nutria amphibious South American rodent
nyala large south African antelope
octodont degu
okapi short-necked giraffe
olm blind aquatic cave-dwelling European salamander
onager Asiatic wild ass
onocrotal old term for the pelican
oribi small African antelope with vertical horns
oropendola tropical oriole living in long hanging nests
oryx large antelope of Africa and Arabia with long horns
ouzel blackbird; a dark-haired person
oystercatcher wading shorebird with reddish bill
palfrey riding horse, especially one for a lady
pangolin scaly insectivorous mammal with elongated snout
peccary tropical New World piglike mammal
percheron dappled cart horse
petrel long-winged seabird with hooked bill
phalarope migratory shorebird with lobed feet
phoenicopter flamingo
pichi small dark Argentinian armadillo
pichiciego small South American armadillo
pika rabbit-like mountain-dwelling mammal with rounded ears
porbeagle shark with a pointed snout
potto small nocturnal West African monkey
pratincole fork-tailed, long-winged Australian bird
prion small Antarctic petrel
pudu small Chilean deer
puku red Central African antelope
quarrion Australian parrot like the cockatiel
quaviver fish otherwise known as the sea-dragon or dragonet
quawk black-crowned night heron
quelea an African weaver-bird
querquedule pin-tail duck; a teal
quetzal gold and green bird with long tail feathers
queyock heifer
quickhatch wolverine
quinnat the king salmon
quokka short-tailed wallaby
quoll native cat-like marsupial of Australia
raad electric catfish
rach dog that hunts by scent
ratel honey-eating Old World badger
reebok small South African antelope
reedbuck antelope frequenting reeds
rooibok impala
rooirhebok reddish South African antelope
rorqual large whale with dorsal fin
rosella bright-coloured Australian parakeet
saiga migratory Russian antelope
saki South American monkey
sambar large reddish deer of southern Asia
scanderoon homing pigeon
seriema large crested Brazilian bird
serow Himalayan and South Asian goatlike antelope
serval tawny carnivorous South African catlike quadruped
shearling one-year-old sheep
siamang southeast Asian gibbon-like black ape
siskin small finch-like songbird
sitatunga medium-sized east African antelope with elongated hooves
skink small north African lizard
skua large north Atlantic gull
solenodon large Caribbean ratlike insectivore with long snout
sounder herd of pigs; young boar
spatangoid kind of sea-urchin
springbok South African antelope known for leaping
springhare South African jumping hare
steenbok small South African antelope
stellion lizard with starry spots
stirk yearling ox or cow; pasture for yearlings
sumpter pack horse; beast of burden
sunbittern brightly coloured South American bird
suni dwarfed southern African antelope
tabanid blood-sucking insect; gad-fly
tahr wild Asian goat with shaggy reddish coat
takin heavily built Himalayan goatlike ruminant
tamandua arboreal New World anteater with hairless tail
tamaraw water buffalo
tarpan small wild horse of southern Russia
tayra small South American weasel-like carnivore
teg a sheep in its second year; the fleece of such a sheep
tenrec spiny insectivorous mammal of Madagascar
thamin small deer with curved horns, native to southeast Asia
thylacine extinct doglike marsupial of Tasmania
tinamou ground-dwelling South American bird
titi small South American arboreal monkey
topi reddish-brown antelope of sub-Saharan Africa
trogon tropical bird with brilliant plumage
tsessebe central African antelope with lyre-shaped horns
tuatara spiny reptile of New Zealand with vestigial third eye
tucutucu rat-like burrowing South American rodent
turaco crested African colourful bird with long tail and red wings
tuza Mexican pouched rodent
uakari short-tailed, long-haired monkey
uguisu olive-plumed bush warbler
uintathere extinct Pleistocene hoofed herbivore
uraster starfish
urial wild central Asian sheep with reddish coat and long curved horns
urochs extinct wild ox or bison
uromastix spiky-tailed ground-dwelling lizard
urraca noisy South American bird
urubu black tropical New World vulture
vaquita small porpoise living in the Gulf of California
vedalia Australian pest-eating ladybug
vicuna soft-fleeced Andean ruminant
vireo olive-gray insectivorous American bird
viscacha South American burrowing rodent
wapiti elk
wether castrated ram
whiffet paltry person; little dog
whitecoat white-furred seal pup
widgeon freshwater duck
wisent extinct European bison
woolbird sheep
xanthareel yellow eel formerly used in medicinal foods
xeme fork-tailed gull
xenops a small tropical rainforest bird
xenurine species of armadillo
xiphias swordfish
xiphosuran horseshoe crab
yabby small edible freshwater crayfish
yaffingale green woodpecker
yakow animal crossbred from male yak and domestic cow
yapok an amphibious opossum of South America
yeanling lamb; kid
yelt a young sow
yelting glass-eyed snapper
yowie a little ewe
zander a variety of European perch
zebrinny offspring of male horse and female zebra
zebrule hybrid offspring of male zebra and female horse
zebu ox with hump and dewlap
zemni blind mole-rat
zeren light brown Mongolian gazelle
zho cross between a yak and a cow
zokor central Asian mole-like burrowing rodent
zonure small South African lizard
zyzzyva South American weevil

I hope you have found this site to be useful. If you have any corrections, additions, or comments, please contact me. Please note that I am not able to respond to all requests. Please consult a major dictionary before e-mailing your query. All material on this page © 1996-2021 Stephen Chrisomalis. Links to this page may be made without permission.

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