Animals in Language



(also ‘tiglon‘ or ‘tigron‘)

a tiglon with its trainer

a king of animal — mammal — four-legged — meat-eating — a hybrid cross between a tiger (male) and a lioness (female lion); found only in captivity, not in the wild

[Return to “tiger“.]
[Return to “liger“.]

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a large python

a kind of snake — reptile — usually large, muscular and powerful — grows to 1 metre to 10 metres (3 to 33 feet); non-poisonous, feeds on small to large animals, such as ‘rats, cats, pigs, birds, etc.; found all over the world but mostly in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific islands; belongs to the constrictors

Some common pythons are: African rock python, ball or royal python, diamond or carpet snake, Indian python, etc.

Special Features:

Pythons belong to constrictor snakes, which means they are non-poisonous and do not bite their prey but winds round the prey’s body and squeezes it until it dies because it cannot breathe (suffocate), and then swallows the prey whole. However, new findings suggest that pythons do produce venom, though not to bite and kill their prey like the poisonous snakes. For an article that reports the latest finding about venom in pythons, please click here.

Pythons are kept as pets by snake lovers!

Pythons lay eggs, smaller ones about 15 and larger ones about 100, and broods until the eggs hatch, just as the birds do!

The reticulated python is supposed to be one of the largest snakes.

For an interesting article on pythons, please click here.

Return to “constrictor“.





angler fish
archer fish

Rabbit or Hare

Rabbit or Hare?

Some common differences between hares and rabbits:

Though hares and rabbits are closely related, there are some differences that show them apart:

a rabbit


Rabbits are smaller than the hares in size; rabbits look rounder and shorter, and furrier.

a hare

Hares have much longer ears and longer and stronger back legs than those of the rabbits.


Hares live and give birth to their young mostly in shallow grass-lined depressions on the ground, called ‘nests’, whereas the rabbits live and give birth to their young in holes under ground, called ‘burrows’.


a rabbit burrow/hole

Hare babies are born with eyes open, and with complete hair,, and go about their business in a few days after birth, but the rabbit babies are born blind and naked, and need their mother’s care for some weeks.

a hare's open nest

Hares are wild, but the rabbits are domesticated!



(also ‘small-eared dog’, ‘small-eared fox’, ‘small-eared zorro’; also known as “false fox”)

a small-eared  zorro

a kind of animal – mammal – four-legged – meat-eating – nocturnal (= active at night) – with short, thick, dark grey to black fur on the sides, a dark band running along the back and tail, and reddish-brown and white on the underside, fox-like head with short, straight, slightly rounded ears, pointed snout (= mouth and nose part), straight, short, narrow legs with partially webbed (= a layer thin skin joining the toes) and padded feet with sharp, curved claws, long, bushy, black tail, called ‘sweep’; size: 2½-3½ feet long with a 10-14 inch-long tail, weight: 9-10 Kg. (female larger than male); feeds on (eats) insects, small animals – mice, rats, lizards, frogs, and fish, birds, and fruit; lives for about 11 years in captivity; found in South America

Figures of Speech:
zorro (noun)  =


a legendary adventure-loving character with Spanish Californian background found in story books and now made into film/movie

[a masked swordfighter who helps the weak and downtrodden people]



cross section of a zoophyte

(for the pronunciation of this word, please click here)

a kind of very small sea animal – soft bodied very small animals that live close together in large groups (colonies) and form a plant-like structure.


a colony of zoophyte

Some of the zoophytes are corals, sponges, sea anemone, etc.




Figures of Speech:
zoophyte  (noun)  =  an Australian foursome pop music band
For the official website of the Australian music band, please click here.
For an article about zoophyte, please click here.



(plural – the same spelling and pronunciation ‘zebra’, or with an ‘s’, ‘zebras’ — for the right pronunciation of zebra, please click here)

a kind of animal – mammal – four-legged – grass-eating – (mostly) diurnal (active during day) – related to the horse family – donkey-like body, short, thick coat (body hair) with white or pale brown stripes on black back-ground and white on the belly and inner side of legs, large, horse-like head with large, straight, slightly rounded, flexible ears which can be moved in any direction, round, clear eyes on either side of the head, long, blunt, black muzzle (= mouth and nose part), long, thick neck with short, stiff, erect mane on the  back of it, straight, slender but strong legs with hooves, long tail with a tuft of black hair at the end; size: 8 feet long, 4-5 feet tall at the shoulder, and weight: 300-400 Kg. (male larger than female); feeds on (eats) grasses, shrubs, leaves; lives for about 25 years in the wild and 40 years in captivity; four species and several subspecies, found in Africa

a zebra mare with its foal

male ~~  stallion

female ~~ mare

baby ~~ foal [‘colt’ – young male; ‘filly’ – young female]

group ~~ harem (small family group); herd, cohort, crossing, stripe, zeal, dazzle (?)

voice ~~ bark, whinny, bray, snort

movement (motion) ~~ walk, trot, canter, gallop

The four species of zebra are:  plains zebra or common zebra; Grevy’s zebra; Cape mountain zebra; and Hartmann’s mountain zebra.
Special Features:
The zebra is the national animal (?) and is also depicted on the coat-of-arms of Botswana, Africa!

zebra’s stripes

The fascinating feature of the zebra is the stripes.  Though there are some other animals with stripes on their bodies, no other animal has stripes all over its body as the zebra.  Some animal experts believe that the stripes on a zebra help it to hide from its predators (camouflage), or at least, confuse them while running away, especially the lion which is supposed to be colour blind, and some others are in the opinion that the stripes reflect the sun’s heat and help the zebra to withstand the solar radiation.

confusing stripes

Though the patterns of stripes on all zebra look the same for an ordinary observer, each individual zebra has a pattern of its own, just as a person has his/her own fingerprints that are different from another person – even his/her own mother, father, brother or sister!!

The most important and useful road sign, the ‘zebra crossing’, ‘also called ‘pedestrian-crossing’, is named after the stripes of the zebra!  (‘zebra crossing’ = a set of wide black and white stripes marked on a road where pedestrians (people using the road or street on foot) are free to cross the road because at this sign the motor traffic must stop and allow the pedestrians to cross the road safely)

(a zebra-crossing on a road)

Most of the non-African people see these fascinating animals either in zoos or in international circuses!!

Though most members of the horse family are domesticated, the zebra has never been domesticated.  From time to time, several people have tried to domesticate the zebra, but have never been successful!

(bags made of zebra skin)

Even the Romans, who called the zebra “hippotigris” (‘tiger horse’ or ‘horse tiger’),  trained them to pull two-wheeled carts for showing in circuses, but never actually used them as pack animal!

There have been, however, some people in recent times who trained and used zebra to pull carts and to ride on, but only for a short period of time and just for show purpose.

Zebra have been hunted for their meat and skin.  The meat is a local delicacy, i.e. local people eat the meat on special occasions, and the skin in its complete form is used as an item of decoration, and is also made into leather items, such as bags, belts, straps, etc.

The zebra has been featured in several stories, fables, comics, cartoons, animated films and in feature films!

The name and the picture of the fascinating zebra is used for several corporations and business establishments!

Several other entirely unrelated striped animals that have the word ‘zebra’ in their names.  They are: ‘zebra caterpillar’ and ‘zebra opossum’ or ‘zebra wolf’ (also called ‘thylacine’ or ‘Tasmanian wolf’).
Figures of Speech:
zebra (noun)  =  a referee in a football game



(also ‘yellow-jacket’, and some authorities use a space in between the two words: ‘yellow  jacket’)

a kind of insect – stinging – diurnal (= active during day) – belongs to the wasp family, and closely related to the hornet – small with an exoskeleton (= tough, flexible outer cover) with black and yellow body in three parts: head, thorax and abdomen, yellow or white on the black face with 2 antennae, 2 compound eyes and 3 simple eyes, mouth parts with tough mandibles (jaws) for chewing insects and a proboscis (= long tube-like growth) for sucking up nectar and fruit, black and yellow thorax, 2 pairs of transparent wings (4 wings, but together, seen like only 2), 6 jointed legs, very narrow waist, conical, bulbous, black and yellow striped abdomen, (in all females) a permanent, sharp, barbed sting at the end of the abdomen; size: 0.05 to 1 inch (queen large, drone small and female worker smaller); feeds on insects, spiders and nectar; lives for queen – one year, drone – until one mating (dies soon after mating) and worker – a few days or weeks; several species and sub-species found in temperate regions of the world – mostly in the USA

Special Features:

(yellowjacket’s nest)

The yellowjackets are predatory pest insects, i.e. they kill other insects which damage plants and crops in order to feed their larvae!  However, they may be a nuisance during summer trying to feed on the food that people eat!!

(yellowjacket logo)

Like most wasps, all female yellowjackets have permanent stings with which they can sting repeatedly!

Yellowjackets are social insects and make their nests with a paper-like substance made from chewing wood or plant fibre.  Some species make their nests in trees and some in the ground!

Yellowjackets are also popular as their names are used for numerous sport teams and clubs of colleges and universities.

There are several comic characters with the name ‘yellow jackets’!

Figures of Speech:

a yellow jacket (two letters)


“Yellow jacket”, in two letters, is a jacket (coat) in yellow color that is worn by people.




yellowjacket (noun)  =  a kind of medicine used for causing sleep in patients suffering from severe pain or anxiety


to grin like a fox eating yellow jackets



a wild yak

a kind of animal – mammal – four-legged – grass-eating – related to the ox family – large with brown or black, long, shaggy hair, large head, wide forehead with large, straight ears growing sideways, a pair of horns spread out and upwards, front facing round, clear eyes, long, blunt muzzle, thick neck, a small hump on the back, straight, legs, long bushy tail; size: (wild yak) 6 feet tall at the shoulder, 9 feet long, and weight: 1000 Kg. (1 ton) (male much larger than female), and (domestic yak) 3-5 feet tall at the shoulder, 5-7 feet long, and 400-500 kg. (some individuals may grow up to 800 Kg.; and male larger than female); feeds on (eats) grasses, shrubs and lichen; lives for 20-25 years; found in the highlands of Central Asia – in the Himalayan mountain range – in Tibet, Nepal, Indian, Mongolia, and China

Domestic yak:

a domestic yak

male ~~ bull; (in Nepalese) gyag

female ~~ cow; (in Nepalese) dri or nak

baby ~~ calf

group ~~ herd

voice (call) ~~ grunt

home ~~ —

Special Features:

yak as a beast of burden

The yak is very well suited for the extreme cold weather of the highlands: it has to layers of hair – short, thick, matted inner hair, with long, shaggy outer hair; it produces a kind of sticky substance from its sweat glands which keeps the inner hair matted and warm; the sweat glands are few in number; and the lung and heart are large, and the body cells are designed to retain more oxygen!

There are only a few herds of wild yak found in the remote parts of the mountain rages.  Some animal experts are in the opinion that the yak we see in the zoos are mostly the large size ‘domesticated yak’!

milking a yak

A yak is also known as a ‘granting ox’ for its habit of making grunting noises frequently.

The wild yak had been hunted so much for their meat, skins and hair, that the population had been reduced to very low numbers until laws were passed against hunting them.

The domestic yak has been bred for its milk, meat, skin and hair.  The have also been used as beasts of burden (pack animals) – for carrying goods and people, and for ploughing the fields! Yak’s milk (dri’s milk) is known to be pink in colour; however, some experts say that the pink colouration is found only at the start of suckling when the female gives birth to a calf and after some time, the milk turns to normal white colour as it is the same with the hippopotamus.

(yak hair)

The native Nepalese and Tibetans make use of every part of the yak: tails used as hand fans, and hair made into ropes, rugs, etc; skin/hide is made into shoes, bags, and in making coracle-like boats; even the sticky substance in their sweat is used in the folk medicine!

Yak racing is a kind of entertainment cum ritual at traditional Tibetan festivals; and more recently, ‘yak polo’ and ‘yak skiing’ have become a popular ‘tourist attraction’ activities!

Figures of Speech:

(yaking away)


yak (noun)  =  noisy talk; chatter; prolonged and meaningless talk


to yak (verb)  =  to talk continuously and meaninglessly for a long time



(the letter ‘w’ is silent — for the right pronunciation of this word, please click here)

 a kind of bird – belongs to the ‘woodpecker’ family – greyish all over with (dark) brown and buff mottling, large head, with relatively long, pointed beak (bill) with long, barbed and sticky tongue, relatively long neck, moderately long, slender legs with long toes – two facing forward and two facing backwards, relatively long tail with soft feathers; size: 6-8 inches long, and weight: 25-60 grams; feeds on insects (mostly those found on the ground); lives for 6=10 (?) years; 4 species, found in Europe, Asia and the Americas

Special Features:

a wryneck twisting its neck

The most striking feature of the wryneck is its habit of turning its head almost 180º!

It twists its neck to one side tilting the beak in the opposite side as if it were in pain (writhe), and so the name ‘wryneck’!  And it uses this feature, along with a low hissing sound, to scare away any predators!!

Unlike its relatives the woodpeckers, the wrynecks mostly feed on the insects found on ground!

Woodpeckers have stiff tail feathers, and can climb tree trunks vertically, but the wrynecks have soft feathers, and so cannot climb tree trunks vertically!

Wrynecks are considered to be evil and are believed to ‘cast a spell’ or bring bad luck, and is often considered a  ‘jinx‘, some bad luck.  In fact ‘wrynecks’ are originally called “iynx” or “jinx” bird.  Even to this day, wryneck or jinx bird’s feathers are used in making ‘charms’ or in black magic!!!

(a patient with ‘wryneck’ disease)

Figures of Speech:

wry neck (noun)  =  a person or animal with a peculiar disease called ‘torticollis’ (‘torticollis’ = a kind of disease in which the patient’s head is flexed (twisted) to one side by contraction of muscles, face rotated to the opposite side, and the chin titled upwards)