What does it mean this animal tattoo?
For us, the main point of having a tattoo is knowing what you are going to ink on your skin.
Of course, every tattoo has a personal meaning but, culturally speaking, some kind of tattoos have an extended meaning in the population.
The point is animal tattoos are on this classification, and they usually have a general meaning and, moreover, it can change depending on the point of the globe you are.
And that’s why we built this alphabetical order guide for you.
Apes tattoos meaning
In Western Culture (you know, Europe and America) apes can be on two different ways.
Extremely aggressive or extremely caring.
Moreover, if you move the point to chimps, they use to be represented as playful creatures.
But, if you go to South Asia, there is Kung Fu to have another meaning to apes, because this kind of animal is represented in Kung Fu as some of the fighting forms.
Here you have a lot of difference between the different apes (you have wood ones, metal ones or whatever), so you can just pick your own.
Usually small apes uses to represents agility, and big ones uses to represents strength.
Tattoo made by Rodrigo Tas.
Bat tattoos meaning
Bats are another amazing animal to tattoo, and not only for Batman, you know.
Bat has a lot of meaning as a creature of the night and symbolize many things.
On the one hand bats are symbol of fear and dark, attending to the classical horror movies.
But, on the other side, bats have a lot of senses to get oriented in the dark, so it’s a symbol of staying focused and walking through to the truth.
Tattoo made by Désirée.
Bear tattoos meaning
Bears have another strong meaning practically worldwide.
Usually bears tattoo represents power, strength, and motherhood feeling, but they can represent the rest or the quiet, depending on the way is represented.
Moreover, they have a strong presence on Haida tattoos (the tattoo art from the North of North America).
Tattoo made by Sergio Fernández, from SevenTattoo.
Bee tattoos meaning
Usually bees are inked in a lovely and friendly way, becoming more and more popular last years, and we cannot blame anyone for this!
Bees are very important in a lot of cultures for centuries because they do a lot of things, from honey to maintaining the ecosystem.
But bees symbolize more:
They symbolize being part of a group and work restless together for aiming that goal.
In fact, a lot of left-wing symbols is about ants and bees.
Tattoo made by Natalie Allen.
Bulls tattoos meaning
Bulls have a meaning across almost every country except Spain (and maybe in Chicago, because Chicago Bulls, you know).
In almost every Western country they are related to Zodiacs (you know, Taurus) and this sign attribute are usually represented by being practical and consistent.
Bulls use to have these meanings and are associated with the land.
Moreover, in Spain can be tricky, depending on the representation, because here we have the bullfights.
Tattoo made by Prime Ink Tattoo.
Butterfly tattoo meaning
Butterfly tattoos have a pretty history inside.
Yes, butterflies are pretty and cool, but this is the point:
A butterfly tattoo usually represents a huge change (more a transformation itself) because, as you know, the butterfly usually is a caterpillar before.
Usually these tattoos are made to remember this transformation and the power this person have to be better.
Tattoo made by Laura Caselles.
Cat tattoo meaning
Cat tattoos are always cute but, what do they mean?
Well, it depends a lot, but one thing is clear:
Cats have many lives (9 in the US or UK, 7 in Spain, for example), so they usually represent rebirth.
In fact, this tradition is coming from the ancient Egypt.
On the other hand, cats are an independent animal, so cat tattoos usually represent a free spirit.
Tattoo made by Jordi Pinzell.
Cheetah tattoo meaning
Let’s move to another different feline: the fastest one on earth.
Yes, we are talking about the cheetah, and this tattoo have a meaning too, of course.
Cheetah tattoos usually are a reminder to go for your goals, and to go fast for there, with no excuses, and with nothing more besides this.
Tattoo made by Lanarae Tattoo.
Cobra tattoo meaning
In cobra tattoos, the meaning is important, because it changes a lot depending on the point of the globe you are.
In Europe, cobras are often seen as a deadly poison animal, but the thing changes a lot, for example, in Arabic culture.
For the ancient Egypt, cobras where really important, they’ve got a deity called Wadjet as a protective figure.
Moreover, in India cobras are related with Shiva and, on this culture, cobra is related with fear feeling but, a relaxed cobra means clear mind.
Tattoo made by Oldschool Tattooer Alin.
Codfish tattoo meaning
Codfish was really a thing in Native American culture, but its representation is far away for Europe or Asia.
For ancient Native American people codfish was a symbol of prosperity (in fact, they believe the lunar eclipse was because a codfish was trying to eat the moon!).
Another meaning: Codfish represent mindful independence.
And we think it’s beautifull.
Tattoo made by Laura Casey.
Crab tattoo meaning
Crabs tattoos have totally different meaning depending is you are in Asia or in the rest of the world.
For Western countries, a crab is the Zodiac symbol of Cancer, it represents things like loyalty or emotions.
But, in China and Southeast Asia this change.
Crab here represent success because the way you pronounce it in Chinese.
Funny history, isn’t it?
Tattoo made by Vicki Nerino.
Crane tattoo meaning
Now we are going to far east, were cranes has a strong symbol.
In Chinese symbology and all Taoist martial arts, the cranes are just a thing, because you have the special forms and techniques about the animal.
Cranes are a water animal, so they symbolize the flexibility, adaptability with a little about earth element (power, being solid).
Tattoo made by Mark Scott.
Crow tattoo meaning
Crows have been in the imagination of almost every culture in earth, but if we can say one who made the crows something unique, this culture is Viking one.
Crows usually represent death and war nowadays, but in reality, crows are symbols for magic, mystery and good luck.
In fact, Odin have his ravens for seeing everything and the crows (and ravens) are very present in all cultures in the Atlantic Ocean shore.
Tattoo made by GUSH.
Deer tattoo meaning
Deer tattoos were really a trend some years ago (specially the polygon ones), but deer have a lot of symbolism itself.
For Native American people, deer was the symbol for intuition and sensitivity, like, “power in peace”.
In Europe, the deer is the king of the forest, so this power symbol stays.
Tattoo made by Igor van der Laan.
Dinosaur tattoo meaning
Yes, dinosaurs’ tattoos are animals too. Extinct, but animals too!
I’m not going to show the romantic or emotional part of dinosaurs, because you can ink yourself one of them basically if you are a dinosaur freak.
You can say something like “yes, but dinosaurs refer about strength and the past” but, deep in your heart, you know you are a dinosaur freak.
And we have no problem with this because we love dinosaurs too.
Tattoo made by Julia Seizure.
Dog tattoo meaning
In Western countries the symbol of the dog is an universal one.
A dog symbolizes loyalty, friendship, and protection.
Moreover, depending on the dog breed they have an extra meaning and, because it’s the favorite pet in Europe and North America, you can see it tattooed a lot of times.
The thing changes in Asia because the dog has not the same prominence than in Europe.
Tattoo made by Ewa Sroka.
Dolphin tattoo meaning
The match between humans and dolphins comes from centuries ago.
You know stories about sailors rescued by dolphins and things like this, isn’t it?
Technically speaking, dolphins represents freedom, harmony friendship and, of course the desire of playing!
Tattoo made by Gaia Gregoris Tattoo.
Dove tattoo meaning
In all Christian countries, or being more specific, in all countries with Christian heritage, dove is the symbol of peace.
Moreover, on these countries doves has a connection with the divine stuff, so you have a lot of mysticism here.
Outside this kind of countries, dove usually is just an animal, nothing more, nothing less.
Tattoo made by Sir Focus.
Dragon tattoo meaning
Maybe one of the most inked animals is a dragon.
Yes, it is a fantasy animal, but it’s an universal fantasy animal, and it has a different meaning depending on the point of the globe.
In Europe, dragons were related with pagan world, but then, Viking mythology ate the meaning and dragons become more popular as a symbol of power, fear, and destruction.
This meaning remains know in Europe.
But if we look to Asia, especially to China and Southeast Asia, the meaning changes a lot because dragon is the most important animal in Kung Fu, and it is related with flexibility, adaptability, and intelligence.
Tattoo made by Ghis Melou.
Dragonfly tattoo meaning
Dragonflies are strange and magnificent animals, and a lot of people like them.
As butterflies, dragonflies symbolize transcendental change (in an emotional or physical way), and you want to remember that change.
Is not a trend in tattoo world, but dragonflies are beautiful and that’s the point!
Tattoo made by Lucas Odom.
Eagle tattoo meaning
Eagle as an animal is a huge thing for almost every American culture and, because the influence of the US in every country, this symbol went global.
According to this, an eagle tattoo symbolizes freedom and being real and, moreover, staying focused.
But (yes, there is always a “but”), if you go to Europe, eagle is a symbol of the Roman Empire and, after this, almost every empire here adopt the eagle on their flag (a few times, with more than one head).
Important point: this “empire eagle”, in some countries are an extreme-right symbol.
Tattoo made by Rafael Pérez Parra.
Elephant tattoo meaning
What does an elephant mean to you?
We are sure the first thing in your mind is wise, and maybe motherhood, isn’t it?
That is exactly the main meaning, almost in every country.
In Asia the symbol stays, it’s true in Hinduism you have the Ganesha figures (human body, elephant head), but the general meaning is global.
Tattoo made by Kenneth Shaw Tattoos.
Finch tattoo meaning
You have a lot of different bird to ink, but a finch is one of the most popular ones.
These tattoos are usually cute, bright, and colored, and a finch usually represents the happiness and energy.
Tattoo made by L’bert Rivas.
Fox tattoo meaning
Foxes are one of our favorite animals, because what they symbolize.
The meaning changes among different cultures, but usually are cute things.
In Europe, foxes are a symbol of wisdom because the Celtic imagery, but in Asia the thing changes, because in China is a signal from a departed love (cute, isn’t it?).
In nature, foxes are extremely intelligent and truly elegant animals, if you can see a fox running, you are going to freak out.
Tattoo made by Löiz.
Hedgehog tattoo meaning
We think hedgehog are a cool animal because it is really strange.
You know, hedgehog is a small a calm animal that can do whatever they want because they have a strong shield made of spikes.
For this, hedgehog is a symbol of self-confidence and going at your own.
If you are a person who don’t care what other people thinks about you, hedgehog is your symbol!
Tattoo made by Mattia Calvi (Mambo Tattoer).
Horse tattoo meaning
Horses are another global element, from North America to Far Asia.
And yes, horses are always related with freedom, power, and free spirit.
Horse symbols are really powerful for North America natives and it’s truly rooted in Europe too.
Tattoo made by Josh Hurrell.
Koi fish tattoo meaning
Koi fish is a very popular concept in Japan, and it’s having more force in Europe and America year by year.
In Japan, Koi fish symbolizes how one person overcome the adversity, something like on the dragonfly or butterfly tattoos.
More about the meaning of Koi fish tattoo: patience, be focused and reach success.
Pretty, isn’t it?
Tattoo made by Derek (Nghia) Chung.
Lion tattoo meaning
Another global symbol on earth are lions.
You know, just The King.
You have a lot of famous people with lions inked, in black and grey or colored one, and the meaning is always the same.
Is about power, success, about being the first.
In some countries you can makeup this with another meaning, about self-control, but it’s a secondary one.
Tattoo made by Douglas Prudente.
Little Black Birds tattoo meaning
Little black birds were really a trend a few years ago, and they have an special meaning.
I don’t want to lie to you because, with the little black birds’ trend, almost anyone seems to know what they mean.
These little black birds are related to… Bob Marley and the message “everything is going to be alright”.
Tattoo made by Jéssica Paixao.
Lizard tattoo meaning
Now, it’s lizard time!
Yes, lizards are a rare animal but with a couple of meanings.
On the one hand, lizards are the symbol of growing and even rebirth (you know that some lizards can drop the tail when they feel in danger).
On the other hand, lizards, especially the big ones, are a classical symbol in terror movies about destruction and fear.
Tattoo made by Casey Marie Tattoo.
Mantis tattoo meaning
Yes, some people get tattooed with a mantis (praying mantis if you want) on their skin.
We know in Europe or American the mantis is not a symbol for anything but, as happened in some other animals, Asia is just another thing.
One more time Kung Fu and Taoism is in the house, and the mantis is one of the animals here.
Mantis is small, but very fast and precise. The key with this animal is dodging, and then, attacking.
For this, mantis is a symbol of precision and focus on one single objective.
Tattoo made by Bro Vanthorn Tattoos & Stuff.
Moth tattoo meaning
Yes, a lot of people get ink with moths, and it’s for their meaning, because a moth is not the prettiest thing on earth, isn’t it?
As you may know, moths are nocturnal animals, but they come to light.
So, the main meaning of moths’ tattoos are the faith and determination.
Good point for moths!
Tattoo made by Iris Tattoo.
Octopus tattoo meaning
Another odd and fascinating animal to ink is… the octopus!
Personally, we do love octopus and what they symbolize.
Octopus are the most intelligent invertebrate animal (in fact, there are some strange theories about if octopus is just an alien).
Another symbols for octopus are the adaptability and some magic.
Not bad, isn’t it?
Tattoo made by Yomicoart.
Owl tattoo meaning
Owl had awe people for the very beginning of time, and that’s for a reason.
Owls are nigh creatures, big eyes, silent and beautiful, and they have their own space in mythology as a creature who can talk with the dead world.
For this, owls represent wisdom and knowing the secrets of the dark.
Tattoo made by Robert Pavez.
Panda tattoo meaning
Maybe we are too intense, but pandas are here to help!
In China, Pandas are a symbol of luck and prosperity.
In Europe and America, we are far for this meaning, because for us it’s just a exotic (and incredible) animal.
Anyway, pandas are cute, and everyone likes cuteness.
Tattoo made by Sol Tattoo Studio.
Peacock tattoo meaning
For the very first time ever, one animal has the same meaning in Europe, American and Asia.
And this animal is the peacock!
Yes, doesn’t matter which point on the globe, peacock is a symbol of elegance and grace.
Maybe in Europe it has and extra about nobility, but it’s the same.
Tattoo made by Christine Zwick.
Phoenix tattoo meaning
Phoenix bird has a well-known meaning in Europe, but maybe you don’t know the history of the Chinese one!
For Europeans and American people, phoenix is a symbol about rebirth and immortality, because phoenix dies in flames and then a new birth born from the ashes.
At least, this is the Greek one, isn’t it?
But in China we have the Fenghuang, a myth bird created with parts of others, who usually represents the empress, and it appears in prosperity times.
Tattoo made by Johan Svahn.
Rabbit tattoo meaning
You always can affirm that rabbits are cute and pretty, in almost every culture.
Well, rabbit has another meaning, but this cuteness is one of them.
After this, rabbits represent fertility, prosperity and even wealth in some countries.
But, moreover, in many cultures, rabbits are related to spring because of Easter.
Tattoo made by Haenal Tattoo.
Ram tattoo meaning
Rams have a lot of different meanings by themselves, and we do like it.
If we go to the Zodiac, rams are the symbol of Aries, and that is the first one.
In many cultures we have some gods (or heroes) with ram horns, and usually this kind of deities are warriors, so it can denote aggressiveness.
But, what passion is? Yes, just the same.
Moreover, for Chinese symbology, passion and aggressiveness are just both sides of the same coin: Fire element.
Tattoo made by Diego Valenzuela.
Scorpions tattoo meaning
Scorpions are one of the most inked animals, because they have a strong meaning among cultures.
Back in ancient Egypt, they believe the scorpion was the animal who protects the souls to their afterlife.
In others ancient cultures, scorpions were a heal symbol, because they thought the sting can be the cure for a lot of sickness.
Nowadays scorpions are a symbol of passion and truth.
Tattoo made by BBrung.
Seahorse tattoo meaning
Seahorses are related to old-school tattoos because of the sailors one back in the first decades of tattooing in Western countries.
You know, sailors were the pioneers in the US and in Europe, and seahorse was a sea element.
Moreover, for sailors the seahorse was a symbol of good luck.
In other cultures, seahorse is a symbol of patience, strength, and power.
Tattoo made by Claudia Denti Tattoo.
Shark tattoo meaning
If we speak on a traditional European or American people in the 21st century, shark is a symbol of fear in the sea, isn’t it?
But this is a modern thing (maybe Jaws contribute to this symbol, and all the terror movies about sharks after that one).
For Celtic culture, sharks were the symbol of prosperity with the hunt and the harvest, for example.
Tattoo made by Bong Kee.
Snake tattoo meaning
Snakes was a special animal for almost every culture on earth.
You know, snakes have poison and has no legs or arms, so they are just as odd as fascinating.
Back in The Bible, snake was the symbol of evil, but it also symbolizes immortality, transformation, and is the symbol of science.
In ancient cultures snakes used to be a deity, usually terrifying but blessed too.
In fact, all the dragon tales come from snakes one.
Tattoo made by Sharon Healy.
Spider tattoo meaning
Yes, spiders are the same story than sharks or snakes.
You have arachnophobia, isn’t it?
And that’s why the main symbol of a spider is the fear because, as with snakes, spiders are odd creatures with poison.
For us, we do love spiders, it’s a fantastic animal (a bit like an alien).
Tattoo made by Sofía Angelita.
Swallow tattoo meaning
Swallows are on this list because, back one century ago, when the first sailors started to get ink, these birds one of their favorites.
Sailors do believe than, when someone of them drop off the ship and drown in the sea (a very common thing), the swallows will pick their soul and carry it to heaven.
And we think it’s beautiful.
Tattoo made by Needler Tattoo.
Tiger tattoo meaning
If the lion has a strong symbol in Europe and America, tiger is the king in Asia.
Yes, the tiger has a lot of influence in Europe or America too, but maybe is the second feline on the scale.
In Asia, specially in Taoist way of life and in all the martial arts with this philosophy, like Kung Fu, the tiger is the symbol of power (as well as the dragon is the flexibility one).
For this, the tiger is passionate love and is destruction, is… just fire.
Tattoo made by Godo Tattoo.
Turtle tattoo meaning
Speaking about turtles, this animal has a lot of meaning in some cultures like in Japan or in all for all the people who lives in the Pacific Island.
And this, specially the last ones, are one of the centers of tattooing all over the world.
A turtle symbolizes longevity, endurance, patience, and wisdom, all with calm.
Tattoo made by Michele Volpi.
Whale tattoo meaning
Whales are the biggest animal on earth, and they are just fascinating.
In almost every culture on earth whales has the status of special animals, and we think everybody could understand that.
In the world, whales are a symbol of something magnificent, calm and awe but, in some cultures like Haida or Vikings one, whales were just a sacred thing.
Tattoo made by Cade Cran.
Wolf tattoo meaning
Wolfs have two main different meanings, and the funniest part is these are almost opposites.
On the one hand, when we are kids wolf is the symbol of fear (you know, the forest, the night, the wolf).
On the other hand, wolf has a strong symbology about freedom, authenticity and being really you.
What is yours?
Tattoo made by Silas Paiva.
End of the list, but I want to ask you something.
If there is an animal you cannot find on this list, just write a comment and I’ll update this list about tattoo animal meanings as soon as I can.