The reason people get animal tattoos is quite straightforward. They do it because a certain animal carries meaning and symbolism close and relatable to the owner of the tattoo. This has been a common practice in the tattoo community for years.
Even the people of ancient civilizations believed in animal symbolism or animism. This originated from the belief that people and animals are spiritually connected and that animals can helps humans in their spirituality and physical or spiritual life.
So, if you’re looking to get a cool animal tattoo that carries meaning and symbolism close to you, then you’re at the right place.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll look into some of the most common animal tattoos and explore what is their spiritual and cultural meaning. Hopefully, this will help you make the right choice! So, without further ado, let’s get started!
12 Animal Tattoos: Meaning and Symbolism
1. Lion Tattoos
Let’s start with the very kind of jungle. The lion is known to symbolize power, masculinity, leadership, and strength. For thousands of years, the lion has been recognized by humans as a thing of beauty but also something we should fear. But, being the kind of the jungle, the lion is completely fearless, and many see lions as courageous, powerful, and incredibly fearless cats.
Alongside power and leadership, lions and lion tattoos also symbolize pride, motherhood, and fatherhood, as well as peace and harmony. If you want to know what lions symbolize in modern culture, just remember the Lion King, the story of Simba, and his interaction with other animals.
2. Wolf Tattoos
The wolf is one of the most respected animals throughout history. It is highly intelligent and resilient. The ancient civilizations often interpreted the wolf’s life as one of divinity, spirituality, and rebirth. Nowadays, such interpretation is often accompanied by the not-so-positive traits of wolves. In many cultures, the wolf symbolizes destruction, danger, and death.
Nevertheless, wolf tattoos generally symbolize leadership, power, protection, and family. Other symbols one could ascribe to their wolf tattoo include loyalty, fatherhood and brotherhood, spirituality, unity, resilience, and procreation.
3. (Koi) Fish Tattoos
When it comes to fish tattoos, one of the most popular tattoo designs is the one featuring the Japanese Koi fish. In that sense, the fish symbolizes a lot of things, including one’s ability to overcome life’s struggles and obstacles. However, depending on the size of the fish, as well as its color, it can carry a load of different meanings and symbolism.
For example, if the koi fish is red, it symbolizes power, love, bravery, and motherhood. However, if it’s white, it symbolizes one’s success, power of transformation, growth, and a sense of rebirth. A blue or black koi fish symbolizes masculinity and one’s ability to overcome struggle and win life’s battle. A koi fish tattoo can feature a combination of these colors to create a more personalized and deeper meaning.
4. Cat Tattoos
Even though we’ve mentioned lion tattoos, we have to mention the general cat tattoos to make a distinction. Generally, cats are a symbol of a new life and rebirth, as well as royalty and pride. The reason cats carry such symbolism stems from their ‘nine lives’ and the fact that they were treated like a deity in ancient Egypt.
Nowadays, the cat can symbolize a lot of different things, depending on the breed or the color. For example, if you get a black cat tattoo, the symbolism will often be that of mystery, superstition, mythical, etc.
5. Butterfly Tattoos
Butterflies are known to grow from a caterpillar. In the process, they turn into these incredibly beautiful and unique creatures. Because of this, butterflies are known to symbolize transformation and personal growth. The same meaning generally translates into the butterfly tattoos as well.
However, butterfly tattoos can also symbolize, personal development and change for the better. The color of the butterfly tattoo can also shift the meaning and make it more personalized. Because of the meaning and symbolism, butterfly tattoos are some of the most common tattoo designs.
6. Snake Tattoos
Snakes don’t have a good reputation when it comes to their role in important historical events and stories. Many cultures and religions see snakes as a force of destruction or as a force of terrifying change. However, when we observe snakes as animals and not some historic creatures, we see them more as a force of change and transformation.
Because snakes shed their skin, they carry the symbolism of personal transformation and the ability to change for the better. Of course, the snake tattoos can also carry the same meaning, or have it vary depending on the snake breed. For example, cobra tattoos carry the meaning of royalty, spirituality, and protective forces, all stemming from the ancient Egyptian interpretation.
7. Panda Tattoos
Being the characteristic animal of the Far East, the meaning pandas carry also stems from the Far East cultures. For example, in ancient China, pandas symbolized prosperity and good luck; the symbolism has remained among the people even nowadays.
However, pandas are generally gentle creatures, so their overall symbolism is overall related to living a harmonious and peaceful life. Panda tattoos can also show that you have a gentle and peaceful personality, or that you simply adore these cute and fluffy bears. Whatever the symbolism is, panda tattoos are incredibly popular, mostly because of their nature, behavior, and adorable appearance.
8. Owl Tattoos
Throughout history, owls were seen as these sacred guardians of knowledge and wisdom. In the modern culture as well, owls aren’t simply seen as birds, but rather protectors and mythological guardians. They are even used in books and movie adaptations to symbolize knowledge, wisdom, or were seen and messengers (for example, in Harry Potter). Owls often symbolize the nocturnal life, mystery, and the supernatural as well.
Such meaning to owls stems from the Native American culture, as well as from Hindu, Egyptian and other mythologies around the world. However, in some cultures, owls also represented the death of famous and public figures. They were also believed to be able to communicate with the souls of the departed (mostly because of their big eyes and ominous energy).
9. Deer Tattoos
Even though deer tattoos don’t seem that mainstream, there is a lot of people who go for this tattoo design. The reason is not only that deer tattoos look incredible, but also that they carry a load of meaning and symbolism.
For starters, deer is a powerful Native American symbol. Native Americans loved deers because of their sensitivity and intuition, as well as gentleness and peacefulness. Moreover, deers are incredibly compassionate, emphatic, and take great care of their family. So, you can see why people get deer tattoos; the symbolism of this animal is truly healing and beautiful.
10. Fox Tattoos
Even though foxes are generally believed to be cunning and nasty, they’re in reality such resilient and smart creatures. Ancient peoples believed foxes are incredibly wise and they served as a symbol of guidance. Others believed foxes can take the souls of the departed ones as well.
In general, foxes symbolize resilience, beauty, and intelligence. These animals are very resourceful and clever. Getting a fox tattoo doesn’t mean you want to show how cunning and sneaky you are. Rather, you want to show that you’re capable, clever, and playful.
11. Crow Tattoos
Crows are generally associated with negative things, like darkness, the unknown, or death. This bad reputation has followed these crows for centuries, and even nowadays they’re seen as an omen of bad luck and death across the world.
However, crows are in reality incredibly smart and resourceful. They have an excellent memory and can recognize and remember people. Many people see crows as a sign of success, health, and wealth. Generally, people have started to associate crows with mystery, magic, and good fortune, hence the increase in crow tattoos.
12. Elephant Tattoos
You would never guess that elephant tattoos are becoming a mainstream tattoo design, but here we are. An increasing number of people have recognized the meaning and symbolism of wonderful giants and their lives. Elephants are incredibly emotional and gentle. They symbolize family, love, and the ability to take of those important to you and your life.
In some cultures, elephants are a symbol of strength and power. The reason for that is not because elephants are violent animals; they will simply react in power and show off their strength if they sense a threat or something evil. That is why many people get elephant tattoos; to show their ability to react when it’s needed to defend the ones you love and yourself.
These were the meanings and symbols behind some of the most common animal tattoos. For more tattoo information or detailed insight into specific animal tattoos, make sure to check out our site and in-depth articles. If you think there a mistake in the article, or that we’ve interpreted the meanings wrongly, let us know. Hopefully, our little insight has helped you find the one tattoo design that speaks to you and your life experience.