Animals have long been connected with death in numerous cultures, whether as symbols, omens, or representations of the afterlife. Animals that represent death have been represented in art, literature, and mythology, and some have even become famous for tattoo designs.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the creatures that symbolize death, as well as their meanings and how they’ve been understood across civilizations.
Whether you’re looking for tattoo ideas or are concerned about a loved one, this article will bring insight and awareness into the intriguing realm of animal death symbolism.
- Vultures, owls, and black cats have long been connected with death in many civilizations.
- While these animals are frequently associated with terror, they also represent rebirth and metamorphosis.
- Their position in the natural world contributes to the preservation of equilibrium and the life cycle.
- 1 List of animals that represent death
- 1.1 1. The Bat
- 1.2 2. The Bird
- 1.3 3. The Blackbird
- 1.4 4. The Black Cat
- 1.5 5. The Bull
- 1.6 6. The Butterfly
- 1.7 7. The Crow
- 1.8 8. The Dragonfly
- 1.9 9. The Eagle
- 1.10 10. The Horse
- 1.11 11. The Hyena
- 1.12 12. The Jackal
- 1.13 13. The Moose
- 1.14 14. The Moth
- 1.15 15. The Owl
- 1.16 16. The Ram
- 1.17 17. The Rat
- 1.18 18. The Raven
- 1.19 19. The Red Cardinal
- 1.20 20. The Rooster
- 1.21 21. The Scorpion
- 1.22 22. The Snake
- 1.23 23. The Spider
- 1.24 24. The Swan
- 1.25 25. The Vulture
- 1.26 26. The wolf
- 1.27 27. The Worm
- 2 FAQ
- 3 Conclusion
Throughout history, animals that represent death have been used to symbolize various concepts, including death.
Across cultures, certain animals have been associated with death and the afterlife.
These creatures have been portrayed in art, literature, and mythology, and their symbolism has been ingrained in many societies.
While the list of animals that represent death may vary depending on culture and tradition, some creatures are commonly associated with this concept.
In some cases, their association with death is due to their physical appearance, while in others, it is due to their behavior or folklore.
Despite their association with death, these animals are often regarded as important symbols of rebirth, transformation, and renewal.
1. The Bat
Bats are a perfect example of animals that represent death. They are the only animals that have evolved echolocation, which allows them to navigate in full darkness.
The bat’s symbolism and nocturnal habit further contribute to its meaning as a death animal.
A person who died unexpectedly is said to have “died like a bat out of hell.”
The phrase is used to describe someone who died abruptly and brutally, but it may also refer to someone who died while fleeing something.
The bird symbolizes freedom, it’s easy to overlook that birds are also animals.
They have animal wants and desires, just like every other species on the earth, and some of those needs and desires might be dark and enigmatic, similar to the essence of death itself.
Birds are liberated when they fly. As they die, though, they fall from the sky like stones.
They must descend from their great heights at some point, as must we all. There will always be an end to everything, no matter how high you soar or how much you accomplish in life.
To read more about what birds represent, click here.
Blackbirds are also animals that represent death. I know this since I attended a close family member’s funeral, and as we were leaving, blackbirds were flying around.
They swooped down and landed on the headstones as if to rest their wings after a hard trip.
I recall thinking it was unusual that they were there. They appeared to want to be with us at our loved one’s burial, but they knew they couldn’t since they would be imprisoned inside with us.
Instead of entering, they hovered outside where we could see them, desiring but unable to enter our reality.
Black cats are one of the most common animals that represent death. They are associated with death in many folktales and superstitions, as well as in pop culture.
In some folktales, black cats are believed to be witches who can change their shape into a cat. A black cat’s appearance is often interpreted as an omen or warning of bad luck.
In many cultures, including England and France, it is considered unlucky to cross paths with a black cat.
In pop culture, black cats are often portrayed as evil creatures or villains in films and books.
The negative connotations associated with black cats may stem from their reputation as stealthy hunters who can be difficult to spot when hiding under cover.
I have always been fascinated by the Bull. As a child, I remember reading a book about animals and their significance in various cultures.
I felt it was a ridiculous concept at first that an animal could represent death, but as I read more literature and went more into the history of this species, I realized there was more to it than simply an animal.
In many cultures, this creature has been used to represent death. In Greek mythology, for example, Zeus sends Poseidon (the god of the sea) to take revenge on Hera for her unfaithfulness with Ares by sending a bull from Mount Pelion (a mountain in Greece) straight into her sacred garden.
Butterflies are considered the messenger from the other side. When a butterfly appears, it is a sign that someone has died. It is also a symbol of transformation, change, and rebirth.
The butterfly symbolizes a soul that has left its earthly body and has been reborn into another dimension. The butterfly’s life cycle is very similar to our own human lives on Earth.
They start as an egg, then hatch into caterpillars, then pupate into a chrysalis (cocoon), and finally emerge as beautiful winged creatures that fly away to lay eggs of their own.
This process repeats itself over and over again until the end of time itself.
Crows are the black birds that you see in almost every part of the world. They are very smart, and they have an amazing ability to mimic sounds.
They are also known to be very intelligent animals. The crows used to scare me when I was little.
They would fly overhead and make these loud screeching noises, making me feel like something bad was about to happen.
But as time went on, I became more comfortable with them. And then one day, when my mom was outside hanging clothes on the line, she fell over and died from a heart attack.
The crows were there when it happened – they were everywhere! If you would like to learn more about what it means when you see a crow, click here.
Dragonflies are animals that represent death. I’ve always been fascinated by the dragonfly because it reminds me of my grandmother.
She was a beautiful woman who loved to garden and spend time outside. She grew up in a small town in Texas, and she loved how warm it was there.
She also loved how it was easy for her to find peace on her own, even if she lived in a different state from her family.
When she passed away, I felt like something had been missing from my life ever since then.
I kept myself busy with work, but even then I still felt like something was missing – like someone wasn’t there anymore. That person was my grandma!
The eagle as the animal that represents death is a universally recognized symbol.
It’s also one of the most prominent symbols in history, having been used by nearly every culture and civilization throughout time.
The eagle’s ability to soar high above the earth and see things from a greater perspective is what gives it this power.
It represents our ability to rise above our own limitations and see things from a new perspective. This is why people believe that the eagle can see into the future, or even into other worlds.
The horse represents death in many cultures. It’s believed that horses are carrying the deceased one to the other side, and so their presence is a sign of a new life.
In some cultures, the image of a horse may be enough to scare away evil spirits.
The horse is a creature associated with death in many cultures. In Greek mythology, Charon ferried the dead across the river Styx to Hades.
In Norse mythology, Odin rode Sleipnir to Helheim. And in Hinduism, Yama rode a white horse.
The hyena is an animal that represents death. It is a scavenger, and it scavenges on the dead carcasses of other animals.
The hyena has a very unique way of hunting, which involves a lot of noise and laughing. The hyena also has a very distinctive laugh that can be heard from miles away.
It is said that this laugh will cause the death of someone who hears it, so people have to be careful when they hear it.
The Jackal is the animal that represents death. It is known for its cunningness, and it has been connected to death in many cultures.
In Egyptian mythology, Anubis was a jackal-headed god who oversaw mummification and helped people pass on to the afterlife.
In Hinduism, the jackal is associated with Yama, the god of death. In Greek mythology, the jackal was associated with Hades, who brought souls down to the underworld.
In modern times, the jackal is known as a scavenger, which means it eats dead animals – another connection between it and death!
I spent some time in Alaska when I was younger, and seeing a moose on the side of the road is not uncommon.
That alone can be frightening – but I never considered them to be symbols of death.
My grandma once took me to see a moose in the woods when I was a child. It was beautiful, but also incredibly sad – the way it just ate and ate, with no regard for anything else.
This reminded me of my grandmother’s life: she was filled with melancholy and didn’t care about anything else. She only desired to eat and eat until she died.
The moth is the animal associated with death. While I was in high school, my family and I was living in a little apartment in a very old building.
We had just moved home and were still unpacking when I went downstairs to fetch something from the basement one day.
As I proceeded along the dimly lighted corridor, I noticed a moth flitting around near my feet.
It was so enormous that it appeared to be an owl or a bird, but it was only a moth. My dog died in his sleep throughout the night, which we discovered the next day.
The owl is a nocturnal creature, often associated with death in many cultures.
In some cultures, owls are seen as messengers from the spirit world and are used to foretell the future.
In other cultures, owls are believed to be the souls of people who have died and have come back to take revenge on their enemies.
Rams have been associated with determination, leadership, and courage, but their image has also been linked to death and the occult.
The ram’s intimidating size and strength have led to its association with power and dominance, which can be both inspiring and ominous.
For me, it’s interesting that the ram appears in all three Abrahamic religions and is often portrayed as a devil or bad omen, but this may be due to its association with judgment day rather than its symbolism of death.
Rats have a long-standing association with plague and pestilence, making them a common symbol of death, especially in Western Judeo-Christian cultures.
In art and literature, rats are often used to depict death, disease, and decay. However, in many cultures, rats are viewed more positively and are even revered as symbols of good fortune or wealth.
Despite the varying cultural interpretations, the connection between rats and death remains undeniable.
Their reputation as carriers of disease and association with decay have cemented their place in the popular imagination as harbingers of the end of life.
Interestingly, in some cultures, the sighting of a rat leaving a house is believed to be a sign of impending death in that household, further solidifying the rat’s symbolic link to mortality.
I have been visited by the raven on many occasions, and I have seen its power firsthand.
The first time I encountered a raven was at my grandfather’s funeral. I was nine years old and had just learned what death meant.
My mother was distraught and crying uncontrollably throughout the entire ceremony, but when we left she seemed to be in better spirits.
She told me that she had seen her grandfather sitting next to her in the church, smiling and nodding off as if he were having a good dream.
She said it made her feel better knowing he was still around somewhere – even if only in spirit form.
The red cardinal is an animal that represents death. When I see a cardinal, I immediately think of the passing of a loved one.
And it’s not just me. This is a common experience for many of us who have lived long enough to have witnessed the stunning beauty of these birds in their native habitat.
The red cardinal is often associated with the passing of someone close to you, or even with your own death.
In fact, it’s been said that if you see one on your property, it’s a sign from beyond that someone close to you will soon pass away.
20. The Rooster
Roosters are also animals that represent death. It’s difficult for me to describe why I’ve been thinking about this for so long.
It’s not simply because they crow or because birds eat insects and rodents – more it’s than that.
My grandmother used to tell me that if a rooster crowed at midnight on New Year’s Eve, it signified that someone in the family would die before the end of the year.
She also said that if a rooster crows three times in the middle of the night, it signaled that someone had died.
The scorpion is a creature with a long history of representing death. It’s easy to see why: the scorpion is a predator with a venomous sting that can kill its prey in seconds.
The scorpion’s reputation for killing goes back to ancient times when it was associated with the goddess of death in the Egyptian pantheon.
In Greek mythology, it was said that the scorpion was born from the blood of Medusa after she was slain by Perseus.
The animal also appears on Egyptian tomb walls and carvings, often grasping an ankh – a symbol of eternal life – in its claws.
The snake is the animal that represents death. The snake has a long history in the Bible, and it is often used as a symbol of sin.
In Christianity, snakes are sometimes seen as representing Satan or evil forces that oppose God’s will.
In the Bible, Adam and Eve were tempted by a snake to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. This was their first sin, which led to their expulsion from Eden.
In many cultures around the world, snakes are considered to be evil and associated with negative qualities like deception.
The spider is the animal that represents death. It is a creature of darkness and mystery, whose web is an instrument of capture and entrapment.
It waits in the darkness for its prey with patience and dedication, and when it strikes, it does so with a speed that can be shocking.
It traps its victim in its web, then waits until it has drained all life from them before consuming them.
The spider’s web is also a metaphor for life itself: we are all trapped in our own webs, but some of us can break free while others remain entangled forever.
The swan is a beautiful and graceful bird that symbolizes love, but it is also related to death. When a person dies, his or her soul leaves behind their physical body and transforms into a swan.
This transformation is often painful because it involves leaving behind all of the things that were important to the person’s life on earth.
Many people believe that when they see a black swan, they will die soon after seeing it.
Some people believe that if you are lucky enough to see a black swan in real life, you should never speak about it, because doing so will bring misfortune upon your family or friends.
I believe the vulture is the animal that represents death because it’s a scavenger and it eats dead things.
It also sits on top of corpses and other dead animals, waiting for them to decay so it can eat them.
The vulture is a strong symbol of death because it has no fear of death itself, but rather waits for its prey to be ready for consumption.
When a person dies, they are not afraid of dying either – they are ready to pass on to the next world because they know what awaits them there: eternal rest and peace.
Wolves have long been associated with death and destruction in various cultures and mythologies.
In German and Norse mythology, the wolf was seen as a symbol of death and destruction and represented chaos and the end of time.
The Vikings believed that Fenris, a monstrous wolf, would eventually break free from his chains and devour the sun, bringing about the end of the world.
In Ancient Greece and Rome, wolves were linked to Hades, the god of the underworld, and were seen as symbols of death and destruction.
The worm is a symbol of death due to its association with decay and decomposition.
Worms are often used in art and literature as a metaphor for the natural process of decay and the cycle of life and death.
In many cultures, the worm is seen as a symbol of mortality, representing the inevitable end of all living things.
Its presence in graveyards and burial sites further emphasizes this association, as worms play a crucial role in breaking down organic matter and returning it to the earth.
Below you can find out more about the most frequently asked questions about animals that represent death.
What animal represents life and death?
Birds. Different birds have different meanings. Birds, as a group, represent the journey from life to death. Blackbirds, crows, eagles, ravens, and vultures are some of the birds that signify death.
What symbols represent death?
King vulture, Mummy, Bat skeleton, La Catrina, Hearse, Memento Mori, Death’s head hawk moth, Skull x-ray, Carrion crow, Death personified, Ghostly corpse, Jackal, Gravestone cast, Skull and crossbones are some of the most frequent death symbols.
What animals symbolize death and rebirth?
Butterflies are a lovely sign of rebirth in the afterlife and serve as a wonderful memory of dead loved ones. Because various-colored butterflies are said to have diverse meanings, the symbolism gets quite convoluted.
To sum it up, animals have long been associated with death, often seen as symbols of fear and the unknown.
While they may be regarded as ominous, these creatures also hold significance in many cultures as symbols of rebirth and transformation.
Their presence in the natural world helps to maintain balance and preserve the cycle of life.
What do you think of animals that represent death? Do you have any other animals in mind that are associated with death in your culture or tradition? Share your thoughts in the comments below.