Animals (Heraldry)

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In period heraldry animals were a frequent charge. Although some animals, such as the lion were heavily favoured, there is still a huge number of animals, both real and imaginary, which were used.

Note: The depiction of some animals in heraldry differed from their natural forms. These and the fantastic creatures are known as heraldic beasts.


Creatures of the sea

Land Animals

  • Heraldic antelope -- a stylised beast, body of a non-stripy tiger, feet of a deer, with two straight, backwards pointing serrated horns.
  • Bear -- Generally the heraldic bear looks very like the real thing, as opposed to some beasts which are highly stylised.
  • Dog
  • Wolf
  • Elephant -- traditionally carrying a tower on its back -- the "Elephant and Castle"
  • Hare
  • Heraldic lion -- which is sometimes also referred to as an leopard, especially in the English royal arms.
  • Coney -- another name for rabbit.
  • Sheep -- Which includes rams, lambs (paschal and otherwise), and fleeces (a dead (or unconscious) sheep hung up by a band round its belly.
  • Stag -- a deer with antlers, a male.

Insects and reptiles

Mythical beasts


Airborne creatures


  • affronte : Facing the viewer
  • addorsed : Back to back (wings or multiple creatures)
  • couchant : Lying down with head erect
  • courant : Running.
  • coward : (esp. of lions) Tail between hind legs
  • displayed : spread eagle, usually birds
  • dormant : Lying down with head lowered, as if sleeping.
  • double-queued : (esp. of lions) having two distinct tails, as opposed to queue-fourche, where the tail starts single, but forks in the middle to produce two end-pieces.
  • embowed
  • guardant : The animal has its head turned to face the spectator, whilst its body remains in profile
  • hauriant
  • naiant : Swimming
  • passant : Walking, with one leg lifted
  • rampant : standing on 1 leg with other 3 legs raised to one side
  • regardant : body in prfile, head turned right round, looking backwards
  • salient : Leaping up, hind legs on ground, fore-legs raised
  • segreant : as rampant, but for birds
  • sejant : Sitting down on hind legs, forelegs straight, head up.
  • sejant erect : Squatting on hind paws, front paws raised.
  • statant : standing on 4 legs
  • tail-nowed : With its tail in a knot
  • tergiant
  • uluant : With head up, as if howling at the moon (generally only with a heraldic wolf). Generally the body is sejant.
  • urinant
  • volant
  • volant-en-arriere

SCA Only Postures

Bits of animals

Heralds also tended to introduce bits of animals into their designs (apparently without asking if this was natural, or acceptable to the animal involved). Thus one has heads (stags and bears were popular), paws (especially of bears), faces (leopards especially, for some reason; some with fleur-de-lys in their mouths), and so on. One even comes across animals cut up into bits -- a torso, with limbs and head arranged round it -- presumably to make out how bold a hunter the bearer of the arms must have been.