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 that the depiction of some animals in heraldry differed from their natural forms, and these are known as heraldic beasts.


Creatures of the sea

Land Animals

  • Bear -- Generally the heraldic bear looks very like the real thing, as opposed to some beasts which are highly stylised.
  • Dog
  • Heraldic lion -- which is sometimes also referred to as an leopard, especially in the English royal arms.
  • Coney -- another name for rabbit.
  • Stag -- a deer with antlers, a male.

Insects and reptiles


Airborne creatures



Special 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.