Animals in Vietnamese: The complete wildlife glossary and cultural insights

Animals in Vietnamese

Traveling to Vietnam unveils not only breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders but also other fascinating elements. Among them, the diverse world of Vietnamese animals stands out, with many species holding special significance in the cultural tapestry and daily life of Vietnamese people. Let’s embark on a journey through the names of animals in Vietnamese and their significance in the country’s folklore, idioms, and culture. 

1. What is the word for animals in Vietnamese?

When naming various animals in Vietnamese, Vietnamese people often begin with the word “con” followed by the animal’s name. Here are the names of some common animals in Vietnamese.

  • Con chó – Dog
  • Con mèo – Cat
  • Con lợn / Con heo – Pig
  • Con gà – Chicken
  • Con bò – Cow
  • Con trâu – Water buffalo
  • Con cá – Fish
  • Con khỉ – Monkey
  • Con ngựa – Horse
  • Con chuột – Mouse

Animals in Vietnamese

>>> Learn more about some common Vietnamese phrases!

2. How to say the names of animals in Vietnamese?

2.1. Terrestrial animals in Vietnamese

2.1.1. Mammals in Vietnamese

  • Anteater – Thú ăn kiến
  • Antelope – Linh dương
  • Armadillo – Tatu chín đai
  • Badger – Lửng
  • Bat – Dơi
  • Bear – Gấu
  • Beaver – Hải ly
  • Boar – Heo rừng
  • Camel – Lạc đà
  • Cheetah – Báo
  • Chimpanzee – Tinh tinh
  • Chinchilla – Sóc Nam Mỹ
  • Chipmunk – Sóc chuột
  • Coyote – Sói đồng cỏ
  • Deer – Nai
  • Donkey – Lừa
  • Echidna – Thú lông nhím
  • Elephant – Voi
  • Ferret – Chồn hôi
  • Fox – Cáo
  • Gazelle – Linh dương hươu
  • Giant panda – Gấu trúc lớn
  • Giraffe – Hươu cao cổ
  • Gorilla – Khỉ đột
  • Guinea pig – Chuột lang
  • Hamster – Chuột đuôi cụt / Chuột Hamster
  • Hedgehog – Nhím
  • Hippopotamus – Hà mã
  • Human – Người
  • Hyena – Linh cẩu
  • Jaguar – Báo đốm
  • Lemur – Vượn cáo đuôi vòng
  • Leopard – Beo
  • Lion – Sư tử
  • Meerkat – Cầy vằn
  • Mole – Chuột chũi
  • Moose – Nai sừng tấm
  • Mule – La
  • Orangutan – Đười ươi
  • Otter – Rái cá
  • Panther – Báo hoa mai
  • Polar bear – Gấu Bắc cực
  • Porcupine – Gấu nhím
  • Possum – Chồn Possum
  • Puma – Báo sư tử
  • Raccoon – Gấu mèo
  • Red panda – Gấu trúc đỏ
  • Reindeer – Tuần lộc
  • Rhinoceros – Tê giác
  • Sloth – Lười
  • Squirrel – Sóc
  • Tapir – Heo vòi
  • Warthog – Lợn bướu
  • Weasel – Chồn
  • White tiger – Hổ trắng
  • Wolf – Sói
  • Yak – Bò Tây Tạng
  • Zebra – Ngựa vằn

Animals in Vietnamese

2.1.2. Birds in Vietnamese

  • Crane – Cò
  • Duck – Vịt
  • Eagle – Diều hâu
  • Emu – Chim Emu
  • Falcon – Chim ưng
  • Flamingo – Hồng hạc
  • Goose – Ngỗng
  • Hummingbird – Chim ruồi
  • Kingfisher – Chim bói cá
  • Kiwi – Chim Kiwi
  • Magpie – Chim ác là
  • Ostrich – Đà điểu
  • Owl – Cú
  • Parrot – Vẹt
  • Peacock – Công
  • Pelican – Chim bồ nông
  • Penguin – Chim cánh cụt
  • Pheasant – Gà lôi
  • Quail – Chim cút
  • Robin – Chim cổ đỏ
  • Sparrow – Chim sẻ
  • Swan – Thiên nga
  • Toucan – Chim Toucan
  • Vulture – Kền kền
  • Woodpecker – Chim gõ kiến

Animals in Vietnamese

2.1.3. Reptiles in Vietnamese

  • Alligator – Cá sấu mỏ ngắn
  • Bearded dragon – Rồng Úc
  • Chameleon – Tắc kè hoa
  • Cobra – Rắn hổ mang
  • Crocodile – Cá sấu
  • Frog – Ếch
  • Gecko – Tắc kè
  • Iguana – Cự đà
  • Lizard – Thằn lằn
  • Salamander – Kỳ nhông
  • Toad – Cóc
  • Tortoise – Rùa cạn
  • Turtle – Rùa biển

Animals in Vietnamese

2.1.4. Insects in Vietnamese

  • Ant – Kiến
  • Bee – Ong
  • Beetle – Bọ hung
  • Butterfly – Bướm
  • Caterpillar – Sâu bướm
  • Centipede – Rết
  • Dragonfly – Chuồn chuồn
  • Fly – Ruồi
  • Grasshopper – Châu chấu
  • Ladybug – Bọ rùa
  • Millipede – Cuốn chiếu
  • Scorpion – Bọ cạp
  • Snail – Ốc sên
  • Spider – Nhện
  • Wasp – Ong vò vẽ
  • Worm – Sâu

Animals in Vietnamese

2.2. Marine animals in Vietnamese

  • Barracuda – Cá nhồng
  • Barnacle – Hà biển
  • Catfish – Cá da trơn
  • Clam – Sò / Nghêu
  • Clownfish – Cá hề
  • Coral – San hô
  • Crab – Cua
  • Cuttlefish – Mực nang
  • Dolphin – Cá heo
  • Eel – Lươn
  • Flounder – Cá bơn
  • Great white shark – Cá mập trắng lớn
  • Horseshoe crab – Sam
  • Jellyfish – Sứa
  • Lobster – Tôm hùm
  • Manta ray – Cá nạng hải
  • Octopus – Bạch tuộc
  • Oyster – Hàu
  • Piranha – Cá răng đao
  • Platypus – Thú mỏ vịt
  • Prawn – Tôm
  • Pufferfish – Cá nóc
  • Sea lion – Sư tử biển
  • Sea urchin – Nhím biển
  • Seahorse – Cá ngựa
  • Seal – Hải cẩu
  • Shark – Cá mập
  • Shrimp – Tôm
  • Squid – Mực
  • Starfish – Sao biển
  • Stingray – Cá đuối
  • Walrus – Hải mã
  • Whale – Cá voi
  • Whale shark – Cá mập voi

Animals in Vietnamese

>>> Discover some interesting facts about Vietnam!

3. Things to know about some animals in Vietnamese culture

Vietnamese animals hold a profound significance in Vietnamese culture, weaving their tales through folklore, mythology, and daily life.

3.1. Animals in Vietnamese folklore

There are four mythical beasts that are often revered in Vietnamese folklore: the dragon, the unicorn, the tortoise, and the phoenix.

The dragon, unlike the Western counterpart, is depicted with a long and lithe body. It is believed to bestow good luck and rain upon humanity. The significance of the dragon is evident in the names of locations such as Thang Long (Rising Dragon) and Ha Long (Descending Dragon). As Confucianism reached its peak in the 15th century, dragons became symbols of feudal power, influencing architectural designs like the Dragon Bridge in Da Nang today.

The unicorn, often known in Vietnamese as “ky lan”, is a mystical beast that combines elements of the horse, buffalo, and dragon. Loyal, peaceful, and merciful, the unicorn is a guardian of temples, pagodas, and palaces. Its popularity soared during the Nguyen Dynasty, where screens and bells were carved with wooden unicorns. Today, unicorn dance troupes during the Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival capture the imposing yet playful spirit of this mythical beast.

The tortoise symbolizes strength and longevity in Vietnamese legends. Legends tell of a Tortoise God who aided King An Duong Vuong in building Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi. The tortoise is often depicted with the crane, representing a wish for long-lasting remembrance. Notable images of stone tortoises carrying steles can be found in Hanoi’s Temple of Literature.

The phoenix, associated with nobility and beauty, is often paired with the dragon to symbolize love and prosperity. During different dynasties, phoenixes graced palace roofs. Its image continues to be relevant today, often seen in traditional ao dai tunics and architectural works like Da Nang’s Dragon Bridge.

Animals in Vietnamese

3.2. Animals in Vietnamese agriculture

The water buffalo holds a special place in Vietnamese culture and history, depicted as gentle giants essential to the rural farming landscape. These creatures, frequently seen in art and literature depicting Vietnamese countryside, embody the nation’s agricultural traditions. Symbolizing diligence and resilience, the water buffalo reflects the values of Vietnamese people. It has become a cherished figure and the national animal of Vietnam.

3.3. Zodiac animals in Vietnamese

The Vietnamese zodiac comprises 12 animals, each corresponding to 12 hours in a day, 12 months in a year, and 12 years in a cycle. These Vietnamese animals carry unique characteristics and traits:

  1. Mouse (The smart): Those born under the Mouse sign are known for their mental abilities and quick thoughts, often succeeding in life with a peaceful demeanor.
  2. Buffalo (The born-leader): Those born under the Buffalo sign are hard-working, intelligent, and trustworthy, often taking on responsibilities without seeking praise.
  3. Tiger (The powerful): Tigers are brave and active, always seeking challenges. Men born under this sign are often adventurous while women are intelligent.
  4. Cat (The flexible): Those born under the Cat sign are friendly and outgoing, with men being sweet and women being sociable, all while keeping their secrets.
  5. Dragon (The holy): Driven, passionate, and confident, those born under the Dragon sign are committed, energetic, and responsible.
  6. Snake (The lucky): Those born under the Snake sign have complex minds, often seeking attention.
  7. Horse (The nomadic): Those born under the Horse sign are free spirits, with men being independent but easy-going and women being pretty but indecisive.
  8. Goat (The dreamy): Symbolizing blessings, those born under the Goat sign are considered romantic and artistic.
  9. Monkey (The cheerful): Those under the Monkey sign are seen as clever, creative, and humorous individuals. They rarely complain and have good money-saving habits.
  10. Rooster (The self-righteous): Roosters are a vital type of poultry in Vietnamese culture, representing honesty, determination, and ambition.
  11. Dog (The faithful): Those under the Dog sign are known for overreacting or fretting about small things, which emphasizes the importance of trust in relationships.
  12. Pig (The optimistic): Representing optimistic loveliness, those under the Pig sign are generally happy in their idealistic world, symbolizing generosity.

Animals in Vietnamese

3.4. Pets in Vietnamese daily life

Pets play a crucial role in Vietnamese daily life as ideal companions and reliable sources of emotional support. In this modern world, pets offer a genuine and deep connection, providing a sense of comfort and understanding. The loyalty, honesty, and unconditional love of these friends fill a void left by the busy, technology-driven lives of individuals. The profound connection between humans and animals serves as a reminder of the sincere relationships that can be fostered in a society where time for human connections is often limited. 

>>> Explore traditional Vietnamese culture!

There are many idioms and phrases that involve animals in Vietnamese culture, which provide unique insights into the language’s nuances. Here are some common expressions and their meanings:

  • Ăn như mèo mửa (Eat like a cat): Used to describe someone who eats very little.
  • Ăn như hổ vồ (Eat like a tiger): Used to describe someone who eats a lot compared to the average person.
  • Nhát như thỏ đế (Scared like a rabbit): Used to describe someone’s shyness or timidity.
  • Chậm như rùa (Slow like a turtle): Used to describe someone’s slow pace or action.
  • Ngang như cua (Stubborn like a crab): Used to describe someone’s stubbornness or obstinacy.
  • Câm như hến (Mute like a clam): Used to describe someone who rarely speaks.
  • Giọng như vịt đực (Sound like a duck): Used to describe a hoarse, unclear voice.

Animals in Vietnamese

>>> Learn more about Vietnamese people!

Besides Vietnamese animals, Vietnam has a vibrant culture and rich history waiting to be explored! Come to Vietnam’s top destinations such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long. These cities, each with its unique charm, offer a profound immersion into Vietnam’s cultural tapestry.

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Animals in Vietnamese

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Learning about the names of animals in Vietnamese offers a captivating glimpse into Vietnamese culture. They have brought a unique charm to the already captivating blend of scenic beauty and lively culture. Whether it’s the everyday pets or the mythical beasts that pepper Vietnamese folklore, these creatures play a crucial role in shaping the nation’s narrative.

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