Animal Tattoo Symbolism

Animal tattoos carry personal meaning before cultural symbolism, but here are some general messages associated with popular animal tattoos. Most animal symbolism is based on characteristics possessed by the animal.


Cat Tattoos:

Tigers are a symbol of strength, power, and energy. It may also stand for passion, ferocity, sensuality, beauty, speed, and wrath.

Panthers are known to symbolize strength, companionship, adventure, loyalty, triumph, and a spiritual mind or personality.

Lions are commonly associated with courage, power, royalty, dignity, authority, justice, wisdom, and ferocity.


Ocean/River Life:

Koi Fish in Japan are symbolic of good fortune and luck. They are associated with perseverance in adversity, and strength of purpose. In Buddhism, the koi fish is symbolic of courage.

Dolphins are a popular tattoo with females, and the core message behind its symbolism is gracefulness. Other traits associated with the dolphin include playfulness, gentle, harmony, intelligence, friendship, community, and generosity.

Crabs symbolize trust, emotion, protection, regeneration, cycles, and transformation.

Shark tattoos may carry a message of a calculating, perceptive, and instinctive personality. Other symbols associated with the shark include focused, curious, powerful, efficient, and superior.



Dove tattoos often are symbolic of peace or peaceful. These birds also carry a message of hope, love, freedom, promise, maternity, and messenger.

The eagle is frequently used tattoos of patriotism. In spirituality, the eagle also stands for spiritual protection, guardianship, opportunity, freedom, skill, authority, vision, power, and leadership.

Peacocks are a glorious bird symbolizing vision, royalty, power, beauty, awakening, refinement, and incorruptibility.

Hummingbirds are popular tattoos for females, often with a flower. The hummingbird itself represents joy, energy, vitality, healing, peace, infinity, agility, playfulness, loyalty, and affection.



Snake tattoos come in many shapes and sizes, and carry their own unique meaning. At it’s core, the symbol of a snake stands for duality and the search for balance. Other meanings generally include cycles, rebirth, patience, awareness, healing, intellect, protection, transformation, and awareness.

Frog tattoos carry symbolism of fertility, luck, purity, rebirth, renewal, healing, metamorphosis, and opportunity.

Turtles and tortoises carry a totem message of “sure and steady” as well as protection, based on this animals’ self defense manner of withdrawing into its shell. Patience and stability are also associated with the turtle.



Butterflies are a very popular tattoo representing feminism, beauty, and transformation… all for obvious reasons. Some believe that a butterfly is a sign of reincarnation. Fragile and grace are notable characteristics, but the most powerful meaning behind a butterfly tattoo could be resurrection, transition, and change.

Spiders are a popular goth tattoo, carrying a message of fate, death, rebirth, and signifying a crafty or resourceful personality.

Dragonflies may be associated with dreams, but they also carry a message of prosperity, peace, good luck, purity, and harmony.

Scorpions, like spiders, are a popular goth tattoo. The symbolism of a scorpion may include death, transition, sex, control, solitary, passion, protection, and defensiveness.


Other Animal Tattoos and Their Meanings:

Horses are known for their companionship, but also symbolize power, grace, beauty, strength, freedom, and nobility.

Foxes were honored in Celtic lore for its wisdom. In Native American culture, the fox was recognized by northern tribes as a wise and noble messenger while southern tribes viewed the fox as a trickster playing pranks, or luring one to demise. A fox tattoo may symbolize a cunning, playful, quick thinking or strategic personality.

The bear is known for possessing characteristics of power and strength while still showing peace and tranquility. A bear tattoo may also stand for motherhood or bravery.

Tattoo Artists & Piercers