Animals in the Bible: 14 Stories of Animals God Used and a Comprehensive List of Animals in the Bible

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If you were ever asked to name a book that mentions lions, cheetahs, crocodiles, hippos and hyenas, your thoughts might turn to Tarzan or some other book, such as the Jungle Book. Bears, jackals monkeys and panthers are, of course, all found in them. Yet all these animals are also found in the Bible! There are around 100 different types of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, and  invertebrates mentioned in it – no need for your favorite Disney movie when there’s so much we can find about animals right in scripture!

(See below for a 7-page printable PDF with animals of the Bible verses)

There are so many animals in the Bible. While most of these creatures were from Israel, some came all the way from India! It’s so interesting to see how different parts of the world inspired ancient stories as they became a part of our history.

The Bible is famous for its many references to animals. Biblical texts are full of colorful descriptions, creating a sense that the world in which these stories were set was rich with life. Many different types of mammals appear throughout biblical literature; they range from domestic cats and dogs (Revelation 22:15, Proverbs 26:11) all the way up through bears!

donkey, goat and sheep; animals in the Bible,

The reason why so many exotic creatures can be found roaming around within Holy Scripture has less to do with their importance or narrative significance than it does geography. The various regions Israel occupied often exported such goods as gifts – including giraffe fossils shipped internationally by King Solomon himself!

In our home, we have 1 dog and 5 cats! We are most certainly animal lovers. I love to study many aspects of the Bible and thought this was the perfect time to share about animals in the Bible.

Animals in the Bible – 14 Stories About God Through Animals

If there’s one thing the Bible teaches us, it’s that our God is creative. One way He does this? By using animals to point out His will and desires for humanity. This can be seen through a multitude of biblical stories like Noah, Jonah and the whale or Daniel in the lion’s den—stories often known by every reader due to their creativity! Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting stories about animals in the Bible.

Some of the animals in the Bible are found in wild stories. Others, in commands or daily life.

What if I told you that animals in both Genesis 1:24-25 were plant eaters (and not carnivores)? And what about those creatures with human features including a man’s torso atop an eagle’s body or two faces on one head! You may be thinking to yourself – Who would have ever thought it!?

14 Stories of Animals in the Bible

  1. Balaam and His Donkey

This is one of the craziest stories of animals in the Bible! The story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers is one that will forever be remembered for its stubbornness. The king of Moab–an enemy to the Israelites–sends for a soothsayer by the name of Balaam, but as he’s on his way there, an angel blocks him in front. Even with this being seen easily from afar by our protagonist’s trusty steed, all it takes are three whacks before they decide not to move any further forward! As if this weren’t enough already- having beaten them mercilessly just moments ago; you would think that even seeing something like an angel might make someone reconsider their actions…then, God did something amazing: He allowed the donkey to speak!

Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” – Numbers 22:28 (ESV)

Finally, Balaam’s eyes opened to see the angel of the Lord.

2. Samson and the Fox Tails

Though he possessed great strength, Samson was often ruled by his emotions. It didn’t matter if the object of his affection was a Philistine woman from Timnah; he married her anyway.

When Samson’s father-in-law, a Philistine had prevented him from seeing his wife one day. Out of personal revenge he took to tying the tails off three hundred foxes in pairs and attaching torches between each pair so that when they were lit it made them look like an army was coming up on her house! The grain was burned to the ground, along with the vineyards and olive groves.

After some days, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife with a young goat. And he said, “I will go in to my wife in the chamber.” But her father would not allow him to go in. And her father said, “I really thought that you utterly hated her, so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please take her instead.” And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be innocent in regard to the Philistines, when I do them harm.” So Samson went and caught 300 foxes and took torches. And he turned them tail to tail and put a torch between each pair of tails. And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards.- Judges 15:1-5 (ESV)

All I could think about was those poor foxes!

3. Jesus and the Donkey

Jesus rides into Jerusalem as a sign of the coming Kingdom on what we know now to be Palm Sunday.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem to fulfill Biblical prophecy when he came riding in with an entourage, entering through the Eastern Gate on his white donkey and waving happily at those who had gathered there for this momentous occasion before continuing up Mt Zion where he would be crucified just days later.

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.
‘” – Matthew 21:5 (ESV)

Jesus, however, didn’t own a donkey. He told his disciples to go the village and they would see a donkey tied there. He told them to untie it and bring it to Him.

Jesus riding on donkey; animals in scripture

saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” –Matthew 21:2-3

4. Paul and the Viper Bites

Paul was welcomed by the natives of Malta and quickly set to work on building a fire. When he had gathered enough sticks, a poisonous viper that lay hidden in them bit him.

The islanders thought Paul was a murderer and he got his just desserts when he was bitten by the snake. But, after shaking off the reptile, they changed their minds about him being human because not only did it bite but also hung on to cause pain for hours before letting go. So then instead of believing that Paul had magical powers like other gods in their culture such as Namakaokahai or Paliuli-a-Makawe (the shark god), they decided that this man must be one too!

The story of Paul’s life is a great example for us to remember that God always has our back. In Acts 27:23-25, not only did an angel deliver a promise to Paul that he’ll be standing before Caesar one day, but the angel also granted him safe passage despite his shipwreck and snake bite.

If we remember that God is always there as our protection, refuge and shield, we will remember God’s promises and that He will always protect us (maybe not in the way we would expect, however).

After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. – Acts 28:1-6 (ESV)

5. Peter and the Coin in the Fish’s Mouth

All male Jews were required to pay a Temple tax in order to support keeping the Temple in working order.. Even though Jesus and Peter weren’t bound to this command,  Jesus said,

“However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” – Matthew 17:27 (ESV)

Jesus ensured that a coin would appear in the fish’s mouth!

6. Noah and the Raven and Dove

In the story of Noah’s Ark in Genesis, when the floodwaters are receding, Noah sends out a raven and later a dove to test if there is dry land appearing yet. 

dove with olive branch; animals of the Bible

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore. -Genesis 8: 6-12 (ESV)

7. Jesus and The Herd of Pigs

This is certinaly a wild story about animals in the Bible. In this story, we find two men living in a cemetery, men who were possessed by demons that were so violent, “no one could go through that area.”

When the men saw Jesus they immediately acknowledged him as the Son of God and begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” At Jesus’s command, the demons entered the pigs and “the whole heard plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.”

I’m not sure why the demons wanted to be thrown into the pigs, but Jesus went with it. His actions that day reveal the value he places on human life. The two men he freed from demon possession were far more important than all the pigs in the world.

And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. –  Matthew 8:28-34 (ESV)

8. Elijah and the Ravens

The biblical prophet Elijah was sent to deliver a prophecy from God. He warned the wicked King Ahab and his Queen Jezebel about what would happen if they didn’t turn away from their sinful ways: there wouldn’t be any dew or rain for many years, which could lead to drought in Israel.

God instructed Elijah to leave the area and where God sent him, he would find water and food.

Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” – 1 Kings 17:3-4 (ESV)

9. Aaron’s and the Serpent Staff

 

This one amazes me every time I read it. It’s like something out of a movie! Before visiting Moses and Aaron visiting Pharaoh, God knew that Pharaoh would demand a powerful sign, so the Lord said told Aaron to throw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and the staff would turn into a serpent.

Of course, it happened, just as God said. However, Pharaoh didn’t see it as a sign from God and instead, called his own magicians to do the same thing with their staffs and they did.

But what happened next serves as an ominous reminder to all who try assuming the upper hand with God: Aaron’s staff-turned-snake swallowed up the magicians’ snakes!

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. – Exodus 7:8-12

10. Daniel and the Lions

Just about everyone knows this story about animals in the Bible! When King Darius of Persia had a decree made that all people must worship an idol, Daniel remained true to his faith and refused. He was thrown into the lions’ den where he met God who protected him from harm–not even one hair on his head got hurt!

“My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” – Daniel 6:22 (ESV)

An ancient picture of Daniel sitting safely around the lions in the den. Daniel is looking up to the edge of the pit, where a king can be seen looking down on him, vintage line drawing or engraving illustration.; animals of the Bible

11. Horses and the Chariots of Fire

Horses are symbolic of victory all throughout the Bible. They’re found in both Old and New Testament, as well as representing Jesus Christ during his Second Coming to Earth! So, it’s no surprise God would use these majestic animals not only for protection but also to showcase His power and might. Who knows? You could one day be saved by a horse!”

Horses have been used symbolically since biblical times; they can be seen in scripture from Genesis through Revelation (both Old and New Testaments). One example is when horses were prominently featured at Armageddon- with people riding on them wearing protective armor while carrying spears or swords outfitted with flaming blades that “burned like torches” -and some biblical scholars believe this will happen again.

Horses have been used symbolically since biblical times; they can be seen in scripture from Genesis through Revelation (both Old and New Testaments). One example is when horses were prominently featured at Armageddon- with people riding on them wearing protective armor while carrying spears or swords outfitted with flaming blades that “burned like torches” -and some biblical scholars believe this will happen again.

One example is when the Aramean army advanced upon Israel, covering the hillside with their horses and chariots.

Elisha was filled with a heavenly army of horses and chariots of fire, proving God’s unseen forces are constantly at work on our behalf.

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. – 2 Kings 6:17 (ESV)

12. Jonah and the Whale

One of the most known stories of animals in the Bible, was when Jonah was too lazy to obey God, he fled from the call and hid in a ship. The powerful force of the wind blew him overboard into water that was deep enough for whales (or fish). This is when Jonas realized his mistake, prayed for forgiveness and life before being swallowed by one of these animals which then spat out onto dry land where it spit up all its contents, including both people!

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. – Jonah 1:17 (ESV)

Jonah’s place of repentance and re-dedication to God’s mission ended up being the belly of this huge fish!

13. Plagues and the Creatures Sent

God’s creatures helped Him take care of the Egyptians when they refused to let the Israelites go. Whether it was frogs, locusts (grasshoppers), or flies; God certainly used His animals in order to help get his point across!

14. Elisha and the Bears

Although this story is a difficult one for some to understand, many commentators have noted that it highlights the importance of listening to God’s Word, or in this case, His prophet, and not permitting idolatry. I find this to be one of the most perplexing of the stories of animals in the Bible. In this story Elisha, the prophet who came after Elisha, is making his way to Bethel when a group of youths start mocking him. Elisha curses the youths and God sends two angry bears out of the woods to kill them.

Bethel was known at the time for its immersion in idolatry, and God certainly was showing by this shocking incident that such blatant disregard of God and His prophet would not be permitted without consequence.

He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria. – 2 Kings 2:23-23 (ESV)

Donkey loaded with bags full of goods;  animals Bible verse

A List of Animals in the Bible

(All scripture from ESV translation; Keep in mind that different translations may show different names for certain animals. The scriptures for additional study are just suggestions and not a comprehensive list of every instance of those animals in the Bible).

See below for a printable list of animals in the Bible

Apes

1 Kings 10:22 – For the king had a fleet of ships of Tarshish at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the fleet of ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

Asses (Donkey)

Genesis 22:3 – So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Additional scriptures to study: Numbers 22:28; Deuteronomy 22:10; Judges 5:10; 10:4; 1 Samuel 9:3; Matthew 21:2

Badgers

Leviticus 11:5 – And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you.

Additional Scriptures to study: Psalms 104:18; Proverbs 30:26

Bears 

1 Samuel 17:34–35 – But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.

Additional Scriptures to study: 2 Samuel 17:8; 2 Kings 2:24; Proverbs 17:12; 28:15; Isaiah 11:7

Funny brown bear and a bird on the background; animals in the Bible

Behemoth (Some biblical scholars say this is an Elephant, others a mythical creature) 

Job 40:15 “Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox.

Bull – Exodus 29:11 – Then you shall kill the bull before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting,

Additional Scriptures to study: Exodus 29:36; Leviticus 4:4; Numbers 15:8; 1 Kings 18:33; 2 Chronicles 13:9; Ezra 6:17; Psalm 66:15

Calf 

Genesis 18:7 – And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly.

Additional Scriptures to study: 1 Samuel 28:24; Amos 6:4; Luke 15:23

Camels (also called Dromedaries) 

Genesis 12:16 – And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

Additional Scriptures to study: Genesis 30:43; Leviticus 11:4; Judges 6:5; 1 Samuel 30:17; I Kings 4:28; 1 Chronicles 5:21; Esther 8:10; Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 2:23; Job 1:3; Matthew 19:24; 23:24

Cattle 

Genesis 1:26 – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Additional Scriptures to study: Genesis 31:18; Exodus 9:4; 20:10; Numbers 32:1; Joshua 14:4; Ezekiel 39:18; Amos 4:4

Chameleon 

Leviticus 11:30 – the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon.

Deer 

Deuteronomy 14:5 –  the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep.

Additional Scriptures to study: 2 Samuel 2:18; 22:34; 1 Chronicles;  12:8; Psalms 42:1; Proverbs 5:19; 6:5; Isaiah 35:6; Jeremiah 14:5

Red border collie dog running in a meadow, summer; animals of the Bible

Dogs 

Deuteronomy 23:18  – You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

Additional Scriptures to study: 1 Kings 14:11; 22:38; Psalms 59:6; Proverbs 26:17; Ecclesiastes 9:4; Luke 16:21

Elephants (Ivory)

1 Kings 10:22 – For the king had a fleet of ships of Tarshish at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the fleet of ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

Foxes 

Judges 15:4 – So Samson went and caught 300 foxes and took torches. And he turned them tail to tail and put a torch between each pair of tails.

Additional Scriptures to study: Nehemiah 4:3; Psalms 63:10; Song of Solomon 2:15; Matthew 8:20

Goats 

Genesis 15:9  – He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

Additional Scriptures to study: Leviticus 4:24; 16:15; Judges 13:19; 2 Chronicles 29:23

Horses 

Deuteronomy 17:16  – Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’

Additional Scriptures to study: 2 Kings 23:11; Job 39:19; Psalms 32:9; 33:17; Isaiah 31:1

Lambs 

Exodus 29:39–40  – One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. And with the first lamb a tenth measureof fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hinof beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering.

Additional Scriptures to study: Leviticus 3:7; 4:32; 5:6; Numbers 6:12

Two cute lambs posing; animals mentioned in scripture

Leopards 

Song of Solomon 4:8  – Come with me from Lebanon, my bride; come with me from Lebanon. Departfrom the peak of Amana, from the peak of Senir and Hermon, from the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.

Additional Scriptures to study: Isaiah 11:6; Jeremiah 5:6; 13:23; Hosea 13:7; Habakkuk 1:8

Lions 

Judges 14:5 – Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring.

Additional Scriptures to study: 1 Samuel 17:34; 1 Kings 13:24; Daniel 6:19; Job 10:16; Proverbs 30:30

Lizards 

Leviticus 11:30 – the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon.

Mice 

Leviticus 11:29–30 – “And these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm on the ground: the mole rat, the mouse, the great lizard of any kind, the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon.”

Additional Scriptures to study: 1 Samuel 6:4; Isiah 66:17

Mules 

2 Samuel 13:29 – So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and each mounted his mule and fled.

Additional Scriptures to study: 2 Samuel 18:9; 1 Kings 1:33; Psalms 32:9; Zechariah 14:15

Oxen 

Exodus 21:28 – “When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox shall not be liable.”

Additional Scriptures to study: Exodus 22:1; 23:4; Leviticus 13:3; Deuteronomy 5:14; Luke 13:15; 1 Timothy 5:18

sweet expression on a sheep with horns (isolated on white background); animals mentioned in the Bible

Rams 

Genesis 15:9 – He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

Additional Scriptures to study: Genesis 22:13; Exodus 29:15; Leviticus 5:15; Numbers 5:8

Sheep 

Genesis 30:32 –  let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages.

Additional Scriptures to study: Job 1:3; 42:12; Matthew 12:11

Swine (Pigs) 

Leviticus 11:7 – And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.

Additional Scriptures to study: Isaiah 65:4; 66:17; Matthew 7:6; 8:30; Luke 15:15; 2 Peter 2:22

Wild Ox 

Numbers 23:22 – God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.

Additional Scriptures to study: Deuteronomy 33:17; Job 39:9; Psalms 29:6; Isaiah 34:7

Vipers

Job 20:16 – He will suck the poison of cobras; the tongue of a viper will kill him.

Additional Scriptures to study: Isaiah 30:6

Wolves 

Matthew 7:15 – Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Additional Scriptures to study: Matthew 10:16; John 10:12; Acts 20:29

You may enjoy this brief video by Logos, Bible Study Software on what animals in the Bible say about God:

You may also enjoy these recommended resources about animals in the Bible:

Click the image below for a free 7-page printable PDF with Bible verses about animals

Bible verses about animals, animals in the Bible,

If you are an animal lover or enjoy Bible study, you may enjoy the below recommended resources:

What is your favorite story about animals in the Bible?

Because He Lives,


Sue

Susan is a writer, speaker and the creator of Women of Noble Character ministries. She is passionate about helping Christian women deepen their walk with God through Bible study and creative worship and strengthen their marriages.

She lives in rural North Central Missouri with her handsome and hilarious husband and a myriad of dogs, cats and chickens.

Susan runs on Jesus, coffee and not enough sleep.

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