Animal Tattoos and their Meanings

Realism tattoos of a bee, a beetle, a toad, a crab, and a dragonfly


Animal Tattoo Meanings: On Animism and Tattooing

Guest post in collaboration with Gladys Geetha

We’re pleased to host this blog written in collaboration with Gladys, a Reiki Grandmaster and Tarot reader, and an expert on animal meanings and symbolism!

Gladys began her journey into spirituality nearly two decades ago in Dubai and has since gone on to educate herself in various modalities, including animism, an ancient religious and spiritual belief that all things – including animals, plants, rocks and mountains, words, and even objects – are ‘animated’ and thus alive, each possessing its own spiritual essence.

In modern spirituality, animism is frequently used to interpret meanings and messages that come to us in the form of animals. In this post, Gladys introduces the basics of animal symbolism to us – and gives us a glimpse into what these animal mean as tattoos!

Be sure to check out Gladys’ other work on her site Reiki With Friends.

Animal Tattoos and their Meanings

Realism tattoos of a bee, a beetle, a toad, a crab, and a dragonfly
Animal Tattoos

Animism has its roots in the most ancient tribal and indigenous populations, who prior to modern day religion found meaning and purpose in the world around them. Most of these cultures also practised ancient forms of body art, including tribal tattooing.

Of all these cultures, Native American animism tends to be one of the most popular. Totems, as per Native American beliefs, are spiritual beings or sacred objects and symbols of an individual or their tribe, and each person is said to have nine different animal spirits that act as guides throughout their life. Similar forms of animism can be observed in ancient cultures across the globe, such as the Mun religion of the Lepcha people of Sikkim, India.

Each animal has a meaning, which means it can be difficult finding the one that’s right for you or that truly represents you. To make things a little easier, we asked animal meanings expert Gladys to tell us what over 40 animals represent.

Let us help you find your perfect tattoo!

Beasts of the Wild: On Strength and Raw Power

Animals from the jungles and forests instantly bring out the fear in us. They are known to be extremely strong, ferocious, and often quite fast. Yet each one of these frightening beasts has a kind and compassionate side. It is this side that gives us a glimpse into what these animals symbolize!

Lion Tattoos

Lions represent raw power and aggression, but there’s another side to them – they’re also playful, and sometimes quite lazy!

A fine line tattoo featuring realism of a lion's portrait
Realism fine line tattoo of a lion
A watercolour realism tattoo by Tattoo Trends
Watercolour Lion by Tattoo Trends

Want a watercolour lion of your own? Visit Tattoo Trends and book your appointment today!

Lions are all about self-control. They emphasize our ability to master our emotions and know when to get serious – and when to have a little fun!

A realism lion tattoo by tattoo artist Sunny Bhanushali of Aliens Tattoo
Lion tattoo by Sunny Bhanushali (Aliens Tattoo)

Realism more your style? Book your tattoo appointment with Aliens Tattoos now!

Tiger Tattoos

With a roar that can shake the earth, the tiger is an impressive creature that makes its presence known – and heard!

animal tattoo meanings
Traditional tiger tattoo
A realism portrait tattoo of a white tiger done on the bicep
The magical white tiger

Tigers can mean anything from danger and vengeance to power and strength to being a free spirit. Much like the lion, a tiger represents the ability to manage strong emotions more effectively. But the symbolism behind tigers has a long and diverse history!

A tiger tattoo done in the traditional Japanese tattooing style by master tattooist Kintaro Horiyoshi III
An Irezumi tiger tattoo by master tattooist Kintaro Horiyoshi III
Read: Tiger Tattoos and their Meanings

Cheetah Tattoos

The fastest animal on the planet, cheetahs are a reminder to remain focused – know your goals, keep your eye on the prize, and charge – full speed ahead!

A realism tattoo depicting a cheetah running
Cheetah tattoo
A blackwork and geometric tattoo of a cheetah roaring
Blackwork cheetah

Ape Tattoos

The most common image of apes is that they’re aggressive – no doubt the image of a silverback charging at you is bound to scare anyone!

A hyperrealism tattoo of an angry ape
A roaring ape is terrifying!

But there’s another side to them – they are extremely caring and compassionate and display amazing selflessness, both towards their fellow apes as well as to outsiders they don’t view as a threat.

A linework realism tattoo of a gorilla with headphones gently holding up a flower
Gorillas love flowers and music!

Chimps are especially known for being playful – and they are quite mischievous too!

A realism tattoo of a chimp partying in the 80s
80s party chimp!

In South Asian cultures, the immortal being Hanuman is depicted as being half-man, half-ape, and symbolizes resistance to persecution. Hanuman features prominently in many other Asian styles of tattooing as well.

A young novice monk displays his chest tattoo of Hanuman with sak yant symbolism and script surrounding it
A Thai sak yant Hanuman tattoo

Beyond their aggressiveness, the majestic apes also stand for leadership, dignity, and loyalty.

A linework tattoo of a gorilla
Linework gorilla tattoo
A blackwork tattoo of an ape by Skin Pricks Tattoo Studio
Ape tattoo from Skin Pricks Tattoo Studio

Book an appointment with Skin Pricks now and get a gorgeous ape tattoo of your own!

Deer Tattoos

The deer is a symbol of power to Native American tribes, signifying intuition combined with sensitivity and gentleness.

A geometric tattoo of a deer by Starline Tattoo Studio
Geometric deer tattoo by Starline Studio

Want a geometric deer tattoo? Check out Starline!

A geometric tattoo using realistic deers done in colour
Realism and colour tattoo of deers
A detailed sketch-style deer tattoo by Ancient Tattoos
Sketch-style Deer by Ancient Tattoos

Have sketch-style deers taken your fancy? Get one at Ancient Tattoo Studio today!

A dotwork landscape tattoo using a deer silhouette
Dotwork landscape deer tattoo by Verve

Get yourself a magical landscape deer tattoo from Verve!

The deer teaches us to be calm but determined, and reminds us that there is great power in peace, and great healing in compassion – especially when we show some to ourselves!

A back tattoo of a dear featuring flowers done in watercolours
Watercolour deer and cherry blossoms tattoo
A blackwork tattoo of a deer silhouette featuring a forest in the shadows
Landscape tattoo using a deer’s silhouette

Bear Tattoos

Bears are a symbol of strength and confidence, as well as of solitude, quiet, and rest.

A blackwork landscape tattoo using a bear silhouette
Landscape bear tattoo

Known to be fiercely protective, they are not unlike elephants in their ability to be just as ferocious as they are loving.

A watercolour landscape tattoo using a bear silhouette
Landscape bear tattoo

The Gentle Ones: On Friendship and Love

Not all animals are terrifying, ferocious, and deadly! There are some animals that were bred to be our friends, who accompany us through life – including all its ups and downs!

Dog Tattoos

Dogs are the best companions and friends – loyal, trustworthy, brave, protective, devoted. They teach us to be non-judgemental.

A realism blackwork tattoo by Sculp Tattoo Studio
Black dog by Sculp

Visit Sculp and get yourself a pet tattoo with a customized design!

With dogs, each breed has its own meaning and symbolism. For instance, Labradors symbolize unconditional acceptance, Corgis symbolize being protective and loyal to one’s ‘herd’, and Great Danes symbolize being easy-going and strong-willed – and to never let anyone walk all over you!

A landscape tattoo using a corgi silhouette
Landscape corgi tattoo

Dogs are a great reminder to love unconditionally and faithfully, and to never lose your childish wonder no matter what happens!

Three portraits of puppies next to the original images tattooed in a sleeve by Verve Tattoo Studio
Colourful puppy portraits by Verve

Want a colourful portrait tattoo of your puppy? Check out Verve!

Cat Tattoos

Cats – as their nine lives tell us – are a symbol of rebirth. They are associated with night, darkness, and magic. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered as deities and would receive a royal burial. Many ancient gods were also depicted as cats.

A linework realism tattoo of a cat on a girl's chest
Pet cat tattoo

Get yourself an adorable cat tattoo from Funky Fuze Tattoo Studio!

A new school minimalist tattoo of the Ceshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland
New school tattoo of the Ceshire Cat

Cats are curious and playful, but they can be quite terrifying if they’re crossed! Overall, cats have a very clear message – live proud and free!

An abstract tattoo featuring a cat and teacups
Cat and Teacup Abstract Tattoo

Panda Tattoos

In China, the panda is an auspicious symbol said to bring luck and prosperity.

A geometric tattoo of a panda
Geometric panda tattoo

Even though they are actually quite strong, it is difficult to imagine being attacked by a panda! They symbolize gentle strength – the ability to be wise in how one uses their power.

A back origami tattoo of a panda
Origami panda tattoo
A realism blackwork tattoo of a panda swinging from a branch
Panda swinging on a branch!

These adorable fluffy bears live in peace and harmony, enjoying a quiet life among friends and family.

A blackwork minimalism micro-tattoo of a panda bear
Baby panda tattoo

Beasts of Burden: The World-Builders

The phrase ‘beasts of burden’ is often used to refer to animals that carry rather heavy loads, usually in service to farmers and builders. While many see them as helping hands, we must always acknowledge how important their presence is to us – after all, without them, we would have never been able to build our towns and cities!

Ram Tattoos

As the symbol of Aries, rams denote strength, pride, drive, and determination.

Rams also symbolize initiative and leadership. In some cultures, they are a symbol of protection.

A realism tattoo of a ram
Realistic ram tattoo
A neo-traditional tattoo of a ram skull
Ram skull tattoo

Rams are also considered a symbol of divinity. Mythological horned gods are always depicted as warriors, as ram horns are a sign of strength and aggressiveness – or put another way, passion!

A blackwork tattoo of a ram by InkOverMatter
Ram by InkOverMatter

Is it divinity or strength that inspires you? Get inked with a customized tattoo of a ram with InkOverMatter!

A realism neo-traditional tattoo of a ram knitting a scarf
Would you like a ram-knitted scarf?

Bull Tattoos

Known for their great strength and power, bulls are protectors and associated with the wealth of the land.

A minimalist single-line tattoo of a bull
Single-line bull tattoo

They’re a sign to be assertive and stand your ground – especially when in doubt! Bulls teach us to never let others question what we believe in.

A watercolour and geometric linework tattoo of a bull
Watercolour bull tattoo

Bulls are the symbol of Taurus, the zodiac that thrives on being practical and grounded. Bulls, thus, also represent being realistic and committed – which can sometimes mean being quite stubborn! Put another way, however, bulls are also a symbol of being reliable and consistent.

A geometric tattoo of a bull
Geometric bull tattoo

Horse Tattoos

Horses symbolize true freedom as they live unrestrained, free to move as they please.

A watercolour tattoo of a horse
Watercolour horse tattoo
A minimalist blackwork tattoo that hints at a horse using a silhouette and shadows
Silhouette blackwork tattoo of a horse

In Native American symbolism, horses represent power, likely owing to the sheer strength of a mustang from the wild.

A realism and blackwork tattoo of two horses
Realism and blackwork horse tattoo

But horses also symbolize a different kind of power – personal power. After all, a true free spirit has no one to hold them back. Learning to master oneself is the greatest struggle – and the greatest triumph!

A linework sketch-style tattoo of a horse
Sketch-style horse tattoo

Elephant Tattoos

Gentle, wise, nurturing – elephants are emotional and loving animals who care deeply for their herd.

A realism minimalism tattoo of an elephant mother and her child
Realism tattoo of an elephant mother and child

Never get in between a mother and her baby elephant though – elephants also symbolize power and strength, and this gentle and majestic creature will charge at you with a vengeance if she views you as a threat!

A hyper-realism tattoo of an elephant by Aatman Tattoos
Elephant by Aatman

Get yourself a tattoo you’ll love forever! Visit Aatman today!

A realism portrait tattoo of an elephant
Portrait tattoo of an elephant
A sketch-style linework tattoo of an elephant
Sketch-style elephant tattoo

In Eastern and Native American tribes, elephants also represent luck. Elephant tattoos can thus have a variety of meanings!

A watercolour and linework tattoo of an elephant
Watercolour elephant tattoo

Animals of Mystery: On Magic and Mysticism

Some animals bring with them a sense of magic and mystery – it’s just in their nature! Since ancient times, these animals have been thought to represent everything from death and the afterlife to parallel universes and sight beyond sight!

Wolf Tattoos

Wolves are intelligent creatures with amazing intuition.

A neo-traditional minimalist tattoo of a wolf
Neo-traditional wolf tattoo
A realism portrait tattoo of a wolf by Aatman Tattoos
Wolf by Aatman

Get a magical wolf inked at Aatman! Book now!

A wolf’s howl is one of the most haunting sounds of the night. The howl of a wolf is how it calls to its pack. The howl of a lone wolf, however, is as a warning to all – wolf or human – that dares to trespass on its territory!

A blackwork tattoo of a wolf by The Pumpkin Patch
Blackwork Wold by The Pumpkin Patch

Wolves are a reminder to stay true to who you are – whether you’re in a pack or riding solo.

A colourful tribal tattoo of a wolf by The Pumpkin Patch
Wolf by The Pumpkin Patch

Get in touch with The Pumpkin Patch at to make booking enquiries.

Fox Tattoos

While the Chinese thought of foxes as a sign from departed loved ones, Celtic lore views foxes as a symbol of guidance and wisdom.

A dotwork landscape tattoo of a fox
Dotwork landscape fox tattoo

Modern symbolism views the fox as cunning. In reality, foxes are actually extremely clever and resourceful. They are also curious and playful!

A minimalist neo-traditional and watercolour tattoo of a fox
Watercolour neo-traditional fox tattoo
A minimalist tattoo of a small fox sitting on the tip of a moon crescent
Baby fox on a crescent!

Known for their quick thinking, foxes teach us to always be alert!

A watercolour tattoo of a fox face
Watercolour fox tattoo

Tiny Creatures, Big Messages!

They may be small, but when they show up these animals come with some very important messages! Read on to find out what these tiny animals – and the small animal tattoos they feature in! – represent.

Dragonfly Tattoos

Dragonflies are known for being resplendent and absolutely stunning. And why wouldn’t they – they are all about being a free spirit!

A watercolour tattoo of a dragonfly
Watercolour dragonfly tattoo
A minimalist back tattoo of a dragonfly
Minimalist dragonfly tattoo

They symbolize change – from mental and emotional to physical – and are a sign that things are about to shift.

A minimalist linework tattoo of a dragonfly
Linework dragonfly tattoo

A dragonfly tattoo is a great way to remind yourself that life is a wild ride! These beautiful creatures teach us to always be open to change.

A realism tattoo of a dragonfly
Realistic dragonfly tattoo

Butterfly Tattoos

Butterflies come in so many colours, it’s hard not to smile when we see one gently flit past! Butterflies represent change and joy.

A watercolour tattoo of butterflies
Watercolour butterflies!

Many associate the butterfly with transformation – nothing says a new you quite like a caterpillar that can go into a cocoon and emerge as an entirely new creature!

A detailed blackwork tattoo of a butterfly by Sculp Tattoo Studio
Butterfly tattoo by Sculp

Mark your transformation with a customized butterfly tattoo from Sculp!

A minimalist watercolour tattoo of two butterflies
Tiny little butterflies!

In addition to change, butterflies also represent luck, which makes them perfect for a tattoo that is meant to represent a new phase of your life. This might be why they’re so popular around New Year!

A neo-traditional blackwork tattoo of a butterfly
Neo-traditional backwork butterfly tattoo

Moth Tattoos

Moths are known to be nocturnal, yet for some unexplained reason, they are drawn to light! These ancient little creatures are thought to be in tune with nature and use the moonlight to navigate their flight.

A geometric tattoo of a moth
Geometric moth tattoo

Moths symbolize determination and faith, but more than anything, they are a reminder to never stop searching for the light in the dark.

A minimalist linework tattoo of a moth with the words 'find the light' inked beneath it
“Find the light.”

They also, however, remind us to know our path. Follow the light, but make sure you don’t get burned!

A linework ornamental tattoo of a moth done on the sternum
Ornamental moth tattoo on the sternum
Watercolour tattoos of moths
Watercolour moths!

Crab Tattoos

Crabs are the symbol of the Cancer zodiac sign. They represent emotion and intuitiveness, as well as loyalty and deep attachments.

A watercolour tattoo of a crab
Watercolour crab tattoo
A minimalist linework tattoo of a crab
Linework crab tattoo

Chinese symbolism links crabs to success and high status because of the Chinese word for crab shell ‘jia’ which means ‘first’ and is associated with getting first place in the Chinese Imperial Examinations.

A minimalist linework tattoo of a crab
Linework crab tattoo
A realism tattoo of a crab done on dark skin
Realistic crab tattoo by Sculpture Tattoos

Get a crab tattoo of your own at Sculpture Tattoos!

If you need a reminder to be ambitious and aim high, then a crab tattoo might just be for you! They also, however, serve as a reminder that sometimes you need to loosen your grip and change your path – so listen to your heart when making a choice.

A new-school tattoo of a crab in party wear
Party crab!
An old-school tattoo of a crab
Old-school crab tattoo

Scorpion Tattoos

Scorpions are often thought to symbolize danger due to the painful sting they inflict on anyone they view as a threat. As the symbol of Scorpios, these little crustaceans represent passion and assertiveness. They also represent resourcefulness and a quest for truth.

A geometric scorpion tattoo
Geometric scorpion tattoo
An old-school tattoo of a scorpion
Old-school scorpion tattoo

Ancient Egyptians, however, revered the scorpion as a protector of souls that are crossing over into the afterlife.

A neo-traditional blackwork tattoo of a scorpion
Neo-traditional blackwork scorpion tattoo

Scorpions are also associated with spiritual change and growth, as many ancient societies believed the scorpion’s sting had the power to heal and cause a person to transcend reality and receive prophetic visions.

A realism tattoo of a scorpion
Realistic scorpion tattoo

Lizard Tattoos

Lizards symbolize regeneration and are a message that you can overcome anything.

A watercolour tattoo of a lizard
Watercolour lizard tattoo
An outline tattoo of a lizard skeleton
Lizard skeleton tattoo

A fun fact about lizards is that they shed their tails when distressed and are capable of regrowing it later on! Lizards, thus, are a symbol of growth – of shedding extra baggage when it does not serve you and becoming a better version of yourself!

A linework tattoo of a lizard
Linework lizard tattoo
A blackwork tattoo of a lizard
Blackwork lizard tattoo

Spider Tattoos

Spiders are often scary to most people – there’s even a whole section of phobias dedicated to it! This is probably why they feature prominently in horror and blackwork tattoos.

A blackwork tattoo of a spider in a glass jar
Blackwork spider in a jar tattoo
An old-school horror tattoo of a spider with a human skull sitting on a web
Old-school horror tattoo of a spider with a human skull

But spiders are more than just scary! They are master weavers. The webs they weave are very difficult to break or remove, indicating this is a creature that has mastered its craft.

A linework tattoo of a spider weaving a web
Weave a web of your own!

Spiders, thus, represent finding your purpose and mastering the skills you need to accomplish it.

A blackwork tattoo of a spider weaving a web on a dagger
Blackwork spider and dagger tattoo

Ancient Creatures: When History and Mythology Combine

Animals have a prominent place in mythology. Of all creatures, some have been exceptionally valuable to telling the tales of our ancestors. Their symbolism and presence in ancient texts tell us a lot about where we come from and why we hold the beliefs we do.

Snake Tattoos

Snakes are thought of as earthy creatures due to their nature of slithering along the ground.

A minimalist tattoo of a slithering snake
Minimalist snake tattoo
A blackwork snake tattoo around the ankle and foot
Blackwork snake tattoo

Historically thought of as a creative force, snakes also symbolize transformation and immortality because they routinely shed their skin and emerge, almost as good as new!

A blackwork hand tattoo of a two-headed serpent and two crossed roses
Serpents represent rebirth. Two-headed ones represent life and death.

Snakes are also important to many religions and ancient cultures, who viewed them as both terrifying, destructive forces and deities that bestowed blessings. Ancient snakes were, after all, what modern tales of dragons are based on!

A red colour tattoo of the Great Red Serpent in a Celtic knotwork pattern done on the forearm
The Great Red Serpent in a Celtic knotwork dragon tattoo

Cobra Tattoos

Cobras are seen as deadly, but they have historically been associated with deep spirituality and royalty.

A neo-traditional tattoo of a snake using minimalist linework
Neo-traditional linework tattoo of a cobra
An old-school cobra tattoo stretching from the side of the ribs all the way down the thigh
Old-school cobra tattoo

Ancient Egyptians saw them as magical creatures full of wisdom, often using cobra imagery in the Pharoah’s crown. They even had a Cobra Goddess named Wadjet! She was a protective force whose presence indicated the king’s reign over all of Egypt.

A blackwork tattoo of a cobra twisting into itself
Blackwork cobra tattoo

In South Asia, the cobra is often associated with Lord Shiva. While many tales are told about this association, some point out that the serpent is highly sensitive to human emotion – particularly fear – and if a serpent is calm around you, it indicates you are totally at ease and are thus able to perceive everything with a clear mind.

A tattoo of the Hindu deity Shiva with his cobra wrapped around his shoulders
Shiva tattoo from Dev Tattoos

Dragon Tattoo

Prior to more modern depictions, dragons were depicted as serpents and revered and feared in equal measure as deities and ferocious beasts. They were thought to be forces of protection as well as monsters that caused destruction.

A blackwork tattoo of the Egyptian serpent dragon Ouroboros on the arm
Egyptian Ouroboros serpent-dragon tattoo

In current folklore and fantasy, dragons are often associated with East Asian mythology. The dragon is an important symbol in Feng Shui, representing fortune and growth as well as authority and the ability to rise above one’s circumstances.

A watercolour tattoo of a Chinese dragon featuring floral patterns on the bicep
Watercolour Chinese dragon tattoo
A detailed sketch-style blackwork tattoo of a Celtic dragon on the bicep
Sketch-style blackwork Celtic dragon tattoo
Read: Dragon Tattoos and their Meanings

Dinosaur Tattoos

The dinosaurs may be extinct, but they live on in our minds – and in ink!

A realism tattoo of a dinosaur
Realistic dinosaur tattoo
A geometric tattoo of a dinosaur and its skeleton
Geometric dinosaur tattoo

They symbolize strength and nobility, as well as change and the ability to let go and move on from the past.

A hyperrealistic tattoo of a velociraptor
Hyperrealistic velociraptor tattoo

The mighty dinosaurs teach us to focus on here and now – because it’s all we have!

A minimalist origami tattoo of a dinosaur
Dinosaur Tattoo
A trash polka tattoo of a dinosaur skull
Trash Polka Dinosaur Tattoo

Tales from Under the Sea: On Healing and Strength

Water is the element of healing, of flowing with life and finding growth in moving forward. With fish and all other creatures of the deep sea, we find meaning that speaks to our souls on a much deeper level.

Koi Fish Tattoos

Hailing from Japanese culture, the koi fish symbolizes overcoming adversity – which might be why it’s such a popular choice for cover up tattoos!

A sketch-style tattoo of koi fish
Sketch-style koi fish tattoo
An Irezumi tattoo of a koi fish
Irezumi koi by Birthmark Tattoos n Customs

Want an Irezumi-style koi fish tattoo? Birthmark Tattoos n Customs is what you’re looking for!

A watercolour tattoo of a koi fish
Watercolour koi fish tattoo

The koi fish is a reminder to have courage as you strive to reach your goals. It is symbolic of patience, determination, ambition, and success.

A minimalism tattoo of a koi fish
Minimalist koi fish tattoo
Tribal koifish tattoo
Koi fish blackwork by Tattoo Sutra, Bangalore

If this blackwork back tattoo is your style, check out Tattoo Sutra!

Codfish Tattoos

Native Americans believed the lunar eclipse was caused by a codfish trying to swallow the moon. Due to its importance to trade the codfish is seen as a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

A blackwork tattoo of a codfish
Codfish tattoo

While it is sometimes associated with sainthood, the cod is at other times seen as a symbol of lust and evil! At its core, however, the codfish represents something very important – mindful independence.

A realism tattoo of a codfish
Codfish tattoo

Turtle Tattoos

Turtles tell us that patience, dedication, and perseverance can help you achieve anything.

A linework tattoo of a girl swimming with turtles
Swimming with the turtles!

Turtles stand for longevity and endurance, with some species of turtles being known to live for hundreds of years!

A watercolour tattoo of a turtle
Watercolour turtle tattoo
A watercolour tattoo of a baby turtle
Baby turtle tattoo!

Tribal animal tattoos often feature turtles because of the depth of meaning these animals represent!

Modern tribal tattoo
Turtle tattoo by Avatar Tattoo, Bangalore

Visit Avatar Tattoo and get inked with a minimalist tribal turtle tattoo of your own!

Tribal turtle tattoo
A turtle hides in plain sight!

Shark Tattoos

Celtic symbolism views the shark as a symbol of prosperity due to the association of its dorsal fin with the sacred sickle of the Druids, and it was thought to bring a good harvest and a successful hunt.

A linework tattoo of a shark fin
Shark fin tattoo
A realism tattoo of a shark
Realistic shark tattoo

The shark is often viewed with fear due to the false notion that they are dangerous predators, but sharks are actually a sign to let go of fear and go after what you really want.

A sketch-style tattoo of a shark
Sketch-style shark tattoo
A landscape tattoo using a shark silhouette
Landscape shark tattoo

Seahorse Tattoos

Seahorses symbolize patience and contentment. They are considered to be symbols of strength and power – even though they are so tiny!

A realism tattoo of a seahorse
Realistic seahorse tattoo
New-school seahorse tattoo

Sailors viewed them as good luck charms, which might be why seahorses have a prominent place on most charm bracelets!

A neo-traditional tattoo of a seahorse
Neo-traditional seahorse tattoo
An abstract tattoo of a seahorse
Abstract seahorse tattoo

Tortoise Tattoos

The tortoise is an ancient animal. Ancient societies believed the world was flat and sat on the back of a tortoise, which is why they are often linked with creation and bearing the weight of the whole world.

A geometric tattoo of a tortoise
Geometric tortoise tattoo

Tortoises symbolize wisdom and ancient knowledge as well as immortality, time, water, and the moon.

A realism tattoo of a tortoise
Realistic tortoise tattoo
A linework tattoo of a baby turtle
Baby turtle!

Wisdom from the Heavens: On Seeing the Big Picture

While each bird has a unique meaning, birds, in general, symbolize freedom and movement. Many ancient societies and tribes viewed them as messengers of god – after all, these creatures can get closer to heaven than any other animal!

Birds are a reminder that we are not meant to be chained to the ground – we were always destined to soar!

Finch Tattoos

The finch symbolizes colourful and happy times ahead and is often associated with high energy and bright days on the horizon. It reminds you that life is a celebration – so let your colours shine!

A realism tattoo of a yellow finch perched on a branch
Yellow finch
A linework tattoo of a finch
Linework finch tattoo
A realism tattoo of a red finch by Verve Tattoo Studio
Red finch by Verve

Looking to get a red finch inked? Visit Verve!

Raven Tattoos

Greek mythology associates the raven with Apollo, the god of prophecy, and many think of them as a symbol of bad luck.

A blackwork tattoo of a raven
Blackwork raven tattoo

In Native American symbolism, the raven is a symbol of metamorphosis, as well as of mischief due to its association with changing attributes.

A geometrical tattoo of a raven
Geometric raven tattoo

Ravens are also associated with melancholy, possibly owing to Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’ which made it a symbol of pain and darkness.

Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven
Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’ as a script and realism tattoo

In actuality, ravens teach us to overcome the fear we have been holding on to for a long time.

An old-school tattoo of a raven
Old-school raven tattoo

Phoenix Tattoos

The mythical phoenix is often associated with rebirth and renewal, as well as fire and the sun. This is because this a phoenix usually dies by bursting into flames and a new phoenix is born from these ashes.

A large back tattoo of a pheonix done in red ink
The phoenix represents rebirth as it born from the ashes of its predecessor

Because the phoenix never truly dies, it represents immortality, life and death, and transformation.

A realism tattoo of a phoenix
A being of light and fire!
A watercolour tattoo of a phoenix
Watercolour phoenix tattoo

Eagle Tattoos

Soaring higher than any other bird, the eagle is thought to be a connection to the divine. It sees everything from above, symbolizing freedom, honesty, and living true to your principles.

An intricate geometric eagle tattoo by Verve Tattoo Studio
Geometric Eagle by Verve

Check out Verve for some amazing ornamental and geometric animal tattoos!

A landscape tattoo using the silhouette of an eagle
Landscape eagle tattoo

Eagles also teach us to stay focused – it’s pretty difficult to miss anything when you have a bird’s-eye view!

A blackwork tattoo of an eagle
Blackwork eagle tattoo
A minimalism tattoo of an eagle on the back
Minimalistic eagle tattoo

Crow Tattoos

Associated with war and death, crows have been dealt a bad hand in modern symbolism.

A neo-traditional blackwork tattoo of a crow
Blackwork crow tattoo
A minimalism tattoo of two crows perched on a branch
Minimalist crow tattoo

In reality, crows are a sign of health and wealth and are bringers of good luck and fortune. They also symbolize magic and mystery.

A new-school tattoo of a crow
New-school crow tattoo

Owl Tattoos

A very intelligent creature of the night, owls tell us to trust our inner knowledge and have the foresight to make wise decisions.

A geometric tattoo of an owl
Geometric owl tattoo
An extremely detailed abstract tattoo featuring an owl and a red rose by Ancient Tattoos
Abstract Owl by Ancient Tattoos

Get yourself an awesome owl tattoo from Ancient!

A realism tattoo of two cute owls

Owls are a reminder that the secrets of ancient wisdom are meant for those who have earned the right to know!

A landscape tattoo of an owl depicted using realism
Realism landscape owl tattoo
A square tattoo of an owl by Atinga Arts and Tattoos
Owl by Atinga

Want an artist to draw your story in ink? Check out Atinga!

A neo-traditional minimalism tattoo of an owl
Minimalist owl tattoo

Little Black Bird Tattoos

Most commonly associated with Bob Marley’s ‘every little thing will be alright’, the three little birds also represent being free of worry, trusting yourself and not being afraid to fall, and knowing when it’s time to soar.

A minimalism tattoo of little black birds
Little black birds!
Beatles Black Bird or Marley Everything's Gonna Be Alright? Music Tattoo
Blackbird, fly

With little black birds, it’s all about hopes and dreams!

A minimalism tattoo of little black birds
Beautiful girl you can do amazing things!
A minimalism tattoo of little black birds
More little black birds!

Dove Tattoos

A symbol of peace, doves remind us to live calmly and with purpose.

A Chicano tattoo of a dove
Dove, a symbol of peace

Thought to be a messenger that brings messages from the afterlife, doves are often believed to be holy and a connection to the divine.

A watercolour tattoo of a dove
Watercolour dove tattoo
A linework tattoo of a dove with a flower
Tiny dove brings you a flower!

Peacock Tattoos

Peacocks are a symbol of beauty and elegance, nobility and grace, prestige and success.

A realism tattoo of a peacock
Realistic peacock tattoo

Peacock feathers are thought to have magical and hypnotizing powers. In South Asian mythology, the peacock feather was used by Lord Krishna to cleanse the feet of the goddess Radha, and is thus also associated with beauty and knowledge.

A realism tattoo of a peacock feather
Peacock feather tattoo by Suresh Machu

Book an appointment with Machu Tattoo Studio and get a beautiful peacock feather tattoo inked today!

On a deeper level, peacocks teach us that we are most beautiful when we reveal our true colours.

A watercolour and linework tattoo of a peacock
Watercolour peacock tattoo

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Know what you want to get inked? Head on over to and book your tattoo appointment today!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more tattoo inspiration!

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Thanks for reading! Check out our other posts for more!

For some more animal inspiration:

Want to know more about tattooing? Check these posts out:

See you next time!

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