The Fascinating World of Russian Animal Symbols

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Russian Animal Symbols

What characteristics do you associate with a bear, wolf, or fox when you think of their personalities? Russian literature, art, and entertainment have all heavily incorporated animal symbolism. 

Bears, horses, and eagles are well-known national animals in Russian folklore, each with distinct personalities and lessons to teach others. Learn about the significance of animals in Russian culture and each animal’s characteristics in this article. 

The history of Russian animal symbols 

Russian folktales stand out for their distinctive fusion of magical realism, striking imagery, and sophisticated storytelling techniques. Animals significantly impact the overall plot and lesson in these tales.

In popular culture, animals are portrayed as intelligent beings who use their inherent skills to overcome obstacles. They can be heroes, villains, or even tricksters who outsmart humans with cunning. Numerous Russian folk tales feature bears, symbolizing strength and power. 

Horses, wolves, and foxes are other typical animals in Russian folklore. These creatures teach children important life lessons or moral lessons, such as perseverance or kindness to others. 

Russian animal symbolism

These are the most notable examples of wild animals in Russian symbolism. 


The Eurasian brown bear is the national animal of Russia. The Russian bear is a revered animal representing sturdiness, bravery, and fortitude

Folklore frequently presents it as a strong creature deserving of humans’ respect and admiration. The bear is a potent representation of endurance and adaptability due to its capacity to survive in hostile environments.

The symbolism of the bear has influenced numerous Russian artists, who have produced a wide range of representations of this majestic animal in paintings, sculptures, and literary works. Ivan Shishkin’s painting “Morning In A Pine Forest,” which depicts a family of bears foraging for food amidst a dense forest setting, is one example of these artistic representations.

Despite being viewed as a terrifying predator in some cultures, the bear has come to be recognized worldwide for its symbolic qualities. Many people trying to overcome obstacles in their lives find inspiration in how it is portrayed as an icon of strength and resiliency. 

Check out this video for more information on bear symbolism in Russia. 


The wolf represents fidelity, wisdom, cunning, and inability to back down from their opponents. Throughout Russian history, both literature and folklore have praised this trait. 

Due to their pack mentality, wolves are regarded as fiercely devoted to their family group and exhibit a strong sense of community. Wolves are renowned for their cunning and intelligence. 

Their capacity to adapt to various environments demonstrates their strength and agility in overcoming difficult circumstances. They have been seen using sophisticated communication techniques within their packs to plan their hunting strategies and protect their territory from predators.

russian wolve

Wolf symbolism in Russian culture is particularly important, even though it is frequently portrayed as a villain in Western culture. It is regarded as one of the most powerful creatures, symbolizing power, agility, and admirable human traits like loyalty and intelligence. 


The eagle’s impressive wingspan, keen vision, and regal posture have made it a symbol of freedom, nobility, power, and celebration. Eagles are frequently portrayed as majestic, strong birds of prey that soar through the skies.

Because it stands for political and spiritual liberation, the eagle has a special significance for freedom in Russia. Many Russians consider the eagle to represent their own historical struggle for freedom from foreign invaders and oppressive governments. 

The Russian flag and the coat of arms show the double-headed eagle. It serves as a powerful reminder of this nation’s past – bearing witness to the deep spiritual and secular ties between state and church. This symbol dates back centuries, originally coming from the Byzantine culture before being adopted by Russia. 

One head denotes temporal dominance over its citizens while the other stands in reverence for faith; together they embody an inseparable bond that has influenced Russian history, identity, and tradition through time immemorial.

Russian Double-headed Eagle


The fox is frequently used as a metaphor for a crafty and sly animal among Russian animal symbols. The red fox is well known for surviving in a variety of environments by using its agility and speed. 

Its reputation for adjusting quickly to new circumstances makes it a fantastic representation of adaptability. The fox is a symbol of strength, but it also embodies intelligence, suspicion, and wit. In numerous tales, the fox outsmarts those who attempt to harm or catch it. As a result, it is a well-known figure in fables and fairy tales throughout Russia and elsewhere.


The horse is regarded as a representation of power, grace, and strength. Horses are one of the many farm animals portrayed in Russian lore. Horses are frequently portrayed as devoted allies of heroes in folklore and epic poetry.

A galloping horse represents forward motion, momentum, and tenacity—all qualities that Russians aspire to have. The horse’s strength is demonstrated by its capacity to pull heavy loads and run quickly. 

This power also stands for endurance and perseverance, qualities highly regarded in Russian culture.


The owl symbol of Russia often appears in folklore, representing wisdom, mystery, and secrecy. Due to their nocturnal habits and elusive nature, owls have been linked to these characteristics. 

Owls are frequently portrayed as keeping watch over secrets that only the wise can access and guarding hidden knowledge.

In some Russian folk tales, the owl is even portrayed as a mediator between the world of the living and the dead. Overall, the owl meaning holds a special place in Russian culture and is respected for its wisdom and insight.

Russian Animal Symbols: Russian Owls

Modern examples of animal symbolism in Russia

Russian animal symbols have maintained their popularity and are still used in literature, art, movies, and political cartoons today. One book that explores the history of wolves in Russia is called That Savage Gaze

The book suggests how and why wolves have come to be so closely associated with Russia and how these animals have assimilated into their culture. Numerous explanations can be traced back to wolves’ personalities and their influence on Russian hunters and explorers. 

The legend Kolobok tells the tale of a fox who outwits other well-known Russian animals using his cunning. The fox ultimately triumphs over the other animals, raising the question of whether the fox’s actions are truly evil or just typical of the animal kingdom. 

Russian Kolobok


Overall, culture, literature, and other forms of entertainment have benefited greatly from the use of Russian animal symbols. Russians, like people in other parts of the world, are aware of these animals’ profound spiritual lessons and traits, and they often depict them in intriguing ways that contrast the personalities they are given in other parts of the world. 

Many animals in Russia hold powerful symbolism that we can meditate on and use as self-reflection. Whether it’s the snow leopard, wild reindeer, arctic fox, or other rare animals, these beautiful creatures have just as much depth to them as the more common national symbols outlined earlier in this article. 

See if you can spot any of the characteristics of the animals mentioned in these articles in yourself as you think about them. Then, the next time you encounter a difficulty or an obstacle, you can use these traits to help you overcome them!


Does Russia have an official animal?

Yes, the official animal of Russia is the double-headed eagle. Russia is, however, known around the world for its beloved national symbol: the resilient Russian bear. Representing strength and endurance, this iconic figure has been immortalized in folklore, literature, and art – even on their coat of arms!

Why do bears represent Russia?

The bear became a symbol of Russia due to the marketing of bear grease for baldness by English merchants. Political cartoons in the 19th century depicted Russia as a bear, and during the Cold War, it became a metaphor for the USSR’s policies. The bear was chosen as the mascot for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Read more.

What is the national bird of Russia?

The majestic double-headed eagle has been an emblem of Russian pride since the 15th century. This powerful bird is featured on Russia’s national coat and serves to remind citizens today about their country’s rich history and strong government.

Why do Russian like bears?

Russian mythology and culture have long been entwined with bears, whose strength and beauty have won people over. While they also wander the wilds of Russia as a continual reminder of strength and resilience, attributes widely cherished by its people, these majestic animals are frequently depicted in literature and art. Without a doubt, it is understandable why bears are still so adored today!

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Author: Richard Alois
Richard, a London-based spiritual explorer and daytime marketer, invites fellow seekers to join him on a journey of discovery through his website, With engaging articles and thought-provoking discussions, Richard's inclusive approach transcends borders, uniting people in the quest for wisdom, inner peace, and self-understanding.

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