Halloween Animals

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As Halloween quickly approaches, come with us as we investigate the spookiest mystery of all: why some animals, like bats, toads, wolves, owls and spiders, remind us of this ghostly night.

Bats

Bats are a staple in Halloween stories and decorations but, how did the only flying mammal become such a scary symbol?

bats night sky

Bats are known to live in caves or ruins and are most active at night. This night time lifestyle makes it pretty easy for people to associate bats with evil things. The connection with Vampires makes sense – Hello? Vampire bats – but what about witches? It is believed that bats would fly around witches’ fires to catch the moths that were drawn to the light and heat.

Gerina Dunwich, Witch’s Halloween. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2007: Page 50 – 52

Silver RavenWolf Halloween. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1997: Page 64 – 66

Toads

Tales of toads and witches are a big part of Halloween. They are found in witches’ brews and were even associated with witches in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

toad

These amphibians got such a bad reputation partly because of some icky warts. In the Middle Ages, people who had warts were believed to have touched a toad that had been poisoned by witches.

Edna Barth Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols. New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1972: Page 54 – 56

Spiders

Creepy crawly arachnids can certainly give people the heebie jeebies. After all, what’s Halloween without a few black spiders and hanging webs?

spider

In Greek Mythology there was a goddess who used spider webs to tell the future. This magical side to spiders took a dark turn when they were linked to Crones (you know, those evil old ladies in fairytales) due to some of their scarier traits. For example some female spiders eat their mates, a not so friendly habit that has left them with a bad reputation.

Gerina Dunwich, Witch’s Halloween. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2007: Page 69 – 70

Wolves

AWOOOOOOOOO!! A wolf’s cry in the night is a piercing sound that is not only used to frighten us on Halloween but also shows up in movies just before things get really scary.

wolf

The idea of a person turning into a wolf started in Ancient Greece where it was believed that Apollo lycaeus could take the shape of any animal. This inspired the belief that wearing a wolf pelt could also cause a person to change into that animal. This freaky thought has left a frightening imprint in people’s minds whenever they hear or see a wolf.

Silver RavenWolf Halloween. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1997: Page 66 – 68

Owls

A lot of Earth Rangers love Animal Ambassador Echo the Barn owl, so it might be surprising that these birds are linked with darkness and evil spirits.

owl

Ancient Romans believed that owls were bad omens and their cries were thought of as a sign of death. Since owls only come out at night, they are also thought of as evil spirits. Like bats, they were linked to witches because they flew around their fires at night to eat the insects that were attracted by the light and warmth.

Lesley Pratt Bannatyne Halloween: an American Holiday, an American History. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc., 1998: Page 89

Edna Barth Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols. New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1972: Page 50

What animal do you think is the scariest? 

255 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know. The way you describe it makes every animal sound horrifying. There actually is a story about the Greek Goddess Athena,turned a maiden named Arachne into a spider because she lost to a contest on weaving to her and did it because she was angry about Arachne’s talent!!!!!!! That was not very nice and not right. Also how about crows for spooky creatures?