Igbo names of ALL Nigerian animals with pictures

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Are you looking up for what a particular animal is called in Igbo Language or just seeking general knowledge about common Igbo nomenclature?

This post is for you to learn the Igbo names of many animals you are familiar with.

Pictures and a short description may be included in some places to enable better understanding. General and common names in English are mostly used, except where individual species are represented.

For example, there are about three distinct guineafowl species in Nigeria but the general common name “guineafowl” will be used to represent all of them.

This is the right thing to do especially as the Igbo Language, in many cases, do not have separate names for individual species, unless in cases where the creatures are remarkably dissimilar.

A good example of this situation is the species of domestic fowl called “avuke” in Igbo Language which are quite very distinct and easy to recognize.

This is also seen in snakes nomenclature. All snakes are called “agwo” in Igbo, but there are also separate names for individual snake species like ubi (mole viper), avuana (black-necked spitting cobra), echi eteka (puff adder), etc.

Here is a comprehensive list of Igbo names of different animals:

1. Cow – Ehi (called efi in some dialects)

2. Chicken – Okuko

3. Cock/rooster – Egbene or Oke-okpa

4. Hen – Nnekwu

Almost as in English, there are words to distinguish the age and reproductive status of animals in Igbo Language too.

A hen that is yet to lay eggs (pullet) is called ‘agboyo’ while a cock that is yet to crow (cockerel) is called ‘akati-ikoro’ (dialects may differ).

4. Chick – Uriom okuko

5. Dove – Nduru

6. Duck – Obogwu

7. Quail – Okwa

8. Guineafowl – Ogazi

9. Turkey – Tolo-tolo

10. Squirrel – Osa

11. Rabbit – Oke-oyibo

12. Elephant – Enyi

13. Eagle – Ugo

14. Ostrich – Enyi nnunu

15. Antelope – Ene

16. Owl – Ikwikwi

17. Horse – Inyinya

18. Grasscutter – Nchi

19. Dog – Nkita

20. Hyena – Nkita-ohia

21. Pussycat – Nwamba

22. Sparrow bird – Nza

*** It appears every tiny colourful bird is called “nza” in Igbo Language irrespective of order and species. For example, “nza” is often used to refer to weavers, sparrows, wagtails, finches and even sunbirds.

23. Pig – Ezi

24. Lion – Odum

25. Leopard – Agu owuru

26. Monkey – Enwe

27. Chimpanzee – Adaka

28. Gorilla – Ozodimgba

29. Giant rat – Ewi

30. Swift bird – Eneke-nti-oba

*** Eneke-nti-oba is sometimes used to refer to swallow birds. Swifts and swallows are very closely related so it is understandable why this happens.

The Igbo name – “eneke-nti-oba” suggests that the bird has wide ears, but this is untrue. The suggestion actually comes from the appearance of the swift bird when in flight when the wings spread out from each side of the body to look like ears.

Eneke-nti-oba in its characteristic sky-high flight position

“Eneke-nti-oba” is also known in Igboland as the bird that never perches. Chinua Achebe wrote about the popular Igbo proverb in his novel – Arrow of God.

“…But I am like the bird Eneke-nti-oba. When his friends asked him why he was always on the wing he replied: ‘Men of today have learnt to shoot without missing and so I have learned to fly without perching.”

This is very accurate. Swifts and swallows are excellent flyers and hardly ever perches.

31. Parrot – Iche-oku

32. Bushbaby – Ikili

33. Egret/herons – Chekeleke

34. Tortoise – Mbe

35. Turtle – Mbe mmili

36. Buffalo – Atu

37. Monitor lizard – Aghu

38. Hawk – Nkwo

39. Kite – Egbe

40. Earthworm – Idide

41. Woodpecker – Oturu-kpookpoo

42. Bat – Usu

43. Housefly – Ijiji

44. Cockroach – Uchicha

45. Scorpion – Akpi

46. Spider – Ududo

47. Vulture – Udene

48. Cricket – Abuzu

49. Crab – Nshiko

50. Rock python – Eke ogba

51. Civet – Edi abali

52. Millipede – Alili

53. Wasp – Evu

54. Weaver ant – Ido

55. Porcupine – Obiogwu

We are researching further to get the names of these two Igbo birds. If you have any idea, you can help us.

a. Kpanakwukwu – a type of lowland flying bird that makes the distinctive kpanakwukwu call.

b. Ngele oma – a rarely-seen Nigerian bird revered for its beauty.

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This article will be updated as more information comes. Daniel Nkado and Gloria Ezeh contributed to this article.

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