Zoology: Using Animals to Enrich Your World

Stopping by for the first time for the A-Z Challenge? Read a short intro to the A-Zs of Worldbuilding here!

Z is for Zoology...
Z is for Zoology…

Animals serve many purposes. They are a vital part of the ecosystem, they offer companionship, and they can be sources of food.

And creating animals can honestly be one of the most fun parts of worldbuilding. But as always, there are things to consider!

Types of Creatures

The kinds of animals abundant depend on the climate and terrain. Where there is water, there will be fish. In warmer climates, there will be amphibians near the water. Unless you create an amphibian that thrives in cooler climates. 😉


Plains have the ability to support herd creatures that require extensive grazing grounds. There will be less birds (but not no birds), plenty of rodents, large predators that don’t need to hide themselves for defense, and smaller predators that can hide in grasses and burrows.


There will be an impressive amount of birds in forests, and less of the larger herd creatures (think deer rather than buffalo, since deer can more easily maneuver through trees). There will be lots of rodents. There will be some snakes, depending on how cold it gets in the winter.


There will be lots of birds and primates, amphibians, reptiles… anything that thrives in warm weather and high humidity year-round. Just don’t forget predators and grazing animals here, either!

Don’t forget the rodents and insects (or equivalent).

Rodents thrive in pretty much every climate, except the very coldest ones, and even then they will attempt to survive.

Also insects. Insects are incredibly resilient creatures, and even if they have a very short amount of time when they can breed, their eggs can remain dormant for a while. Even through an incredibly bitter winter.

How They Look

Where an animal lives will determine a lot about how they look – whether they have fur, skin, scales, or feathers. Some of that will depend on how an animal lives, as well, though.

If a creature needs to be able to navigate through air or water well, you’ll more likely find scales or feathers. When they do have fur or just skin, there will be extra fat to insulate them, and fur and feathers will both be oily.

Creatures in warmer climates will be less likely to have double-furred coats.

These are not hard and fast rules, though. Many of these features crossover climates and functions, so don’t be afraid to make a creature look interesting.

To Sum It Up…

Animals are fascinating. Don’t get too enthusiastic, though, and end up with so many that you’re overwhelmed with what to do with them in a story. Start with the animals that your characters will actually encounter – whether they are domesticated breeds that are raised for sustenance (milk, meat, eggs, etc.) or wild creatures that will endanger them or animals that will leave you alone if you ignore them.

Original image used in header is by PublicDomainPictures.

My intention is to turn the A-Zs of Worldbuilding into a workbook after the Challenge is finished. If you’d like to stay notified about that, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. Please make sure and select the A-Zs of Worldbuilding option!

Recent Comments

    • Rebekah Loper
      May 1, 2014 - 6:56 am · Reply

      Haha, I know, right? Or how aliens are supposed to survive our environment when they invade. Which is one reason I love War of the Worlds so much, since they get taken out by the common cold.

      Thanks! You did too, hurrah! I will be going back and reading all your posts, btw. I just… suddenly didn’t have enough time for anything in April.

  • Sophie Duncan
    April 30, 2014 - 4:24 pm · Reply

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts about world building this month and I now have some check lists and things to think about that I haven’t always thought of before when creating my imaginary worlds 🙂

    Congrats on getting all the way through the challenge – it’s been a long month and I don’t know about you, but I’m knackered, although happy 🙂

    I am following your blog, so I look forward to your non-A to Z posts in the future as well.

    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles – A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX – A to Z Drabblerotic

    • Rebekah Loper
      May 1, 2014 - 8:05 am · Reply

      Thanks, Sophie! I am so mentally tired, but it’s the good kind of tired, you know?

      I hope you find my non-A-Z interesting, lol. I’ve been wondering how I’m going to make my blog match up to that. I’ll do it somehow!

  • LadyJai
    May 1, 2014 - 1:45 pm · Reply

    YAY! Congrats on reaching the finish line. Now maybe we all can breath and get back to what we are supposed to be doing! LOL


Trackbacks and Pingbacks

What do you think?

About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.