Animal stories for kids fascinate and intrigue their curious minds. Aesop’s Fables, Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and the Panchatantra are interesting stories on animals that kids may enjoy.
Children can be taught about various aspects of life through storytelling. While some messages are simple and easy to follow, others may be intense and cannot be delivered directly. Science has proven that using animals enables authors to tell a powerful story while also maintaining emotional distance (1).
Here is a compilation of some of the best short animal tales that kids may enjoy hearing.
25 Short Animal Stories For Children With Morals
1. The Hare And The Tortoise
Tired of the bragging of a speedy hare, a tortoise challenges it to a race. The overconfident hare accepts the competition and runs as fast as it can after the race begins. Soon it gets tired and decides to rest, thinking that there’s plenty of time to relax before tortoise can catch up with it. Meanwhile, the tortoise continues to walk slowly, until it reaches the finish line. The overslept hare wakes up, only to be shocked that a slow moving tortoise beat it in the race.
Moral: Slow and steady wins the race.
2. The Two Goats
One day, two goats try to cross a weak and narrow bridge across the river. The goats are at either end of the bridge, but neither is ready to make way for the other. They come to the centre of the bridge and begin fighting about who should cross first. As they fight mindlessly, the bridge gives in, taking both the goats down into the river with it.
Moral: It is better to yield than to come to misfortune through stubbornness.
3. The Hare And The Hound
This is another interesting animal story for kids that brings a valuable moral lesson to motivate them. Enjoy it now! One day, a strong and powerful hound was chasing a hare. After running for a long time, the tired hound gives up the hunt. A herd of goats watching this mocks the hound, saying that the little one is better than the beast. To this, the hound responds: “The rabbit was running for its life, I was only running for dinner. That is the difference between us.”
Moral: Incentive spurs action.
4. The Ugly Duckling
A farmer had a duck, which laid ten eggs. Soon, they all hatched. Of the ten, nine ducklings looked like the mom. The tenth one was big, gray and ugly. All the other ducklings made fun of the ugly one. Unhappy in the farm, the poor duckling ran away to a river nearby. There he sees white, beautiful swans. Afraid and lost, he wanted to drown in the river. But when he looked at his reflection in the river, he realized that he was not an ugly duckling, but a beautiful swan!
Moral: You are beautiful just the way you are.
5. The Fisherman And The Little Fish
There was once a fisherman whose livelihood depended on his catch. One day, he was able to catch only one small fish. The fish, in its desperation to live, says “Please leave me kind sir. I am small and of no use to you. Let me back into the river and I can grow bigger. You can then catch me and make more money.” The wise fisherman replies, “ I will not give up a certain profit for one that doesn’t exist yet.”
Moral: Do not forgo a certain gain for an uncertain profit.
6. The Fox And The Goat
Walking alone in the forest, an unlucky fox falls into a well one day. Unable to get out, he waits for help. A passing goat sees the fox and asks him why he is in the well. The cunning fox responds, “there is going to be a great drought, and I am here to make sure I have water.” The gullible goat believes this and jumps into the well. The fox swiftly jumps on the goat and uses its horns to reach the top, leaving the goat in the well.
Moral: Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties.
7. The Fox And The Grapes
On a hot summer day, a fox comes upon an orchard and sees a bunch of ripened grapes. It thinks: “Just what I need to quench my thirst.” It moves back a few paces, runs, and jumps but falls short of reaching the grapes. It tries in different ways to reach the bunch of grapes, but in vain. It finally gives up, and says to himself “I am sure they are sour anyway.”
Moral: It is easy to despise what you cannot get your hands on.
8. The Lion And The Boar
It was a hot summer day. A lion and a boar reach a small water body for a drink. They begin arguing and fighting about who should drink first. After a while, they are tired and stop for breath, when they notice vultures above. Soon they realize that the vultures are waiting for one or both of them to fall, to feast on them. The lion and the boar then decide that it was best to make up and be friends than fight and become food for vultures. They drink the water together and go their ways after.
Moral: Those who strive are often watched by others to take advantage of their defeat.
9. The Ant And The Grasshopper
It was a pleasant day and the grasshopper was in a gay mood, singing and dancing around. He sees an ant carrying a heavy corn kernel to its nest. The grasshopper asks the ant to join him for some fun, instead of toiling away like that. The ant tells him that it is preparing for winter when food would be scarce. The grasshopper brushes the thought and says why bother when the present is good. Winter soon begins, and the grasshopper has no food to survive, while the ants enjoy the corn in the warmth of their nest.
Moral: It is best to prepare for days of necessity.
10. Two Cats And A Monkey
After a feast, two cats see a piece of cake and start fighting for it. A monkey sees this as an opportunity for gain and offers to help them. The monkey divides the cake into two parts but shakes its head saying they are unequal. He takes a bite of one piece and then the other, but still finds them unequal. He continues doing so until there is no more cake left, leaving the poor little cats disappointed.
Moral: When you quarrel amongst yourselves, someone else gains from it.
11. An Ass In Lion’s Skin
This is another collection of short stories having animal characters. One day, an ass chanced upon a lion’s skin that the hunters left to dry. He put it on and walked towards the jungle, giving animals and people a fright on its way. The ass was very proud of itself that day and brayed loudly in delight. Immediately, everyone knew that it was an ass in lion’s skin. They gave it a good beating for frightening them. The fox then walks up to the injured donkey and says: “I knew it was you by your voice.”
Moral: Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words disclose a fool.
12. The Fox And The Stork
There was once a fox, which was very friendly with a stork. It invited the stork to dinner one day and decided to play a prank. So he set the table with a shallow dish, with little soup in it. The fox had a good meal, while the stork had a tough time drinking the soup with its long beak. The stork decided to return the kindness and invited the fox over for dinner and served soup in a long-necked, narrow-mouthed jar. This time the stork ate well, and the fox starved.
Moral: One bad turn deserves another.
13. Who Will Bell The Cat?
A horde of mice gathered one night to discuss the problems created by their common enemy, the cat. A lot of ideas were shared, but none seemed good enough to beat the cat. Then a young mouse suggested that they should tie a bell around the cat’s neck to know when it is approaching and escape the sly cat’s attacks. To this, an old, wise mouse asked, “That’s fine. But who will bell the cat?”
Moral: It is easy to propose impossible remedies.
14. The Dog And The Shadow
A dog found a piece of meat one day. As it walked home, it had to cross a bridge over a stream. As it walked, it saw its reflection in the water and thought it was another dog with a piece of meat. The dog got greedy and decided to have that piece as well. He snapped at the reflection, and as soon as he opened his mouth, his piece of meat fell into the water and disappeared.
Moral: Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.
15. The Lion And The Mouse
A lion was fast asleep in the jungle when a mouse started running all over him. The lion was angry that the mouse disturbed its sleep and was about to kill it with its paw. The mouse begged the lion to pardon it, saying it could be of help to it one day. The lion laughed at that thought and walked away. Soon after that, the lion was trapped in a hunter’s net. The little mouse was passing by and saw the lion. It immediately tore the net with its sharp teeth and rescued the lion.
Moral: Little friends may prove to be great friends.
16. The Crow And The Pitcher
One day, a crow was very thirsty and found a pitcher with little water in it. It couldn’t reach the water with its beak. After a little thought, the crow came up with an idea. It picked up a few stones one at a time and put them in the pitcher, until the water came up. He happily drank the water and flew away.
Moral: Little-by-little does the trick.
17. The Eagle And The Arrow
Sitting on a lofty rock, an eagle was watching its prey move on the ground. A hunter, watching the eagle from behind a tree, shoots it with an arrow. As the eagle falls to the ground, with blood oozing from its wound, it sees that the arrow is made of its own plumage and thinks: “Alas, I am destroyed by an arrow made from my own feathers”.
Moral: We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.
18. The Town Mouse And The Country Mouse
One day, the stylish town mouse visits his cousin in the country. The country mouse welcomes his cousin warmly and gives him beans and bacon to eat. Unimpressed with the food served, the town mouse boasts of a high life in the city and asks his cousin to go with him. They reach the town and go to a dining room to eat jelly and cake, where they are chased off by two huge dogs and run for their lives.
Moral: Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.
19. The Clever Monkey
Once upon a time, a clever monkey lived on an apple tree. It was friends with a foolish crocodile that lived in the river. The mokey shared the fruits of the tree with the crocodile everyday. The crocodile’s wife learns about this friendship and asks the crocodile to bring the monkey’s heart, which could be sweeter than the fruits of the tree. The couple invite the monkey for dinner and plan to eat his heart. The crocodile offers to take the monkey on its back, so that it can cross the river to reach home.
On their way, the foolish crocodile mentions his wife’s desire to taste the monkey’s heart. The monkey is quick to understand its friend’s intentions and tricks it by saying: “Oh, but I forgot my heart at home. Take me back so we can get it.” As soon as they reach the river bank, the monkey jumps off the crocodile’s back, and vows never to trust it again.
Moral: Remain calm and use presence of mind to get out of adverse situations.
20. The Ass, The Fox, And The Lion
Two partners, the ass and the fox, go to a forest to find food. On their way, they meet a lion. The cunning fox promises the lion that he can have the ass for dinner, but asks that his life be spared. Together, they trick the ass to fall into a pit. As soon as the ass was secured, the lion jumps at the fox, killing it for its meat and ends up having both.
Moral: Traitors must expect treachery.
21. The Fox Without A Tail
One day, a fox has its tail caught in a hunter’s trap. It panics and tries to release itself by pulling as hard as possible. In the attempt, it loses its tail completely. Without a tail, it feels ashamed to meet its fellow foxes. Afraid that the others will laugh at it for not having a tail, the fox comes up with a plan. It calls for a meeting and tells the other foxes that they should cut their tails, which are useless and they also make make it easier for the enemy to catch them. To this, the chief fox responds, “I don’t think you would ask us to get rid of our graceful tails if you hadn’t lost yours.”
Moral: Do not listen to the advice of him who seeks to lower you to his own level.
22. The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
A wolf was having a tough time getting hold of sheep for meal. It decides to attack them discreetly by dressing itself in sheepskin. Soon, it starts leading the sheep one-by-one to a corner and eats them all.
Moral: Appearances are deceptive.
23. The Fox And The Crow
A fox sees a crow carrying a piece of cheese to a tree top. It decides to get the cheese for himself. It goes to the tree and starts praising the crow that it can sing better than a cuckoo. Hearing this, the crow beams with pride, and tries to sing. The piece of cheese falls to the ground as it opens its mouth to sing. The fox picks up the piece and runs away.
Moral: Do not trust flatterers.
24. The Foolish Rabbit
When a nut falls on its head, a foolish rabbit thinks that the sky is falling and runs as fast as it can. On its way, it tells all the other animals that the sky is falling and spreads fear in the jungle. The lion, the king of the jungle, sees the chaos. On inspection, the lion finds out that it was just a nut and the rabbit was indeed foolish.
Moral: Be careful who you trust, or you could be fooled.
25. The Peacock And The Juno
The peacock was jealous of the nightingale and wanted to sing as well as the latter. When it tries to sing, everyone laughs at it. Disappointed, the peacock approaches Roman goddess Juno and asks for a voice as beautiful as the nightingale’s. Juno refuses and tells the peacock that just like it is bestowed with beauty, the nightingale is given a beautiful voice, the eagle, strength and so on. Juno says: “Everyone is unique in their own way.”
Moral: Be content with your strengths; one cannot excel in everything.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What can animals in stories teach us?
Animals teach us about various character traits that can be imbibed. They include staying focused, enjoying the moment, pausing and unwinding, and being tolerant, which can help us grow into better individuals.
2. Why are animal characters used in children’s stories?
Many children prefer animal stories as they find them more engaging. It is easy for children to imagine and visualise enjoyable and quirky animal characters. Also, the animal stories for children cover various topics, both fun and learning, that fascinate them and teach valuable lessons simultaneously.
Animal stories are a great way to teach children moral values such as honesty, compassion, and respectfulness. They also spur their creativity and introduce them to the magic of fantastical stories. If your child enjoys listening to stories as a part of their bedtime routine, try switching their regular fairytale books with these animal stories for kids. In addition, you could make it more interesting by using different voices for each animal as you narrate the story. Your children will be hooked to these stories and keep returning to them.