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18 Animals That End With the Letter U (Photos, Facts)

As you have already seen from the title, in this article we’ll learn about 18 types of animals, breeds, species, or subspecies that end with the letter U. From the second-largest living bird by height, the Emu, to the Egyptian Mau breed cat, and the ʻAkiapolaʻau, a specialized bird endemic to the island of Hawaii. These are just a few on our list, as we explore various species fitting this particular category of animals.  

1. Gold tegu

Gold tegu
Gold tegu | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Tupinambis teguixin

The Gold tegu, also known as the Golden tegu, is a large, robust lizard native to the rainforests of South America, particularly found in Colombia, Venezuela, and parts of the Amazon Basin. Characterized by its gold and black coloration, this species can reach up to 3 feet in length, making it one of the larger tegu species. Gold tegus are terrestrial and are often found in humid, tropical environments where they can burrow and hide.

They are omnivorous, feeding on a varied diet that includes fruits, vegetables, insects, and small vertebrates, showcasing their adaptability in foraging. Gold tegus are known for their intelligence and ability to recognize their owners, which, combined with their docile nature when handled regularly, makes them popular in the pet trade. However, they require complex care and a spacious environment to thrive.

2. Caribou

Caribou Orna Wachman from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Rangifer tarandus

Caribou, also known as reindeer in Europe, are large, cold-adapted members of the deer family found in arctic and subarctic regions of North America, Europe, Asia, and Greenland. Unique among deer species, both male and female Caribou grow antlers, though males are larger. They are known for their remarkable migrations, the longest of any terrestrial mammal, traveling across tundra and boreal forests in search of food.

Their hooves adapt to seasonal changes, acting like snowshoes in winter and providing traction on mud and wet ground in summer. Caribou primarily feed on lichens in winter, along with leaves, herbs, and grasses during other seasons. Their thick fur and a large, ruminating stomach help them survive the harsh conditions of their habitat.

3. Boutu 

Amazon river dolphin
Amazon River dolphin | image by Jorge Andrade via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Inia geoffrensis

The Boutu, also known as the Amazon River dolphin or Pink River dolphin, is a freshwater dolphin species distinguished by its pink coloration, which can vary from light pink to a vivid, almost fluorescent pink in some individuals. Native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins in South America, these dolphins inhabit murky waters, making their echolocation abilities crucial for navigation and hunting.

Unlike their oceanic counterparts, Boutus have flexible necks, allowing them to maneuver through the flooded forests during the wet season to hunt for fish, crustaceans, and even small turtles. They are known for their intelligence and curious nature, often approaching boats. However, their solitary behavior distinguishes them from other dolphin species that form large pods.

4. Degu 

degu eats withered leaves and stems
Degu eats withered leaves and stems | image by stanhua via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Octodon degus

The Degu is a small, social rodent native to Chile, thriving in a semi-arid environment. Characterized by its round body, large eyes, and a long, bushy tail, the Degu has adapted well to its habitat, living in complex burrow systems it excavates with its sharp claws. These rodents are highly social, living in groups to help watch for predators and to raise their young collectively.

Degus are diurnal, unusual among rodents, which means they are active during the day. Their diet mainly consists of grasses and seeds, but they can also eat fruits and vegetables. An interesting aspect of Degu biology is their sensitivity to sugar intake, making them a valuable model for studying diabetes in humans. Additionally, Degus exhibit a range of vocalizations and behaviors that indicate complex social interactions and communication among them. 

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5. Urubu 

Black vulture on a tree trunk
Black vulture on a tree trunk | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Coragyps atratus

The Urubu, commonly referred to as the black vulture is a scavenger bird found throughout South and Central America, extending into parts of North America. Characterized by its all-black plumage and a distinctive bare, gray-to-black head and neck, the Urubu is well-adapted to a variety of habitats, including forests, savannas, and urban areas. Unlike other birds, Urubus have a keen sense of smell that they use to locate carrion, their primary food source, making them vital for the ecosystem as natural waste disposers.

They are highly social creatures, often seen roosting in large groups and cooperating to find food. Urubus are known for their silent flight, as they lack the vocal organs to produce a song, communicating instead through grunts and hisses.

6. Whapuku

Whapuku | image by Nholtzha via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Polyprion oxygeneios

The Whapuku, also known as the Hapuku or New Zealand grouper, is a large, deep-sea fish found primarily around New Zealand and southern Australia, inhabiting rocky bottoms and reef areas at depths of 30 to 800 meters. This species can grow quite large, often exceeding 1 meter in length and weighing up to 120 lbs.

Whapuku are known for their robust body, large head, and wide mouth, which allows them to consume a variety of prey, including fish, squid, and crustaceans. They are solitary fish, spending much of their time near the seafloor. Commercially, Whapuku are valued for their white, flaky flesh, making them a popular choice for seafood dishes.

7. Kinkajou

Kinkajou holding a flower
Kinkajou holding a flower | image by Manuel Víquez – naturalista_cr via Flickr

Scientific Name: Potos flavus

The Kinkajou, also known as the honey bear, is a small, nocturnal mammal native to the rainforests of Central and South America. With its soft, golden-brown fur and large, expressive eyes, the Kinkajou is adapted to life in the trees, featuring a prehensile tail that acts as a fifth limb for climbing and a flexible, long tongue for extracting nectar from flowers. Despite its bear-like appearance, it is more closely related to raccoons and coatis.

Kinkajous are frugivores, primarily eating fruits, but they also consume flowers, leaves, and occasionally small insects. Their sociable and playful nature, along with their vocalizations, underscores their complex social structures.

8. Emu

Emu walking in the grass field
Emu walking in the grass field | image by Nigel Hoult via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Dromaius novaehollandiae

The Emu is the second-largest living bird by height, native to Australia, where it roams grasslands, forests, and savannas. This flightless bird has a long, lean body covered in soft, brownish feathers, large legs adapted for running at high speeds, and small wings. Emus can reach speeds of up to 50 km/h, using their strong legs not only for swift movement but also for defense.

Unique among birds, Emus have a varied diet, consuming plants, insects, and other small animals, which helps control insect populations and spread plant seeds. Emus are known for their curious and sociable nature, often approaching humans. Interestingly, it’s the male Emu that incubates the eggs and cares for the young chicks.

9. Egyptian mau

Egyptian Mau on the pavement
Egyptian mau on the pavement | image by liz west via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Felis catus

The Egyptian mau is a small to medium-sized cat breed, known for its spotted coat, which comes in silver, bronze, and smoke. One of its most distinctive features is the “M” shaped mark on its forehead, along with green eyes that give it a captivating look. This breed is considered one of the oldest cat breeds, believed to have originated in Egypt, as depicted in ancient artworks.

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Egyptian maus are highly active and playful, known for their exceptional speed and agility, capable of running up to 30 miles per hour. They are also noted for their strong hunting instincts, often engaging in playful pouncing and chasing activities. These cats are highly vocal, using a variety of chirps and meows to communicate with their owners.

10. Shih tzu

Shih tzu
Shih Tzu | image by Robert Nunnally via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris

The Shih Tzu is a small, sturdy dog breed with a heartwarming face and a luxurious, flowing coat, originating from Tibet. This breed is known for its friendly and outgoing personality, making it a popular companion animal. Shih Tzus are characterized by their short snout and large dark eyes, set within a round, friendly face often adorned with long, silky fur that requires regular grooming.

Despite their small size, they possess a confident and somewhat dignified demeanor. Shih Tzus are adaptable to various living conditions, thriving equally in apartments and houses with gardens. They are particularly noted for their affectionate nature, often seeking close contact with their owners and enjoying being part of family activities.

11. Argentine giant tegu

Argentine giant tegu
Argentine giant tegu | image by Christoph Anton Mitterer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Salvator merianae

The Argentine giant tegu, also known as the black and white tegu, is the largest species of tegu lizard, native to South America, particularly found in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay. This reptile can grow up to 4 feet in length, showcasing a black-and-white banded pattern across its body, which helps in thermoregulation. Known for their intelligence, Argentine giant tegus are capable of learning and recognizing their owners, showing a level of interaction uncommon among reptiles.

They are highly adaptable, inhabiting a range of environments from rainforests to savannas, where they burrow and hibernate during colder months. Their diet is omnivorous, including fruits, vegetables, eggs, and small animals.

12. Zebu

Zebu on a grassland
Zebu on a grassland | image by Charlie Jackson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Bos taurus indicus

The zebu is a species of domestic cattle originating from South Asia. Characterized by a distinctive hump over their shoulders, large dewlaps, and sometimes long, drooping ears, Zebus are well adapted to hot climates, thanks to their thick skin and short, glossy coat, which help in heat tolerance and resistance to parasites. Zebus are primarily raised for their meat, and milk, and as draft animals.

They exhibit calm and docile behavior, making them suitable for agricultural work and rural livelihoods. Zebus have been extensively bred and are found in tropical regions worldwide, particularly in Africa, South America, and parts of Australia, where they contribute significantly to local economies and cultures.

13. Uguisu

Uguisu | image by Ken Ishigaki via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Horornis diphone

The Uguisu, or Japanese nightingale is a small bird native to Japan and parts of East Asia, famed for its distinctive and melodious song, particularly during the breeding season. Unlike its common name suggests, it is not related to the nightingale but belongs to the bush warbler family.

The bird’s plumage is mostly a dull olive-brown, allowing it to blend seamlessly into its forest and woodland habitats. The male’s song is a key feature of the species, used to attract mates and mark territory, celebrated in Japanese culture for its beauty, and considered a harbinger of spring.

14. ʻAkiapolaʻau

ʻAkiapolaʻau | image by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr
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Scientific Name: Hemignathus munroi

The ʻAkiapōlāʻau is a unique and specialized bird endemic to the island of Hawaii, specifically inhabiting higher elevation forests. This small bird is notable for its highly unusual beak: the upper mandible is long and curved, adapted for extracting insects from crevices, while the lower mandible is shorter and stronger, used for chiseling wood.

This adaptation allows the ʻAkiapōlāʻau to feed in a woodpecker-like manner, a rare feeding strategy among Hawaiian honeycreepers. Its plumage is a mix of bright yellow and olive green, helping it blend into its forest habitat. The ʻAkiapōlāʻau’s diet primarily consists of insects and larvae, making it an important species for controlling pest populations.

15. Black tinamou

Black tinamou
Black tinamou | image by Blair Dudec via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific Name: Tinamus osgoodi

The Black tinamou is a rare and elusive bird found in the humid lowland rainforests of the Amazon Basin, particularly in Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. This bird is known for its all-black plumage, which sets it apart from other tinamou species. Black tinamous are ground-dwelling birds, preferring dense forest habitats where they can blend into the shadows.

Despite their ability to fly, they are predominantly terrestrial, feeding on a diet of fruits, seeds, and occasionally insects. Their secretive nature and the dense habitats they inhabit make them difficult to observe.

16. Jabiru

Jabiru | image by Egon Fink via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Jabiru mycteria

The Jabiru is the tallest flying bird found in South and Central America, easily recognizable by its large size, white body, black head and neck, and distinctive red pouch at the base of its neck.

This stork species prefers wetland habitats, including marshes, rivers, and lakes, where it feeds on fish, amphibians, and occasionally reptiles and small mammals, using its large, sturdy bill to snatch prey.

Jabirus are known for their impressive nest-building; they construct large nests atop trees, which are often reused and expanded each breeding season. These birds are monogamous, with pairs showing strong bonds. An interesting aspect of Jabiru’s behavior is their silent nature; they communicate through bill-clattering rather than vocalizations.

17. Kagu

Kagu | image by JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Rhynochetos jubatus

The Kagu is a flightless bird endemic to the forests of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Distinguished by its ghostly grey plumage, bright red legs, and a striking crest of feathers that it can raise or lower, the Kagu is a symbol of New Caledonia’s unique biodiversity. Adapted to life on the ground, it has powerful legs for running and uses its wings primarily for display and balance.

Kagus are solitary or live in pairs, exhibiting a highly territorial behavior. They feed on a variety of insects, snails, and lizards, foraging with their long bills among leaf litter. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Kagu is its ‘dancing’ behavior, which it performs when it feels threatened or to display during mating rituals. 

18. Tropical boubou

Tropical boubou
Tropical boubou | image by Derek Keats via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Laniarius aethiopicus

The tropical boubou is a bird species found in sub-Saharan Africa, recognized for its deep black and white plumage and melodious duets. These birds are monogamous and known for their complex vocalizations, which they perform in pairs, creating a harmonious and synchronized song that enhances their bond and territorial claims.

They inhabit dense thickets and woodland areas, where they can be seen foraging for insects, spiders, and small vertebrates, using their sharp bills to catch prey. Tropical boubous are sedentary birds, rarely moving far from their established territories.