14 Wild Animals That Start With 'U' (Aside From the Utahraptor)

By: Mitch Ryan  | 
Orange lizard with a thick, spiny tail on a desert rock
This spiny-tailed lizard is called a uromastyx. While it primarily eats plants, it's been known to snack on smaller lizards. Paul Starosta / Getty Images

Animal names are a simple way to categorize the diverse species of the animal kingdom. Animals that start with "U" can be some of the most fascinating in our planet's elaborate biological patchwork.

You'll find animals beginning with the letter "U" cover a wide range of birds, mammals, fish, insects and reptiles — each with unique skills and attributes that allow them to survive and thrive in various complex ecosystems.


1. Uakari Monkey

Kicking off this list of animals starting with "U" is the elusive uakari monkey found in the Amazon Rainforest. There are four species of these New World monkeys, which can be easily spotted by their brightly colored bald heads. Their red, bald head comes from agitation and a lack of pigmentation.

It's understandable why these small jungle mammals avoid human contact as much as possible: The uakari are now an endangered species due to hunting and habitat loss from over-forestation.


2. Ugandan kob

The Ugandan kob is a subspecies of antelope found in East Africa. Due to its similar horns and reddish-brown coat, it is often mistaken for an impala. However, the Ugandan kob is considerably larger than impalas and other kob species.


3. Uguisu

The uguisu, also known as the Japanese nightingale or Japanese bush warbler, is a small bird endemic to Central and South Asia. It is a beloved songbird species that adds an idyllic score to budding cherry blossoms in springtime Japan.


4. Uinta Ground Squirrel

The Unita ground squirrel is a species of rodent found in several regions of the Western United States. Unlike their tree-living cousins, who spend most of their time in canopies and harvesting nuts and seeds on the forest floor, Unita ground squirrels prefer wide open spaces in meadows and steppes.


5. Ulysses Butterfly

The Ulysses butterfly is a majestic insect known for its swallowtail wings, which shine with a bright blue color fading to black around the edges, appearing as though the butterfly was dipped in ink. They are endemic to the tropical rainforests of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.


6. Umbrellabird

This fancy perching bird of Central America is easily recognizable by its distinctive umbrella-like crest (hence its name). This dramatic plumage resembles a crow with a Gen Z mop top more than an umbrella.


7. Unicorn Fish

If the unicorn was the first animal you thought of when trying to come up with "U" animals, you're not alone. However, you were closer than you may have first imagined. The diverse world of the ocean offers a fascinating array of fantasy-like creatures, and the unicorn fish is in a class all its own.


8. Unau, aka Two-Toed Sloth

Two-toed sloths are one of the few members of the xenarthran mammal group that are closely related to the now-extinct ground sloth. The two-toed sloth is endemic to the jungles of Central and South America, which is the perfect place to spend most of your life hanging upside down in trees.


9. Upland Sandpiper

This shorebird of North and South America has long legs and a slender neck that allow it to hunt for water fauna along marshlands and coastlines. Appearance-wise, this sandpiper looks like a stretched-out dove with a body size roughly between that of a common robbin and a crow.


10. Ural Field Mouse

This pygmy field mouse is native to the Ural Mountain region in Central Europe. Its sandy-brown color blends into the rough terrain, offering it natural camouflage against predators hunting for an afternoon snack, and its long hind legs provide incredible leaping power for its size to escape when necessary.

11. Urial

The urial is a wild sheep native to Central Asia. One of the male urial's most unique features is its large curved horns, which it uses to fight off predators and other males. Like many animals with extravagant attributes, these wild sheep found that these horns also placed a target on their back for hunters.

Urial are currently endangered due to human activities, and their habitat continues to shrink as urban areas expand.

12. Uromastyx

The uromastyx is a species of spiny-tailed lizards endemic to North Africa and the Middle East. Although the spiny-tailed lizard has been known to consume insects and smaller lizards when hungry, it survives primarily on plants. Its herbivorous diet consists mainly of any nearby vegetation in these arid climates.

13. Utah Prairie Dog

Similar to the Uinta ground squirrel and Ural field mouse, the Utah prairie dog is a small mammal that lives in small social groups that burrow underground. Although it is just one of three species of prairie dog found in Utah, it earned the namesake because it is endemic only within the state's borders.

14. Utonagan

The Utonagan is a large, thick-furred dog breed that descends from some of the most powerful exploring animals from historic expeditions. It is a mix between a Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute and a German Shepherd. Although wolflike in appearance, these dogs are calm and friendly pets.