This is a list of animals that appear in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. In addition, this list encompasses several living creatures that were referred to at some point by Tolkien as being beast-shaped Maiar (angelic beings) rather than proper animals; such cases are annotated.
Crebain (singular: craban) were a large species of crow that inhabited the land of Dunland during the Third Age. They were often used as servants and spies by various evil powers, notably Saruman. During the War of the Ring, a flock of crebain searched for the Ring-bearer. Crebain "crows" would be the regular plural form of Sindarin *craban "crow," a word which (while unattested) seems to have been adopted by Tolkien from Indo-European languages, particularly a pre-Germanic form *krabn-, whence the proto-Germanic *hrabnaz, from which descended both Old High German hraban and English raven.
- Main article: Nazgûl#Steeds
Flying creatures that were used by the Nazgûl as steeds during the later parts of the War of the Ring. Tolkien did not use this phrase as a proper name for them (it is simply a description; fell means "fierce, awful, terrible"), but absent any other name, they are usually called "fell beasts". Tolkien describes one thus:
- ...if bird, then greater than all other birds... ...neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers... A creature of an older world maybe it was...
A few paragraphs later it is said to attack with "beak and claw".
- Main article: Eagle (Middle-earth)
The Hobbit describes a colony of sapient and over-sized spiders in the northern parts of Mirkwood at the end of the Third Age. The Elves of Thranduil's realm tried unsuccessfully to exterminate them. During the events of the book, Thorin's company was captured by spiders and enmeshed in webs; however, Bilbo Baggins managed to free them with the aid of his sword Sting and his magic ring.
The Lord of the Rings adds that these spiders were of the brood of Shelob, who in turn was a child of Ungoliant, and that they inhabited southern regions of Mirkwood as well. It also suggests that the spiders appeared after the Shadow fell on Mirkwood around T.A. 1050.
Kine of Araw
White oxen that lived near the inland Sea of Rhûn, called thus by the men of Gondor, who associated them with the Vala Oromë or Araw, "the huntsman of the Valar". Vorondil the Hunter made a horn of one of these beasts, which became an heirloom of the Stewards of Gondor. This horn eventually came to Boromir and was broken when he fell during the War of the Ring.
One of the many species of birds found in Númenor that were not known in Middle-earth. The kirinki are said to have been smaller than wrens, with scarlet feathers and "piping voices on the edge of human hearing".
The mearas (singular mearh) were a breed of wild horses in the north of Middle-earth. Their lifespan is similar to that of Men and their intelligence and strength are extraordinary. They surpass normal horses in the same manner that Elves surpass Men.
They descend from Felaróf, who was tamed by the first King of Rohan, Eorl the Young, and perhaps ultimately from Nahar, horse of the Vala Oromë. Ever since, they have been the mounts of the King and Princes of Rohan alone. During the War of the Ring, however, Gandalf the Grey's friendship with Shadowfax, lord of the Mearas, led to Shadowfax allowing Gandalf to ride him at the end of the Third Age.
The creatures are described in The Two Towers. Samwise Gamgee expresses a desire to see one and tells of Hobbit-lore of their being "big as a house" (see below). Later, Sam then sees one as big as a "moving hill." Tolkien writes that Sam's "fear and wonder" may have enlarged the animal in his eyes.
Employed as a beast of burden by the natives of Harad, the Haradrim, the mûmakil were also used in battle during the wars of the Third Age. In the War of the Ring, they were used by troops in Ithilien and in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, much like war elephants of the real world. In battle, they carried tower-like structures (corresponding to howdahs), bearing Haradrim archers. These beasts had skin so thick, it was almost impenetrable - making them almost invulnerable to arrows. The only known way to kill one was to shoot it in the eye. Also, as with real elephants, horses (other than the Haradrim's own) refused to go near them, making them effective against enemy cavalry. Tolkien implies that the creatures became extinct and that its "kin that live still in latter days are but memories of his girth and majesty."
"Oliphaunt" is also the title of a short comic poem about the beast quoted by the hobbit Samwise Gamgee, based on traditional bestiary lore from the Shire. The poem appears in The Two Towers and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.
The word oliphaunt is a variant spelling of the archaic word oliphant meaning "elephant", "ivory", "elephant-tusk", "musical horn made of an elephant tusk", or "a musical instrument resembling such a horn". The most famous use of the term in literature outside Tolkien is in The Song of Roland: the knight Roland fails to call for help at the Battle of Roncevaux using his oliphant horn until it is too late for him and his comrades. Roland's horn is echoed in The Lord of the Rings by Boromir's horn and counterposed by Helm's horn and the horns of Buckland. There are also Mûmakil in Rhûn.
- Main article: Warg
A race of wolves that was particularly evil-natured and often allied with Orcs. Tolkien took the name from the Old Norse word for "wolf". Sometimes described as "demonic wolves", they appear in The Lay of Leithian, The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring.
The horse of Legolas. He is the grey horse given to Legolas by the Riders of Rohan in The Two Towers. Gimli also rides on him by sitting behind Legolas. They ride in the traditional Elven way without a saddle. They travel on Arod for much of their journey until they reach Minas Tirith, including the journey on the Paths of the Dead and the march to Pelargir. The epilogue to The Lord of the Rings (published in The History of Middle-earth, volume IX, Sauron Defeated) has Sam saying that "Legolas let his horse run back free to Rohan from Isengard", presumably after the war, when Legolas and Gimli left the rest of the Company to visit Aglarond and Fangorn.
The horse that Húrin Lord of Dor-lómin rode to the battle of Nírnaeth Arnoediad. Neither horse nor rider returned, and Morwen Húrin's wife "listened for his footfall in the sleepless watches of the night, or would wake thinking that she had heard in the courtyard the neigh of Arroch his horse".
'Ride on! Ride on!' cried Glorfindel, and then loud and clear he called to the horse in the elf-tongue: noro lim, noro lim, Asfaloth!" (Sindarin for 'run quickly').
--The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford"
In the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring, Asfaloth is Arwen's horse and the two flee with the wounded Frodo across the ford from the Black Riders
A pony bought, for the exorbitant price of twelve silver pennies, by Barliman Butterbur, the innkeeper at the Prancing Pony in Bree, for Frodo Baggins and his companions, to replace the ponies that had been stolen from the inn's stables during their stay there. Butterbur purchased Bill from Bill Ferny, who was in league with the spies who stole the other ponies. Ferny was a cruel man who had mistreated Bill, but in the hobbits' service Bill became a fatter and happier pony. He was named 'Bill' by Sam Gamgee shortly after the party left Bree.
Bill became acquainted with elvish horses in Rivendell, to his advantage: he left Rivendell much wiser, and healthier and happier.
He accompanied the Fellowship of the Ring from Rivendell to the doors of Moria, but had to be left behind there because the company could not take a pony through the mines of Moria. All thought him killed by either the Watcher in the Water or wolves, but being a wise pony by this point, he managed to survive on his own and make his way back to Bree. There, he was nursed back to health at the Prancing Pony, until he eventually was reunited with Sam on his return journey to the Shire. Bill's old master, Bill Ferny, had been set by "the Chief" (Lotho Sackville-Baggins) to watch the gate at the Brandywine bridge into the Shire, and after he was cowed into submission and sent off by the hobbits, Bill the Pony caught him a kick just as he disappeared into the darkness. Sam took the pony back to Hobbiton.
One of five ponies obtained by Merry and used by the hobbits to ride from the Shire to Bree. The ponies are named by Tom Bombadil after the hobbits' encounter with the barrow-wight and from then on answered only to those names. They later vanish during the attack on Bree by the Black Riders. The reader is told that the ponies find their way to Bombadil and his pony, Fatty Lumpkin, and are eventually sent back to Bree, to be looked after by Butterbur.
An intelligent raven that lived upon the Ravenhill beneath the Lonely Mountain in the days of King Thrór. He and his mate nested above the guard-chamber there, and became such a "wise and famous pair" that they lent the name to the hill.
- Main article: Carcharoth
The "mightiest of all wolves", bred by Morgoth and set to guard the gates of Angband. He bit off Beren's hand together with the Silmaril and was maddened by its touch. Carcharoth was slain by Huan, but not before he managed to wound mortally both the hound and Beren.
Bred from the wolves and inhabited with an evil spirit sent by Morgoth himself, Draugluin was the sire of all werewolves of Beleriand, including Carcharoth, and lived with his master Sauron in Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the former watchtower of Finrod Felagund.
An earlier form of the name was Drauglir. While Draugluin translates as "blue wolf" in Sindarin, a closer translation is believed to be "pale wolf."
The pony kept by Tom Bombadil. Fatty Lumpkin (sometimes called just "Lumpkin") was rarely ridden by Tom, and spent much of his time roaming free on the Barrow-downs. The ponies of Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin got to know Fatty Lumpkin and managed to find him after the hobbits encounter a wight in the Barrow-downs. When the hobbits' ponies escaped from Bree, their familiarity with Fatty Lumpkin led them back to Tom's house.
Eorl vowed to avenge his father, commanding the horse to serve him as weregild for his father. Eorl named the horse Felaróf (meaning "very valiant, very strong" in the Anglo-Saxon poetic vocabulary) and rode him without bit or bridle. They took part in the Battle of the Field of Celebrant. Felaróf was buried in Eorl's burial mound.
- Main article: Gwaihir
One of the great eagles, Gwaihir is perhaps best known for rescuing Gandalf from the tower of Orthanc, ending Gandalf's captivity by Saruman. Also, Gwaihir rescued Gandalf after his battle with the balrog in Moria. He and his brother Landroval accompanied Gandalf to rescue Sam and Frodo from Mount Doom at the end of the War of the Ring.
Huan, also known as the Hound of Valinor, was a great hound. In The Silmarillion, Tolkien describes him as being approximately the same size as a small horse.
Huan was given to Celegorm, one of the Sons of Fëanor, by the Vala Oromë the Hunter. Huan accompanied Celegorm on his huntings. When the Noldor under Fëanor rebelled, Huan went to Middle-earth with his master. For this reason, he fell under the Doom of Mandos.
Huan had been granted special powers by the Valar, and was allowed to speak three times. It was also prophesied that he would be killed by the greatest wolf that ever lived.
Huan became involved in the Quest for the Silmaril in which Beren tried to recover a Silmaril from Morgoth, the Dark Enemy. When Beren had left Lúthien and gone with Finrod Felagund to Angband but had been captured in Tol-in-Gaurhoth, Lúthien set out to rescue him. She was intercepted by Celegorm and Curufin, who were living in Nargothrond at the time and were hunting. Huan smelt Lúthien and captured her, and she was brought before Celegorm. Celegorm and Curufin did not reveal to her that they had sent Beren to his death by the hand of Sauron, and took her as a prisoner to Nargothrond, "for her own protection", secretly plotting to wed her to Celegorm and thereby force an alliance with Lúthien's father Thingol.
Huan felt pity for Lúthien, and often sought her out. Speaking for the first time, he told her of a way to escape, and then accompanied her to Tol-in-Gaurhoth to rescue Beren. He killed all of Sauron's werewolves until Sauron himself came out, taking the shape of the greatest wolf that had ever lived up to that point (Sauron was as aware as any of Huan's destiny, and ultimately sought in vain to artificially bring about his death). Huan nevertheless managed to defeat him, and Sauron was forced to flee. Huan returned to his master, who had been exiled from Nargothrond by Orodreth.
On their way to Himring Celegorm, Curufin and Huan came across Beren and Lúthien in the north of Doriath. Curufin tried to kill Lúthien, but Huan turned against his master, defending Beren and Lúthien, and drove Celegorm and Curufin away. Speaking for the second time, Huan told Beren and Lúthien of his plan to gain entrance to Angband, bringing them the corpses of the werewolf Draugluin and the bat Thuringwethil, Sauron's messenger. Through magic Beren and Lúthien took the shapes of these beasts and went to Angband in this disguise, while Huan hunted in the wild.
After Beren and Lúthien had won the Silmaril but Beren had lost his hand to the werewolf Carcharoth, Huan joined Beren, Thingol, Beleg Cúthalion and Mablung in the Hunt for the Wolf. Huan and Beren managed to kill Carcharoth, but Huan was mortally wounded. Speaking for the third and last time, he wished Beren fare-well, and died.
Horse given to Aragorn by the Riders of Rohan in The Two Towers. Previously, this horse had been ridden by a Rider named Garulf, killed in the recent skirmish with the band of orcs that had captured Merry and Pippin ("May he bear you well and to better fortune than Garulf, his late master!" — Éomer to Aragorn). Aragorn later rode his own horse, Roheryn, who came to Rohan with a company of Dúnedain from the north.
A horse of Rohan, sire of Snowmane. Lightfoot is mentioned on the inscription on Snowmane's grave (Snowmane's Howe).
Nahar (from the Valarin Næχærra) was the horse of the Vala Oromë. It was the neighing of Nahar that alerted Oromë to the presence of the Quendi when he came upon them for the first time, and light from the sparks his hooves threw up were the first light in Valinor after the darkening of the trees.
Queen Berúthiel's cats
- Main article: Queen Berúthiel
Cats used as spies by the Black Númenórean Queen Berúthiel.
The son of Carc the raven, born in T.A. 2788. By the time of the Quest of Erebor organised by Thorin II Oakenshield, Roäc had become the leader of the great ravens of the Lonely Mountain, although it is stated that "he was getting blind, he could hardly fly, and the top of his head was bald." With his and his flock's help, Thorin's company gathered news and communicated with Dáin II Ironfoot before the Battle of Five Armies.
The horse of Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor. Rochallor bore the King to the gates of Angband, where a desperate and fearless Fingolfin challenged Morgoth to single combat. Rochallor stayed by his master throughout the duel, but was driven away by wolves. He died of a burst heart in Hithlum soon afterwards.
The name Roheryn means 'horse of the lady' in Tolkien's invented Elven language, Sindarin; this stems from the gift of the horse to Aragorn by Arwen. Roheryn was brought to Aragorn in the South by his kinsman Halbarad during the War of the Ring, prior to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. He, Arod, and the other horses of the Dúnedain went with their masters on the Paths of the Dead and made the great march to Pelargir.
A horse of Rohan, the chief of the Mearas. Like the other mearas, Shadowfax was a grey or silver stallion and could understand the speech of Men. He was seemingly fearless. He could run faster than any other horse in Middle-earth. Nobody could ride Shadowfax save Gandalf, and he was later given to Gandalf by King Théoden. He would not tolerate a bridle or saddle, and carried Gandalf by his own choice. His name means Shadow-mane (Old Norse fax meaning "mane"); the name derives from the horses Skinfaxi and Hrímfaxi in Norse Mythology.
In an unpublished epilogue and a letter Tolkien stated that Shadowfax passed West over the Sea with Gandalf; in The Lord of the Rings Gandalf appears with a "great grey horse" on the quay just before departing, and he had earlier promised Shadowfax (in the chapter "The White Rider") that they would not be parted again in this world.
- Main article: Shelob
An "evil thing in spider form" that dwelt beneath the Pass of Cirith Ungol on the borders of Mordor. During the events of The Lord of the Rings, she attacked the Ring-bearer Frodo Baggins, who passed through her lair, but was finally repelled by Sam Gamgee. She is called the "last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world".
Théoden's horse, foal of Lightfoot. Snowmane accompanied Théoden to the Battle of the Hornburg, and was ridden on the final charge out of the fortress. At the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, however, Snowmane was pierced by a black dart, causing him to fall and crush Théoden beneath him. He was buried with honour on the field of battle; his grave, known as Snowmane's Howe, bore the inscription:
- Faithful servant yet master's bane
- Lightfoot's foal, swift Snowmane.
- — The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields", p. 120
The pony given by Théoden to Merry Brandybuck. He is described as small, shaggy, and grey. Théoden's reason for leaving Merry in Edoras while he rides to Gondor to do battle is that Stybba cannot keep up with the horses of the Rohirrim, and none of the riders can carry Merry. The name is from Old English styb "stub, stump". Icelandic stubbur is a common name for sheep.
The Lord of Eagles in the First Age, said in The Silmarillion to be the "mightiest of all birds that have ever been", with a wingspan of thirty fathoms (54.9 meters, or 180 feet) and a beak of gold. His name translates from Sindarin, an Elven tongue devised by Tolkien, as 'King of Eagles'; its cognate form in Quenya, another Elven language, is Sorontar. He led the eagles during most of their appearances in The Silmarillion, and has a significant role of his own.
Thorondor first enters the narrative when he helped the Elven-prince Fingon rescue his kinsman Maedhros from imprisonment upon Thangorodrim. After the Dagor Bragollach, he saved Fingolfin's body from defilement by his slayer Morgoth, giving the Dark Lord a scar on his face and carrying the Elven-king's corpse to the Encircling Mountains north of Gondolin, where it was buried by Turgon. Shortly afterwards, Thorondor espied Húrin and Huor at the feet of the Mountains, and sent two of his servants to fetch them and bear to Gondolin, fulfilling thus the intentions of the Vala Ulmo. Thorondor and two other eagles rescued Lúthien and the wounded Beren from the doors of Angband during their Quest of the Silmaril, taking them to Doriath.
- Main article: Ungoliant
Described as an evil spirit in the form of a spider. She is mentioned briefly in The Lord of the Rings, and plays a supporting role in The Silmarillion. She is said to have sired Shelob. Her origins are unclear, as Tolkien's writings don't explicitly reveal her nature, other than that she is from "before the world".
Watcher in the Water
- Main article: Watcher in the Water
A mysterious creature with tentacles appearing in The Lord of the Rings. At the end of the Third Age, it lived in a lake before the West-door of Moria, and attacked the Company of the Ring during the events of the book. In Peter Jackson's film adaptation the Watcher somewhat resembles a cephalopod with an eversible, many-toothed mouth.
Éowyn's grey horse. Disguised as Dernhelm, Éowyn rode with Merry on Windfola to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. During the battle, Windfola was terrified by the Nazgûl's fell beast; Éowyn and Merry were thrown from Windfola's back, and Windfola ran wild over the plain.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Ch. 2 "Of Aulë and Yavanna", ISBN 0-395-25730-1
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Book II Ch. 3 "The Ring Goes South", ISBN 0-395-08254-4
- Calvert Watkins, American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
- The Return of the King", Appendix A (ii), p. 395.
- The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith", p. 29.
- The Science of Middle-earth: The Kine of Araw; Henry Gee, The Science of Middle-earth
- Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl", p. 314, note 28.
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, II, timeline, p. 434.
- Morgoth's Ring, p. 138.
- The Return of the King, "The Grey Havens", p. 380.
- The Silmarillion, "Of the Return of the Noldor", p. 110
- The Lost Road, "Quenta Silmarillion", §97
- The Etymologies, entries THORON-, TĀ-
- Morgoth's Ring, "Myths Transformed", VIII, pp. 409–411
- The Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Beleriand", pp. 154, 158–9
- The Silmarillion, "Of Beren and Lúthien", p. 182
- Quenya and Sindarin wordlists at Wiktionary, which include Elvish names devised by Tolkien for real-world animals
- Brego Information on the horses who worked in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy