Some Interesting Animal Proverbs

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Proverbs are short statements which express the wisdom and traditional norms based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. I find them great fun, especially the ones that use animals as a way to express a larger truth. What is amazing is that countries as diverse as England and Vietnam have the same proverbs in their own languages – I supposed the experiences of people are the same, no matter where they are. This week I am going to list the proverbs from across the world that I like. (this is difficult because I have a list that runs into 35 pages):

Give a dog a bad name and hang him: people who continue to be accused on the basis of a presumed error in the past.

Dogs with short legs bark all the time – (Italian): It could mean to get noticed – people with little to say, talk the most.  But it is true of short

dogs. It could also mean the Napoleonic complex- shorter men make more noise, want more and achieve more.

Even a dog can look like a bishop – (Italian).

When one wants to get rid of their dog, any excuse is a good excuse – (Italian)

Those who kill cats and dogs never do anything that’s good – (Italian)

Who does not keep dogs, keeps thieves – (Italian)

A fine cage won’t feed the bird – (American)

A coconut shell full of water is an ocean to an ant – (American)

No matter how high a bird flies, it has to come down for water – (American)

Use your enemy’s hand to catch a snake – (Persian)

Hunger will lead a fox out of the forest – (Polish)

If there were no elephants in the jungle, the buffalo would be a great animal – (Ghanaian)

Cats don’t catch mice to please God – (Afghan)

Only when you have crossed the river can you say the crocodile has a lump on his snout – (Ghanaian)

Those who dislike cats will be carried to the cemetery in the rain – (Dutch)

A smart mouse has more than one hole – (American)

When the mouse laughs at the cat there’s a hole nearby – (Nigerian)

Don’t think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm – (Malayan)

Every animal knows more than you do – (Native American)

No one sees a fly on a trotting horse. (Meaning: Don’t go crazy about details because people won’t notice them in the big scheme of things) – (Polish)

Don’t call alligator long mouth till you pass him – (Jamaican)

Trust in Allah, but tie your camel – (Middle Eastern)

Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet –(Chinese)

No need to teach an eagle to fly – (Greek)

Never try to catch two frogs with one hand – (Chinese)

Judge not the horse by his saddle – (Chinese)

One dog barks at something, the rest bark at him – (Chinese)

When elephants fight, the grass dies – (African)

Books and cats and fair-haired little girls make the best furnishings for a room – (French)

If a girl treads on a cat’s tail, she will not find a husband before a year is out – (French)

You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats – (Colonial American)

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song – (Chinese)

Never scratch a tiger with a short stick – (Chinese)

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair – (Chinese)

Even monkeys sometimes fall from trees – (Japanese)

Beware of people who dislike cats – (Irish)

A roaring lion kills no game – (African)

Give to a pig when it grunts and a child when it cries and you will have a fine pig and a bad child – (Danish)

Don’t strike a flea on a tiger’s head – (Chinese)

At high tide the fish eat ants; at low tide the ants eat fish – (Thai)

After eating a hundred mice, the cat embarks on Haj pilgrimage (pretence of repentance, of nobility after being wicked) – (Indian)

It’s a brave bird that makes its nest in the cat’s ear – (Indian)

Never stand in front of a judge or behind a donkey – (Indian)

Speak like a parrot; meditate like a swan; chew like a goat; and bathe like an elephant – (Indian)

You may lock up the cock, but the sun will still rise – (Indian)

It is easy to threaten a bull from the window – (Italian)

It is bad for puppies to play with bear cubs – (Danish)

The heron’s a saint when there are no fish in sight – (Bengali)

A house without a dog, a cat, or a child is a house without love or affection – (Irish)

Love is a donkey freed of all tethers – (Cameroon)

Having seen as much as I have of history being made, and seeing how written records are so far from the truth of what actually happened, this is my favourite proverb:

Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter – (African)

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