Our planet is jam-packed with a whole bunch of amazing animals! If you’re like us, you could spend hours watching documentaries and learning all about them–and we bet your students are the same! Learning about different animals is a fantastic way to grab their attention; whether it’s a biology or geography lesson at high school or preschoolers learning about the alphabet, why not use the animal kingdom to expand their horizons? We’ve put together a list of 63 delightful, dangerous, and even disgusting animals that all start with the letter “D”! Let’s dive in!
1. Darwin’s Fox
This fox coined its name from their discovery by the famous scientist, Charles Darwin. This now endangered species was first observed in Chile on Darwin’s famous voyage around the world way back in 1834! It’s thought that there are only around 600 still alive today.
Learn More: Animalia
2. Darwin’s Frog
Here’s another amazing animal that was discovered on Darwin’s voyage; Darwin’s frog. A distinct behavior of this species is that males will swallow their freshly hatched babies until they are grown! Don’t be alarmed! This might sound a bit brutal, but it’s actually to keep them safe! These frogs are aptly known as “one of nature’s most extreme dads.”
Learn More: Smithsonian Magazine
When you think of the word “damsel”, you probably think of fairytales with damsels in distress. Well, these vibrantly colored fish are far from in distress! In fact, damselfish are often the ones causing distress with their aggressive behavior! It’s not surprising to learn that they’re not everyone’s favorite to have in their aquarium.
Learn More: Aquarium Store Depot
4. Dark-Eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Juncos are common birds that can be found in North American forests. You can usually spot them on forest floors looking for seeds anywhere from Alaska to Mexico! Be on the lookout for their dark eyes and white tail feathers next time you’re out for a walk in the wilderness!
Learn More: All About Birds
5. Dassie Rat
Just look at that fluffy tail! These African rodents set up homes in dry and rocky habitats with their narrow head allowing them to squeeze in between rocks. These plant-eaters don’t need to worry about drinking water as they preserve the moisture from their food.
Learn More: Rock Jumper Birding
6. Deathwatch Beetle
Did you know that beetles go through metamorphosis just like moths and butterflies? You can find these deathwatch beetles crawling around old wood and making a special tapping sound against the wood to attract a mate. Their name arises from an old superstition where people believed that their tapping signaled that death was near!
Learn More: Ask An Entomologist
There are around 50 different species of deer around the world and all except one grow antlers. Did you know that their antlers are made of the fastest-growing tissue found anywhere on Earth? These interesting animals are quite common, but are actually full of surprises! You’ll be surprised at just how much you don’t know about them!
Learn More: Conserve Energy Future
Degus are smart, playful, and exceptionally curious creatures. These small rodents can make many different noises to communicate; squeaking is a sign of pain or fear, while chittering sounds mean “hello.”
Learn More: Vital Pet Club
9. Desert Locust
Although they may look harmless, desert locusts are dangerous pests. These insects are a threat to food security as they feed relentlessly on crops. Just one swarm of one square kilometer can consume the equivalent of what 35,000 humans would eat in just one day.
Learn More: Concern Worldwide
10. Desert Tortoise
These slow-moving reptiles live in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah deserts. They are rare to spot because they usually hide in plants or burrow away from the hot sun exposure.
Learn More: The Nature Conservancy
Dholes are average-sized members of the dog family found on the Asian continent. These social animals usually live in groups of around 12, without a strict dominance hierarchy. Unlike other dog family members, they communicate with distinct clucks and screams.
Learn More: Just Fun Facts
12. Dik Dik
This species of antelope is absolutely adorable! Dik diks are small mammals weighing in at around 5 kg and measuring 52-67 cm in length. They live on the African continent and around their big, dark eyes, they have glands that release a special territory-marking scent.
Learn More: African Wildlife Foundation
The picture shows just how dipper birds got their name! These aquatic birds dip their head in and out of river streams an astonishing 60 times a minute to catch their food which consists of mayflies, dragonflies, and other aquatic insects.
Learn More: Pond Informer
The vibrant blue and green colors of the discus fish make them a truly captivating sight! These disk-shaped call the Amazon River their home and they require stringent conditions to be kept in an aquarium. Once they’ve had babies, adult discus fish will release a slimy substance on their skin to feed them!
Learn More: Britannica
These turkey-size, flightless birds were first discovered on the small island of Mauritius, near Madagascar, by Dutch explorers in the 1500s. Sadly, they went extinct shortly after in the late 1600s due to the hunting of the birds and their eggs, and the destruction of their habitat.
Learn More: Kidadl
Man’s best friend is a very impressive animal! As they have about 25 times more smell receptors than we humans have their sense of smell is very impressive. Bloodhounds can distinguish smells 1000 times better than us, and their smelling skills can even be used in courtrooms as legal evidence!
Learn More: Reader’s Digest
Dolphins are extremely intelligent mammals that live in the sea. Their intelligence has been documented time and time again in their use of tools and their ability to recognize their own reflection! Dolphins are also very talkative with each other, using different clicks, squeaks, and moans to communicate.
Learn More: The World Wildlife Fund
Donkeys are unique among the horse family for their ability to inhale and exhale while vocalizing to produce a “hee-haw” sound. They’re very sociable animals and love living in groups; it’s thought that they can even suffer from separation anxiety if separated from their companions!
Learn More: Treehugger
Can we take a minute to appreciate how cute this little guy is? Dormice are tiny, nocturnal rodents that range from 2-8 inches long and aren’t actually mice! They might even give your kiddos a run for their money on how much they love to sleep in–dormice spend at least half of the year in hibernation!
Learn More: Treehugger
Did you know that doves and pigeons are the same type of birds? Unlike most other birds, doves do not put their head under their wings when sleeping. In the past, they were used as messengers because of their excellent flight and navigation skills and are a symbol of peace in some places!
Learn More: Pet Keen
21. Dragon Fish
Dragon fish are found in the deep sea of Southeast Asia with little exposure to sunlight. They use their glowing barbels to find prey in their habitat of darkness and can also illuminate water by producing light from the back of their eyes! How cool!
Learn More: Animals Time
Today’s dragonflies have wings that span 2-5 inches but fossilized dragonflies have shown wingspans of up to 2 feet! Terrifying! Even though they’re much smaller now, dragonflies have strong wings and exceptional vision which both contribute to their great insect-hunting skills.
Learn More: Smithsonian Magazine
In Australian slang, a drongo means a “fool.” These mean-looking birds are known for being bullies, so maybe this is how they got their name. They engage in kleptoparasitic behavior, which means that they steal collected food from other animals.
Learn More: Wild Life Safari
24. Drum Fish
If you’re a successful angler, chances are you may have caught one of these guys! They are one of the most common fish in the world. Did you know that you can find stones, called otoliths, in their ears that can be used for making necklaces or earrings?
Learn More: Kidadl
Your enemies might tell you to “sleep with one eye open”! That’s exactly what ducks do to keep safe from any danger! Another cool fact related to their eyes is that their vision is three times better than humans and 360 degrees of view!
Learn More: Tyrant Farms
These aquatic Australian animals are close relatives of the manatee and are the only marine mammals to rely completely on seagrass for their diet. They love seagrass so much that they’ll eat a whopping 30kg of the stuff each day!
Learn More: Sea Life Sydney
27. Dung Beetle
We did promise a disgusting animal on our list and here it is! Have you ever wondered what dung beetles actually use the dung for? There are three uses; they use them for food/nutrients, as a gift for mates, and for laying eggs in! These impressive insects can roll balls of dung that weigh up to 50 times their own body weight!
Learn More: Wild Ark
These wading birds, home to the Northern regions of the world, look different depending on the season. Their feathers are more colorful when they are breeding, and both sexes get dark bellies. However, in the winter, their belly feathers turn white!
Learn More: Birdfact
29. Dutch Rabbit
The Dutch rabbit is one of the oldest and most popular breeds of domesticated rabbits. They are distinguished by their small size and fur color markings. Each rabbit has a distinct pattern of a white belly, shoulders, legs, and a part of their face!
Learn More: Animal Corner
30. Dwarf Crocodile
These small crocodiles in West Africa grow up to 1.5 m. Like most reptiles, they are cold-blooded, so they must use their environment to manage their body temperature. They also have bony plates covering their body to protect them against sun exposure and predators– though we can’t imagine many animals trying to take this crocodile on!
Learn More: YouTube
The Dachshund is a long-bodied, short-legged dog ranging in size from standard to miniature. These dogs pack a mighty bark, one that often doesn’t match up to their size! Although exercise is not their strong suit, they are a loving dog breed with big personalities.
Learn More: American Kennel Club
Sought out by Disney’s character Cruella De Vil, the Dalmatian is a large dog breed known for their white coat and black spots. The intelligence that allowed them to escape the wrath of De Vil isn’t fictional- Dalmatians are very clever canines! These dogs also make great companions but are very energetic and need lots of exercise.
Learn More: Dog Time
33. Desert Ghost Ball Python
You won’t find the desert ghost ball python in the wild– these guys are human-made! This snake was specifically bred in 2003 to create a unique one because of gene mutations during the breeding process. Their heads and patterns are of distinct shape and color.
Learn More: Morph Market
Vibrantly colored and long-bodied, the dartfish is a saltwater fish commonly seen in aquariums. They feed off of crustaceans and plankton and usually grow to be about 4 inches long. Dartfish are very social fish, thriving best in groups of four or more, so can adapt well to aquarium life in the right conditions!
Learn More: Aquarium Creations Online
35. Darwin’s Rhea
The Darwin’s rhea walks across various countries of South America with its three-toed feet. This feature is what distinguishes them from their distant two-toed cousin, the ostrich. These flightless birds are brown in color and are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plants and other small animals.
Learn More: Britannica
Living and contributing to Australia’s ecosystem for thousands of years, the dingo is a medium-sized wild canine. Dingoes are usually solitary animals and live mainly in grassland or near forests throughout Australia. These animals hold an important place as an apex predator in Australia’s ecosystem– so If you ever spot one, don’t mistake it for a friendly pup!
Learn More: Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
The dorado is a large fish that roams the oceans in schools of 50 or more. They are an electric green-blue in color and at around 1 meter long, are considered very strong swimmers. Dorado, or mahi mahi as they are sometimes known, are preyed on by larger fish such as tuna and swordfish.
Learn More: Sea Grant California
38. Dorking Chicken
Most commonly found in backyard coupes or on large hatchery farms, the Dorking chicken is a breed that’s thought to have originated in ancient Rome! These birds are known to be great egg layers and have a super docile temperament– this makes them a popular choice for people who like to keep a few chickens on their property.
Learn More: The Feather Brain
The dotterel is found living across both the north and south islands of New Zealand, favoring the beach! Unfortunately, they are declining in population due to coastal development and people being avid beachgoers, negatively impacting their environment.
Learn More: New Zealand Birds Online
This next animal is classified as the only nocturnal monkey giving them the nickname “night monkey”! The douroucouli is a wide-eyed, grey-legged, long-tailed, small monkey living in the forests of South America. They love to feed on insects, leaves, and fruit and live in families of two to five members!
Learn More: Edinburgh Zoo
41. Downy Woodpecker
If you live in the US, you’ve probably seen this little guy in your own backyard! The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest of woodpeckers living in North America and can be identified by their black and white feathers with a pop of red on their heads. They feed from gardens eating intrusive insects such as beetles and weevils.
Learn More: American Bird Conservancy
A popular dog of Sweden, the Drever is a cross between a Westphalian Dachsbrake and other hounds. Despite being short in stature, these dogs like plenty of exercise and have a high stamina for physical activity. Originally, they were bred as hunting dogs!
Learn More: Dog Breed Info
Also known as a Norwegian Hound, dunkers are working dogs with a great sense of smell, making them excellent trackers. Their personalities are not ideal to be kept as pets as they can become bored easily, meaning they’re best suited to working-dog life. Interestingly, the dunker was specifically bred in the 1800s to have all the ideal characteristics in a dog to withstand the brutal Norwegian climate.
Learn More: Dog Zone
Dunnarts are tiny marsupials inhabiting Kangaroo Island, Australia. Their population has recently decreased significantly due to wildfires destroying so much of their habitat. Dunnarts are carnivorous and feed primarily on small animals and insects.
Learn More: Australian Wildlife Conservancy
45. Dubia Cockroach
Dubia cockroaches are not your typical pests. They are usually used for feeding reptiles and are specifically bred as such. Unlike other cockroaches, they’re not intrusive, they lack the ability to climb, and they must be kept in a warm environment for their survival.
Learn More: The Bug Shed
46. Dusky Grouper
The Dusky Grouper is a large marine fish that can be found naturally in the East Atlantic Ocean. It can be domesticated in aquariums but with more needs than other marine life, it’s not the easiest of tasks! Dusky groupers are aggressive and a bit territorial, so need lots of room to swim in order to avoid confrontations!
Learn More: Saltwater Aqua-Fish
47. Death Adder
Death adders are native to Australia and are known for having particularly long fangs! These guys are some of the most venomous land snakes in the world, but thanks to the development of an anti-venom, fatalities in humans are rare. Death Adders have a variety of color patterns but are highly identifiable by their distinctive triangular head.
Learn More: Animalia Bio
48. Dwarf Mongoose
As its name suggests, the dwarf mongoose is the smallest of mongooses living in Africa. They live in packs of 12 to 32 and have a system of hierarchy where an elder female leads the pack. Even though they are social animals, things can get a bit heated if they happen to encounter another mongoose family!
Learn More: National Zoo
49. Dekay’s Brownsnake
Not often encountered by humans, the Dekay’s brownsnake is a non-venomous, sneaky snake that lives across the Eastern United States. Their bodies are grayish-brown with a checkerboard-like pattern of keeled scales and they don’t tend to get much bigger than 18 inches long.
Learn More: Orianne Society
50. De Brazza’s Monkey
Omnivorous primates, the De Brazza’s monkey can be found in the forests and swamps of Central Africa. On average, they can live between 23 and 30 years of age depending on whether or not they live in the wild or in captivity.
Learn More: Southwick’s Zoo
51. Deer Tick
Deer ticks get their name due to the hosts they often feed from. Common throughout the East and Midwest United States, deer ticks are most known for carrying Lyme disease. If you’re out on a hike in an area where these guys live, it’s wise to try and cover up to avoid getting bitten!
Learn More: Pest World
52. Dire Wolf
Now extinct, the dire wolf lived over one million years ago. Fossils of this impressive predator have been discovered across North and South America. Based on archaeological studies, dire wolves lived in large packs, hunted for other mammals, or fed from carcasses. They have shared ancestry and characteristics with gray wolves, but these guys were around 25% bigger!
Learn More: National Park Service
53. Dinosaur Shrimp
Their name is derived from their long evolutionary history; the dinosaur shrimp is a three-eyed crustacean. Their ancestors lived over 419 million years ago and today, these guys live in fresh-water ponds across North, Central, and South America.
Learn More: Live Science
Affectionate and playful, a doxle is a cross-breed between a beagle and a dachshund. This mix results in litters of dogs with a variety of colors and due to the nature of their characteristics, doxles make for great pets!
Learn More: Dog Time
55. Doberman Pinscher
Muscular and intelligent, Doberman pinschers are protectors and loyal companions. They’re most recognizable by their sleek appearance and pointed ears. Doberman Pinschers are working dogs and are commonly thought of as aggressive, but this is just their fearlessness and instinct to protect at play.
Learn More: American Kennel Club
Living 4.5 million years ago, the Dinocrocuta is a distant relative of the modern-day hyena. They were roughly four times bigger than the hyenas we know, and their name means “terrible hyena” to represent the size of their physique and strength! Dinocrocutas used to scavenge for food, like their modern-day counterparts still do, across western Eurasia.
Learn More: Prehistoric Fauna
57. Disco Clam
Disco clams live in the coral reefs of tropical oceans. They’re vibrantly colored with a reddish-orange body, but their name is derived from their ability to create a “flashing light” to distract their predators! These creatures can also spew toxic mucus as another defense mechanism! Sightings of disco clams are rare in nature, so spotting one is no mean feat!
Learn More: University Of Colorado Boulder
Depicted in the Jurassic Park movies, Dilophosaurus lived about 1.9 million years ago. They were tall “two-ridged lizards” who ran on two legs to chase their food! Dilophosauruses have a kink in their jaw that is similar to crocodiles today, and crests on their head that make them look quite distinct!
Learn More: Natural History Museum
59. Dragon Moray
Having an elaborate patterned body, the dragon moray is hard to miss! Its body is an orange-brown color that’s covered with black and white spots. They have very sharp teeth and a pointed snout and can be found swimming in the reefs of the Indo-Pacific Oceans.
Learn More: Waikiki Aquarium
60. Diving Bell Spider
Water-dwelling spiders? Is there nowhere us arachnophobes are safe!? The diving bell spider is found in freshwater ponds worldwide in a nested web beneath the water’s surface. They have the ability to live underwater by trapping air in the hairs that cover their body, which gives them a silvery appearance.
Learn More: Wildlife Trusts
61. Diamondback Moth
Viewed as pests, diamondback moths feed from crops in most agricultural fields. As their name suggests, their wings have a diamond pattern of black, white, and cream. While these moths are relatively small they’re very destructive and they were actually one of the first ever species that were recorded as developing a resistance to pesticides!
Learn More: Science Direct
The Dobsonfly is a large cylindrically shaped insect with even bigger wings and a sickle-shaped jaw. There are 30 different dobsonfly species found on all continents and they all thrive best near freshwater! Although we can’t see the appeal, these bugs are a favorite food for fish, so fishermen like to use them as bait.
Learn More: Featured Creatures