Every D&D 5e Playable Race That's Based On A Real Animal

The Dungeons & Dragons 5e ruleset has an abundance of playable races for players to choose from, many of which are based on real-world animals. It's not difficult for D&D characters to transform into animals, as this is the point of the druid's Wild Shape ability, and there are different spells that allow the player to shift form, but there are plenty of options to be playing an animal the whole time. It just depends on whether they want to spend the entire game playing as a rabbit or a cat with a sword.


One major change in D&D 5e that has happened over time is the way in which playable races work. The fact that Tasha's Cauldron of Everything dropped racial stat bonuses meant that there was a lot less pressure to play specific builds, making it easier for players to create the characters they want to play. A lot of the monstrous races have also been updated, making them more viable as character options. This means that any race/class build is now viable, including the animal races.

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There are lots of playable races in D&D that are based on real-world animals. The following list won't include anything from Unearthed Arcana (this includes the hippo-inspired Giff, as Spelljammer: Adventures in Space isn't out yet), shapeshifters, or Greek mythology-inspired creatures like satyrs and minotaurs, which are bizarre animal/human hybrids that don't quite fit the theme. There are still plenty of animal races for players to choose from, should they wish to walk on the wild side with their character.

D&D's Tabaxi Are Felines, Harengon Are Hares/Rabbits, Lizardfolk Are Reptiles


In D&D, the human and humanoid races have many gods to call their own, some of which govern regular animals. There are some animals that have protector deities of their own, and all felines fall under the banner of the Cat Lord. It's said that the Cat Lord created a race called the tabaxi, which are humanoid cats that commonly resemble jaguars, though they can resemble any kind of feline. The most recent version of the tabaxi appeared in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, where its climbing speed is the same as its walking speed, it has natural claw weapons, can see in the dark with darkvision, and can perform bursts of speed.

The Feywild is home to all manner of whimsical beings, as it's where they fey originate from, and the elves of the D&D multiverse originally hailed from there. The campaign called The Wild Beyond the Witchlight introduced the harengon, which are humanoid rabbits and hares. The harengon were also printed in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, where they can hop without provoking attacks of opportunity, gain proficiency on initiative rolls (known as a Hare-Trigger), and add 1d4 to Dexterity saving throws, in order to demonstrate their great agility and perception skills.

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There are races in D&D that are descended from dragons, such as the dragonborn and kobolds, while some were created to have snake-like elements through magic rituals, such as the yuan-ti purebloods. The lizardfolk are neither of these, as they are inspired by real-world reptiles, and they're one of the oldest races on the Prime Material Plane. They can be found hanging out in swamps or jungles all over the campaign worlds, where they generally keep to themselves and don't interfere with the lives of the warm-blooded humanoids. The most recent version of the lizardfolk appeared in appeared in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, where they are skilled swimmers, possess a deadly bite, can hold their breath for fifteen minutes, and have scaly skin that acts like armor.

The Magic: The Gathering D&D Races Brought Owls, Elephants, & Lions Into The Game


D&D and Magic: The Gathering are both owned by Wizards of the Coast, but it took years for the two to cross over in any meaningful way. There are now several Magic: The Gathering sourcebooks for D&D that bring concepts from the card game into the tabletop game. The first of these sourcebooks was Guildmasters' Guide To Ravnica, which introduced the loxodon to D&D. The loxodon are humanoid elephants with an incredible talent for stonemasonry. In Guildmasters' Guide To Ravnica, the loxodon can carry weight as if they were a size category higher than they are, have advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened, have a natural AC of 12, and can use their trunk to perform simple tasks, including making an unarmed strike against a foe.

In Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, a race called the owlin was introduced to D&D. In D&D lore, the owlin are descended from giant owls that resided on the Feywild, and they were transformed into humanoids by the chaotic magic of that realm. The version of owlin in Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos have flying speed equal to walking speed (but only in light or no armor), proficiency with the Stealth skill, and have a whopping 120ft of darkvision.

Mythic Odysseys of Theros details a plane that is inspired by the myths of Ancient Greece. It's here that the leonin are found in the lands of Oreskos, where they guard the massive pride lands of their home The leonin are humanoid lions, who differ from the tabaxi in a number of ways. A few leonin do leave their homeland and become adventurers, whereupon they can be used as playable characters. The version of leonin in Mythic Odysseys of Theros have a walking speed of 35ft, 60ft of darkvision, a natural claw weapon, and a mighty roar attack that can inflict the frightened condition on enemies.

D&D's Aarakocra Are Eagles/Parrots, Tortles Are Turtles, Kenku Are Ravens


The aarakocra originally hail from the Elemental Plane of Air, though they can be found in the wild in many D&D campaign settings, such as the jungle of Chult in the Forgotten Realms. These are bird people who most commonly resemble eagles or parrots, though they could resemble any bird. The recent version of aarakocra in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse gave them flying speed equal to their walking speed, natural talon weapons, and the ability to cast gust of wind at level 3.

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Keeping with the bird theme, there are also the kenku, who are humanoid ravens. The kenku lack the ability to fly, and while they're often known as tricksters and expert thieves, thanks to their uncanny knack for mimicry, there are many who take up different professions. The recent version of the kenku in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse are masters of duplicating handwriting, mimicking sounds, and remembering information.

The people who wish to create a teenage ninja, but are struggling to think of a playable race for the character can't go wrong with a tortle. The tortles are a race of humanoid turtles, with a massive protective shell on their back, which (oddly) doesn't slow them down. The recent version of the tortle in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse has a natural claw weapon, the ability to hold their breath for an hour, a natural AC of 17, and they can hide in their shell for a further +4 bonus to AC. This makes them an ideal choice for a Dungeons & Dragons spellcaster, as they never need to worry about wearing armor.