How to Tell Wild Animals


In the poem How to Tell Wild Animals, the poet, Carolyn Wells, is describing the characters of wild animals funnily. The poet has used humorous language and has used rhyme as a literary device. This poem consists of the brute nature of wild animals.


The poem starts with a description of different wild animals. In the first stanza the poet is advising the readers that if they travel east, they may encounter many wild animals. She is describing various characteristics to identify the animals. The poet says that if the reader came across a yellowish-brown animal, which roars so loudly that a person would die. Then it is an Asian lion

In the next stanza, she describes a royal animal with yellow skin and black stripes, which roams the jungle. if you encounter that animal, it will kill you and eat you, then it is a tiger.

In the third stanza, the poet says if you are going to a jungle and an animal with yellow skin and black spots jumps on you, it is a leopard. She further adds that the leopard is fast and crying would not help.

Further, she describes that if you are walking on your lawn, a big furry animal will hug you tightly, then you should know that it is a bear. The characteristic of the bear described is hugging. The poet is using a funny way to explain the killer grip of a bear.

In the fifth stanza, the poet describes that it is somewhat difficult to distinguish between animals which prey on other animals. The two animals which eat other animals are Hyenas and crocodiles. The way to identify a hyena is that it will be smiling and crocodiles will always be in tears.

In the last stanza, the poet is describing a small creature. The small creature is a chameleon. The characteristics of a chameleon are that it will look like a lizard, but it will not have ears and wings. Another ability of a chameleon is that it will change colour according to the colour of the surface it is sitting on. If a person sees nothing on a tree, a chameleon might be sitting on it.


The following poem is about the characteristics of wild animals and how one can identify them. The poet has used humour to identify the wild dangerous animals. She has talked about the roar of lone, the killing ability of a tiger. The poet also talked about animals like leopards, Hyenas, crocodiles, bears and Chameleons. The poem is useful for people who are going through the jungle.

Questions and Answers

Q. Does ‘dyin’ rhyme with lion?

Ans: The actual word is dying which does not rhyme with a lion. To create a rhyme, it is written as ‘dyin’ in the poem.

Q. How does the poet suggest that you identify the lion and the tiger? When can you do so, according to him?

Ans: The poet differentiates between the two in the following manner, she says that if the beast is yellow-brown and roars out so loud that you may die, then that is an Asian lion. Whereas, if the animal has black stripes on the yellow background of its skin and he attacks to kill you, then it is a Bengal tiger.

Q. Do you think the words ‘lept’ and ‘lep’ in the third stanza are spelt correctly? Why does the poet spell them like this?

The words ‘lept’ and ‘lep’ have not been spelt correctly. It is a poetic device which is used by the poet to emphasize the actions of the leopard.

Q. Look at the line ‘A novice might be nonplus’. How would you write this correctly?

Ans: The correct order of the sentence is' novice might be nonplussed’. The poet wrote it to bring rhyme to her poem as nonplus rhymes with thus

Q. Much of the humour in the poem arises from the way language is used, although the ideas are funny as well. Comment.

Ans: Yes, the poet has indeed used the language in a way that creates humour. The poet has used many funny lines. One such is ‘If he roars at you as you’re dyin. You’ll know it is the Asian Lion...’ or the other one is ‘A noble wild beast greets you’. So her idea of explaining the characteristics of wild animals is quite funny


Q. How does the poet describe the lion?

Ans: The poet tells that if anyone encounters an animal with yellowish-brown skin, and its roar is so loud that it can kill a person. Then it is a lion.

Q. How can one identify a tiger?

Ans: According to the poet if an animal has black stripes on its yellow skin and it can kill and eat a person, then that animal is a tiger.

Q. What is the difference are between a hyena and a crocodile?

Ans: According to the poet, hyenas are always laughing and crocodiles are always weeping.

Q. What is special about a chameleon?

Ans: A Chameleon can change its colour based on the background it is sitting on.