The Dark Portal
Thanks to the likes of Peter Cottontail, the Velveteen Rabbit, Peter Rabbit, and the Runaway Bunny, books about lovable bunnies are as common (and multiply as quickly!) as rabbits themselves. The literary world also teems with heroic dogs, wisecracking cats, friendly pigs and other inspirational fauna.
But what about the cunning, murderous, sly animals? The big bad creatures of the animal kingdom that plot and stalk and give us the creeps? While not as prevalent as their kindly counterparts, literature has its share of scheming animals, as well. Some are just full of treacherous creatures, like The Dark Portal (book one of Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice trilogy, pictured at left), which features both an ominous cat-god named Jupiter and an evil squirrel named Morwenna. Always be vigilant of evil squirrels.
In celebration of the darker side of literary animals, we’ve put together the best of the worst offenders. We insisted on talking animals with actual bad intentions, rather than a creature simply acting as nature intended, so you won't find Cujo or Jaws here. Whether simply nasty and cantankerous or downright evil and cruel, these are not your garden-variety fluffy bunnies.
The Villainous Animals of Fiction
1. Little Red Riding Hood
The iconic big, bad wolf. Scheming and manipulative and feasting on Grandma. In some versions, he eats Little Red, too.
2. Watership Down
General Woundwort - brutal dictator rabbit who attempts to destroy Hazel and his group of outsiders.
3. The Jungle Book
Shere Khan is the arrogant, vicious tiger always trying to kill someone in The Jungle Book
The pig Napoleon encourages barnyard revolution, then abuses the power to terrorize the other animals and declare himself ruler.
5. The Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
Nightmarish winged monkeys screech terrifyingly while ferrying messages to the Wicked Witch of the West and doing her bidding.
6. The Adventures of Pinocchio
The cat and the fox were dishonest, greedy characters who mislead and rob Pinocchio
and even try to hang him.
7. The Last Battle
A nefarious ape named Shift lies, orchestrates the destruction of the Talking Trees, causes battle in Narnia's final days.
8. The Wind in the Willows
The opportunistic chief weasel is a jerk who amasses a band of weasels and takes over Toad Hall.
9. The Book of Genesis
If ignorance is bliss, the serpent in the bible's Book of Genesis surely demonstrated that knowledge is pain, leading Adam and Eve into temptation.
10. The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
The lengths the wily fox goes to in his attempts to procure and eat Jemima's eggs are shameless. He never gets them.
11. The Tale of Despereaux
Botticelli Remorso is a hateful, one-eared rat intent on killing the princess and feeding her to his evil rat army.
12. The Golden Compass
An envious, deceitful polar bear named Iofur Raknison kills his father, usurps the throne and covets wealth.
Nag and Nagaina, two deadly cobras, plot to kill their human hosts to have unencumbered run of the house whose garden they occupy.
In book one of the Welkin Weasels series, a cruel boar named Karnac tries to starve the weasels to death, to sell their skins to make drums.
15. The Enormous Crocodile
The enormous crocodile decides to eat all the children he can find. But the other animals of the jungle have other ideas.
16. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
A treacherous rat named Jenner undermines the rats of Nimh, killing their wise leader Nicodemus and attempting to kill Mrs. Frisby.
18. The Master and Margarita
Behemoth is a massive black cat with a fondness for guns, able to walk on his hind legs, talk and behead people. He also drinks gasoline.
Goth is a wicked bat with a penchant for the flesh of other bats. He, along with his sidekick Throbb, kill their own for food as well as personal gain.
20. The Sight
Morgra is an evil she-wolf who posseses the Sight and has been banished from the wolf clan for being a pup killer.