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"Am I sweating milk?! Being a platypus is so gross!"
Candace Flynn while in Perry the Platypus's body, Phineas and Ferb

Frequently, people will associate an animal with the secondary sexual characteristics only found in one sex (no, not those -- usually), and end up applying them to both sexes.

This leads to a lot of Viewer Gender Confusion when you see male "cows" with udders, female "peacocks" with trains, male kangaroos with pouches, red female cardinals, lionesses with manes, blood-drinking male mosquitoes, and so on. Barring the theory that perhaps these characters are meant to be transvestites, we have to assume they Did Not Do the Research.

See Insect Gender Bender for the colonial insect subtrope. Peacock Girl is a subtrope. Contrast Put a Bow On Her Head and Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism.

Examples of Animal Gender Bender include:


  • A Furry Orangina ad had the female "peacocks" with trains. Though that was not the only thing weird about that commercial.
  • In a Safeway commercial, a peacock Christmas tree ornament speaks with an old lady's voice.
  • "Mr. Cow, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?"
  • The Boddingtons' animated adverts featuring an obviously male cow with udders.

Anime & Manga

  • The 2009 remake of Shimajiro, a Japanese educational show about a little tiger boy, averts this. In the toilet training episode, a kangaroo superhero shows up to help teach Shimajiro learn to use the toilet, and brings his son along with him; because he's specifically a male kangaroo, he has to wear a separate pouch so he can carry the joey while leaving his hands free.


  • In Grimm Fairy Tales #54, Sela saves a pair of ducks (anat platrhynchos) from The Horde, one of them is badly injured. Her companion explains referring to the ducks, that "they mate for life, he would never leave her." Unfortunately, both ducks are male as their green heads show. In mallards, the females are brown with some colorful strips, but only male ducks have the green head.

Film - Animated

  • Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of ga Hoole has a female snowy owl that is the color of a male one. Also, the females owls are smaller than the males, just the opposite of real life.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and pretty much every other adaptation of the familiar Christmas myth. Reindeer are the only deer species in which both sexes normally grow antlers, in fact the males shed theirs around the time the story takes place, so that means every deer pulling Santa's slay had to be a doe with sticks glued to her head. Though granted the deer are usually portrayed looking like some sort of white-tailed deer lookalike species instead of real reindeer so maybe a inverted Call a Rabbit a Smeerp is in effect.
  • The Princess and the Frog has Naveen and Tiana turned into frogs. Naveen is larger and rather dull in colour whereas Tiana is smaller, cuter and more brightly coloured. Unless they're supposed to be bullfrogs or something of the like, Tiana should have been the big ugly one.
  • In Fantasia, the ballerina ostriches have black feathers, while in real life female ostriches have brown feathers.
    • Likewise, in Fantasia 2000 we see two male ostriches being led into Noah's arc in Pomp and Circumstance.
  • In The Jungle Book, the elephant herd is led by a male (bull). In real life, bulls are solitary, and only enter a herd to mate, then leave once they've done their business.
    • Averted in the book, in which there isn't a herd in the first place (although Hathi's sons hang around occasionally).
    • This was also lampshaded toward the end, when Colonel Hathi is deciding whether or not he will help Baloo and Bagheera rescue Mowgli from Shere Khan. When Hathi refuses, his wife Winifred threatens him that if he does not help find Mowgli, then she will kick him out and take over the herd. Hathi's response:

  Hathi: "What? A female leading my herd? That's utterly preposterous!"

    • This is also true with an earlier animated work called Goliath II.
    • The only animated Disney film to avert this trope and portray elephants as being led by females (just like in real life) was Dumbo.
  • Finding Nemo is apparantly about a father clownfish's journey to rescue his kidnapped son, Nemo. According to the film's prologue, the father clownfish is constantly worried about his son's survival because of his wife and all the other eggs being killed by a barracuda. In real life, all clownfish are born male, but turn female if the dominant female dies.
  • Averted in Kung Fu Panda 2, where Po and the Furious Five square off against a sickly, albino male peacock who wants to destroy Kung Fu forever. When said peacock's mother is shown (in shadow puppet form), she clearly doesn't have a train.
  • In A Bugs Life, Manny the praying mantis apparantly has a Gypsy moth for a wife, except that for some reason the Gypsy moth is depicted with wings, a trait exclusive only to male Gypsy moths. Actual female Gypsy moths are wingless.
  • Played with, and played straight, in Bee Movie. One scene involves Barry mentioning that the queen of one of the artificial hives being used to harvest honey for humans is a male bee crossdressing up as a woman.

Film - Live Action

  • The 1998 remake of Dr Dolittle, where a female voice is coming out of a male pigeon. Female pigeons are not as colorful as their male counterparts.
  • In Prince of Persia the Sands of Time the guy arranging the ostrich races repeatedly refers to them and the only ostrich left later in the movie as "she", however, all the shown ostriches are male.

Newspaper Comics

  • A Far Side comic depicts a male mosquito (obvious from his clothing) coming home from work and talking about how much blood he had to suck that day. Gary Larson knew this was inaccurate, but did it anyway just because. Larson apparently got a lot of mail about this particular comic. He was surprised that so many people were concerned about the male mosquito drinking blood, as opposed to the mosquitoes' wearing clothing.


  • Hedwig, Harry Potter's pet snowy owl, is supposed to be female, but for some reason she is all white, a trait exclusive to male snowy owls. Real female snowy owls have more dark spots. Although it never states in the book that Hedwig is Pure white, just that she was a beautiful snowy owl.

Live-Action TV

  • The Sci-Fi Channel movie Mansquito, wherein a convict subjected to genetic experimentation is transformed (as in The Fly) into a-- well, just look at the title.... He then proceeded to drain the blood of his human victims, rather than, say, knocking over juice stands (male mosquitoes feed on fruit rather than blood).
  • Sesame Street, which is supposed to be TEACHING kids things, has occasional egregious lapses, such as a sequence of a kangaroo (with a joey in a pouch) singing a song of complaint about the burden of having "someone else's apartment. . . a part of you." The singer's voice is male.


  • In Transformers: Kiss Players, Angela transforms into a lion. With a mane.
  • The original My Little Pony series has Kingsley. Kingsley is a lion complete with mane and and a very masculine name, so you'd expect a boy. However her backstory refers to her as "she" and "her". It's odd since the same series was typically rather accurate back then.

Video Games

  • Mostly averted in Animal Crossing. All of your lion townsfolk, who do have manes, are male. Similarly, all of the kangaroo townsfolk (with babies in their pouches, even!) are female.
  • Lord Woo Fak Fak in Banjo-Tooie is an enormous, male anglerfish. However, the creature we envision when we think of an "anglerfish" is in fact female -- male anglerfish are extremely tiny and don't have the "lure". Or much of anything in the way of distinguishing features.
    • Similarly, Edie the Anglerfish in the original Feeding Frenzy was referred to as a he. Edie's gender was swapped for the sequel after this mistake was discovered.
    • Kirbys Epic Yarn has a particularly egregious example of this one - one of the stages in Water Land is blocked off by a gigantic, apparently male anglerfish on the map; you get him to move by summoning a much, much smaller female anglerfish to lure him away. Um.
  • The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games have Ricky the male kangaroo, who lets Link ride around in his pouch.
  • Parappa the Rapper had a female moose with antlers. When this was pointed out to the creator, he said that he was fine with people considering her a transsexual if they wished.
  • Harvest Moon: Animal Parade has female ostriches with male black-and-white plumage.
    • Adding onto that, most of the games contain chickens who lay fertilized eggs and crow like a rooster while sitting on said eggs.
  • A puzzle in Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse: The City That Dares Not Sleep involves getting a chicken to lay an egg. The chicken is male. Lampshade hung in that he points this out, but agrees to lay an egg for Sam anyway. He also lays an egg in an earlier game, What's New, Beelzebub?, to which Sam adds, "Don't ask me how."
    • Max Imp is supposed to 'skitter inside the sinus cavities of humans to lay his terrible eggs'.
  • Averted in Pokémon where the kangaroo-like Kangaskhan is an all-female species. However, Kangaskhan for some reason, is always born with a joey in her pouch, and the joey is not a separate species!
    • However, Black and White play this straight with Sawsbuck, a deer Pokemon where the females can have antlers.
  • In Deadly Creatures, the tarantula is apparently supposed to be female, since male tarantulas in real life are much smaller.
  • Charmy, a male bee from Sonic the Hedgehog, has a stinger. Adding to the strangeness, he also doesn't lose it and die when he stings something.


Web Original

  • Lampshaded/subverted in AH Dot Com the Series, in which the crew is initially terrified that a Giant Mosquito created in a teleportation accident (who becomes a recurring character) will suck their blood, only for the mosquito to patiently explain it's male and just wanted to drink all the nectar from their hydroponics lab.
  • Magical Trevor, though it may be more a case with Pronoun Trouble. "the cow is back, back from his (?) magical journey... what did he (?) see..."
  • Cows With Guns: Male cow with udders, through which he seems to be able to urinate. Alternatively, the narration and the animation aren't telling the quite same story at that point. Also probable Lampshade Hanging in the lyrics, like they're acknowledging how silly it is: "(A cow well hung.)"

Western Animation

  • Lana from the comics/animated show Animal Crackers was a lioness. With a mane. (But see real life section).
  • Back at the Barnyard is infamous for this as it has a level of confusion somewhere between bizarre and Squick. Its hero is a male cow--not a male cattle or a bull. He has udders. And at the end, his girlfriend has a calf, and he clearly says it's a boy, even though the kid's got udders too. What makes all this REALLY odd, though, was that in one episode of the TV series, he becomes a wrestler, and fights a BULL! An actual, fully male bull with dark fur, a big chest, large horns, and a nose ring. Just when you get used to the idea that we're in a universe where ALL the cattle have udders, he's wrestling a fully male bull!
    • Word of God says the did this because "it's funny."[1]
    • Another cast member is a female bull. It's healthier to assume they're separate species in this universe.
  • On the other hand, Rocko's Modern Life makes a point to correct anyone who calls Heffer a cow. He's a bull.
  • In Futurama: Bender's Big Score, Leelu (used as an allegory for Leela) is a female narwhal with a tusk. Luckily the writers did the research and learned there are rare occasions where female narwhals do indeed have tusks and they changed an earlier line introducing her to read "a RARE toothed female narwhal"
  • In The Wuzzles, the male Eleroo (half elephant, half kangaroo) has a pouch. So not only is he half-elephant, he's gender-confused too.
  • In The Penguins of Madagascar the kangaroo Joey, who clearly a male kangaroo, sports a pouch that one of the title penguins actually falls into. To be perfectly clear, the pouch is for carring the kangaroo's young, and is only found on females. One episode features a bunch of apparently male hornets with stingers.
    • There is also a technical example in both the series and the films it's based on. Julien, a male ringtailed lemur, is ruler over all lemurs. This is wrong because lemur society is a matriarchy (a society ruled by females). Of course, Julien is also shown to be gender-confused at times, among other things, and most of the other lemurs aren't especially bright either, so there's a good chance this is just some sort of mix-up. It's also worth noting that male lemurs have extra claws on their wrists, which Julien appears to lack - probably just because of simplified cartoon anatomy, but ... The fanfic Princess depicts Julien as actually being transgendered, and there are one or two Rule 34 examples of him this way as well.
  • Kestrel from The Animals of Farthing Wood had the plumage of a male kestrel (brown back, grey head) but a female voice.
  • Perhaps parodied on Phineas and Ferb, which occasionally brings up the idea that Perry the Platypus could lay an egg. Nobody ever seems to realize that he's a male platypus.
    • Played straight in the above quote; when Perry and Candace switch bodies, Candace somehow can sweat milk, something that female platypi do.
  • Abused quite a bit in Hero 108. For example, in "Peacock Castle" the team face off against a mesmerizing yet vain peacock queen. She and all her brethren are presented with the spectacular plumage of the male, but are all depicted as females (coupled with the fact that there are no plain peafowl present also suggest that they are all hermaphodites). Also in "Sheep Castle" the sheep leader has horns but presented as female.
  • Margaret from Regular Show is a female cardinal with a male cardinal's colors.
  • Mr. Twitches from Tinkerbell and The Great Fairy Rescue is a male calico cat. Tortoiseshell and calico cats are usually female.
  • Daisy Duck of the Classic Disney Shorts apparantly has curved tail feathers, a trait exclusive only to male ducks.
  • Surprisingly averted in the 2007 TV series, George of the Jungle, where the clumsy hero is taken advantage of by a pair of scheming MALE peacocks.
  • One episode of Ren and Stimpy had a swarm of mosquitoes feasting on Ren's blood on their camping trip. The point of view of the mosquitoes had them speak in male voices after feasting and declaring that they will lay eggs afterward. However they could be females with Larynx Dissonance
  • Averted (albeit probably unintentionally) in one episode of Rocko's Modern Life where a mosquito feasting on Filbert the turtle's blood (which passes the disease onto Bev Bighead after she eats the sickened insect) has a bow on its head, implying that it's female.
  • The male anglerfish in Creature Comforts is actually a female one with a decidedly male voice.
  • In the pilot of Kaeloo, Bad Kaeloo was animated with a vocal sac. This has been fixed in later episodes.
  • An episode of the Looney Tunes, "Golden Yeggs" had the mobsters, Rocky and Mugsy, force Daffy Duck to lay golden eggs after hearing about his fame. This despite the fact Daffy is obviously a male duck. What's even more jarring is that the goose who actually did lay the golden egg and pinned it on Daffy is a male goose, or gander, himself.
  • Melissa the Magnificent Moose in the Higglytown Heroes episode, "Overnight Moose," has antlers, which only bull moose have.


  1. Which only serves to illustrate the potential for things to go horribly wrong when this rule is not used judiciously.
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