how to sign animals in bsl

How to sign animals in BSL

Children love to play with toy animals and now you can teach them how to sign animals in BSL! Learning the signs for animals is great for parents, teachers and can widen a child’s vocabulary. Learning animals signs is also essential for more structured courses such as BSL level 1. Whatever reason you’re learning sign language, you can have lots of fun with animal signs!

Farm animals in BSL:

The clip (below) from YouTube shows you how to sign farm animals. The video is by Dan from Commanding Hands:

The video shows 12 BSL signs for farm animals. The video was chosen by our BSL tutors as it covers the signs needed for the Level 1 BSL course. Animal signs form the foundation of your learning on a structured course. But you can also just learn them for fun! Watch the video to see sign language for different animals: horse, goat, bull, cow, cow milk, sheep, donkey, pig, fox, dog, chicken and duck

Other farm animals: farm, goose, turkey, fish, fox, owl, rabbit, rat, mouse, hedgehog

Regional variations:

If you’ve read any of our previous posts, we always point to regional variations in sign language. A good example of sign variation is the sign for a horse. There are three variations:

  • One sign traces the shape of a horse’s head
  • One sign if from the rider’s view of the horse
  • The sign for horse can also be from a third person view of looking at someone sitting on a horse.

We have included a different video showing Scottish signs. They are mostly the same with the exception for farm and horse.

what’s the bSL sign for:


cat, mouse, bird, rabbit, sheep, deer/ reindeer

Goldfish, Hippopotamus, Gorilla

Hedgehog, Chicken, Lizard, Elephant, Crocodile, Lion, Tiger, Monkey, Giraffe, Penguin, Deer

Sign language for zoo animals:

bear, camel, chimpanzee, crocodile, eagle, elephant, giraffe, gorilla, hippo, kangaroo, lion, monkey, ostrich, parrot, penguin, rhino, seal, snake, tiger, tortoise, wolf, zebra

Sign language for pets:

Signs for pets such as dog, cat, mouse, rabbit, hamster, fish, frog, guinea pig, horse, snake, spider, tortoise, lizard, bird, parrot, chickens

Signs in BSL to describe pets and other animals:

When you learn animal signs, you also need to learn how to describe them.

Large, big, tall, small, long (body), Short (body), Feather, Fur, Fluffy, Thick fur, Thin fur, Smooth, hairy, long bushy tail, short tail, teeth, pointed ears, long ears, colours, shape, size, spots, pattern, paws, claws, shiny, sweet, cute, bark, miaow, vicious, growling

Rough, Pointy ears, Floppy ears, Quiet, Noisy, Dog food, Cat food, Rabbit food, Insect food, Fish food

Other Resources to learn ‘BSL for animals’:

Little Signers Club BSL farm animals flashcards

Twinkl BSL farm animal printables

Curriculum signs for animals e.g. earthworm

Enfield School for the Deaf vocabulary list

BSL Signed Stories with animals

The Royal Association of the Deaf (RAD) have a channel dedicated to signed stories. They include: