The movie Encanto includes many native Colombian animals with symbolic meanings that help capture the unique personality traits of each character. Along with these native animals, there are also some purely symbolic and even mythological creatures that also aid in storytelling. The presence of these animals adds to the story by helping to bring the film’s motifs together and connecting specific moments through the presence of an animal. Today, let’s discover the ten animals that appeared in this magical Disney film!
1. Donkey (Equus asinus)
Donkeys have an extensive history in Colombia, where Encanto is set. These animals have been used to navigate and carry heavy cargo throughout the country’s rugged, mountainous terrain. Donkeys have an upright mane and a cow-like tail with long hairs only on the tip. They have large ears that stick up above their head. Donkeys are smaller and slower than horses but are able to carry heavier loads. They are herbivores and mostly eat grasses, weeds, and vegetables.
Donkeys make an appearance in Encanto during Luisa’s song “Surface Pressure.” They are notorious for their ability to carry heavy loads. And similarly, the donkeys in the film symbolize the constant pressure placed on Luisa by her family. Although she can carry the load, she feels like she is beginning to break under the pressure placed upon her.
2. Rats (Rattus rattus)
Roof rats thrive nearly worldwide, especially in tropical regions. These rats typically have dark brown fur with long, thin, hairless tails. Rats are omnivorous and highly adaptable, so they eat whatever is available. Their food of choice consists of fruits, seeds, nuts, and even small insects like cockroaches. They have a crepuscular schedule, meaning they are active during dawn and dusk every day. Due to the adaptability of roof rats, they can thrive in urban environments by finding refuge in buildings, attics, sewers, and other artificial structures. They are often urban pests because they find their way into buildings and houses and make their nests there.
Rats are seen in Encanto surrounding Bruno, the shunned uncle. Rats are symbolized as bad luck, untrustworthy and frightening. As Bruno is misunderstood by his family, the rats represent what others think of him.
3. Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)
The capybara is the largest rodent in the world. This semi-aquatic rodent thrives in tropical habitats throughout South America and in areas of Central America. The capybara has short reddish-brown fur over its barrel-like body and webbed feet, allowing it to swim easily through the water. Its diet consists mainly of grasses, fruits, vegetables, aquatic plants, as well as small fish. As a result, the capybara occupies an important niche in its tropical wetland ecosystem. They help to control the growth of grasses and weeds in the wetlands and keep the water clean by consuming many species of algae and aquatic plants. The capybara is prey to several animals, including jaguars, caimans, eagles, and anacondas. Their main threat, however, is humans, as they are hunted for their meat and hide.
The capybara is seen in Encanto when little Antonio gets his gift, which allows him to understand animals. Along with a parade of other animals, the capybara fills up his room during the celebrations.
4. Tapir (Tapirus terrestris)
Tapirs are herbivorous mammals that use their mobile snout to munch on leaves, fruits, grasses, and aquatic plants. They are an endangered species, as tapir populations have been decreasing over the years due to poaching for their meat and hide and habitat destruction.
Their geographic range encompasses much of South America in forested and savannah habitats. They are often found near the water of the Amazon River. Tapirs are excellent swimmers, moving swiftly through the water. They take cover underwater when they are escaping predators. They can also move fast over rugged terrain on land. Their predators include crocodilians, jaguars, cougars, as well as anacondas. They have a round, pig-like shape with a short trunk as their nose. They have round ears that are dark with white edges. Tapirs can weigh up to 550 pounds. Their skull has a distinct shape, with a narrow and slightly inclined sagittal crest, and lacks a nasal septum. They typically live for a span of 25 to 30 years.
In the movie Encanto, a tapir surrounds little Antonio when he gets his gift allowing him to speak to and understand animals.
5. Coatimundis (Nasua nausea)
The ring-tailed coati is a member of the family Procyonidae, the raccoon family. They are spread throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of South America. Their habitat ranges from lowland forests to high elevations in the Andes Mountains range. Coatis are diurnal, meaning they are awake and active mainly during the day and sleep at night. Females band together with around 15 to 30 others, while male coatis are solitary.
Before much information was known about coatis, females and males were thought to be different species due to their behavioral habits. These creatures are omnivorous, eating fruits, small animals, bird eggs, and small invertebrates. They have a small snout that they use to poke around in search of prey as well as grapefruit from the canopy above them. Coatis are tree climbers. They climb to escape predators and sleep. Their main South American predators are foxes, jaguars, and jaguarundis.
The coatimundis is one of the many animals that show up around little Antonio when he gets his magical abilities.
6. Toucan (Ramphastos toco)
Toucans are a neotropical bird species with a native range from Southern Mexico down to Northern Argentina. Most toucan species live in the lowland tropics, but there is a mountain species of toucan that reaches into temperate zones in the higher altitudes of the Andes. Toucans prefer forested habitats and avoid open areas. They are very social birds and travel in groups of up to 20 individuals.
Toucans are famous for their large colorful bills. They use these bills for sparring for mating competition among males and for reaching food items that are almost out of reach or in tree cavities. Toucans are mainly frugivorous, meaning they primarily eat fruit, but they will consume small insects and lizards opportunistically. They have also been known to invade smaller bird nests, taking their eggs and even hatchlings.
The toucan named Pico is a minor character in the film Encanto. Pico becomes friends with Antonio after he gets his magical gift of being able to talk to animals. Thus, Pico became Antonio’s first animal companion after receiving his gift. Pico is responsible for inviting the rest of the wildlife to meet Antonio at the gift celebration. The toucan symbolizes sharing wisdom and socializing, which connects with Antonio because, although he is a little kid, he helps to bring the family together by believing in Mirabel and pushing her to believe in herself.
7. Hummingbirds (Archilochus sp.)
Hummingbirds are small birds with long, narrow bills that they use to extract nectar from flowers. They are nectarivorous, meaning that their diet consists primarily of nectar. Hummingbirds have tiny, powerful wings that move at fast speeds giving agility in their flight. They are able to hover in flight as well as fly backward and upside-down.
Several species of hummingbirds live in the tropical forests and the Andes of South America. All 340 species of hummingbirds are restricted in their range to the Americas.
Hummingbirds’ flight takes so much energy that they constantly need food to fuel them. The migration patterns of hummingbirds follow flower production. Along with nectar, they also will opportunistically feed on small insects, especially during their breeding and nesting season. Hummingbirds are preyed on by larger birds as well as small mammals, reptiles, and large insects. Habitat loss from deforestation and urbanization is also a major threat to several hummingbird species.
The hummingbirds are seen in the film Encanto as part of the parade of animals that joins in on the celebration of little Antonio receiving his magical gift.
8. Jaguar (Panthera onca)
Jaguars have a native range from the southwestern United States through Central America and down to Northern Argentina. Their preferred habitat is tropical and subtropical climates. They thrive in wetlands as they are excellent swimmers. Those in South America tend to be larger than those in Central or North America. Jaguars are the largest feline species in the Americas and the third largest in the world.
Their coloration can range from yellow and spotted to fully black fur. Their prey includes javelina, capybara, and other mid-sized mammals. They utilize a specific and unusual method of killing their prey that involves a strong bite through the skull, delivering a fatal blow to the brain. Habitat loss and fragmentation are major threats to jaguars. They are currently listed as “near threatened” by the IUCN Red List.
After little Antonio receives his magical ability to speak to and understand animals, the jaguar is one of the many animals that come to join the celebrations. The jaguar becomes friends with Antonio and even carries him around in the movie.
The only mythological creature used in the movie is Cerberus, the three-headed dog. In Greek mythology, Cerberus is the watchdog of the Underworld for Hades (the god of the underworld). The Greek hero Hercules fought Cerberus and wrestled him into submission.
In Encanto, Luisa is seen fighting Cerberus when she sings her song “Surface Pressure.” This scene is a reference to Hercules, as she is comparing herself and the tasks she is faced with to those of Hercules. A lot of pressure is put on Luisa by her family, and she questions whether Hercules ever felt the way she does, overwhelmed by the pressure and wanting to give up.
These beautiful insects are part of the Lepidoptera family. Butterflies live worldwide in habitats such as forests, meadows, and gardens. They play a vital role in pollination and are an essential part of many ecosystems. The life cycle of a butterfly, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult, is a fascinating process, and each stage has its unique characteristics.
Butterflies represent a united family in Encanto. In the film, they are linked to Mirabel by being depicted on her dress. They symbolize the renewal and metamorphosis in which Mirabel leads her Abuela and the rest of her family throughout the movie. The miracle candle that blessed the Madrigal family and their house with magic also has a butterfly etched into its side. Butterflies are also a focal point of the scene where Abuelo Pedro sacrifices his life. In this pivotal scene, the song “Dos Oruguitas” plays, which means “Two Caterpillars.” At the end of the song, they transform into mariposas (butterflies). The yellow butterflies that swarm around Abuela and Mirabel when they embrace symbolize love, hope, and peace for the family.
|Animal in Encanto
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Chongsiri Chaitongngam/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.