Can you name five animals that start with ‘U’? How about three animals that start with ‘U’? One animal? Come on, say the name of one animal that starts with ‘U’. No? Not so simple, is it?

You never know, knowledge of this seemingly insignificant fact file might just come in handy in the future. Perhaps, it will win you the top prize at a pub quiz.

There’s a (ever so slight) chance such knowledge can help you impress a guy or girl. Who can’t help but fall in love with someone who can readily reel off an alphabetically ordered list of African animal names!

What? Doesn’t everybody love such incredible animal knowledge!

Here’s a list of African animals that start with ‘U’, just for you, so that next time you’re asked, you have a few quickfire responses ready in your arsenal. 😉

Animals That Start With U Mean Uganda, Udzungwa and Uluguru…

Simply because of the first letter of their names, various regions, nations and areas of Africa are directly responsible for a large number of animals that start with U, as you can note from the following list of African animals that start with ‘U’:

Antelope That Start With U

Ugandan kob in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Ugandan kob

No, this is not a large wedge of corn that can be bought at a local fair covered in melting butter.

The Ugandan kob is a member of the antelope family. It’s normally reddish-brown, differentiating it from other kob subspecies.

Shrews That Start With U

Ugandan shrew

Unlike the common shrew, the Ugandan shrew’s day to day movements and motivations are still quite a mystery. Information on preferred places to live, eat and exist is open to interpretation.

This mouse-like mammal with an elongated snout keeps itself to itself and, as such, its biological rhythms and behaviours are not widely renowned.

Ugandan musk shrew

Before you ask, no, the Ugandan musk shrew is not an almost identical imitation of the previously mentioned Ugandan shrew, but with the addition of a manly ‘musky’ fragrance.

Usambara shrew

With a rapidly declining population due to a loss of habitat, its cultural power and presence in shrew society is dwindling, much like the next member of its kind.

Ultimate shrew

Saving the best until last, the ultimate shrew is a slightly mythical mammal with few genuine pictures of it in the wild. Why its title leads to the belief of superiority over its shrew subordinates remains to be seen.

Monkeys That Start With U

Ugandan red colobus close-up, at the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary

Ugandan red colobus

This minute monkey has closely related cousins in neighbouring nations (cf. Zanzibar’s red colobus), living at varying levels of prosperity.

This particular simian species is sadly endangered and at risk from all angles; environmental changes and habitat annihilation have contributed to its demise.

It’s also prey to plenty of possible predators from its very own primate gene pool! Chimpanzees are said to be partial to an almost cannibalistic custom of killing the Ugandan red colobus.

Udzungwa red colobus

A shimmering shock of bright orange hair, sticking straight up like the result of a recent electrocution, frames the Udzungwa red colobus as the family punk rocker of the primate ranks.

It has learned to live almost exclusively in the towering trees of the Tanzanian forests.

African Birds That Start With U

Uganda woodland warbler

Africa’s subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests are the perfect places for the Uganda woodland warbler. Despite its name, this variation on the veritable and world-famous warbler takes up residence throughout the African continent in any condition considered conducive to its needs.

Udzungwa forest partridge

Taking on the zany appearance of a colouring book character which has been coloured in by a kid wanting to use all of the crayons in the box, the Udzungwa forest partridge is one surreal-looking bird.

A black and white belly, coupled with a red and black back, make the choice of bright yellow legs and orangey-red face almost understandable.

Upupa africana (African hoopoe)

African hoopoe (Upupa africana) in Kruger National Park

Not looking one ounce out of place among such colourful contemporaries, the upupa bird is notable for its distinctive “crown” of feathers and zebra-style black and white stripes.

Spelt a little like a green-haired man with an orange face from a Roald Dahl classic (an umpa lumpa), the upupa africana is a truly international bird which has been spotted all over the globe. And no, it doesn’t like to eat chocolate.

Ursula’s sunbird

Due to its geographical position on the African continent, specifically Cameroon, the Ursula’s sunbird is an aptly named animal. A collage of coordinated colours cover its outer feathers and its head alone has over five shades of grey and green.

Uluguru violet-backed sunbird

In the case of the Uluguru violet-backed sunbird, the description is in the name. Hailing from the vast mountainous region of Uluguru in Tanzania, its magnificent multi-coloured coat of feathers makes it look more like a rainbow than the sun.

Reptiles and Amphibious Animals That Start With U

A rare Uganda clawed frog (Xenopus ruwenzoriensis) photographed in its natural environment

Uganda clawed frog

This animal starting with U is an aggressive and, at times, carnivorous cannibal. The Uganda clawed frog will consume any creature crossing its callous path. Known to dine upon babies of other frogs without an ounce of regret, if it’s small enough and close enough, it gets snapped up and swallowed.

Uluguru blue-bellied frog

With its saucer-like eyes and glow-in-the-dark turquoise skin, the Uluguru blue-bellied frog gives the impression of being a four-legged amphibious alien from out of space. Instead, it’s a forlorn member of the frog fraternity that is flirting with a nomadic future, an animal on the brink of total extinction.

Usambara blue-bellied frog

Like so many others who depend on marshland and swamps, the Usambara blue-bellied frog (or ‘banana frog’) has had a front row seat to the rapid recession of its home. Endemic to Tanzania, its environment has been repurposed and ravaged by social and environmental change.

Upemba mud turtle

These bite-sized representatives of the solid-shelled turtle team are found in the freshwater regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They’re virtually the only animal starting with U in the entire Congo Basin.

Uromastyx (Spiny-tailed lizard)

Uromastyx, or spiny-tailed lizard, lying in the sun

Yet another African animal with cannibalistic tendencies, the uromastyx eat insects and other small animals, especially young lizards.

These members of the lizard family possess a curious configuration of hard rings at the bottom of a scaly tail.

Marine Animals That Start With U

Uganda nothobranch

At first glance it may appear to be an everyday goldfish but, at closer inspection, the intriguing illuminous purple pattern makes the Uganda nothobranch appear slightly magical and mysterious.

Upper Zambezi squeaker

Its tell-tale whiskers and sharp frontal fangs reveal how the Upper Zambezi squeaker is a bonafide member of the catfish collection. More of a skulker than an outward swimmer, it can be found hovering just above the seabed and squeezing itself into small spaces.


Black sea urchins during low tide, Zanzibar

Sitting seemingly still and dormant on the seabed, urchins are not the most active members of the underwater community. Coming in all sizes but generally only one circular and spherical shape, urchins have spear-tipped spikes that can cause more than a minor inconvenience to an attacker.

Rodent Animals That Start With U

Unstriped ground squirrel moving cautiously along a log, Samburu National Reserve

Unstriped ground squirrel

Often enjoying an unjustified tag as cute and cuddly, unstriped ground squirrels are a subsection of the rodent ranks. Found to be neither territorial or colonial, these bushy-tailed tricksters prefer semi-arid bushland but are quite apathetic about the scale or range of their burrows.

Is ‘U’ An Unlucky Animal Letter?

So many of the African animals starting with U are victims of the same challenge. Many of these remarkable animals are on the brink of extinction.

With habitats severely damaged and disappearing, populations of whole species disintegrating year by year and no immediate measures to resist or reverse these trends, the future looks quite bleak for many of Africa’s smaller ‘U’-named beings.

Let’s hope that all these animals starting with U are still around for future generations.