How to Tell Wild Animals Poem Notes and Explanations Class 10 English

Carolyn Wells’ poem “How to Tell Wild Animals” is a humorous poem that suggests some dangerous ways to identify wild animals. Here you would get Meanings, Stanza-wise explanations, summary and central idea of the poem ‘How to Tell Wild Animals”. Click here for its Poetic Devices & Q/Ans.

Summary of “How to Tell Wild Animals”

“How to Tell Wild Animals” is a humorous and whimsical poem by Carolyn Wells that provides comical advice on how to identify various wild animals if one were to encounter them in the jungle. The poem is structured in six stanzas, each focusing on a different animal and offering an exaggerated, ironic method of identification.

  1. Asian Lion: The poem begins with a description of the Asian Lion, suggesting that if you see a large, tawny beast roaring at you as you’re in mortal danger, it is an Asian Lion.
  2. Bengal Tiger: Next, the Bengal Tiger is described as a noble beast with black stripes on a yellow background. The poet humorously advises that if this animal eats you, it is a Bengal Tiger.
  3. Leopard: The Leopard is identified by its spotted hide and its tendency to leap on its prey repeatedly. The poem humorously notes that roaring in pain won’t stop the leopard from continuing to attack.
  4. Bear: The Bear is described as a creature that hugs very hard. If you meet such a creature and have any doubts, the bear will give you another powerful hug (or “caress”) to confirm its identity.
  5. Crocodile and Hyena: The poem contrasts the Crocodile and the Hyena, suggesting that a novice might be confused. However, Hyenas are distinguished by their merry smiles, while Crocodiles are known for their fake weeping (“crocodile tears”).
  6. Chameleon: Finally, the Chameleon is described as a small, earless, wingless lizard. Its ability to blend into its surroundings is humorously noted by saying that if you see nothing on a tree, it is likely a chameleon.

The poem uses a playful and ironic tone to describe potentially dangerous encounters with wild animals, providing a humorous twist on the serious subject of wildlife identification. Through exaggerated scenarios and amusing advice, the poem entertains while teaching about the characteristics of these animals.

Vocabulary: Word Meanings

Tawny-of brown colour, भूरे -पीले रंग का।Beast- huge animal, जानवर। Dyin’- to die with fear, बहुत ज्यादा डरना। Roam-to wander, घूमना, टहलना । Stripes-long narrow bands differing in colour, धारियाँ। Noble- of high origin, कुलीन। Discern-perceive clearly, पहचानना । Stroll-walk in leisurely way, टहलना। Peppered-sprinkled, छिटके होना। Forth-forward, आगे। Lept-jumped, उछला। Hide- animal skin, त्वचा। Yard-lawn and garden area of house, आँगन। Creature- animal, प्राणी, जानवर। Caress- to touch gently, प्यार-दुलार करना। Distinguish- to differentiate, अंतर करना। Prey-animal which is hunted for food, शिकार। Novice-a beginner, नौसिखिया। Nonplus-completely perplex, उलझन में डालना, चकित करना । Chameleon-small lizard capable of changing colour, गिरगिट ।”Tis-this, यह।

Stanza-wise Explanation

Stanza 1


  • Tawny: A warm, sandy colour (brown-yellow).
  • Beast: Huge animal
  • Advance: Approach or move forward.
  • dyin’: As if dying out of fear
  • Asian Lion: Found in India (Gir national park)

Explanation: In this stanza, the poet describes how to identify an Asian Lion. The poem suggests that if you encounter a large, tawny (yellowish-brown) beast in the eastern jungles, and it roars at you and the roar terrifies you to death, it is an Asian Lion. The roar of the lion is a clear identifier.

Poetic Devices:

  • Rhyme Scheme: ABABCC
  • Imagery: The poet uses vivid imagery to help readers visualize the setting and the lion.
  • Personification: The lion’s roar is personified as it roars at you “as you’re dyin’,” giving it human-like intent.
  • Alliteration:you as you’re dyin’”.
  • Enjambment: 1st, 3rd & 5th line have no punctuation marks.

Stanza 2


  • Roaming: Wandering or walking
  • Greets: Come in front, welcomes
  • Stripes: Patterns of long narrow bands
  • Ground: Background (here body of the tiger)
  • Noble: Majestic, dignified, impressive, of high origin.
  • Notice: See, (keep watching and be alert or aware)
  • Discern: See, recognize or identify.

Explanation: This stanza helps identify a Bengal Tiger. If you encounter (come across) a noble beast with black stripes on yellow fur on hide, and it attacks you, it is likely a Bengal Tiger. He is so quick that the moment you notice him, he will eat you at once. The poem humorously suggests that you’ll know it’s a tiger if it eats you.

Poetic Devices:

  • Rhyme Scheme: ABABCC
  • Irony: The advice is ironically humorous as it suggests that being eaten is a way to identify a tiger.
  • Visual Imagery: Describing the tiger’s appearance.
  • Alliteration: roaming round

Stanza 3


  • Strolling: Wandering
  • Hide: Skin
  • Spots: Marks, signs, places
  • Peppered: Sprinkled or covered with spots.
  • Lept: Leaped (archaic form).
  • Lep: Jump or pounce upon (Poetic licence to twist or modify spellings)

Explanation: In this stanza, the poet tells how to recognize a Leopard. If you’re strolling through the forest and encounter a beast with a spotted hide, be cautious—it might be a leopard. When it spots its prey, the leopard pounces suddenly, leaving no chance for escape. Even if you cry out in pain, it will persistently attack and begin devouring you before you realize its true identity. The poem humorously suggests that roaring or shouting in pain won’t help as the Leopard will continue to leap on you again and again and start tearing and eating.

Poetic Devices:

  • Rhyme Scheme: ABABCC
  • Alliteration:Peppered” and “pain,” “lep and lep.”
  • Repetition: “Lep and lep again” emphasizes the relentless nature of the Leopard.

Stanza 4


  • Creature: Animal, living being
  • Caress: A gentle touch or embrace.

Explanation: This stanza describes how to identify a Bear. If you encounter a creature in your yard that hugs you very hard, it is a Bear, known for its strong hug. The poem humorously notes that if you have any doubts, the bear will hug (caress) you again. This hug may seem friendly, but it can be fatal (deadly) as a bear-hug may squeeze its victim to death. Here the bear is humorously but ironically, identifiable through its tight hug.

Poetic Devices:

  • Rhyme Scheme: ABABCC
  • Irony: The bear’s hug is described as a “caress,” humorously downplaying the danger. The gentle word “caress” contrasts with the dangerous reality of a bear hug.
  • Personification: The bear’s hug is likened to a human embrace.
  • Alliteration:your yard’

Stanza 5


  • Beasts of prey: Animals that hunt or kill others for food
  • Distinguish: Differentiate, tell differences
  • Novice: A beginner and inexperienced.
  • Nonplus: Confused or perplexed.
  • Merry: Happy and enjoying

Explanation: This stanza contrasts the Crocodile and the Hyena. A novice might be confused, but the poem humorously states that Hyenas smile merrily, while Crocodiles are known for their tears.

The poet says that a novice may be confused and nonplussed to distinguish between the different wild animals. He may not distinguish between a hyena and a crocodile. A hyena always smiles as it attacks its victim while a crocodile is said to shed tears while eating its prey. The poet thus warns that the people should not wait for a hyena to smile or for a crocodile to shed tears.

Poetic Devices:

  • Rhyme Scheme: ABABCC
  • Juxtaposition: Comparing Hyenas and Crocodiles.
  • Metaphor: “Crocodile tears” is a metaphor for fake sadness or insincere emotions.
  • Alliteration:novice might nonplus’

Stanza 6

Explanation: In this stanza, the poet describes the Chameleon. It is a small lizard without ears or wings. The poem humorously suggests that if you see nothing on the tree, it is likely a Chameleon due to its camouflage (matching its colour with its surroundings) ability that helps it escape unharmed from its enemies.


  • Chameleon: A type of lizard known for changing colour.
  • Sort: Type, kind
  • Camouflage: The ability to blend into surroundings.

Poetic Devices:

  • Rhyme Scheme: ABABCC
  • Irony: The chameleon’s invisibility is described humorously.
  • Visual Imagery: Describing the physical characteristics of the Chameleon.
  • Paradox: The idea that seeing nothing means you’re seeing the chameleon.

Central Idea of the Poem ‘How to Tell Wild Animals’

The central idea of the poem “How to Tell Wild Animals” by Carolyn Wells is to provide humorous and exaggerated descriptions of how to identify various wild animals. The poem playfully suggests that one can recognize these animals through their dangerous and often fatal behaviors. Each stanza presents a different animal, characterized by a distinctive trait or action, with a light-hearted and ironic tone. The poem uses humour, irony, and vivid imagery to entertain the reader while playfully cautioning about the perils of encountering wild animals.

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