Several years ago, I made a lesson about describing animals, which can be a quite difficult IELTS speaking task. You can find that lesson here and there is also an accompanying video:

Today, however, we are going to look at a specific question from part 2 of the IELTS speaking test that asks you to describe an interesting animal in your country.

The Cue Card

Firstly, let’s look at the cue card:

Describe an interesting animal in your country.

You should say:

– what is it

– what it looks like

– where it lives

and explain how you feel about this animal.

This cue card is pretty straightforward, so you do not need to do any complicated analysis of the question. You should simply keep in mind the following:

  • The animal must be from your country.

If you spoke about an exotic animal from another country, for example, it would tell the examiner that you have not paid attention to the cue card.

Preparing your Answer

The first thing to do is think of an animal that comes from your country. It does not have to be the most famous one, but rather you should think of one that you know how to describe. You should try to talk about the ideas in the bullet points but you can also address other, related points. For example, you might talk about its diet or habits.

I am from Scotland and in my country we have many foxes, so I will talk about them. We of course have other animals like deer, eagles, and owls, but I feel that foxes will be easier for me to talk about.

a red fox
A red fox near my parents’ house in Scotland.

Making Notes

I recommend that you write down a few notes to help guide you as you speak. Don’t try to write full sentences but instead focus on vocabulary and big ideas that you don’t want to forget. Also, you can formulate a useful structure to guide you further.

I might write something like this:

  • Rural/urban
  • Hunter/hunted
  • Crafty

These notes probably make no sense to you, but that is ok. They only need to make sense to the person talking.

Vocabulary for Describing Animals

The vocabulary that you use to describe an animal will be totally different depending on the animal that you choose. We would not use the same words to talk about a blue whale and a tiger, for example.

You can find some useful vocabulary by Googling the name of your animal and reading about it. This is helpful because you will see those words in context. For example, if we Google “sea turtle,” we might find the following:

This description comes from the WWF page on sea turtles. Notice the phrase “grace our ocean waters.” This is an interesting phrase! To “grace” something means that your presence is a gift. We are lucky to have sea turtles, so we don’t just say “they are present in our oceans” but rather that they “grace” them.

We can also see this passage:

  • these highly migratory species periodically come ashore to either bask or nest

The phrase “highly migratory species” is very useful and shows that sea turtles move around a lot. The word “ashore” means “out of the water” and “bask” and “nest” are good words for describing certain animal habits.

Sample Band 9 Answer

In Scotland, we have an animal called the red fox. It is a primarily nocturnal animal but you sometimes see them in the daylight, and while they are traditionally a rural creature, you also now see them in towns and even cities. In that sense, they are highly adaptable.

Red foxes are found all over Scotland and they seem to be becoming more common each year. This is probably because farmers and other people used to hunt them but now they are no longer hunted so their numbers are increasing again. As they are a top predator, this has had an impact on other animal species, which has various environmental impacts.

Foxes are an interesting creature because people used to view them as a pest but now they see the beauty in this stunning animal. Their fur is an orange colour and they have big ears, a pointed nose, and a bushy tail. All of this makes them quite attractive and so you see them in paintings and on other decorations.

I really like foxes and I feel very happy and privileged when I see one in the wild. They were not common when I was a child so it is great that I can now walk about as an adult and see them in the fields and forests around my parents’ home.

More Vocabulary Notes

how to describe a fox
Some vocabulary for describing foxes.

I have tried to use some descriptive language here to talk about foxes:

  • primarily nocturnal
  • rural creature
  • highly adaptable
  • top predator
  • pest
  • pointed nose
  • bushy tail

This covers their habits and appearance, which I think are useful things to talk about here.