April 2017 - Mostly, the same kinds of animals lived in ancient Egypt as in other parts of Africa. Wild animals included crocodiles, who lived in the Nile River water (and there are still lots of crocodiles in the Nile today, too!), and lots of water birds like herons and cranes and ibises who lived along the banks of the Nile (and still do today).
People were most afraid of the hippopotamus, which was a fierce animal that lived in the river. Hippos look cute when you see them at the zoo, but they kill many people every year even today. Hippos mainly lived south of the Sahara Desert, but they also came down the Nile River valley to live in Egypt. Less scary creatures also lived along the Nile river: frogs and lizards and fish, and many ducks and geese.
As that mention of dogs suggests, people who lived in ancient Egypt had tame (domesticated) animals as well. The first animals they had were probably dogs. By around 4000 BC, they got domesticated donkeys from their neighbors to the south in Sudan. Donkeys were very useful to carry things and helped Egyptians do a lot more trading with Sudan and also with West Asia.
Donkeys in Old Kingdom Egypt
Soon the Egyptians also got other domesticated animals from West Asia: pigs, cattle, sheep and goats. In the Second Intermediate Period, about 1600 BC, the first horses came to Egypt from Central Asia.
Cat from Old Kingdom Egypt
Most famously, families in ancient Egypt kept a lot of cats as pets. The Egyptians may have been the first people to keep pet cats, perhaps starting around 7500 BC, but it's also possible that cats were first kept as pets in West Asia. All these animals, coming from all sides of Egypt, show how Egypt was rich because it was located at a sort of crossroads between Africa and West Asia, where the good things from many different places came together.