The Jungle Book Characters

The main characters in The Jungle Book include Mowgli, Kotick, and Rikki-tikki-tavi.

  • Mowgli is a courageous young boy who is raised in the jungle by the Wolf Pack and learns the Law of the Jungle from Baloo the bear. After killing the tiger Shere Khan, he decides to become a solitary hunter.
  • Kotick is a white fur seal who is determined to lead the other seals to an uninhabited beach where they will be safe from human hunters.
  • Rikki-tikki-tavi is a brave mongoose who protects a human family by defeating the cobras Nag and Nagaina.


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Last Updated on April 20, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1301


Mowgli, the central character in “Mowgli's Brothers,” “Kaa's Hunting,” and “Tiger! Tiger!,” is found by the wolves when he is a very young child, barely old enough to walk. He is raised by the wolves and learns the Law of the Jungle from Baloo the bear. After ten or eleven years in the jungle, Mowgli returns to the village and spends a few months learning to be a man. However, by the end of his story, he has decided that he is neither man nor wolf, but a lone hunter.

Mowgli is quick-witted and strong-willed. He is extremely forthright and often contemptuous of those he considers less courageous and intelligent. He is an outstanding though unruly pupil in learning the Law of the Jungle but is ultimately unwilling to obey any rules except those he approves for himself (though these include the paramount Law of the Jungle). His peculiar upbringing seems to have made it impossible for him to live in any society, animal or human, so he ends up as a lone hunter, though the reader is told that he will marry one day.

Father Wolf

Father Wolf finds Mowgli, defends him from Shere Khan, and teaches him how to live as a wolf. He has few characteristics beyond his bravery and his kindness to Mowgli.

Mother Wolf

Mother Wolf is initially curious to see a man cub. Once she takes Mowgli into her cave, she is impressed by his strength and assertiveness, and quickly decides to raise him with her own cubs. She is utterly fearless and ferocious in standing up to Shere Khan on Mowgli’s behalf and prophesies that Mowgli will one day kill the tiger, a prediction which comes true.

Gray Brother

Gray Brother is the eldest of Mother Wolf’s cubs. He is loyal to Mowgli, following him twenty miles to the village and helping him to start the cattle stampede which kills Shere Khan.


Akela is the leader of the Wolf Pack. He is strong, brave, and principled, and protects Mowgli from Shere Khan. However, as he grows older, he loses control of the Wolf Pack and grows increasingly disgusted with the cowardly and dishonorable conduct of the younger wolves.

Shere Khan

Shere Khan is a tiger and, therefore, one of the most powerful animals in the jungle. However, he is lame and cannot make the sort of kills that befit his status, so he resorts to attacking cattle, and even men, which is against the Law of the Jungle. Shere Khan gains some respect from the younger wolves and the jackal, Tabaqui, because he is a tiger, but he is not particularly brave, and Mowgli regards him contemptuously as an easy adversary to defeat.


Bagheera is a proud and beautiful panther. He buys Mowgli’s life by giving the Wolf Pack a bull he has killed, and he probably has more affection for Mowgli than any other animal except Mother Wolf. Mowgli returns his love and treats him with more respect than anyone else. Bagheera is one of the most powerful creatures in the jungle. As a panther, his status is similar to that of Shere Khan, but he has all the dignity, intelligence, and courage which the tiger so conspicuously lacks.


Baloo is a wise old bear who teaches the wolf-cubs the law of the jungle. He loves Mowgli and is happy to have such an intelligent pupil, but relations between the two are strained by Mowgli’s disobedience and Baloo’s harsh response.


Kaa is a fearsome python. He is thirty feet long, and all the other animals are frightened...

(This entire section contains 1301 words.)

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of him. He possesses mystical powers of hypnosis, which affect everyone except Mowgli.


Messua is a wealthy woman in the village twenty miles from the Wolf Pack. She has lost a son to Shere Khan and takes in Mowgli in his place (it is not clear whether he is, in fact, the child she lost, but she seems not to think so). Messua is kind and loyal, and when the other villagers turn on Mowgli, she blesses him for killing Shere Khan.


Buldeo is a boastful old hunter in the village. He dislikes Mowgli and persuades the villagers to turn against him.


Kotick, the protagonist of “The White Seal,” is a white seal who finds a safe beach, uninhabited by men. He is brave and determined, and in the years over which his story takes place, he grows immensely strong. Unlike the other seals, he does not normally waste time in fighting, but when he needs to fight to convince the other seals to follow him, he does so with fearless ferocity. Kotick shows remarkable tenacity, spending five years traveling all over the world in his quest for a safe beach, despite the derision of the other seals. He is also unusually altruistic, intelligent, and sensitive, being the only one who ever follows the other seals who are driven to the killing grounds, and also the only one who cares what happens to them.

Sea Catch

Sea Catch is a battle-scarred old fur seal, the father of Kotick. He is more conventional and less intelligent than his son but supports him when he sees how bravely he fights.


Matkah is Kotick’s mother. She sees the absurdity of the seals’ violent way of life but, unlike her son, does nothing practical to challenge it.


Rikki-tikki-tavi, the protagonist of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” is a mongoose and a hero. His principal characteristics are courage and curiosity. He is also very proud of himself and often contemptuous of the animals around him for their cowardice and folly. He sees it as his mission to protect the English family in the bungalow, especially their son, Teddy.


Nag is a python who has been accustomed to rule the garden as a tyrant, killing the young birds and frogs and terrorizing all the animals. He hates the human family and holds them responsible for Rikki’s presence.


Nagaina is Nag’s wife. She is similar to her husband, except that she is even more ruthless and dangerous, particularly when her eggs are in jeopardy.

Kala Nag

In “Toomai of the Elephants,” Kala Nag is an old elephant who has served the Indian government proudly and faithfully for forty-seven years. He fears nothing and no one except his mahout, Big Toomai, and Big Toomai’s son, Little Toomai.

Big Toomai

Big Toomai is Kala Nag’s mahout. He is very proud of his position and looks down on those who are merely elephant trackers. He is exasperated with his son and angered by the idea that Little Toomai might become a tracker, however much aptitude he shows for this career.

Little Toomai

Little Toomai is very brave and rather reckless. He has grown up around elephants and shows no fear of them. He is proud and delighted by the approbation of Petersen Sahib.

Petersen Sahib

Petersen Sahib has spent his whole career around elephants and knows a great deal about them. He is kind to Little Toomai and is impressed by the boy’s courage.

Billy the Mule

In “Her Majesty’s Servants,” Billy is a pack-mule, proud of his agility and courage under fire. He becomes angry when reminded that his father was a donkey, and he cannot stand the trumpeting of elephants.

The Troop-Horse

The troop-horse is brave in battle and has a close relationship with his rider. He thinks himself superior to the mules but sides with them against the elephant.

The Camel

The camel is humble and apologetic. He is troubled by bad dreams in strange surroundings.

Two Tails the Elephant

The elephant claims to be more intelligent and sensitive than other animals in “Her Majesty’s Servants,” able to visualize the effects of war, and therefore more careful about going into battle. He is frightened by a small dog and is charged with cowardice by the other animals.