As a newbie, the first question you’ll get asked at a furry meet-up is going to be “what’s your species?” Most furries have an imaginary alternate self that’s their “them” in the shared internet/art/fiction world of the fandom. That’s a fursona. And there aren’t any rules.

Some people have simple fursonas: “I’m a fox!” Some have complex ones: “My character is from another planet where cat-like creatures descended from Egyptian mythology have spent years mingling with humanity, let me show you the novel I’m writing.” Some furries have one fursona they keep forever. Some change species every few years. Some have two, three, or 20 imaginary selves they use for different purposes. Some people are humans who just like the art. But it’s a safe general rule that most furries have one main fictional self they use for their online avatar and in our silly shared imaginary world. They aren’t always real creatures–dragons are common, impossible crossbreeds like bearcats and foxweasels are totally valid, as are bright green foxes and leopards with glowing spots. Have fun.

Maybe a fursona is your ideal self–strong, brave, attractive, resourceful, reliable. Or it plays up a part of yourself that you don’t get to express in the real world–sneaky, scary, predatory, powerful. In the other direction, some new furs latch onto a character like Simba or Starfox or Nick Wilde and adopt that as their fursona. It happens, but that’s usually a short phase.

Interestingly, if you’re a fursuiter you may not want to dress like your fursona! If your fursona is your alter-ego, you may not want to dress up as yourself. It might be harder to act like a silly cartoon character if you’re still “you.”

If you’ve always had a favorite animal, that’s a good place to start developing your fursona. If you’re on the fence, haven’t made up your mind, you can always say “I don’t know yet,” but having a fursona helps build story and community. We make jokes about silly coyotes and hungry hyenas, it’s a part of our shared world, and a way to express ourselves. Give it some thought!