Animals in the Land of Oz can talk like human beings; this is one aspect of the fairy enchantment that Queen Lurline cast upon Oz, which turned the country into a fairyland. This influence extends to the other countries of Nonestica that are closest to Oz, like Ev, though the influence appears to wane the farther one is from the borders of Oz.
Animals from the outside world, like Billina and Toto, gain the ability to talk once they reach the Oz landmass (though Toto at first chose not to exercise that ability). Even field mice can talk in Oz. (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ozma of Oz, etc.)
It is an open question as to how far down the chain of being the ability to talk extends. Princess Ozma and Lambert the lamb can still talk after they are transformed into insects, and they meet other bugs that can also talk. (The Forbidden Fountain of Oz)
Additionally, the Tin Woodman always politely asks flies to find another place to sit rather than rudely brushing them off when they land on him. And they understand, and often comply. (The Emerald City of Oz)
In Oz, animals are given the same respect and courtesy as humans. (The Road to Oz)
Animal Populations of Oz
Many animal species, which are prevalent in non-fairy countries, do not exist in Oz, or were first introduced through exposure to those countries. Horses were unknown in Oz except for the Sawhorse, until Jim came to Oz. But Jim did not stay there long. (Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz)
In the books of Gregory Maguire, "Animals" refers to animals that "have reason" — that is, they can speak human language. When uncapitalised, the word animals refers to normal animals. The Land of Oz has a large population of Animals and their rights have become a political issue. Apparently, the Wizard of Oz is opposed to them having rights like humans.
Elphaba, however, becomes an Animal rights activist during the course of the book. (Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West)
After the Wizard leaves Oz, legislation on Animals takes a different turn. Brrr, an Animal, lives for a time in the Emerald City as a respected citizen before being shamed and leaving town. (A Lion Among Men)
- The characterization of animals and Animals in Maguire's series contradict Baum's depiction, in which all animals, even insects may speak and are all afforded equal respect in Oz.
- Robert R. Pattrick. Unexplored Territory in Oz. The International Wizard of Oz Club, 1990.