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11 spectacular suits of animal battle armor (pictures)

Once upon a time, horse, elephant and camel armor were real components of warfare. Today, people also enjoy dressing up their cats and dogs in fantastical body armor with spikes, tusks and chain mail.

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Amanda Kooser

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1 of 11 Jeff de Boer

Let slip the mice of war

Jeff de Boer is a talented armorer and artist. He just happens to work in very small scales, crafting plate armor outfits sized for little critters, including both cats and mice. This image shows one of his many mice suits. This classic rendering is inspired by the armor worn by medieval knights. It's crafted from polished nickel. The artist also offers a version that includes Crusades-style design touches.

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2 of 11 Print That Thing

3D-printed feline armor

Bobo the cat is a proud warrior. The ginger critter models a set of 3D-printed armor that anybody can download and make with the use of a 3D printer. The plastic armor is segmented to allow for freedom of feline movement. A cat-tag ring on the chest plate holds your fierce fighter's salient details. A detachable tail with a scorpion-style stinger completes the ensemble.

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3 of 11 Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue

War pig (guinea pig, that is)

A 2013 eBay charity auction caught the Internet's attention with an eye-catching suit of guinea pig armor. The handmade scale-mail and helmet were sized for a battle-rodent. Both are made from polished steel. Lucky the rescue guinea pig modeled the incredibly detailed armor set. Lucky passed away before the auction finished, but his legacy lives on as the finest pig-sized armor model to ever munch on lettuce. The proceeds went to the Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue in Virginia, US.

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4 of 11 Royal Armouries

Ancient elephant armor

This massive set of armor was made for an elephant and dates back to around 1600 in India. It was brought to England in 1801 and now belongs to the Royal Armouries collection. The Royal Armouries says the suit is constructed of mail and plate lined with black fabric. The armor is heavily decorated with images of charging elephants, a peacock, fish and a lotus. It would have made for an imposing figure in battle.

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5 of 11 Lebovskiart

Knight of the dog

Cats shouldn't have all the armor fun. Etsy seller Lebvoskiart makes custom suits of armor for the canine crowd. The fright-inducing outfit is made from aluminum, wood, leather and paint. It consists of a set of plates that go down the dog's back while chain mail hangs down from the sides. The two tusks sticking out of the helmet give Fido a feral look. If you want a completely custom set of dog armor, you'll need to provide all of your pooch's measurements, from the chest to waist to the length of the head.

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6 of 11 Schnabuble

Spiny cat battle armor

Human cosplay makers Schnabuble turned their armoring expertise to the matter of battle cats with this suit made from leather, cord, elastic and nickel-silver hardware. The spiky spine will strike fear into the hearts of all who behold it, particularly mice. It took a lot of time and treats to convince the feline model to pose wearing the battle-ready gear.

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7 of 11 SkyPirate Creations

From guinea pig to dragon

Guinea pigs, the furry round cute and cuddly rodents, are perhaps as far as you can get from an actual dragon. Unless you have a set of custom steampunk wings mounted to body armor from Etsy shop SkyPirate Creations. Brass rivets and gears decorate the dramatic-looking outfit. It won't make your guinea pig breathe fire, but it will make your little fuzzy buddy look like the star of an alternate-universe version of "Game of Thrones."

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8 of 11 Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mighty steed

Perhaps the best known beasts of war are horses. This suit of horse armor dates to around 1560 and is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The ornate plate armor is made from steel, gold and leather and comes from Italy.

"The bands of etched ornament include classically inspired trophies of arms and armor and musical instruments. These were standard decorative motifs on Italian armor of the period, but here, they are depicted with much more precision, on a larger scale, and in far greater detail and variety than usual," the museum notes.

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9 of 11 Metropolitan Museum of Art

Camel head armor

Besides owning an outstanding example of horse armor, the Metropolitan Museum of Art also has head armor that appears to have been made for a battle-camel. The headpiece, known as a shaffron, likely dates to the 1600s and comes from Turkey. The angled profile differentiates it from shaffrons made for horses.

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10 of 11 Blank William

If animals went to the Dark Side

New York-based designer Blank William offers up a new take on the Star Wars universe with a series of sculptures that imagine how the designs of the Dark Side armor would look on large animals. William took the basic concept of a Stormtrooper helmet and created versions to fit an elephant, a rhinoceros and a hippopotamus. One set is made in black and the other in white. It's like what would happen if Star Wars collided with a large-mammal version of "Animal House."

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11 of 11 buycostumes.com

Adorable AT-AT attack

Not all animal armor has to look like a blast from the past. Step into a galaxy far, far away with this sci-fantastic AT-AT dog costume. It will make your resident canine look like a devastating battle machine from Star Wars. You will want to hum "The Imperial March" every time you take fluffy little Bark Vader for a walk.

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