Zorua is a slate gray, fox-like Pokémon with red and black accents. Its ears are triangular with dark insides, and it has a large tuft of fur tipped with red on top of its head. It has greenish-blue eyes with red eyelids. There are circular, red markings above the eyes that resemble eyebrows. Its muzzle is short and tapered with two small fangs seen in the upper jaw when its mouth is open. Zorua possesses a ruff of black fur around its neck and four short limbs tipped with red. Its tail is short and bushy. Zorua can change its physical appearance, though this transformation is merely an illusion as it keeps its own type and moves.
Zorua is said to have a timid nature which lead to the development of its illusion abilities, Zorua keeps its true form hidden to ensure its safety, and takes on the appearance of other Pokémon to frighten off enemies. Sometimes it will take the form of a silent child in order to search for food. It have been known to occasionally replace normally talkative children. As seen in its movie debut, the tail of an unpracticed Zorua may remain when it takes on a human form, and if the tail is touched, it will revert to its true form. Zorua is mischievous and loves to surprise others. Night Daze is its former signature move.
Zorua is likely based on the kitsune of Japanese folklore, a mythical fox capable of shape-shifting. The concept of a Zorua still having its tail while in human form refers to how a kitsune has difficulty in hiding its tail when it takes on human form in some stories. Its facial markings draw inspiration from Kabuki and Noh theater makeup.
In addition, Zorua's habit of replacing children with itself is similar to Irish folklore about the changeling, a fairy-child that replaces human children kidnapped by fairies or, in some tales, the devil. Zorua also resembles the trickster characters of many cultures in both appearance and behavior; such characters are often depicted as foxes.
Zorua may be a combination of zorro (Spanish for fox) and rua (Irish for red, possibly referring to its red fur; madra rua is Irish for fox).