The Buzz

Oh, baby! These names for baby animals are just too cute

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Almost nothing in nature is cuter than a baby animal, but some of the terms used for baby animals are almost as adorable as the babies themselves. Case in point: A baby porcupine is called a porcupette. Need more convincing? Baby platypuses (or would you rather call them platypi?) and echidnas are called puggles, although there’s a movement afoot to have baby platypuses called platypups.

In a more straightforward naming convention, baby goats are called kids. In what may be a nod to onomatopoeia, baby partridges are called cheepers. But some names seem to defy explanation. Baby llamas and alpacas are called crias, and a baby hare is a leveret. 

Closer to home, we see plenty of baby animals that have names that range from too cute to downright unusual. Here are a few.

Woodchucks

(Photo courtesy of Nancy Wolfe Mariotti)

Baby woodchucks are called pups or kits, but we think everyone can agree that the cutest name for a baby woodchuck is a chuckling. No joke. Baby woodchucks are actually sometimes referred to as chucklings, and it doesn’t get much cuter than that. 

Mice and rats

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Baby mice and rats are referred to as pups, but they are also sometimes called pinkies, likely a reference to their coloring at birth. Because they have little to no fur, their pink skin is evident early in life. 

Opossums

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Like all marsupials, baby opossums are called joeys. The majority of the world’s marsupials live in Australia, and the term joey originates from an aboriginal term meaning small animal. 

Swans

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The most common term for baby swans is cygnets, which is derived from an Old French term meaning little. We think you’ll agree, though, that a lesser-known term for young swans, flappers, is pretty darn cute and seemingly appropriate for a baby bird learning to fly. 

Frogs

(Photo by Chad Merda)

You probably know that a baby frog is called a tadpole, but did you know another term for a baby frog is polliwog? Tadpoles are great, but we think you’ll agree that polliwog is a much more fun word to say.

Mosquitoes

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In their larval form, mosquitoes are called wrigglers. At this stage, the larvae live in the water. The term wriggler is very appropriate given their behavior. The wrigglers are typically just below the water’s surface, but when the water is disturbed, these soon-to-be mosquitoes wriggle further under the surface to escape danger. As pupae, mosquitoes are referred to as tumblers. 

Snakes

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Some names for baby animals aren’t as original are others. For example, baby snakes are called snakelets, just like baby pigs are called piglets. Although the term is pretty straightforward, we think it has a cute ring to it. 

Owls

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Like snakes, the term for baby owls simply adds a suffix to the word owl and — voilĂ ! — owlet becomes a cute name for an adorable baby animal. Which do you think is a cuter name? Owlet or snakelet?

Doves and pigeons 

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Young doves and pigeons are often referred to as squabs, but another term for the baby birds is squeakers. Maybe it has something to do with the sounds they make when they are young? 

Ants 

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Baby ants are called antlings, which is right up there with owlets and snakelets when it comes to how adding a suffix to a word is enough to make it oh so adorable. 

Spiders

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Not to be outdone by antlings, baby spiders are called spiderlings. Which do you think are cuter? Six-legged antlings or eight-legged spiderlings?

Hawks and falcons

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To be honest, we can’t decide if the term for baby hawks and falcons is cute or just different. They are called eyas, which is definitely unusual. For the uninitiated, eyas is pronounced eye-es.  The term applies only to hawks and falcons that have not yet learned to fly.

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