We know that infant chickens are called chicks and baby ducks are called ducklings. But how do we appropriately refer to the newborn offspring of animals that don’t often get cooed over in their early developmental stages? Here are 11 of some of the more offbeat and uncommon names for baby animals.
1. Baby alpaca/llama: cria
Despite the subtle distinctions between llamas and alpacas with regards to size, strength, and quality/quantity of wool fiber produced from their respective fleeces, both animals can interbreed and successfully produce offspring. Both genetically pure llamas/alpacas and their mixed progeny are called cria in the singular, crias in the plural.
2. Baby clam: larva
That steaming helping of seafood stew will look much less appetizing with the word “larva” stuck in your head. I’m sorry.
3. Baby hare: leveret
A curious fact about hares: Rather than sheltering their newborn young from potential dangers in their environment, a mother hare will leave her offspring behind for long periods of time within an hour of their birth in order to avoid attracting predators to them, returning to provide food at night. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton, hoping to curb instances of well-intentioned but ill-informed citizens spontaneously adopting baby hares found in fields, promotes a catchy slogan: "If you see a baby hare, leave it right there!" They may know the correct term is leveret, but it's much harder to rhyme with it.
4. Baby fish: fry, fingerling
The names for baby fish are memorable for their irony: fry, a common method of preparing the edible varieties for consumption, and fingerling, a type of potato that pairs well as a side. Not suitable for vegetarians.
5. Baby fox: kit
Born blind, deaf, and toothless, fox kits mature quickly. Around 4-5 weeks, their blue eyes darken to amber; within the first month, they develop their trademark white face patches; and they reach adult proportions in as little as six months.
6. Baby hawk: eyas
In general, a fledgling hawk taken from its nest within its first year of life, specifically for the purposes of falconry, is called an eyas. In particular, the two baby hawks born in Washington Square Park under the watchful eye of the New York Times HawkCam in 2012 are called Boo and Scout.
7. Baby pig: shoat/farrow
In addition to the more obvious "boarlet" and "piglet," baby hogs and boars may also correctly be referred to as shoats (newly weaned pigs) or a farrow (a collective term for a group of young pigs). For the purposes of a nursery rhyme, however, "this little piggy" is an appropriate substitute.
8. Baby jellyfish: ephyra
And the term for a group of jellyfish traveling together: a “smack.”
9. Baby beaver: pup, kit, kitten
With names borrowed from both cats and dogs but none truly of their own, it's not hard to imagine a baby beaver might have some identity struggles growing up.
10. Baby platypus: puggle
Although there’s some controversy over its unofficial status as a legitimate term for baby platypuses, “puggle” is a term borrowed from baby echidnas and applied to its fellow egg-laying mammale. There is no officially recognized label for platypus babies, but in recent years “platypup” has emerged as a more logical but less memorable alternative. And yes, I used “platypuses” as a plural for platypus, and I’m sticking to my guns here.
11. Baby swan: cygnet, flapper
The “ugly duckling” may have outgrown his awkward phase and blossomed into a beautiful swan, but I speak from experience: those things are mean.