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11 Animals that are Super Small at Birth

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Baby blue whales are a ton of fun—literally. The giant newborns typically tip the scales at a jaw-dropping three tons at birth. (If you want to visualize how that stacks up to a full-grown whale, it’s about the same size as an adult whale’s tongue.)

Whale babies easily dwarf their competition in the big baby world, but that doesn’t mean they're any more charming or special than even the smallest of newborns. Pound for pound (or ounce for ounce, as the case may be), the animal kingdom’s littlest newbies are still pretty wonderful in their own way.

1. Kangaroos

The marsupial birthing process is positively insane, but it’s also one of the most miraculous in the wild world. Baby kangaroos—you know them as joeys—only gestate in their mother’s womb for about a month. After that period, they are technically born, yet they emerge blind, hairless, and only about an inch in length before crawling into their mother’s pouch (called a marsupium) where they finish developing and growing for up to 400 days. After that time, they pop out of the pouch and look like what we’d expect a joey to look like, all furry and cute, even though they first entered the world looking like a piece of bubble gum.

2. Honey possum

Elsewhere in the marsupial world, the honey possum is believed to be the smallest mammal at birth. Baby honey possums only weigh about 0.005 grams when they are born, eventually completing their gestation inside their mother’s pouch to reach a hefty 2.5 grams by the time they’re ready to venture out on their own.

3. Pygmy seahorse

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The pygmy seahorse remains pregnant for approximately 11 days, after which the offspring are born by way of the male contorting his body in order to eject the tiny babies—each between 7 and 12 millimeters in size—from his pouch, sending them on to embark on their own adult lives. But poor papa doesn’t get much time to recover from his postpartum depression; it is not uncommon for the female to gift the male with another clutch of eggs as soon as 30 minutes after he’s expelled a brood.

4. Pygmy mouse lemur

Photo courtesy of Joachim S Muller, used under Creative Commons license

Another pygmy baby, the pygmy mouse lemur, also barely makes a dent on the birthing scales. Already the world’s smallest primate, pygmy mouse lemurs only grow to weigh about an ounce when they are adults, so it should come as no surprise that they are born only weighing about .45 gram.

5. Pygmy marmoset

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Pygmy marmosets are the world’s smallest monkey species, so their young are also quite wee. At birth, pygmy marmosets weigh about 15 grams each, and are typically born in pairs (though it’s possible for triplets or just a single birth to occur).

6. Etruscan shrew

The Etruscan shrew has the distinction of being the world’s smallest mammal by mass only (if we’re measuring by skull size, the bumblebee bat is the smallest). Adult Etruscan shrews only grow to about 4 centimeters in length (this doesn’t include their tiny tails, which can be as long as 3 centimeters). Baby shrews gestate for about four weeks, and are born in litters that can be as small as two cubs and as large as six. When they enter the world, they only weigh about 0.2 grams, and they can grow to be as large as 2.5 grams in maturity.

7. Bee hummingbird

Photo courtesy of Carol Foil, under Creatve Commons liscense

The bee hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world, so its young are appropriately tiny. As adults, they weigh somewhere around 2 grams (about the same as a penny), and babies hatch from eggs roughly the size of coffee beans.

8. Brazilian gold frog

Photo courtesy of Farrukh, under Creative Commons liscense

The Brazilian gold frog is the second smallest frog in the Southern Hemisphere, with adults clocking in at 9.8 millimeters in body length (not counting splayed-out legs). At hatching, baby gold frogs weigh a fraction of their adult counterparts, though a precise amount is currently unknown.

9. Pudu

Although the southern pudu is the more distinct of the pudu pair, it’s the northern pudu that clocks in as the world’s smallest deer. As adults, they stand about 13 inches tall, and rarely weigh more than 13 pounds. Baby northern pudus usually weigh in the 23 to 35 ounce range, and it’s extremely rare that infant pudus that weigh less than 21 ounces live.

10. Paedocypris carp

Maurice Kottelat/Woman's Day 

Believed to be the world’s smallest fish species, the Paedocypris carp only grows to about 7.9 millimeters. Much like the tiny gold frog, it’s nearly impossible to guess how big the little carps are when they hatch, but they’re expected to also be the smallest fish babies on the planet.

11. Pink fairy armadillo

Photo courtesy of Cliff, under Creative Commons license

The pink fairy armadillo, an Argentinean native, is the smallest kind of armadillo, special not just for its tiny size but also its puffy fur. Adult pink fairies are about 4.5 inches long (not including their tails), and they are all prodigious diggers. Baby pink fairies are born weighing about 3 or so grams before growing into a chipmunk-like size.

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Dogs
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Dogs: They’re cute, they’re cuddly … and they can smell fear!

Today on Scatterbrained, John Green and friends go beyond the floof to reveal some fascinating facts about our canine pals—including the story of one Bloodhound who helped track down 600 criminals during his lifetime. (Move over, McGruff.) They’re also looking at the name origins of some of your favorite dog breeds, going behind the scenes of the Puppy Bowl, and dishing the details on how a breed gets to compete at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here!

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Sploot 101: 12 Animal Slang Words Every Pet Parent Should Know
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For centuries, dogs were dogs and cats were cats. They did things like bark and drink water and lay down—actions that pet parents didn’t need a translator to understand.

Then the internet arrived. Scroll through the countless Facebook groups and Twitter accounts dedicated to sharing cute animal pictures and you’ll quickly see that dogs don’t have snouts, they have snoots, and cats come in a colorful assortment of shapes and sizes ranging from smol to floof.

Pet meme language has been around long enough to start leaking into everyday conversation. If you're a pet owner (or lover) who doesn’t want to be out of the loop, here are the terms you need to know.

1. SPLOOT

You know your pet is fully relaxed when they’re doing a sploot. Like a split but for the whole body, a sploot occurs when a dog or cat stretches so their bellies are flat on the ground and their back legs are pointing behind them. The amusing pose may be a way for them to take advantage of the cool ground on a hot day, or just to feel a satisfying stretch in their hip flexors. Corgis are famous for the sploot, but any quadruped can do it if they’re flexible enough.

2. DERP

Person holding Marnie the dog.
Emma McIntyre, Getty Images for ASPCA

Unlike most items on this list, the word derp isn’t limited to cats and dogs. It can also be a stand-in for such expressions of stupidity as “duh” or “dur.” In recent years the term has become associated with clumsy, clueless, or silly-looking cats and dogs. A pet with a tongue perpetually hanging out of its mouth, like Marnie or Lil Bub, is textbook derpy.

3. BLEP

Cat laying on desk chair.
PoppetCloset, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’ve ever caught a cat or dog poking the tip of its tongue past its front teeth, you’ve seen a blep in action. Unlike a derpy tongue, a blep is subtle and often gone as quickly as it appears. Animal experts aren’t entirely sure why pets blep, but in cats it may have something to do with the Flehmen response, in which they use their tongues to “smell” the air.

4. MLEM

Mlems and bleps, though very closely related, aren’t exactly the same. While blep is a passive state of being, mlem is active. It’s what happens when a pet flicks its tongue in and out of its mouth, whether to slurp up water, taste food, or just lick the air in a derpy fashion. Dogs and cats do it, of course, but reptiles have also been known to mlem.

5. FLOOF

Very fluffy cat.
J. Sibiga Photography, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some pets barely have any fur, and others have coats so voluminous that hair appears to make up most of their bodyweight. Dogs and cats in the latter group are known as floofs. Floofy animals will famously leave a wake of fur wherever they sit and can squeeze through tight spaces despite their enormous mass. Samoyeds, Pomeranians, and Persian cats are all prime examples of floofs.

6. BORK

Dog outside barking.
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According to some corners of the internet, dogs don’t bark, they bork. Listen carefully next time you’re around a vocal doggo and you won’t be able to unhear it.

7. DOGGO

Shiba inu smiling up at the camera.
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Speaking of doggos: This word isn’t hard to decode. Every dog—regardless of size, floofiness, or derpiness—can be a doggo. If you’re willing to get creative, the word can even be applied to non-dog animals like fennec foxes (special doggos) or seals (water doggos). The usage of doggo saw a spike in 2016 thanks to the internet and by the end of 2017 it was listed as one of Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching.”

8. SMOL

Tiny kitten in grass.
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Some pets are so adorably, unbearably tiny that using proper English to describe them just doesn’t cut it. Not every small pet is smol: To earn the label, a cat or dog (or kitten or puppy) must excel in both the tiny and cute departments. A pet that’s truly smol is likely to induce excited squees from everyone around it.

9. PUPPER

Hands holding a puppy.
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Like doggo, pupper is self-explanatory: It can be used in place of the word puppy, but if you want to use it to describe a fully-grown doggo who’s particularly smol and cute, you can probably get away with it.

10. BOOF

We’ve already established that doggos go bork, but that’s not the only sound they make. A low, deep bark—perhaps from a dog that can’t decide if it wants to expend its energy on a full bark—is best described as a boof. Consider a boof a warning bark before the real thing.

11. SNOOT

Dog noses poking out beneath blanket.
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Snoot was already a dictionary-official synonym for nose by the time dog meme culture took the internet by storm. But while snoot is rarely used to describe human faces today, it’s quickly becoming the preferred term for pet snouts. There’s even a wholesome viral challenge dedicated to dogs poking their snoots through their owners' hands.

12. BOOP

Have you ever seen a dog snoot so cute you just had to reach out and tap it? And when you did, was your action accompanied by an involuntary “boop” sound? This urge is so universal that boop is now its own verb. Humans aren’t the only ones who can boop: Search the word on YouTube and treat yourself to hours of dogs, cats, and other animals exchanging the love tap.

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