Baby Names

I’m headed out into the yard in 20 minutes (when the sunblock I just put on kicks in), to hand-weed dandelions.  I thought about using a standard “weed and feed” chemical product, but I just can’t stand the idea of creating a monoculture of grass while at the same time depriving our yard bunny (AKA the wild Eastern cottontail that seems to have made its home amongst the three yards on our street corner) of delicious dandelion greens.

So, in honor of the yard bunny (whom my daughter has aptly named Fluff Tail) I’m going to write a little bit about a subject at which rabbits excel:  babies.

Not the making thereof – that talk is about birds and bees – but the naming.  Wild animals have funny and fantastic baby names!  We all know that birds have chicks, goats have kids and and horses have foals, but the list of popular animal baby names goes on and on.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Baby rabbits are called “levrets”.  The word levret comes to us from Anglo-Saxon, back through the French, and all the way to the Latin “lepus” for “hare”.  The constellation Lepus can be found just below Orion in the night sky.  Some say that Lepus is the quarry hunted by Orion’s dogs’ (Canis Major and Canis Minor – literally “big dog” and “little dog”).  If that’s true, then Lepus is one quick and crafty hare – those dogs are totally looking the other way.  (If you should look the right way and find a levret alone, read these tips from the Virginia Wildlife Center before interfering.)

There are lots of -ets in animal baby names:

  • Pig – piglet
  • Owl – owlet
  • Hen (chicken) – pullet
  • Eagle – eaglet
  • Frog – froglet (after the tadpole stage, of course)
  • Snake – snakelet
  • Swan – cygnet

It’s not just dogs that have pups – all of these animals’ babies are called pups, too:

  • Armadillo
  • Bat
  • Coyote
  • Mouse
  • Prairie dog
  • Seal
  • Shark
  • Squirrel
  • Wolf

Cubs are also pretty widespread.  They are the babies of:

  • Bears (all species)
  • Big cats (bobcats, cheetahs, lions, leopards, tigers, etc.)
  • Foxes
  • Hyenas
  • Raccoons

Then there are the kits, which are the babies of:

  • beaver
  • muskrat
  • skunk
  • weasel

And, rounding out the popular animal baby name categories, those animals that give birth to a calf or calves:

  • antelope
  • cattle
  • caribou (reindeer)
  • dolphin
  • elk
  • manatee
  • moose
  • whales

Last but not least, a few outstanding outlier names:

  • Ant – antling (keeping good company with spiderlings and ducklings, which would eat the two arthropods happily)
  • Hawk – eyas
  • Codfish – hake, sprag, or sprat
  • Eel – elver
  • Otter – whelp
  • Porcupine – porcupette

All right, out into the garden I go (and yes, it’s been significantly more than 20 minutes).  With any luck I’ll catch sight of Fluff Tail.  With a little more luck, Fluff Tail might meet a mister rabbit and bring some levrets to my garden, too!

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