Baby Animal Names

Whether you call them cubs, pups or kits, young foxes are always fascinating to watch.

We spent a few mornings and afternoons last week watching the occupants of a fox den. When lulled into security by our unmoving presence, a few half-grown pups would emerge from the den to soak up the sunshine, wrestle with siblings or explore the neighborhood. These cubs will leave the den in a few short weeks to face the world and see if their training has been sufficient to keep them alive.

My May 2020 page of the Wyoming Wildlife calendar calls young foxes kits, and indeed, any of the three names, kit, pup or cub, seems to be acceptable in this case. So, what are other young animals called?  

Many, if not most, young birds are called chicks. There are some notable exceptions though. For instance, young swans are called cygnets, derived from cygne, Old French for, you guessed it, swan. Sandhill crane babies are called colts and their mothers are mares. A young pigeon is a squab, a young turkey is a poult, all young ducks are ducklings and young geese are goslings. A young hawk is an eya, a baby eagle an eaglet, a young peafowl is a peachick and a young puffin is a puffling.

A wide variety of vegetation-eating animals such as rhinoceros, giraffe, reindeer, elk, bison, elephant and moose have young called calves. This is also what the offspring of sea-dwelling mammals such as whales, porpoises and manatees are called. However, youngsters of most deer and antelope species are called fawns, goats have kids, zebras have foals and sheep have lambs.

Predators of a number of types seem to go with “pup” for their young. This includes sharks, wolves and coyotes (although they may also be called whelps), sea lions and otters (although here again, whelp will also do). However, bats, beavers, moles, prairie dogs and armadillos all have young called pups as well.

Bears, mountain lions, tigers, cheetahs, hyenas, African lions and jaguars all have cubs. And the off-spring of smaller felines such as bobcats, lynx and ocelots are called kittens.

Marsupials and all apes use a single name for their individual off-spring. The young of any marsupial, whether it be a kangaroo, wombat, wallaby, koala or opossum, is a joey. The young of all members of the ape family are called babies.

Kit is a fine word for the young of a number of species besides foxes. Although other names may apply as well, muskrats, weasels, rabbits, badgers and squirrels all have young called kits.

 In the reptile-amphibian world there seems to be a paucity of creativity. Baby alligators and baby turtles are just called hatchlings and baby snakes are usually called snakelets. A young newt, however, is called an eft, a name with mystery and class, and before a frog is a frog, it is a tadpole or a polliwog, both names with merit.

There are also some animals that have specific and sometimes obscure names for their babies. A young boar or pig is a piglet, shoat or farrow, a llama youngster is a cria, a young hare is a leveret and the young of mice and rats are often called pinkies.

I think my favorite names are for the baby porcupine and the baby platypus. One is a porcupette and the other is a puggle. Those names are hard to beat.


Help Idaho Wildlife

When we traveled across the state in October 2017, most of the vehicles we saw using the wildlife management areas did not have wildlife plates. Buying wildlife plates is a great way for non-hunters and hunters alike to support wildlife-based recreation like birding.

C'mon folks, let's help Idaho's wildlife by proudly buying and displaying a wildlife license plate on each of our vehicles! 

See below for information on Idaho plates. Most states have wildlife plates so if you live outside Idaho, check with your state's wildlife department or vehicle licensing division for availability of state wildlife plates where you live. 

And tell them that you heard about it from!

Wildlife License Plates

Idaho Wildlife license plates provide essential funding that benefits the great diversity of native plants and wildlife that are not hunted, fished or trapped—over 10,000 species or 98% of Idaho’s species diversity. Game species that share the same habitats (such as elk, deer, antelope, sage-grouse, salmon, trout) also benefit from these specialty plates.

No state tax dollars are provided for wildlife diversity, conservation education and recreation programs. Neither are any revenues from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses spent on nongame species. Instead, these species depend on direct donations, federal grants, fundraising initiatives—and the Idaho Wildlife license plates.

Both my vehicles have Bluebird Plates. I prefer the bluebird because the nongame program gets 70 percent of the money from bluebird plates, but only 60 percent of the money from elk and trout plates - 10 percent of the money from elk plates supports wildlife disease monitoring and testing programs (to benefit the livestock industry) and 10 percent from cutthroat plates supports non-motorized boat access.

Incidentally, in 2014, the Idaho Legislature denied the Department of Fish and Game the ability to add new plates or even to change the name of the elk and cutthroat plates (very specific) to wildlife and fish plates, a move that would have allowed for changing images occasionally and generating more revenue. It would seem that they believe that we Idahoans don't want a well funded wildlife program.

I think it is time we let the Legislature know that Idahoan support wildlife funding and that we would like to see these generic plates come to fruition.

"WOW. What a phenomenal piece you wrote. You are amazing." Jennifer Jackson

That is embarrassing, but actually a fairly typical response to my nature essays. Since The Best of Nature is created from the very best of 16 years of these nature essays published weekly in the Idaho Falls Post Register (online readership 70,000), it is a fine read. It covers a wide variety of topics including humorous glimpses of nature, philosophy, natural history, and conservation. Readers praise the style, breadth of subject matter and my ability to communicate complex and emotional topics in a relaxed and understandable manner.

Everyone can find something to love in this book. From teenagers to octogenarians, from the coffee shop to the school room, these nature essays are widely read and enjoyed.

Some of the essays here are my personal favorites, others seemed to strike a chord with readers. Most have an important message or lesson that will resonate with you. They are written with a goal to simultaneously entertain and educate about the wonderful workings of nature. Some will make you laugh out loud and others will bring a tear to the eye and warm your heart.

Readers Write:

"You hit a home run with your article on, Big Questions in Nature. It should be required reading for everyone who has lost touch with nature...great job!" Joe Chapman

"We enjoyed your column, Bloom Where Planted. Some of the best writing yet. The Post Register is fortunate to have your weekly columns." Lou Griffin.

To read more and to order a copy, click here or get the Kindle version 


Copies are also available at:

Post Register

Island Park Builders Supply (upstairs)

Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls

Harriman State Park, Island Park

Museum of Idaho

Valley Books, Jackson Wyoming

Avocet Corner Bookstore, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Brigham City, Utah

Craters of the Moon National Monument Bookstore, Arco, Idaho