11 Lesser-Known Names for Baby Animals

Never wonder what you should call a baby alpaca again.
Never wonder what you should call a baby alpaca again. / LewisTsePuiLung/iStock via Getty Images Plus

We know that baby chickens are called chicks and baby ducks are called ducklings. But how should we 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 or Llama // Cria

Despite the subtle distinctions between llamas and alpacas in regard 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.

2. Eagle // Eaglet

When they hatch, baby eagles—a.k.a. chicks or eaglets—are light gray and measure just 5 inches [PDF].  

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 Hedgehog // Hoglet

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The babies of these nocturnal creatures are delightfully known as hoglets.

5. Baby Fox // Kit

Born blind and deaf, red fox kits (or pups) mature quickly: Around the one-month mark, their brown or gray fur turns red, and their blue eyes darken to amber. They reach adult proportions in as little as six months, though it will still be a few months before they leave their parents.

6. Baby Hawk // Eyas

In general, a fledgling hawk taken from its nest 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 were called Boo and Scout.

7. Baby Pig // Shoat, Farrow

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In addition to the more obvious "piglet," baby pigs 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

A larval jellyfish is known as an ephyra, and the term for a group of jellyfish traveling together is a smack.

9. Baby Beaver // Kit

Like baby foxes, baby beavers are known as kits. These kits are about 15 inches long at birth; they stay with their family for around two years before being forced out to find mates and start families of their own.

10. Baby Platypus // Puggle

There isn't an officially recognized label for platypus babies, but some refer to them as puggles, a term borrowed from baby echidnas and applied to its fellow egg-laying mammal. There is some controversy about the use of puggle for baby platypuses, however, and in recent years, platypup has emerged as a more logical but less memorable alternative [PDF].

11. Baby Swan // Cygnet

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Born adorably fluffy and able to get around on their own a few hours after hatching, some species of cygnet will still hop a ride on mom's back on occasion. 

A version of this story ran in 2013; it has been updated for 2021.