Nature Names That Aren’t Plants Part II: Mammals

Part I brought you avian names and today we’re staying in the animal kingdom with mammals. Mammal names are often a bit quirkier than bird names, but no less lovely. Some of the more notable:

Fox- As both a surname and a bearer of that oh-so-cool letter X, Fox is very on trend. Between that contemporary style and the recent revival of The X Files (which features a character named Fox Mulder) it comes as no surprise that the name showed up in the top 1000 for the first time in 2016.

Wolf- Wolfgang reeks of 18th century Austrian composer, but short form Wolf seems feasible. It’s sleeker, fiercer, and, thanks to newscaster Wolf Blitzer, fairly well known as a name in its own right. Along with Fox, Wolf seems like a quirky but on-trend canine choice.

Bear- Alicia Silverstone and Kate Winslet have sons called Bear, and adventurer Bear Grylls frequents the small screen. Together, they’ve made this once-crazy choice seem a little more viable. However, as a homonym of “bare” and a homograph of “bear” (as in, “to carry” or “to birth”) Bear seems especially prone to puns. So beware if you find this annoying- it may quickly become unbearable! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Panda- Folk punk singer/songwriter Kimya Dawson chose this offbeat name for her daughter in 2006. Panda seems a bit strange, but it vaguely resembles names like Amanda, Sandra, and Pandora, so it may not be out of the question.

Lynx- Like Fox, Lynx has a very on-trend X ending. It’s very reminiscent of Lux and could make for a modern, edgy update on Lynn. Lynx is a genus of four species of wildcats (including the bobcat) and the name is as sleek and fierce as the animal itself.

Tiger- Tiger Woods is by far the most famous bearer, but he was actually christened Eldrick. Indeed, most Tigers seem to have other official names and use Tiger as a nickname. But mammal names are rising, and soundalike Tyler is hanging in the top 100, so Tiger seems like it could be a viable option for daring parents.

Lion- Lion-related names like Lionel and Leonie are red hot. Leo is especially trendy- it’s risen steadily since it hit its popularity low in 1995 and broke the top 100 in 2014. Lion is a logical addition to the family. Alternate spelling Lyon is a bit less tied to the animal.

Puma- The Western Hemisphere’s answer to the lion and tiger, pumas (also known as cougars or mountain lions) are fierce and graceful. The sound seems usable- it’s not far off from Luna and Uma- but Puma is very tied to the sneaker company.

Cat- The most straightforward of the feline names, Cat has long been a nickname for Catherine and company. Cat itself doesn’t rank in the top 1000, but related names from Cataleya to Katelyn do, so this name is much more common than its ranking suggests.

Buck- Buck is the term for an adult male of many species, particularly deer, but also caribou, hamster, goat, koala, kangaroo, and others. It’s a rough and tumble, good old boy type nickname, though it seems a bit tired.

Colt- Along with Fox, Colt is one of only two names on this list that rank in the top 1000. It was #337 in 2016, but Colton (#57) and Colten (#552) also ranked. Between its association with male horses and the gun manufacturer, Colt makes for a very macho name.

Sable (pictured)- There are two mammals that bear this name- the sable antelope, native to Southern Africa, and the sable, a member of the same family as ferrets and weasels. The latter, which mainly inhabits Siberian forests, is quite adorable. The name makes an interesting, feminine-leaning unisex choice similar to Sabra and Mabel.

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