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Have you ever looked at an animal and been like “I think that’s a Pokémon”? Well, this is the article for you. Please be aware that I am not a Pokémon expert, and this is based purely on aesthetics.

1. Zigzagoon, represented by a Raccoon Dog

           These little critters look like someone asked their mom to adopt the raccoon living in their backyard, to which the mom responded, “We have a raccoon at home.” Which, as it turns out, is just their spray-painted Pomeranian.

The raccoon dog bears a striking resemblance to the Pokémon Zigzagoon. They are popular in Japanese folklore and symbolize prosperity. They’re monogamous, and are a part of the Canidae family, which makes them closely related to wolves, dogs, and foxes.

The similarity of the colouring between raccoons and raccoon dogs is likely due to convergent evolution—essentially, it means that the two unrelated species independently developed this trait, like how birds and bats developed wings separately.

Raccoon dogs have become more and more popular with western cultures due to games such as Pokémon and Animal Crossing (Tom Nook is actually a tanuki, a subspecies of the raccoon dog).

2. Eevee, played by a Bat-Eared Fox

           Sticking with the theme of convergent evolution, the bat-eared fox has big, bat-like ears (hence the super original name). Their ears are so big, in fact, they can hear beetle larvae hatch from dung balls!

           Their huge ears and pale throat, mixed with their dark under-eyes, bare a resemblance to Eevee after a particularly hard breakup.

           Unfortunately, both Eevee and the bat-eared fox are rare; the habitats of the bat-eared fox -- short-grass plains and areas with bare ground -- are under threat due to human expansion. They are also hunted in Botswana and South Africa, either for their pelts or as hunting trophies. They are perceived as threats to small livestock, even though 80% of their diet consists of termites and dung beetles. They can eat up to 1.15 million termites a year each, making them important contributors for the control of the termite population.

           To find more information regarding the bat-eared fox and how to help protect other endangered African species, you can visit the African Wildlife Foundation’s website.

3. The Frilled Lizard as Heliolisk

           Have you ever wished that the ruff had made a comeback on a lizard? Well, if a member of the Elizabethan court got on the bad side of a witch, you’d get the frilled lizard.

           Residing in Australia and New Guinea, the frilled lizard is brown, black, and red-orange in colour, like Heliolisk! They’re approximately 3 feet long from tip to tail, and when threatened, they stand up on their hind legs, unfurl the frill on their neck, and bolt, like a toddler caught doing something they weren’t supposed to. With a top speed of 48km/hour, arms flopping about and mouth wide like a Titan from the anime Attack on Titan, they run without stopping or looking back until they reach the safety of a tree.

           You can watch an absolutely delightful video of this display on National Geographic’s YouTube channel here.

4. Playing the part of Cinccino, I present the Pika

           “But Jaime”, you might say. “Isn’t Cinccino supposed to be a chinchilla?” To which I respond, “Hush, my child, let me explain my reasoning.”

           Surprisingly, Pika and Pikachu don’t look remotely alike. Pikas are so round, they look like someone dropped a Timbit on the floor of a barber shop, and then took it home. They’re built like hamsters who ate a tennis ball.

           These tiny mountain-dwelling mammals can survive their whole lives in alpine terrains, marking them as the cutest and toughest mammal in North America. These little dudes are herbivores, and eat grasses, weeds, and wildflowers. They collect food during the summer, and like a teenage girl who just discovered the cottage-core aesthetic, they leave wildflowers and grasses out in the sun to dry so they don’t go moldy in the winter, like the spinach in the back of my fridge.

           If you need a bigger fix of possibly the cutest rodent-like mammal to exist, I highly recommend looking up their calls! For those of you who are too lazy to look it up, the sound they make is alarmingly similar to the sound you make when someone steps on your foot, but it didn’t actually hurt.

           When someone says, “climate change isn’t real,” look into these round little critters’ eyes, and know it is very real for them. Because they have adapted to be able to survive living in sub-zero temperatures, they can overheat at temperatures as low as 25°C. Pikas could keel over from just sitting in your hand, so what makes you think they could survive the climate crisis?

           For more information regarding the American Pika, you can visit the National Wildlife Federation’s website here.

Jaime Nemett

UWindsor '24

Jaime is an undergrad student in Forensics Science with a concentration in Biology at UWindsor. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, music, drawing, and rewatching her favourite TV shows and movies.
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