30 Awesome Animals That Start With Y – Teaching Expertise


Teaching Expertise

As elementary teachers, there is always some reason or another to know a list of items that begin with any particular letter. One of the trickiest groups is those that start with Y! While animals like the yak and yorkshire terrier are common talking points in these conversations, the list below has a few aptly-named, lesser-known Y names to wow your students! Heads up: there is a lot of yellow in store!
Just another creature to watch out for in the ocean- where this sea snake spends its entire life! The yellow-bellied sea snake is a venomous predator (though it rarely strikes). One cool trick it does is tying itself in a knot to scrape algae or barnacles off of its body! 
Learn more: CaliforniaHerps.com
Bernard Dupont / CC-BY-SA-2.0
This species of squirrel is native to the Yucatán peninsula in parts of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico- living in forests and woodlands. Since they spend most of their lives in trees, this animal is a prime example of why we must work to preserve ecosystems from things like deforestation!
Learn more: iNaturalist.ca
Yuriy Danilevsky / CC-BY-SA-3.0
These speckled creatures are more akin to prairie dogs than squirrels, as their name might suggest. Yellow ground squirrels are highly social, have extended contact between mothers and young, and communicate with one another through a series of special calls. Their alarm call is their loudest! 
Learn more: Animal Diversity
Daniel Neal / CC-BY-2.0
The range of the Yuma Myotis, a type of bat, stretches from Canada, along the Western US, and all the way to Mexico! These insectivores prefer to live near streams in the forest to ensure they have a large enough pool of prey to hunt. They also live under bridges! 
Learn more: Bat Conservation International
Steve / CC-BY-SA-2.0
Also known as the hoiho, this species of penguin is native to New Zealand-  living in two populations there. These groups are endangered, and restoration efforts are underway to help this species survive! Human disturbances are their biggest threat, but they are sometimes hunted by sharks and barracuda too!
Learn more: NZ Department of Conservation
Los Angeles Zoo
A relative to the kangaroo, the yellow-footed rock wallaby lives in the mountains of Australia. Its warm-hued fur helps it to blend in with its environment, although it is generally nocturnal. To cope with Australian heat, the wallaby is able to quickly drink 10% of its body weight in water! 
Learn more: National Geographic Kids
Fernanda Nuso
The Yorkshire Terrier is an adorable canine companion for those who love small dogs. They are a great breed for training as therapy dogs, but were once used to hunt rats! Although their coat is one of their most recognizable features, it is more like human hair than animal fur.
Learn more: American Kennel Club
Aquarium Breeder
The yabby is a freshwater crustacean akin to a crayfish or lobster. Its color changes depending on the water quality of its environment. These Australian natives are an often-destructive species that burrows into dams and levees to survive drought conditions. 
Learn more: Australian Museum
Dennis Jarvis / CC-BY-SA-3.0
This Tibetan powerhouse has been dubbed the “boats of the plateau” due to its importance in travel, work, and trade throughout the Himalayas. Yaks have been domesticated animals for 10,000 years, serving as both a pack-animal and a source of food. Yak butter and cheese are staples of the Tibetan diet.
Learn more: National Geographic
The yellow mongoose is a small animal living in the grasslands of southern Africa. They communicate with one another using many different sounds, including purrs, barks, and screams. They also send signals to one another by swishing their tails! Males mark their territory by leaving fur on rocks and scrub.
Learn more: Critterfacts
The yellow sac spider is indigenous to the United States, where they build their tubes or “sacs” under objects or in ceiling corners. These nocturnal creatures live there during the day, but emerge at night to hunt. Sac spiders have been known to bite humans, but typically only when trapped. 
Learn more: Michigan State University
These giants of the ocean (they grow to be up to 400 pounds) are aptly named; while their bodies are mostly blue, their bellies and fins are distinctly yellow. These torpedo-shaped fish live all of their lives in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean.
Learn more: NOAA Fisheries
Can you guess how this creature got its name? When researchers noticed their hairy arms sticking out of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, they nicknamed it after the abominable snowman! The yeti crab was discovered relatively recently (in 2005), South of Easter Island. They are a close relative of hermit crabs!
Learn more: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Yellow-winged bats are super stealthy with their camouflage: they hide among dead leaves and yellow berries while roosting, blending in with their yellow wings! This animal also has an impressive sense of hearing; they can hear tiny insects walking far below as they hunt! 
Learn more: Bat Conservation International
This species of marten is the biggest of its kind, growing up to 12.6 pounds! Its ombre coat changes from black to golden across its body. The marten’s range includes most of Asia, where it hunts in packs. They often hunt animals larger than themselves, including panda cubs on occasion. 
Learn More: Animalia
The yacaré caiman is often at odds with other predators of South America,  sometimes getting into scuffles with jaguars and anacondas that hunt them. This caiman’s favorite meal is the piranha! Beyond its animal predators, illegal poaching for its beautiful skin continues to threaten this species. 
Learn more: Crocodiles of the World
This Peruvian bird is a bit of a mystery, as its identification as a separate species is rather recent! How many are living in their mountain territory is currently unknown, although scientists believe that they are not currently endangered. These animals have “false eye” markings on the backs of their heads!
Learn more: The Peregrine Fund
Can you guess why this frog is also known as the bumblebee poison dart frog? While current levels of the species mean that they are not endangered, these animals can be potentially harmed by the exotic pet trade as many people are enamored by their unique markings.
Learn more: Rosamond Gifford Zoo
These sunset-hued fish are prized for their unique color and large size; they grow up to 3 feet long! While the females of the species lay over 2 million eggs, life cycle analyses show that only a tiny portion will survive. You will find them in crevices near the ocean floor. 
Learn more: Alaska Department of Fish and Game
These Paraguayan giants can grow up to 12 feet long! Despite their large size, some people keep them as pets. However, these animals are voracious eaters and will dine every few weeks on prey as large as capybara. Fun fact: each snake has a unique pattern of spots! 
Learn more: World Land Trust
The yellow-backed duiker is named for its distinctive yellow triangle on its backside, and a word in Afrikaans meaning “diver.” You might expect these docile creatures to have a vegetarian diet, however, 30% is comprised of birds, rodents, and bugs. 
Learn more: LA Zoo
The yellow-footed antechinus is a tiny marsupial with a short life: males usually die before their first birthday after producing young. These Australian animals are generally nocturnal and live in forests and near creeks. When watching them walk, you might notice them moving jerkily. 
Learn more: Queensland Museum
Yellowjackets are stinging insects often mistaken for bees due to their coloring. They build nests for their family unit out of paper. Life cycle analyses show a complicated process of producing the next generation, where every member is needed.  The only member who survives the winter is the queen!
Learn more: Missouri Department of Conservation
This cat-sized rodent is native to the western United States and Canada. These animals are actually the namesake of a US holiday: Groundhog Day! Marmots are also known as groundhogs, whistle pigs, or woodchucks. As you walk through their alpine habitat you might hear them whistling warnings to one another!
Learn more: NatureMapping Foundation
The yapok is more commonly known as the “water opossum.” These semi-aquatic creatures live in rivers and streams throughout South America. Their tails are useful appendages as they use them as rudders for swimming and as an extra way of carrying objects. Females have water-proof pouches for their young.
Learn more: Animal Diversity Web
These creatures inhabit the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico, where they live in scrublands and woods. They are aptly named after their golden-yellow nose. The young of this rodent leave the nest soon after birth and reproduce on their own in just a month and a half!
Learn more: iNaturalist.ca
The yellow-pine chipmunk is a creature that has adapted itself to many kinds of environments in the Northwestern United States and Canada. They build nests in logs and rocks, using leaves to cover the entrances. They are very adorable creatures, yet are known to carry tick-borne disease and the plague!
Learn more: Animal Diversity
The sapsucker belongs to the same family as woodpeckers. These birds drill holes in trees and return later to suck out the sap. The adults are great teachers and provide their young with instruction on how to acquire their favorite food! 
Learn more: Audubon
Don’t be fooled by its appearance: the yellow-bellied weasel is a highly skilled predator known to hunt or attack rodents, birds, geese, goats, and sheep. They even used to be tamed for this purpose! You can find them throughout Central and Southeast Asia, although not much is known about them! 
Learn more: Animal Diversity
The males of this species are the vibrant ones! While their bodies are bright yellow, females’ coloring is often duller, although still yellow-hued. These animals originated in Europe but were brought to New Zealand. Their call sounds like dzidzidzidzi!
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