I was trying to do an on the spot translation of children's book, that had the phrases, "baby bear, baby whale, baby etc" I wasn't sure because Russian doesn't seem to covert nouns to adjective as easily as English does. So I tried google translate and seemed to get a bunch of possibilities

I see a baby whale. Baby foxes live with me. I live with baby foxes. Baby bears prefer blondes. Baby rabbits never go far from their mothers. This is a baby rhinoceros. Baby tigers are delicious. Baby tigers prefer dark meat. The chef boiled the baby tiger.

Я вижу ребенка кита. Детские лисы жить со мной. Я живу с ребенком лис. Мишки предпочитают блондинок. Детские кролики не уезжать далеко от своих матерей. Это ребенок носорога. Детские тигров восхитительны. Детские тигры предпочитают темное мясо. Повар варил тигренка.

ребенка кита, с ребенком лис and ребенок носорога look wrong, but I don't know why.

Мишки, тигренка - looks okay, but is there really a special word for each kind of baby animal, including, say baby pangolins?

Детские кролики - looks like this means childish rabbit.

(yeah, I know I should quite my job and go learn this at a Uni instead of using google translate, but I got bills to pay)

  • 1
    The Google translator gives completely incorrect and ungrammatical output.
    – Anixx
    Jul 29, 2013 at 7:54
  • 1
    @Anixx that wasn't my question. Jul 29, 2013 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


Russian has the names of most baby animals as separate, distinct nouns, they are formed after the following pattern: [the name of the animal] + -ёнок / -онок, the plural is [the name of the animal] + -ята / -ата, both with all the palatalization phenomena in the root,

лиса - лисёнок (Pl. лисята)

волк - волчонок (Pl. волчата)

медведь - медвежонок (Pl. медвежата)

кот - котёнок (Pl. котята)

рысь - рысёнок (Pl. рысята)

лев - львёнок (Pl. львята)

лягушка - лягушонок (Pl. лягушата)

There are some special cases, when the name of the baby animal is formed from a different root than the name of the adult one:

корова - телёнок (Pl. телята)

лошадь, конь - жеребёнок (Pl. жеребята)

овца - ягнёнок (Pl. ягнята)

свинья - поросёнок (Pl. поросята)

собака - щенок (Pl. щенки or щенята)

курица - цыплёнок (Pl. цыплята)

For some exotic animals, like rhinoceros or pangolin, there is no noun in -ёнок / -онок, you form the name of the baby animal this way: детёныш + [the name of the animal in Genitive case]. The word ребёнок does not apply here, it refers only to human babies and human children, never to animals, детёныш is what is used for baby animals. You have got to consult a dictionary of Russian to find out if the word in -ёнок / -онок exists, if it does not, use the детёныш + [the name of the animal in Genitive case] pattern.

baby rhinoceros - детёныш носорога

baby pangolin - детёныш панголина

The English way of calling babies of big animals 'а calf' (Russian телёнок, like elephant calf, whale calf) does not apply in Russian, телёнок refers only to the bovine babies.

As for your text, the baby animals' names in it are like this:

baby whale - китёнок

baby foxes - лисята

baby bears - медвежата

baby rabbits - крольчата

baby rhinoceros - детёныш носорога

baby tiger - тигрёнок, Pl. тигрята

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