In a show that has Talking Animals or Funny Animals, with the animal characters mainly being mice, birds, lizards, insects, etc., sometimes you can expect there to be a body of water like rivers, lakes or ponds as the setting. The best way for these animals to have transportation is to use a leaf as a boat in order to travel from place to place.
Put bluntly, this is a trope in which an animal character will use a leaf as a boat. It can also be used in fairy tales as well as being a common motif in any tale or art to do with little people like the fey/fairies.
Often seen in Mouse World settings.
If the traveller is a tiny fairy or a Living Toy, the boat can be powered by cute little animals like butterflies, small birds or fish.
- Anpanman: Peter's mode of traveling.
- In Mouse Guard, Sadie uses one to travel to Calogero.
- The Rescuers: Bernard and Bianca use a large leaf propelled by Evinrude the dragonfly in order to find and rescue Penny.
- This was used once in Antz.
- In Fun and Fancy Free, Mickey, Donald and Goofy cross the giant's moat on a giant leaf. Jiminy Cricket also uses one in the introduction.
- Woodstock had one in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown.
- In The Princess and the Frog, Ray goes out on the bayou in one of these during his funeral.
- In Cat City, Lazy Dick makes one for himself to ride a river in The Amazon.
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, while Link is tiny, he can go on top of a leaf and use his Gust Jar to propel himself across the body of water.
- Used in the Lost Woods dungeon of Dark Cloud to go to a hidden bonus dungeon.
- One puzzle in Simon the Sorcerer requires the protagonist to improvise one of these after being shrunk.
- Legends And Myths: One shows up towards the end of the City of Eyes level. If you click on it, it grows swan-like wings and sails away, only for another to replace it. It doesn't serve any purpose, but it's pretty.
- Some types of Ants use leaves to cross streams.
- Water striders are predatory insects that "walk" on the surface-tension of still ponds. When they find a dead or drowning bug, they'll drag it to a floating leaf, so they can eat in peace without the risk of being swallowed by a fish from below. Occasionally the leaf then gets washed into a stream and carried off, which is one way water striders colonize new ponds.