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Seldom-Seen Species

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Seen any of these guys before? We'll wait.note 

Animal characters in fiction run the gamut. Just a look at the listing in Animal Stereotypes shows that there are plenty of common-enough animals that are used for their distinctive traits (presumed or real).

Then there's the Seldom-Seen Species — that is, a species that, once you see it, makes you think, "Hey, you don't usually see that animal!"note  In some cases, this may be a forced attempt to avoid the countless existing Animal Stereotypes.

Some animals, such as monkeys, rats, mice, songbirds, octopi, snails, slugs, fish, or frogs, are usually represented by a generic or nondescript variant of the type of animal as opposed to an actual individual species of that type of animal (i.e. instead of being a Larger Pacific Striped Octopus or Blue-Ringed Octopus, a character might simply be an "octopus"). In that case, portraying an actual species of that type of animal would count if that actual species isn't commonly found in fiction.


This trope is a Cyclic Trope because some species are more seldom seen in the media of some cultures, in certain forms of media, and in some time periods than others. For example, red pandas are common in Furry Fandom artwork, but are seldom seen in other fictional works and media. Likewise, platypuses were once considered a strange and unfamiliar animal, and were used as an example of a "seldom-seen species", but now they are so famous that they no longer count as one.

Many of the older examples of this trope look and act little (if not nothing) like their real-life equivalents.

Examples of this trope should be species that are still seldom seen in media nowadays. Examples of older works that show species that were rare in media at the time of the work's release but not that obscure now are also allowed. As a general rule, if the species in question has appeared more than ten times in fiction in the past ten years, it isn't "seldom seen."


Contrast Small Taxonomy Pools. For obscure mythological beasts in fiction, see Minorly Mentioned Myths and Monsters. See The Greatest History Never Told for historical periods that are obscure or unknown to general audiences. May also count as Aluminum Christmas Trees if the audience thinks the species are fictional.


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  • There are the two meerkats from Compare the Meerkat, Alexandr and Sergei. Meerkats are related to mongooses, which have enjoyed moderate fame in Western culture over the past century and a half thanks to Rudyard Kipling's short story "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"; The Lion King (1994) and Meerkat Manor introduced meerkats to the public consciousness. Mongooses are, of course, famous for killing snakes, while meerkats lack this distinction.
  • The GEICO Gecko, though thanks to him, geckos are not as seldom-seen as they used to be.

  • Ursula Vernon is especially fond of illustrating animals that are not usually given focus, especially in a fantasy context, i.e. as an anthropomorphic warrior or sage. And she tends to use a wombat for self-insert works. See also Digger under Webcomics.
  • This is another reason why William Wegman's works leave a strong impression on their viewers: they may have not even seen or heard of the Weimaraner breed beforehand.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The Joker and Harley Quinn are sometimes accompanied by Bud and Lou, who are spotted hyenas.
  • The Belch Dimension Comics has Jason T. Gibbon (although slightly subverted in an "Untold Tales" segment when it's revealed he was once a boy turned into an ape by an evil spell). One story also featured a villain named The Cassowary, which series creator Jonathan M. Sweet was surprised wasn't used more, as this large flightless bird, with its bony skull-crest and large clawed foot,seemed "fairly made for supervillainy". Although naturally stylized to appear cartoonish, the series actually has fairly recognizable renderings of specific dog breeds, such as the beagle and the pit bull, unlike most comics and cartoons.
  • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! would occasionally reference or show a few less often seen animal species, as part of making its World of Funny Animals animal-based puns work. Examples include Gnu York City and the "Wombat Communications" conglomerate there (the owners of Earth-C's version of DC Comics). Celebrities seen included Bob Hoopoe, while a fictional cowboy named "Hopalong Cassowary" (Hopalong Cassidy) is referenced. A few countries/cities on Earth-C include Aukstralia and Loondon.
  • In Cerebus the Aardvark, aardvarks are not at all common, but have appeared enough times throughout Estarcion's history that it's not a cause for public wonder. That three aardvarks are running around at one time, on the other hand, is exceedingly rare.
  • The protagonist of the Kat-Venture comics is a meerkat treasure hunter. In "Kat-Venture and the Mountain of Death" he teams up with an Indian civet.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) universe is full of this. Not the least of which are echidnas (most famously Knuckles), lynx (Nicole, Lightning Lynx, et al.) and mongooses (Mina and Ash). And with the reboot we can add pikas (Relic), bettas (Coral), water buffaloes (Axel), pistol shrimp (Captain Striker), and tenrecs (Gold).

    Comic Strips 
  • Arctic Circle has an Arctic tern named Hector.
  • B.C. has the Apteryx, a "wingless bird with hairy feathers," as he invariably introduces himself. Apteryx is the generic name for kiwis.
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin has a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of animals, primarily dinosaurs and pterosaurs. Among the genera featured in the strips are Corythosaurus, Troodon, Centrosaurus, Chasmosaurus, "Ultrasauros" (now Supersaurus), Dimorphodon, and Pterodactylus.
    • He once asked if Hobbes could draw anything other than tigers, to which Hobbes replied, yes, he could also draw ocelots (slender, spotted wild cats from the jungles of Central and South America).
    • In one of his tiger poems, he makes a reference to the sambar deer.
  • Off the Mark:
  • Pearls Before Swine:
    • Pig has a sea anemone enemy.
    • One storyline focuses on meerkats at the local zoo... and the illegal activities that they participate in.
    • In one strip, Pig hires an aardvark named Andy as an accountant...which backfires because aardvarks are nocturnal.
  • One Sunday strip of Phoebe and Her Unicorn featured a goldfinch, a pair of black-necked stilts, a Townsend's warbler, a spotted towhee, a chestnut-backed chickadee, a pileated woodpecker, a Steller's jay, and a red-breasted nuthatch.
  • Pogo was the only ever possum leading man in an American comic.
  • Sherman's Lagoon has all sorts of obscure aquatic life.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge:
    • Anguirus in this incarnation is derived from Tarchia, with Polacanthus and Diictodon mixed in.
    • One "Tales of the Amalgamverse" stars the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park III, who is stated to be part-Suchomimus.
  • It's not the Raptor DNA: Beyond the Stock Dinosaurs present in Jurassic World, there's mention made of Therizinosaurus, Metriacanthosaurus, Microceratus, Lambeosaurus, Gorgosaurus, Yutyrannus, Sinocalliopteryx, and Concavenator. Two of the latter kill and eat Hart, in a Shout-Out to Ludlow's demise in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. There's also Queen Anne and Bark, who are a Baryonyx and a Suchomimus respectively.
  • Dunkleosteus of all animals was the sole representing species of Earth life in The Origins of Sentient Life as Narrated by Discord.
  • Phineas and Ferb's Dinosaur Adventure has Othnielosaurus, Dryosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Fruitafossor, Harpactognathus, Camptosaurus, Gargoyleosaurus, and Ornitholestes.
  • Rise of the Galeforces featured Ornithocheirus, Platecarpus, and Mawsonia.
  • Romance and the Fate of Equestria features Queen Okapiopteryx, the goddess worshipped by Zecora. The queen swings a twofer for this trope by being a mix-and-match critter combining two Seldom-Seen Species, an okapi and a Microraptor.
  • The Scaly Raptor: Besides the usual Stock Dinosaurs, there's also Beelzebufo, Herrerasaurus, Microraptor, Titanoboa, Koolasuchus, Xenacanthus, Saurophaganax, Ceratodus, Segisaurus, Tanystropheus, Drepanosaurus, Minmi, and Platyceramus.
  • Most of the Mesozoic fauna from Swing123's Triassic Park: Into the Past are commonly-seen genera, but there's also Ornitholestes, Massospondylus, Liopleurodon, Ceratosaurus, Camarasaurus, and Hypsilophodon.
  • In The Geeky Zoologist's reimagining of Jurassic World, Achillobator, Anzu, Geosternbergia, Harpactognathus, Henodus, Kunbarrasaurus, Mantellisaurus, Metriacanthosaurus, Nothosaurus, Pegomastax, Platecarpus, Proceratosaurus, Ptychodus, Shantungosaurus, Tupandactylus, Unenlagia, and Yinlong are among the featured prehistoric species.
    • In addition to them, obscure modern species native from Costa Rica also appears, including the American Crocodile, the American Ibis, the White-nosed Coati, the Military Macaw, the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, the Variegated Squirrel, and the King Vulture.
    • A part of the species that makes the Indominus’ genetic makeup falls under that category: Megaraptor, the Southern rockhopper Penguin, the Red-bellied Woodpecker, the Eyelash Viper, the Giant girdled Lizard, the Blue-eyed anglehead Lizard, Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni, and Acomys percivali.
  • The Kai's MXTX Fic Zoo series turns characters from Mo Dao Zu Shi into all sorts of specific lesser-known species, such as a quokka, nutria, and civet.
  • In The Casagrandes fanfiction Zoo Coup Riot, Sid brings a sugar glider named Candy to class for Show and Tell.
  • Doubles as a Running Gag in Flaming Frost: A Chaunacops anglerfish appears as a Running Gag in the Dark Forest.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey features tapirs in the prehistoric sequence, despite it taking place in Africa.
  • Sandy from Annie (1982) is played by an Otterhound named Bingo. It's such an unknown breed that they can easily be mistaken for mutts, which is what Sandy is supposed to be.
  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks prominently featured a secretarybird.
  • The Big Year is a film (based on a nonfiction book of the same title, but fictionalised somewhat for the screen) about competitive birders trying to set a record for the most species seen in North America (north of Mexico, i.e. the continental United States and Canada) during one calendar year. Seldom-seen species are therefore the driving force of the whole plot: Nutting's Flycatcher, Xantus' Hummingbird, Pink-footed Goose, the list goes on and on...
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula features a ring-tailed lemur at the London Zoo when a wolf escapes.
  • Deep Blue Sea features mutant mako sharks, rather than the usual Great Whites.
  • Tino's "girlfriend" Roxy in A Dog's Purpose is a Landseer.
  • Eight Legged Freaks: Besides the commonly seen tarantulas and orb-weavers, the movie features trapdoor spiders, spitting spiders and jumping spiders.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Rather than a spider, as portrayed in the book, the arachnid Mad-Eye Moody demonstrates the Unforgivable Curses on is actually a tailless whipscorpion.
  • Goodbye, My Lady is about a boy in rural Mississippi who finds a stray Basenji. Basenji are a rare breed in modern day media, nevermind in the 1950s.
  • The Jungle Book (2016) was full of (mostly Indian) species not often seen in cinema, such as nilgai, blackbuck, Indian rhinoceros, Indian pangolin, pygmy hog, Indian giant squirrel, jerboas, small Indian civet, red and white giant flying squirrel, Indian cobra, mugger crocodile, Indian cuckoo, hoopoe, Asian fairy-bluebird, and green bee-eater. King Louie's monkey underlings include some relatively obscure species, such as western hoolock gibbon, lion-tailed macaque, pig-tailed macaque, golden langur, and Nilgiri langur. King Louie himself is the extinct orangutan-like ape Gigantopithecus.
  • Jurassic Park
    • The Lost World: Jurassic Park features Mamenchisaurus as the token sauropod.
    • Jurassic Park III features a Spinosaurus as the main antagonist. Much like Velociraptor, Spinosaurus was obscure when the film was made and became one of the best-known dinosaurs after its release, although it is almost always based on the film's now outdated portrayal.note  Ceratosaurus and Corythosaurus are examples of stock dinosaurs that have become fairly obscure in non-educational media.
    • Indominus rex, the main antagonist of Jurassic World, is stated to be made from the DNA of cuttlefish and tree frogs. All There in the Manual states it also contains the genes of Therizinosaurus, Giganotosaurus, Carnotaurus, Rugops, and Majungasaurus. The flying reptile Dimorphodon is also featured in the film.
    • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom features Stygimoloch and Sinoceratops. Concavenator, Mononykus, and Dracorex make cameos as models, the skeletons of Kosmoceratops, Peloroplites, and Teratophoneus also make appearances, and DNA vials for Dreadnoughtus is seen as a Freeze-Frame Bonus. Finally, the skull that the Indoraptor dies from being impaled on is that of an Agujaceratops according to the script, not a Triceratops as viewers often assume.
    • Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock prominently features a family of Nasutoceratops. The Allosaurus is based on A. jimmadensi, rather than the iconic A. fragilis.
    • The prologue of Jurassic World: Dominion (first shown alongside IMAX screenings of F9) features Dreadnoughtus and Moros. It also has Giganotosaurus, a stock dinosaur but still obscure by the likes of Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus. Atrociraptor, Lystrosaurus, Microceratus, Nasutoceratops, and Pyroraptor will also appear in some capacity.
  • 1955's King Dinosaur features a kinkajou in the part of a cute alien animal the "heroes" find, which was then extensively misidentified as a lemur in the MST3K episode.
  • The Syfy Channel's Malibu Shark Attack features goblin sharks, presumably because they look so bizarre.
  • The Mission features a tiny marmoset monkey instead of your typical South American monkey-like capuchin or squirrel monkeys and a collared peccary which could easily be mistaken as a wild pig. Also, it features a three-toed sloth, who wasn't as popular back in 1986, before the Internet days.
  • My Octopus Teacher: Octopus are a well-known aquatic species. Rather, the seldom-seen species, in this case, is the Pyjama Shark, a natural predator of the octopus.
  • The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill: At one point, the crew find a slow-worm on the floor of the church, its body in the shape of an "S".
  • Besides the usual chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, Rise of the Planet of the Apes featured a bonobo named Koba as the Token Evil Teammate. He is promoted to Big Bad in the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
  • Snakes on a Plane: One of the more distinctive motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane is a Gaboon viper.
  • In the most recent film of The Time Machine, one of the Eloi men is seen carrying a live black-furred animal over his shoulder, which appears to be a binturong.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction showed a Psittacosaurus and a herd of heterodontosaurids in the opening scene.
  • T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous featured a pair of Dryptosaurus to associate with early 20th Century artist Charles R. Knight. For bonus points, they adopt the same pose as in his famous "Leaping Laelaps" painting.note 

  • In the music video for Neon Indian's "Sleep Paralysist", an axolotl can be seen in a few shots. Given how bizarre the video is, the axolotl was probably chosen to be there (above other, more common animals) for its odd, Ugly Cute appearance, in order to add to the surreality.
  • Schoolhouse Rock!:
    • The song "Four-Legged Zoo" prominently mentioned ibex (a type of goat with large, curved horns) and kudu (a large antelope with corkscrew-shaped horns). It also briefly brings up vicuña (the wild ancestor of the alpaca) near the start.
    • The song "Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla'' prominently features an aardvark as the animal companion to the titular character's sister Rafaella Gabriela Sarsaparilla.
  • Frank Zappa's piece "The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary" from Studio Tan and Läther, correctly describes him as "the nocturnal gregarious wild swine".


    Theme Parks 

  • Beanie Babies have included several rare species over the years, such as a kiwi, a hornbill, a lemur that is clearly not a ring-tailed, and a cockatoo that is clearly not a sulphur-crested.
  • The Grossery Gang has Slob Fish, who is a blobfish, a type of fish rarely seen in fiction.
  • Some of the higher-end animal toy manufacturers such as Safari Ltd., Schleich, and CollectA will feature obscure animal species in addition to well-known ones. Examples are too numerous to list.
  • Squishmallows: The members of the Deep Sea squad include a sea hare, a blobfish, and a tardigrade.
  • The Trash Pack has featured rarely-mentioned bugs in their Bin-sects team, including tapeworms, earwigs, and silverfish.
  • The Feisty Pets line features a snow leopard, two three-toed sloths, and a narwhal.

  • In Bronze Skin Inc Coatis and saguis appear in the first chapter.
  • The Bug Pond features a lot of obscure bug species, such as silverfish, earwigs, and assassin bugs.
  • Burgess Shale has characters and spaceships based on Paleozoic fish, such as Scaumenacia, Pteraspis, and Drepanaspis.
  • Cameron and Corinna has a thylacine protagonist.
  • Commander Kitty features Nin Wah, a red panda. The first version of the comic also had part of the plot set on a planet of pangolins.
  • Concession features Roland, a pangolin, Franz/Zoe, a bilby, Kate and Rick, ringtail lemurs, and Clive, an okapi.
  • Dawn of Time tends to feature lesser-known dinosaurs like Pachyrhinosaurus and Sauropelta.
  • The protagonist of Digger is a wombat, and several of the supporting cast come from a tribe of hyenas.
  • Dinosaur Comics, in addition to the not-that-unusual T. rex, includes a Utahraptor and a Dromiceiomimus among the main cast.
  • Drop Out's main couple are a marine hydroid (the frilly little worms which stick to shellfish) and a sugar glider/tarsier hybrid.
  • Femmegasm has a tamarin monkey and axolotl as its lead characters.
  • Kevin & Kell have occasionally featured animals like this:
    • Probably the most recurring seldom seen species character is Kevin's eventual brother in law, George Fennec, who's, well, a fennec fox.
    • Lindesfarne the hedgehog may technically count as K&K started in 1995, when Sonic the Hedgehog was in the earliest days of its popularity. What's more, for the earliest months of the comic Lindesfarne believed herself to have converted to an American porcupine, itself uncommon in media.
    • Aby's ex Manxwell is a manx, a tailless cat.
    • Semi recurring character Mr. Chapman is a platypus. Many of the comics featuring him have some joke centered around his hybrid status, such as him trying to trace his family tree causing the computer to explode, or how he owns a hybrid car.
    • While bats in general don't count for this trope, vampire bats are rare enough that Desdemona Fuscus makes the list.
    • Harold is a stinkbird (hoatzin). Many jokes are made about his stench.
    • A nameless bird of paradise appears once to comment that his mating ritual may look stupid, but at least he didn't pay 12 grand for it like Lindesfarne was doing for her wedding.
    • This comic shows off four rare bug species...all part of Lindesfarne's Wacky Cravings when she was pregnant with Turvy.
  • Liz Climo often features these in her comic series, such as tamanduas, honey badgers, and fennec foxes.
  • Mocheril from The Meek, who is an olm (rarely seen outside of Slovenian heraldry).
  • Nature of Nature's Art, full stop. Featuring jerboas, degus, tamanduas, kinkajous, several species of spiders and many more.
  • In Off-White, the pack is shown hunting a chamois. This might be the one and only time you'll ever see one in any fiction whatsoever.
  • In The Order of the Stick story How the Paladin Got His Scar, Saha speaks with what appears to be a binturong.
  • Stephan in Ozy and Millie is an aardvark.
  • Question Duck has a great potoo in this strip. An earlier one showed a toco toucan and leafcutter ants. This guest strip by Coelasquid (creator of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things) had a shoebill.
  • Raptormaniacs has Zahavi the Jinfengopteryx, Remex the Caudipteryx, and Ebeff the Therizinosaurus. Also Skull, who is a skull cast of Tsaagan.
  • The main characters in Yuck Heads are mongooses, specifically Yellow Mongooses.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Adventure II moving the action to the Saimaa lake system in Finland, combined with the fact that Raising the Steaks is limited to mammals in the setting, results in the Encyclopedia Exposita page about the After the End version of the area including a few zombified Saimaa ringed seals among its illustrations.
  • Vápnthjófr saga: One of the main characters is a pine marten, and minor/background characters includes species such as mergansers, lammergeiers, water shrews, black grouses, ospreys, Siberian jays, etc. While an aurochs appears as a frost giant.

    Web Original 
  • The middle portion of the song "In the Ocean Blue" from Charlie the Unicorn, which sounds an awful lot like the Pokerap:
    Lungfish, Blackfish, Alligator, Icefish
    Armorhead, Hammerhead, Anaconda, Flathead
    Manta ray, Stingray, Fangtooth, Moray
    Goblin shark, Grass carp, Round River Bat Ray
    Noodlefish, Hagfish, Man o' War, Ladyfish
    Black eel, baby seal, Sprat, Koi, Electric eel
    Lamprey, Pejerey, Yellow-edged Moray
    Salmon shark, Sleeper shark, Leatherback, and Eagle ray!
    • The anaconda, koi, electric eel, alligator, lungfish, and grass carp are especially Seldom-Seen Species under the circumstances, as they're freshwater creatures only.
    • And of course, the magical Liopleurodon.
  • Cracked loves this trope.
  • Dreamscape: The local hospital is run by a Megalania.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Fire Guy has a pet pangolin.
  • Hamster's Paradise features the Chinese dwarf hamster as its seed animal of choice: as opposed to the Syrian hamster or the golden hamster which are more commonly kept as pets. Justified as the Chinese dawrf hamster is a common lab animal, and also has a longer tail, more befitting the long-tailed hamster descendants that later arise.
  • The Happy Tree Friends universe includes a marmot and an anteater (Cro-Marmot and Sniffles, respectively). While Sniffles has been known to hunt ants on occasion, the ice-encased Cro-Marmot never engages in any marmot-esque activity. Or any activity, period.
  • Multituberculate Earth is all about multituberculates as the dominant mammals; show of hands if you even know what a multituberculate is. The opening scene shows an Ectypodus arctos (which doesn't even have a Wikipedia page!) eating a basal rodent, and it does bonkers from there.
  • The Ningyo features an okapi as part of Christopher Marlowe's backstory.
  • The Tyrannosaur Chronicles includes a handful of dinosaur species that are rarely used in media like the Einiosaurus or the Stegoceras.
  • True Facts started out as informational videos about relatively well-known animals, like ducks, octopuses, or chameleons. As the series goes on, it starts taking a look at more and more obscure species of animals, such as nudibranchs, mudskippers, ogre-faced spiders, bobbit worms, and carnivorous beach snails.
    Narrator: This is stock footage of a sea cucumber. It has been downloaded one time. By me.
  • Catsing Call: One of the main characters is a caiman, which aren't too common compared to their relatives, crocodiles and alligators.
  • Dinosauria: The second short "Our Frozen Past" features Nanuqsaurus, a smaller relative of Tyrannosaurus native to Alaska.

  • The mascot for the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights is Chance, a gila monster.
  • The mascots for the Sydney 2000 Olympics were a kookaburra, echidna and platypus — chosen in part to provide a Land, Sea, Sky combination and in part because Australian organisers thought kangaroos and koalas were overused.
  • The mascot of the (now postponed) 2021 Southeast Asian games is a saola, a type of primitive antelope that literally hasn't been seen since 2013.
  • Weird N Wild Creatures, a series of children's fact & trading cards that originally ran from 2003-2006, loved this trope. Gigantophis, Dapedium, Budgett's frogs, genets, hooded pitohuis, hellbenders, predatory tunicates, stoplight loosejaws, toe-biters, red-backed shrikes, pichiciegos, Javan wart snakes… and that's not even scratching the surface. This even extended to the series' coverage of mythical creatures; while not species in the literal sense, it included several beasts (Baital, Gargantua, Mngwa, the Thetis Lake monster, etc.) that are rarely acknowledged in fiction.

Alternative Title(s): Lesser Seen Species