Yes! You Can See These New 'Animal Crossing' Critters IRL

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 (Jasmine Garnett/KQED)

The video game "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" has been a welcome escape for many families during shelter-in-place rules, when a lot of us haven’t been able to spend as much time outside as we’d like. A big part of gameplay is catching various bugs and fish that visit your island — and good news! The company recently announced a slew of new bugs and fish available to catch in Northern Hemisphere islands.

But for those looking to grab a mask and venture outside now that it’s warmer, you can find a few of the new additions right in the Bay Area. Read on to learn when to catch some of the new creatures in "Animal Crossing" — and also find them IRL.

Ocean Sunfish

Sunfish swimming in Walvis Bay, Namibia
Sunfish swimming in Walvis Bay, Namibia. (iStock)

Also called the Mola mola, this giant fish is sure to be the centerpiece of the collection you’re creating for your museum. You can find it on your island between 4 a.m. and 9 p.m. — it’ll be recognizable by its distinctive fin!

Its real-life counterpart can be found in the waters of the Gulf of the Farallones. Apart from sharks and rays, it’s the heaviest of all the bony fish; the average Mola mola weighs about 2,200 pounds. According to Bay Nature, their common name comes from “their affinity for basking in the sun at the water’s surface — where they are often spotted bobbing on their sides like giant, round life rafts.” Relatable.

Walking Stick

Josh Cassidy/KQED (Josh Cassidy/KQED)

You’ll be able to catch a walking stick on trees from 4-8 a.m. and 5-7 p.m., and  they’re plentiful in the real world — and specifically California — as well!

"I can't think of any other insect as effective as they are in remaining hidden in plain sight," said Edward Ramirez, an undergraduate researcher at the University of California, Berkeley who is currently studying the genetics of walking sticks. KQED Science’s Jenny Oh spoke to him for a Deep Look episode all about how these insects use their expert camouflage to hide from predators.


iStock (iStock)

Grasshoppers will be around your island from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

You might have to run to nab them, but you can also see these creatures in the Bay Area. The California Rose-Winged Grasshopper is common between southwestern Oregon and northern Baja California. 

Just like in "Animal Crossing," you can catch them in grassland and rocky soil.

Walking Leaf

Just like in the real world, the walking leaf in your game is going to be doing its best to stay out of sight. They’ll be on your island all day, but you’ll have to look carefully to spot them since they’ll be disguised as a regular AC furniture leaf.

Josh Cassidy/KQED (Josh Cassidy/KQED)


You won’t be able to see these in person for now, but walking leaves are housed at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. 

Just like their virtual counterparts, they’re experts at disguise. "If these insects are caught in a breeze, they'll even sway back and forth along with the surrounding foliage to enhance their disguise," said Patrick Lee, one of the museum’s animal care managers. 

If you're thinking about adopting one, forget it — they’re hard to get a hold of. “They’re not available as pets and are regulated by the USDA,” Lee said. "You must have a permit in order to display and house this species."

And if you want to wear your KQED pride virtually, download a design from KQED's Social Media Associate Chris Cox: