Genetically Engineered Animals.

Atwood's speculative post apocalyptic world is molded by genetic engendering. Science has taken any opportunity to biologically engineer odd combinations of animals for the needs of the human race, such as food production and organ harvesting.
While many of these experiments have produced safe, domesticated or useful animals, some have resulted in dangerous and unexpected results.

One of the first cross species we are introduced to is the rakunk, a mixture of racoon and skunk. They are described as being calmer than a racoon and cleaner than a skunk. Because certain animals are not allowed in the scientific compound, Jimmy was presented with a pet rakunk, which he named Killer.

Uncomfortable with the treatment of animals she saw at the compound, Jimmy's mother released Killer before running away herself. Jimmy is distraught as the loss of his childhood pet and confused about which loss has effected him more.


Wolves appear as domestic dogs. When Jimmy first approached them at Martha Graham Academy he is struck by their friendly manner and his longing for a pet, however they are bred to look deceptively tame. Having being created for security purposes they are particularly vicious and a constant threat in the present post apocalyptic setting, where they are no longer contained.

Snats are a hissing combination of snakes and rats. They are described as 'rats with long scaly tails and rattlesnake fangs'.(p.224)
The species was allegedly destroyed shortly after their creation because they proved too dangerous.

Bobkittens were bred to be a smaller and less aggressive alternative to the bobcat, having being crossed with a kitten. They were originally introduced to eliminate feral cats, which had killed of most of the song-bird population. However they soon became out of control, and were reported to be mauling joggers and attacking small dogs and babies (p.192).