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Catch these critters before they leave Animal Crossing: New Horizons in December

As Animal Crossing: New Horizons' real-time clock moves through the year, it means that more creatures will be cycling out of the world as they migrate to warmer or cooler virtual climates. As a result, a total of 16 critters will be disappearing on Dec. 31, some for a whole year. That means this could be your last chance to find them for some time.

The exact critters that will be leaving Animal Crossing in January depend on which hemisphere you chose to live in at the start of the game, according to Nintendo Life. The Northern Hemisphere, which just received its winter update, will be losing fewer species at the end of the month, although that is because many of the critters left over before the snow started falling on Nov. 27. The creatures you'll need to hunt down before they go in a few days are one type of fish, the pike, alongside two kinds of sea creatures, mussels and spiny lobsters.

Meanwhile, players in the Southern Hemisphere are already well into summer, meaning there is much more migration activity. There are eight different species of bugs on their way out, including most of the butterfly population. The common butterfly, the yellow butterfly, and the peacock butterfly will all be gone by the end of the year. Rounding out the list of insects are the firefly, ladybug, violin beetle, pill bug, and centipede. You can find all butterfly species and the firefly flying around the world, whereas the rest are on flowers, tree stumps, and rocks.

The remainder of the critters leaving Animal Crossing's Southern Hemisphere are all fish and sea creatures. Cherry salmon and char will both be gone on Dec. 31, as will the chambered nautilus, firefly squid, and lobster. To find sea creatures in either hemisphere, you'll need to head to the ocean and go diving. With a little persistence, you should be able to hunt down the marine life you are missing. Fish can be a bit trickier, but the most reliable way is to use bait crafted using manila clams from the beach. Once you've made the bait at your crafting table, you can just toss it into the river from your inventory.

If you don't manage to catch all the creatures you had hoped to by Dec. 31, you can always engage in some recreational time travel to put specific critters back in season. To use this long-standing exploit for Animal Crossing, all you need to do is change your Nintendo Switch date to the correct season, catch the critters you are missing, and then change it back. While Nintendo did tighten some rules regarding time travel and holiday events, there is still no penalty for merely visiting a different season.