Sniff is something of a younger sibling to Moomintroll, having been adopted by the Moomin family at an early age. He is good-natured, loyal, excitable, and eager to join in any mission, but his taste for adventure is not often matched by his bravery…
Sniff dreams of finding riches and is particularly taken with the idea of owning anything sparkly or valuable.
He wants to join in with whatever Moomintroll and his friends are up to, whether that’s an expedition to the Lonely Mountains or a meeting to decide an important matter in Moominvalley. However, he is rather timid so he won’t do anything dangerous and, being the youngest, he can get tired and fed-up when things get difficult. He always tries his best, though, and lends a hand whenever Moominmamma asks him to.
“Sniff always tries his best.”
If there’s one thing that motivates him, it is things! He especially wishes for shiny and sparkly things, like pearls and diamonds. He can usually put his fears aside if there is a chance of finding treasure or coming into possession of something valuable. Sniff is good at finding lost items – possibly because he loves stuff so much! It was he who found the Hobgoblin’s Hat in Finn Family Moomintroll (1948), and he was also the person to first discover the cave where the whole family goes to hide when a comet is headed for Moominvalley.
Sniff can be selfish and he’s not good at hiding his disappointments, which can hurt other people’s feelings. For example, the old gentleman who designed the enchanted garden in The Moomins and the Great Flood (1945) felt quite offended when Sniff was critical of his creation.
Sniff first appears in The Moomins and the Great Flood. He has been lost by his parents, The Muddler and The Fuzzy. Luckily, he is found by Moominmamma and Moomintroll as they search for Moominpappa. Sniff has large, pointy ears and a long tail.
What is Sniff’s favourite thing?
Of all the things Sniff has collected over time, his favourite is his toy dog, Cedric. Cedric’s eyes are ‘nearly topazes’ and he has a genuine moonstone on his collar, but Sniff also loves Cedric for his facial expression – ‘an expression that no other dog could have’. Everyone is very surprised when Sniff gives Cedric away to Gaffsie’s daughter after Moomintroll tells him that “if one gives something away that one really likes, then one will get it back ten times over and feel wonderful afterwards.” This, however, doesn’t work out as planned for Sniff, who instead feels terrible, having lost his dearest toy. Snufkin tries to tell him a story to cheer him up, but he remains rather glum.
What is Sniff most afraid of?
Sniff is terrified of the sea, which is unusual in Moominvalley – all the Moomin family love bathing, swimming and diving! He refuses to join Moomintroll diving for pearls (“you never know what you’ll see down there on the bottom”), even though he really loves valuable things. This fear of the water might also explain why he does not appear in Moominpappa at Sea (1965).
A little-known fact about Sniff:
When Sniff first appears in The Moomins and the Great Flood (1945), he is referred to as ‘the small creature’. It is only in Comet in Moominland (1946) that he is given his proper name.
- ‘“Now I’m frightened again,” said the little creature. “I’m almost beginning to wish I hadn’t come with you at all.”’ (The Moomins and the Great Flood, 1945)
- ‘“I am never afraid,” answered Sniff. “But the view is better from here.”’ (Comet in Moominland, 1946)
- “A little clumsy sometimes, but means well. After all the Muddler was his father” (Moominpappa in The Exploits of Moominpappa, 1950)
- “It was Moomintroll’s fault. He told me that if one gives something away that one really likes, then one will get it back ten times over and feel wonderful afterwards. He tricked me into it.” (Tales from Moominvalley, 1962)
- “I saw it first!” squeaked Sniff, “I must choose a name for it. Wouldn’t it be fun to call it Sniff? That’s so short and sweet.” (Finn Family Moomintroll, 1948)
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