Animals with Misleading Names

Names are used for identification. Sometimes we hear a name and form a mental image of what this thing looks like. Well you just might get it wrong for the animals on this list as their names certainly can’t be associated with their true nature. Let’s just say that these animal names are a linguistic mess which do not make sense and are misleading. Some animal names were derived from the early encounters between our ancestors and the animals. It is also said that some strange animal names came about when explorers sometimes tried to change indigenous names into English ones and when arbitrary names were given based on unrelated, familiar animals from their native countries. Here are five of animals with misleading names.

1. Mountain Chicken 

This animal certainly has no feathers, no wings and doesn’t make a cluck. It just isn’t a chicken. Rather, the Giant Ditch Frog which is also called mountain chicken is a type of frog. This amphibian is endangered and can be found in the Caribbean on the islands of Montserrat and Dominica. Mountain chickens are hunted, prepared and consumed by many of the local people. In fact, mountain chicken is a delicacy.

2. Guinea Pig

This name is definitely misleading as this animal is neither Guinean nor is it a pig. Actually, guinea pigs come from South America and are rodents. These tiny furry animals are common household pets in many parts of the world. The only thing that guinea pigs have in common with real pigs is that they are mammals and also make loud squeaky noises. Guinea pigs often let out a high-pitched squeak when they are in pain or are excited about their meal or play.

3. Red Panda

On hearing the name “red panda,” one would most likely imagine a giant panda bear with a red coat and a rotund body. Well this description does not even come close. A red panda is somewhat bigger than a domestic cat with thick russet fur. They have a ruddy coat color. Red pandas spend a lot of time eating bamboo up in the branches of trees and have some thumb-like appendages just like real panda bears do but other than this they are nothing alike. This species, which lives in the eastern Himalayas in southwest China, is not a bear and does not come from the same family as the real panda. They resemble raccoons more in appearance and behavior.

4. Star Fish

Starfish are star shaped echinoderms. While they look like stars, they do not have gills, fins or scales like fish do and therefore are not categorized as a fish. To avoid the confusion, they are called sea stars by many scientists. Sea stars live in saltwater. They actually have a water vascular system that uses seawater to transport nutrients through their bodies rather than blood.

5. Prairie Dogs

Prairie dogs can’t be compared to our canine friends, although it is easy for anyone to assume that they are based on their name. Prairie dogs, scientifically known as genus Cynomys, are a small, herbivorous burrowing rodent found in the grasslands of North America. When they are hungry they come out of the tunnels in search of food and feed on nearby grass. Young prairie dogs are called pups, which make their names even more misleading.


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