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Armies of Frogs and Rafts of Otters: Groups of Animals Go By Many Names

Animals really don’t care what we call them. We could call them Bob, and it wouldn’t make any difference in their lives. But we humans have different names for different types of animals. That is probably a good thing for a few reasons.

Did you know a group of frogs is called an army? (Photo via Shutterstock)

First, we don’t get confused. If we named every animal cat, we’d have some very weird moments when the cat chased the cat until it ran into a burrow in the ground, so they raced after another cat. What are we talking about here?

Plus, when we give something a name, often we care about it more. An animal is just an animal is just an animal. But that Blanding’s turtle can live to be 80 years old? How cool! A little brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquitos in an hour? Amazing! This mourning dove can fly 60 miles per hour? Incredible! We learn their names and then we learn more about what makes them interesting or fun or special. Soon we want to protect them and their environments to make sure they stick around.

Not only do we have separate names for different species, but we have separate names for different types of animals in the same species. A female might be a cow (whales and elephants), a doe (deer and rabbits), a jenny (wren or donkey) or a vixen (fox). Males sometimes go by boar (raccoons and skunks), tom (cats and turkeys) or bull (bison, giraffe, and dolphin). Young animals go by kit (skunk, rabbit, weasel), whelp (coyote) or even maggot (fly).

What do you call a group of animals? You might know that there are herds of deer and flocks of birds. What about some of the other animals that call Will County home?

What do you call these groups of mammals?

  • A cauldron of bats

  • A mischief of mice or rats

  • A raft of otters

  • A prickle of porcupines

  • A smack of raccoons

  • A stench of skunks

  • A scurry of squirrels

  • A gang or a sneak of weasels

Which group of mammals is called a colony? Spend a little time searching!

How about birds?

  • A murder of crows

  • A raft of ducks

  • A gaggle of geese

  • A cast, kettle or boil of hawks

  • A party or scold of jays

  • A parliament of owls

  • A round of robins

  • A gang of turkeys

What about a group of eagles or blackbirds or woodpeckers? If your favorite bird didn’t make the list, look it up!

What about these herps (reptiles and amphibians)?

  • An army of frogs

  • A lounge of lizards

  • A knot of toads

  • A bale or nest of turtles

  • A ball or slither of snakes

How about these fish?

  • A shoal of bass

  • A hover of trout

But do you know your insects and spiders?

  • A loveliness of ladybugs

  • A colony of ants

  • A hive or swarm of bees

  • A kaleidoscope or flutter of butterflies

  • An army of caterpillars

  • A business of flies

  • A cloud of gnats or grasshoppers

  • A cluster of spiders

Did you know any of these group names already? Did any surprise you? Are you wondering why we call a group of animals something? Or did your favorite animal not make the list? Sounds like a great research project!


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