Have you even paid attention of the names or various groupings of animals?

Some of them are pretty weird. To a large extent, it’s like animal scientists sat around a table sharing their favorite bourbon and purposefully coming up with the oddest (and sometimes seemingly random) names they could think of. Then again…

•A congregation of alligators.

Technically, when a bunch of anything congregates, a group is formed.

But I’ll bet the first thing that came to your mind was a bunch of leathery-skinned, long-and-low reptiles facing a pulpit shouting, “preach it brother!” to a huge elderly cohort. Me, too.

•A battery of barracudas.

Of course, in military terms a battery refers to a combined, tactical assembly of multiple pieces of artillery (and perhaps the accompanying men and equipment).

Come to think of it, several barracudas acting in unison would be quite the aquatic battery, and certainly something to stay clear of – like a bunch of mortars or howitzers.

•A wake of buzzards.

You know, vultures – a.k.a. buzzards – like to gather around dead things.

Well now, isn’t that what happens at a wake?

•A confusion of guinea fowl.

Have you ever watched guineas being guineas?

They don’t appear ready to take a calculus test.

•A band of coyotes.

When used in terms of human grouping, the word “band” not only refers to an assembly of musicians, but is commonly associated with a gang of outlaws or bandits.

I have to admit, coyotes are more or less one of nature’s most famous gangs of outlaws.

•A cast of crabs.

So who plays the lead role, the king, blue or Dungeness?

Don’t expect the hermit to participate, but we can probably count on the fiddler to help with the production’s score.

A tower of giraffes.

This is pretty hard to argue with.

•A mob of emus.

The infamously erratic and aggressive behavior of these ground-based birds probably warrants a group name that denotes a bit of chaos and mayhem.

Well I’ll be, I think mob works just fine.

•A charm of hummingbirds.

If you’ve ever watched a bunch of them carrying on around a feeder like selfish little brats, you know they can be anything but charming.

But it’s hard not to consider them adorable, what with their teeny bodies and that crazy thing they do with their wings. Charming, no?

•An intrusion of cockroaches.

Honestly, when was the last time anyone saw a group of cockroaches in their home or office and didn’t consider them as intruders?

•A wisdom of wombats.

In their native Australia, these cute, furry little critters are notorious for leaving plenty of evidence of their existence but not often being seen.

Seems to me you’d have to be pretty smart to pull that off.

•A lounge of lizards.

Hmm, let’s see – we’ll go with the iguana tending bar, the gecko waiting tables, the gila monster working the cash register and the chameleon alternating between playing piano and doing stand-up comedy.

And I want a komodo dragon as my bouncer.

•A prickle of porcupines.

I’m not sure porcupines do much grouping, but I am sure that if and when they do, there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to justify this label.

•A quiver of cobras.

I hope to never come across a group of cobras, but if I do, I’ll probably quiver right before I run.

•A mischief of mice.

See giraffes.

•A gaze of raccoons.

Coons have really big eyes, right?

All the better to gaze with, I guess.

After further review, I can’t say most of these names are all that bad for their particular animal group – crabs and lizards notwithstanding. When examined more closely, most of them make at least a fair amount of sense (although I’m still going to say they’re weird).

Nice work, animal scientists. 

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.

Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply