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What Do You Call Groups Of Various Animals?

Updated on October 29, 2017
Bob Bamberg profile image

With 30 years in the pet supply industry, Bob's newspaper column deals with animal health, nutrition, behavior, regulation, and advocacy.

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Individually Or In Groups, You Wonder Where The Name Came From

We humans are a pretty boring lot. The males of our species are scientifically identified as males, the females are females, and we have a few names for our young; baby, infant, toddler, boy, girl, adolescent, youth, teen, rug rat and crumb grabber. Where do “dude” and “babe” fit in?

We get a little more creative when identifying more than one of us. We can be a clan if we’re related, a family if we’re closely related, and a tribe or community if we live close together. Otherwise we can be such things as a gang, mob, group or crowd.

We get more creative with animals, though. So much so that many of us wonder, “How did they ever come up with that?

For example, females of the species felis domesticus (housecat) are queens, males are toms, and their young are kittens. But in groups, it’s a different story.

A bunch of unrelated kittens is called a kindle (and you thought a kindle was some kind of electronic book or something), but a bunch of kittens born to one queen is called a litter. Groups of cats are also known as a clutter, or a clowder.

How did they ever come up with those?

Wild versions of the family felidae (cats) are different still. Example: a male lion is a lion, a female is a lioness, a baby is a cub, and a group is a pride.

But cheetahs are identified as male, female, cub, and a group is a coalition. How did they ever come up with that?

Tigers are even more mysteriously named. They are: tiger, tigress, cub or whelp, and a group is either an ambush or a streak.

How did they ever come up with that? And here's the fly in that ointment, by the way...with the exception of the lion, the big cats are solitary, so how often do you see them in a group, anyway?

Is It A Litter Or A Kennel?
Is It A Litter Or A Kennel? | Source

Domestic dogs (family canidae) get a few names that make some of us scratch our heads.

A male is a dog, a female is a bitch and the young are pups. If there’s more than one and they come from the same mother, it’s a litter.

Otherwise it’s a kennel. If they’re wild, it’s a pack. Unless, of course, it’s a group of hyenas, in which case it’s a clan or a cackle. Whew.

Oh yeah, one more thing about dogs…just to simplify matters. If it’s a hound, then a group of them is known as a pack, a cry or a mute. How did they ever…you know the drill.

If you have a hamster and he’s a he, he’s a buck. If he’s a she, she’s a doe.

The babies are pups, and if you have more than one, it’s a horde. If you have a gerbil, please see hamster. Everything’s the same.

If you have a male guinea pig, he’s a boar (like the guy you met at the club the other night, right girls?).

If it’s a girl, she’s a sow, the babies are pups and more than one is a group. How boring. Or is it boaring?

Your pet rabbit is a buck if it’s a boy, a doe if it’s a girl, and the babies are either kittens, bunnies or kits.

It gets more confusing the more rabbits you add.

More than one is known as a colony, drove, leash, nest, trace, or warren.

This Looks Like A Piteousness To Me
This Looks Like A Piteousness To Me | Source

Here are some real head scratchers: a bunch of ducks is a badelynge, brace, bunch, flock, paddling, raft, or team.

A bunch of other birds is a fleet, flight, flock, parcel, pod, volery, or dissimulation (small birds only). What about large birds, you say?

A bunch of cranes is a herd, sedge, or siege…a bunch of emus is a mob. And doves have their own nomenclature. A bunch of doves is a dole, flight, or piteousness.

And it goes even further; a bunch of falcons is a cast…a bunch of hawks is an aerie, cast, or kettle…and a bunch of peacocks is a muster or ostentation.

Mammals, especially primates, have got to be easier to remember, right? A bunch of apes is a shrewdness. Oh, well.

Here's a special suggestion just for HubPages readers: print this article and take it with you on vacation.

When the kids start whining, “Are we there yet?” bring it out and quiz them. You should get 30 minutes or 30 miles out of it.

© 2012 Bob Bamberg

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