10 Animals With Hilariously Inaccurate Names


Life’s rough for the blindworm. Its skin falls off periodically and it eats slugs to survive. That’s not the worst of it. You’d think blindworms would be mad about being worms that can’t see, but blindworms can see and they aren’t worms. In fact, they’re legless lizards. (That’s not much better…)


Bearcats, or binturongs as they’re also called, are native to Southern Asia (binturong is a Malay word). Maybe these fuzzy fellows want to be related to bears and cats, but they’re not. They’re weasels. They actually look like a bear-cat-weasel-raccoon hybrid, with a long furry body, bushy tail, claws, and a weaselly face. Hey, bearcat! Of all the animals in the mix, at least you’ve got the most ferocious name.

Electric Eel

The electric eel is tired of being “eel-like.” Yes, they are electric, but they are not in fact an eel. Electric eels are freshwater fish of the knifefish family. Native to South America, this electric freshwater fish has a slithery, elongated body that closely resembles the non-electrified eel, hence the “eel” misnomer. Don’t quote us on this, but maybe these guys would prefer to be known as “electric knifefish” because their bodies resemble knives and they can attack with a nerve-frying jolt.

Killer Whale

Instead of calling a giant dangerous dolphin a “killer dolphin,” people say “killer whale” because nobody thinks of dolphins as being anything but docile and intelligent. At least, that’s how we figure the killer whale got its name. Guesses aside, killer whales, or orca, do indeed belong to the dolphin family. They’re fierce predators of the sea, with sharp teeth that can grow up to four inches long. The term “killer whale” might be a mistranslation of the Spanish asesina-ballenas, “whale killer.”

Honey Badger

The honey badger shouldn’t be horribly mad about its name, thanks to a video that went viral in 2011. Nevertheless, to be fair to this critter who allegedly just doesn’t care, the honey badger is not even close to being a badger. He’s a marten, which is a nimble little furry mammal that lives in forests across the Northern Hemisphere. This fella joins the bearcat in weasel-resemblance. Yes, he eats honey, but also everything else under the sun. Honey weasel just takes what he wants!

American Buffalo

The American buffalo is preparing to stampede across the US in protest against being called buffalo. The protest will be small because these guys are nearly extinct, no thanks to humans, who’ve hunted them for over 200 years (an indignity much worse than misnaming). American buffalo are actually bison. Buffalo roam Asia and Africa. There’s a logical explanation for the misnomer. Buffalo is from bufalos (Latin for “wild ox”) and may also relate to boeufs (“ox”), a French term fur traders used. Bison is another Latin word meaning “wild ox.”

Horny Toad

Lizards seem to be getting the short end of the stick. First a legless lizard is called a “blindworm” and now a short-horned lizard is a “horny toad.” What’s the deal!? The short-horned lizard is not a toad, it only (unfortunately) looks like one, with its squat square face. But it is horny. It’s got horns around its little body and crowning its squat head. This li’l lizard has some potent defense mechanisms, which could offer inspiration for a new, more accurate name.


We may not be the first to make this suggestion, but the word fish should be axed from starfish altogether. For what seems like eternity, these beauties have been shouting underwater, “We’re not fish! We don’t have gills! Or fins or scales! Please call us sea stars!” Of course, shouting underwater is like drying off in the pouring rain. But sea stars, by Poseidon’s grace, we finally got your message.

Mountain Chicken

This final amphibian – yes, amphibian – is probably more desperate for an accurate name than the sea stars. But the mountain chicken would rather be called the giant ditch frog, or even go by Leptodactylus fallax, its tongue-twister of a scientific name. Why? Because it would likely save the frog’s life! The grown-up polliwog evidently tastes like chicken and is served as a delicacy on many a Caribbean dinner table. Unfortunately for this croaker, it must be pretty finger lickin’ good if it’s one of the most threatened frogs in the world!

The Plight of the Hedgehog

It’s not a pig, it’s not a hedge, so why the name hedgehog? Well, hedgehogs are actually their own separate species (Erinaceus), but they do have a tendency to grunt like pigs! They also have a fondness for hedges, as well as meadows, and forests.

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