10 Pairs of Animals That We Regularly Confuse, but in Reality are Like Pen and Pin
Many animals may appear strikingly similar at first glance, leading even dedicated Animal Planet viewers to mistakenly confuse them. Take, for instance, the jaguar and the leopard, or the llama and the alpaca. However, let’s set the record straight: the jaguar and leopard differ in body structure, spot patterns on their skin, and tail length. Similarly, the llama and alpaca vary in fur, muzzle, ear shape, and body size.
1. Hawk and Falcon
The primary distinction between these two magnificent birds of prey lies in their size, with falcons being smaller than hawks. However, two other prominent differences are equally evident — their distinct wing characteristics and hunting techniques. Hawks possess short, wide, and rounded wings, whereas falcons boast long, slender, and pointed wings. Regarding hunting, hawks rely on their powerful claws to capture prey, whereas falcons employ a unique ’tooth’ or notch on the side of their beak.
2. Nutria and Muskrat
Although these rodents may bear a striking resemblance, they have distinct differences. Firstly, muskrats are smaller in size, weighing between 1.3 to 4.4 lbs, whereas nutrias can weigh from 9 to 20 lbs. Secondly, their tails are noticeably dissimilar. The muskrat’s tail is thin, scaly, and flattened on the sides, while the nutria’s tail is thick, rounded, and covered with coarse fur. Furthermore, nutrias possess three unique features — a white spot on their muzzle, webbed hind legs, and prominent bright orange teeth.
3. Salamander and Lizard
Although certain species of salamanders and lizards may share striking similarities, the key distinction lies in their classification as amphibians and reptiles, respectively. Salamanders are amphibians, lacking ear holes or claws, and featuring smooth, moist skin. In contrast, lizards are reptiles, adorned with rough scales that cover their bodies.
4. Frog and Toad
Frogs and toads exhibit notable differences despite being amphibians and sharing many similarities. Frogs typically possess long legs while spending a significant portion of their lives in or around water, resulting in moist skin. On the contrary, toads have shorter legs and primarily inhabit dry land, resulting in dry and bumpy skin.
5. Opossum and Possum
Despite sharing similar names and being classified as marsupials, opossums and possums differ significantly in various aspects. Opossums are indigenous to North America and feature grayish-brown fur, a white snout, and a naked, rat-like tail that aids them in clinging to branches. In contrast, possums inhabit Australia and exhibit silvery gray to brown, black, or cream colors. They possess a dark snout and a fluffy tail.
6. Monkey and Ape
While both monkeys and apes belong to the primate family, they exhibit several distinct differences. The most noticeable disparity lies in their tails, as most monkeys possess one, whereas apes do not. Additionally, their physical characteristics diverge significantly. Apes are considerably larger than monkeys, featuring a broad chest, broad shoulders, and long arms.
7. Fox and Black-backed jackal
Although the fox and the black-backed jackal may bear some resemblance at first glance, they do possess notable distinctions. The fox boasts triangular ears, a pointed and slightly upturned muzzle, relatively short limbs, and a long, fluffy tail. In contrast, the black-backed jackal exhibits a longer body, long legs, and large ears. However, the key disparity lies in the black saddle that adorns the jackal’s coat, spanning across its back, serving as its signature feature.
8. Grasshopper and Locust
Despite their striking similarities, these insects are, in reality, distinct from each other. Notably, it’s important to clarify that locusts are not a separate species, but rather a type of grasshopper that exhibits unique characteristics under specific circumstances, such as dense vegetation growth after a drought. During such events, locusts undergo changes in color, behavior, and reproductive habits.
Grasshoppers are known for their lengthy and powerful hind legs that facilitate their iconic high jumps. Conversely, locusts possess comparatively shorter legs but longer and stronger wings that enable them to cover considerable distances in flight.
9. Pangolin and Armadillo
These animals are frequently confused due to their similar body armor, but upon closer examination, their differences become apparent. Pangolins possess large scales that resemble armor plates, while armadillos have leathery plates covering their bodies. Additionally, armadillos have noticeable pointed ears, whereas pangolins have small, round ears or even just ear holes without visible ears at all.
10. Alligator and Crocodile
Despite their long evolutionary history, crocodiles and alligators exhibit distinct differences. One noticeable distinction is their snout shape. Alligators have a broad, U-shaped snout, while crocodiles possess a narrower, V-shaped snout. Another prominent contrast is their teeth. When alligators close their mouths, only their upper teeth are visible, as their lower teeth fit into recesses in the upper jaw. In contrast, crocodiles display both upper and lower teeth even when their mouths are closed, creating a distinctive “toothy” grin.
And here are more pairs of animals we often mistake for each other: