PORT ARTHUR — Cottonmouths are sometimes called “stumptail moccasins” or simply “stumptail” because of the strange size difference between tail and body in some specimens.
The poor marsh brown snake, a harmless nonvenomous serpent that grows no larger than a foot in extreme cases, is called “ground rattler”.
Untold thousands have been killed due to this label although they do not have a rattle and look absolutely nothing like a rattlesnake.
The pigmy rattlesnake which is found in East Texas is sometimes labeled “ground rattler” as well but there are no similarities. In fact, I think the hognose looks a lot more like a pigmy than the brown snake.
Getting back to fish, the paddlefish is known locally as “spoonbill catfish” although they are indeed not catfish and are more closely related to sturgeons. These are a protected species and are rarely caught due to their plankton diet but occasionally will get snagged by a bass fisherman throwing a crankbait or bite on a trotline.
Science uses Latin name for identification to avoid confusing and you can see why after checking out just a few of our local creatures.
Our cougar may be Colorado’s mountain lion, South America’s puma and Canada’s catamount.
To science it is simply Felis concolor.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI. Follow him on Twitter @flexfishing and watch his WebTV series at www.Godsoutdoors.com.)