BACK TO NATURE: Being common is better than you think

Published: Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 05:29 PM.
One example is the threatened Drymarchon couperi. Its common names are eastern indigo snake, blue indigo snake, black snake, gopher snake and blue bull snake. How does “gopher snake” come in to play, you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya. This snake has been observed for generations using the burrow of the gopher tortoise as a place to hide and hibernate. It spends a good part of its life down in that burrow. People have figured out that the gopher snake relies on the gopher tortoise for its existence. I like how this common name broadens awareness and includes other species.  
Common names are proof that people are observant. People are observant and care enough to describe what they see or hear. People care enough to tell others and to even write down there findings. People will care enough to preserve and conserve what they have found. They will do spectacular things to protect what they care about, even if it is invasive or not.  
Common names truly aren’t so common. Scientific names may sound exotic and foreign, but I’ll stick with “Paul Arthur” or “P.A.” or “Big Fella” or anything that shows sincere acknowledgement.  
Paul Arthur is director of the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. The center is an environmental education facility serving students, teachers and visitors with engaging exhibits, instructors and animal encounters. Learn more at

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