All Types of Animals are Important



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snakes

Garter snakes

Nearly everyone can think of some kinds of animals that they honestly dislike. It could be that the person has a fear or phobia about that kind of animal or perhaps they simply don’t like that critter. Sometimes it is understandable, too, to a point. Few people actually like mosquitoes, for instance, and no other creature has been responsible for more human deaths.

Still, all creatures are part of what I call the web of life. If every kind of animal represents a spot on an orb spider’s web where two strands meet, it becomes apparent that we can’t remove any kind of animal without effecting every other kind of animal, most often in ways we can’t even fathom.

We aren’t drawing a parallel between this and the number of species mankind has caused to become extinct. The fact of the matter is that 99.9% of all animal species were extinct before man ever came on the scene. Nature has caused the extinction of far more species than man ever has. In fact, man is an animal and also has a place on the web of life.

People may be reading this and wondering what the purpose of this article is, if I’m not talking about how man should be more responsible as the stewards of animal life on this planet. What I’m really getting at is that every one of us, myself included, needs to gain a better appreciation of the animals that live on this world.

Think about the animal you like the least. You probably have your reasons for disliking them. You probably don’t want to have anything to do with that kind of creature. However, there is nothing at all that is preventing you from appreciating the animal.

I’m going to give just one example and I’m not picking on anyone, but this just came up in conversation. It shows how interconnected different animals are. This actually happened, too.

There was a small town that was a rural community, amidst good farm land. It was a pretty place, but there was a large population of non-venomous snakes in town and around town. Fear and loathing of snakes is common almost everywhere, of course. So the people got together and went to great lengths to remove all the snakes, which meant killing them, despite the fact that the county agriculture office warned them not to and said they’d be sorry if they did.

It wouldn’t be enough to just kill those in the town, though. The ones in the fields would need to also be killed because otherwise, the town would just be ‘reinfested’.

At great expense and a huge amount of effort, they got the job done and the snakes were eradicated. The town people were happy and felt that all the money they spent was worth it.

The following spring, they noticed a few more field mice than normal, but they didn’t think much of it. Most of the people had pet cats and there were also owls and hawks around the town, so they figured that the problem would be taken care of.

By harvest time, though, there was noticeably less grain going into the silos, fewer potatoes were being harvested and even home gardens had been raided by mice. The number of mice had also greatly increased and it was common to see mice scurrying around town in broad daylight, though mice are normally nocturnal animals.

In spring, when they started getting into the grain in the silos, they discovered literally thousands of mice had gotten there first. What grain the mice hadn’t eaten was fouled by mouse droppings. The mice had also gotten into the potato sheds, into pantries in houses and into the grocery stores, chewing into everything from boxes of food to laundry soap.

They sought help from the agriculture office who told them that nothing could be done, since the people had removed a valuable ally; the snakes. The experts told them that the only thing that would help is if they brought some snakes into the area to replace those that had been slaughtered.

The people, who hadn’t shown brilliance up to that point, decided that they would try poisoning the mice, regardless of what the Ag department had said. Poisoning did work for a time, but cats, dogs, horses, cattle, sheep and people began to get sick. The poisoned mice were getting into the water supply, dying and rotting. Also, many cats died from eating poisoned mice. Then they began to notice dead hawks and owls, which had also clearly fed on the poisoned rodents. Coyotes, bobcats and foxes also died from eating the poisoned mice.

With the predatory birds and other predatory animals decimated, other vermin began to show up. These were creatures the birds and beasts kept in check. The rat population grew, becoming a severe problem, though they had never been a problem there before.

The dead and dying animals also drew in swarms of flies and wasps. Naturally, with the increased numbers of insects, the spider population exploded and there were spider webs all over the place.

From the time the people took it upon themselves to act like gods and kill the snakes, it took only two years for the town to virtually become a ghost town. People left for health reasons and the town itself was bankrupted. What had once been a beautiful little thriving town of about 1000 became a collection of abandoned houses and buildings, with fewer than 100 people living there.

All of this happened in the 1950’s. The town is now slowly growing again, because other species of snakes moved into the area finally. The new snakes are restoring the balance. There is a slight problem, though. The snakes that were destroyed initially were non-poisonous. The ones that have moved in are quite venomous. Still, the people at last learned a bit of wisdom, though it took over a half century to gain that it. They appreciate the snakes and will go out of their way not to hurt one. Mind you, they don’t like the snakes, but they appreciate them. Anyone killing a snake there is likely to find themselves in jail.

One species of animal impacts every other species, in ways we usually don’t know and seldom think about. I wish I could say that this sort of thing was an isolated incident, but it really isn’t. So I have a challenge for you today. Think of that animal you detest the most and take a few minutes to give thanks that it exists. Appreciate the animal. Being truly appreciative doesn’t mean that you have to start liking the animal, but every animal has a purpose. Acknowledging that is a step on the path of wisdom.

 


 

 

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Posted in pets and animals and tagged , , , , by with 9 comments.

Comments

  • Profile photo of Andria Perry Andria Perry says:

    I do understand balance and I don’t care what kind of snakes live, But I am not owning one as a pet. I think there is a balance around here of snakes and rats, I see many hawks around to feed on the mice and rabbits in the fields as well.

    Last year while picking berries I ran across a rattle snake, I could not see him but heard him, that was scary.

    Then as me and Tony moved the huge dig house I had a snake to strike at me, he was living under the dog house. I have no idea what kind but I was told it was a copperhead.

    From the old home place we had more than enough ground rattlers, those small snakes are hard to see and I had more than once jumped over to avoid stepping on them, sometimes on my front porch.

    • Profile photo of Nana Nana says:

      I stay away from them glad you have been safe and Tony also

    • Profile photo of rextrulove rextrulove says:

      Yes, that would be scary. We have lots of timber rattlers around here, but they stay clear of anywhere that there are gopher snakes. Imagine, though, how those people in the little town over-reacted to the harmless snakes. Now, to restore balance, they have to put up with the poisonous kinds. I’ve personally seen something similar happening in a town where people over-reacted to bats, but that one had a happier ending.

  • Profile photo of Nana Nana says:

    Balance is correct without it comes trouble as these townsfolks found out the hard way respect all on earth

  • I wish more herpetophobics understood why I grew up with a house snake who’s definitely not a pet. If you have any kind of king snake or rat snake near the house, you don’t have a problem with the venomous kind. These native, non-venomous species grow bigger than the venomous snakes, and eat them for breakfast!

    • Profile photo of rextrulove rextrulove says:

      That is extremely true, @priscillaking. In southern Oregon, we lived in an are that was known for having a large number of Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes. On the ranch, we never saw a single rattlesnake, though there were lots of them on the hill just above the ranch. We didn’t have any rattlesnakes because we had a pair of bull snakes that were all around. A bull snake sort of looks like a gopher snake, only bigger, and they loved eating the rattlesnakes. Some of the rattlesnakes got almost as big as the bull snakes, but that made no difference to the bull snakes. They’d eat the rattlesnakes anyway. They also did a number of the ground squirrels and mice. 馃檪

  • Profile photo of Sandy KS Sandy KS says:

    All animals even insects play an important role in our eco system. Yu describes very well of how killing one animal in that system can cause problems and chaos destroying town.

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