If you watch nature programs for even a little while, you will see countless furry creatures that touch your softer side. But do not forget that appearances can be deceiving.
Perhaps Mother Nature should attach labels to her more adorable creatures. Take the Koala as an example. At first glance, Koalas do look cute. All you want to do is scoop them up in your arms and hug them. But before you get carried away with images of keeping them as pets, please remember they are wild animals. Also, it would behoove you to pay close attention to their sharp claws. Those claws are not decorations.
Even if you get around the issue of their sharp claws by wearing a Kevlar vest and gloves, Koalas still need nourishment. Forget shopping for food at a pet store and overpaying for Koala nuggets. Or perhaps you plan to feed them scraps from the table. The fact is, you will need to plant a eucalyptus tree forest to feed the little buggers.
Claws and sharp teeth of even the cutest wild critters can be a drawback to human safety. Costa Rica has some large squirrels with long, red bushy tails. The ones we saw in the jungle are huge, much bigger than the gray squirrels at home. For some reason, the bigger the wild fluffy creatures are, the lower they register on the cuteness scale.
Like their Costa Rican cousins, the smaller squirrels at home also have curved claws to enable them to climb trees or to scratch dumb humans who try to pet them. Squirrels can carry rabies, chew on power lines, and cause damage in your attic.
What is the most egregious sin squirrels commit? They steal the nuts from your trees. What they do not carry away, they mutilate. It is a simple and thoughtless trick. The fluffy-tailed creatures perform the nibble and drop maneuver which renders the remaining nuts useless for human consumption. But then we doubt Mother Nature’s pets are deep thinkers.
If you weigh the pros and cons of having squirrels around and setting aside those long fluffy tails, they are rats in disguise. They may be cuter, but they still act like rats.
Most folks know better than to approach the black and white country kittens also called skunks. Again, if you look at them from a safe distance, they appear to be cute because of their fluffy tails. But if you brave the real danger of being doused with a pungent and long-lasting scent, an up close look at skunk faces verifies their uncanny resemblance to rats.
Some folks who have more money than sense, keep cats as pets. We are not talking about tabby cats, but rather the big wild cats like tigers, leopards, and panthers. Most felines are cute and cuddly when they are young, but the aforementioned wild varieties lose the cuteness factor and become large and dangerous. There is an upside to owning large cats, especially if you are into body piercings. The large cats will be more than happy to use their teeth and claws to pierce your body even in places you did not plan to pierce.
Out in the country, we see more than our share of bunny rabbits. Okay, some of you felt your hearts soften just imagining a cute, fluffy-tailed rabbit. Get over yourselves. Those cute little critters tear into vegetable and flower gardens with no thought to the damage left behind.
Remember the Beatrix Potter story of Mr. McGregor’s Garden? She told them in the form of letters to a five-year-old boy. The letters told of a humanized lagomorph she called Peter Rabbit. You see, when critters become humanized, people tend to forgive their misdeeds. Nevertheless, rabbits and other seemingly cute critters can and do cause damage.
Whether we ponder the deeds of wild creatures, no matter how cute they seem, or destructive storms, it is important to remember the words of Kurt Vonnegut. “If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don’t need an enemy.”