Thanks to Jake M., who worked as a wrangler at my summer wildlife program for kids. More recently, he was kind enough to show me some snapping turtles he captured. That's me above, handling one of the little beauties. I'm the one on the right. After cleaning the leeches off them (below), Jake released these turtles into the river where he found them.
Jake and I probably deserve any bites we get while playing with snapping turtles, but unprovoked attacks happen occasionally. Some swimmers have lost toes to large snappers. The power of the bite is phenomenal. The video below shows a captive snapper feeding on rats. It's a good illustration of the animal's predatory technique: seize with the mouth, then decapitate or eviscerate with a quick stroke of the claws.
This video is not for the squeamish.
Elephants are still used as beasts of burden in parts of India. Most of them never hurt anybody.
In British Columbia, a deer has thrashed a newspaper carrier. The man ended up with eight stitches and a black eye. He says he didn't see any fawn nearby, but of course fawns try hard not to be seen.
Another deer incident, from a few months back, was captured in this video. It features a domestic cat finding a fawn, to the discomfort of the doe. A dog gets involved too. Whether it was just passing by or had scented the fawn is impossible to tell from the clip. Violence ensues.
Giraffes are a traffic hazard in Africa, much like the deer are in North America. What we have here, though, is a far more unusual scenario: A giraffe purposely killing a human.
Express.co.uk - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Farmer dies after attack by his bull
|Matawan Creek, New Jersey|
A British tourist took this photo of a victim pulled from the water after being mauled by a shark. The article linked here has eyewtiness accounts from two British couples.
Sharm-el-Sheikh shark attack: Photo shows blood in Egypt's Red Sea | Mail Online
Meanwhile, experts are saying the wounds indicate at least two different sharks are involved in the three separate attacks. Pictured below is an oceanic whitetip shark photographed just before one of the attacks and believed to be the culprit. Conservation officers killed a smaller oceanic whitetip and a shortfin mako shark, but there seems to be no evidence linking those two to the attacks.
Meanwhile, in Alabama, a man survived an attack by a cougar (which in that part of the country is often called a panther).
Egyptian officials had already killed two sharks. They released a video (linked in the post below) and this photo, both of which show a small mako. Though makos do sometimes attack humans, reports claimed the shark involved in the two earlier attacks was an oceanic whitetip. Those attacks left four Russian tourists hospitalized.
Oceanic whitetip shark kills German tourist near resort in Egypt: officials
This report claims there were four victims in the two incidents, all of them critically injured. Apparently at least one, and possibly two, people lost limbs in the second attack.
Thanks to everyone who sent in photos of harvester ants. The contest is over, and the winner is Mike Dekker. Mike will receive a free copy of The Book of Deadly Animals (that's what they're calling it in the UK) when it's published next year.
Mike also sent me these images of the black widow in his garage. The purple plastic storage container in the background makes the widow look almost green.
Black Widow Bite -- a story from The Red Hourglass
The latest victim of an otter attack in Boca Raton filmed the whole thing. Looks like a provoked attack to me. The young man continues to harrass the animal even after it's retreated a couple of times. The otter bit him on the leg.
Update: Authorities have recovered a dead otter and are testing it for rabies. The young man in this video has already undergone rabies treatment.
Here's a story about what seems to be a highly territorial otter. This link has some rough video:
None of the victims has been seriously injured, but rabies is a concern.
|A Kamchatka brown bear killed by sport hunters.|
Brown bears from around the world, including the grizzlies, Kodiaks, and Alaskan browns of North America and the Kamchatka bears of Russia, are now regarded as belonging to the same species. It's interesting to note in one of the articles above that Russian officials advise fighting back if attacked by one of these animals. In North America, the more common advice is to try playing dead. Neither method has a good success rate. The size and weaponry of the animal mean even brief, defensive attacks can be fatal. In the opening frame of the slide show below, you'll see the claws of a brown, which can be five inches long.
Wayne Allison's photos of grizzlies:
This local news video has more details on the attack that left a baby critically injured. It now appears that the raccoons were not pets, but possibly had been habituated to human contact through repeated feeding.
As reported earlier, authorities have ordered rabies tests, but that would seem to be a mere formality; this is clearly a predatory attack. The animals used strategy to reach the child and eventually retreated from an attack. The choice of prey was highly unusual, but everything else about their actions is normal raccoon behavior.
Here's video of the escaped chimp I mentioned earlier.
The chimp's owner eventually lured it back into a cage.
A couple of recent attacks point up the dangers of lion taming. The video above shows an attack in a Ukraine circus. The one below is from the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. When captive lions attacks, the motive may be related to dominance. The lion sees an opportunity to achieve a higher rank in the pride when a more dominant animal--his human trainer--looks vulnerable. Once the attack is underway, the lion's predatory instinct may kick in as well.
Help! I'm seeking an original photo of a harvester ant. We don't have them here in Wisconsin, but you folks in the Southwest may still be able to find them at this time of year.
These are large ants with the nasty sting. They live in holes usually on clear ground, such as a road; the hole may be surrounded with gravel from their deep diggings. The top photo here shows the individuals clearly. The bottom will give you a good idea of their den sites. For those of you near my old home in the Oklahoma Panhandle, these are the very common big ones. I don't care which color.
I'm choosing photos for the British edition of Deadly Kingdom, and this is something I'd especially like to have, but I won't be able to take the photo myself because of the travel and so forth. I'd want an unpublished photo at high resolution. The pay for the winner will be a free signed copy of the British book. If I get several to choose from, I may post some of them on the blog.
At the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, rhesus macaques have pilfered the possessions of athletes. This sort of thing is common in New Delhi. Monkeys even injure people on occasion. In one notable case, a city official died after monkeys hurled a flower pot onto his head. Hindus, who comprise 87% of the population of the city, hold the animals sacred. For that reason, the monkeys roam unmolested. At least, by people.
The solution to this monkey problem may be bigger monkeys. The Indian government keeps a squad of trained langurs for just such an emergency. These slender monkeys may stand five feet high. They treat smaller simians as rivals for food, and are often willing to kill them.
Wild langurs occasionally harm people, just as macaques do. These trained ones will remain leashed, as in the video above, until the trainers spot a likely crowd of trouble-making macaques.
here are generally three underlying reasons for animal-human conflict: expanding animal population, expanding human population, or a change in philosophy by the people in a wildlife-populated area."
But at the same time, ``fight´´ dogs are being scrutinized as potential threats. Here in Denmark many apartments will not allow them, certain dogs must be muzzled, and owners of certain species are not allowed to continue breeding their dogs. In your research, do you find that ownership of these dogs has increased or simply the coverage?
My answer is that the coverage definitely affects ownership of the different breeds. To take only one example, we know that German shepherds became much more popular in the 1960s after viewers saw TV coverage of the race riots--specifically, they saw white cops using the dogs to attack black citizens. Of course, not everybody who bought a shepherd was a racist, but that sort of discomfort about race and violence continues to play a part in choice of breed. What shifts, really, is our cultural stereotypes of the breeds. Across decades, we’ve seen the idea of a macho dog change -- Dobermanns, Rottweilers, pit bull terriers, and others have at different times been perceived as dangerous to outsiders and therefore valuable for the safety of their owners.
That doesn't make things any simpler, because all dogs are the same species. The different breeds aren't as distinct as they seem. It’s true that fighting dogs are bred for traits that make them more dangerous; particularly, breeders try to eliminate the natural tendency to retreat when injured. An animal with a diminished sense of self-preservation can do a lot of damage. In that sense, the macho dogs of today tend to be more dangerous than the relatively healthier and more intelligent macho dogs of earlier decades. But few dogs are purebreds; and the breeds, no matter how careful the pedigree, only have tendencies, rather than predictable traits. (In fact, purebreds in general tend to be less mentally stable than mongrels, because the purity of traits comes from inbreeding.) Laws aimed at particular breeds tend not to work well, because the definition of each breed is subject to manipulation. For example, if the law says you can’t breed rottweilers, you can breed a mix of Rottie and mastiff. Or you can say you are; how is a cop responding to a complaint supposed to know the difference? In various parts of the US, this tactic allowed unscrupulous breeders to get around restrictions on wolf-dog hybrids.
Dog-fighting, and breeding dogs for fighting, is nothing new. You can find references to it in Mark Twain, for example. But the attitude toward it was very different. For one thing, there was no secret about the racial motive for owning tough dogs. White settlers would explicitly say that they obtained a particular dog because it reacted strongly to “Indians.” I don’t know how it is in Denmark, but in the US I’d argue that we still have a lot of racial tension that, rather than being openly talked about, is sublimated into issues like this dog thing. Another difference between us now and in the days of our grandfathers is that it used to be acceptable for the average citizen to shoot or poison a dog that endangered people. The owner might not like it, but if the shooter could show that the dog was threatening children or livestock, law and common opinion supported him. I realize this sounds unpleasant to the modern ear, but it’s just how things used to be. In Darwinian terms, selection worked against dogs that threatened humans inappropriately. . . at least, humans of the same race. That’s no longer the case.
Violence against dogs in general used to be far more acceptable. There have always been people who loved dogs, but I’d say the idea that they were personal property to be disposed of as one saw fit was much stronger up until a generation or two ago. In books from a century ago, I find references to boys torturing dogs to death as an ugly act, but a normal one. Nowadays, of course, the prevailing view is to see violence against pets as perverse, a symptom of incipient serial murder.
Because each person was entrusted to protect his own family and stock, there was far less emphasis on the pet-owner’s responsibility for his animal’s actions. A surprising example of this fact crops up in Edgar Allan Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” That’s the one in which mysterious murders turn out to have been perpetrated by an orangutan. Once the truth comes out, the owner doesn’t get in any trouble, because it’s clear he wasn’t in on the actual violence and didn’t train the ape to perform it. It’s just fiction, of course, but the attitude is authentic to the era (mid-1800s).
If you look through newspapers from, say, forty years ago, you'll find a few cases of "dog bite." They turn up mostly in the police reports. If you look through news reports on the web today, you'll find a lot more cases, and they won't be called "dog bites" but "dog attacks." In fact, the perpetrator may not be called a "dog" in the headline but a "pit bull" or some other specific breed.
Minnesota photographer and animal lover Wayne Allison took hundreds of animal photos in the late 20th century. Used by permission of D'Arcy Allison-Teasley, who blogs at http://www.taltoshorsetribe.blogspot.com/.
Reader Attackturtle was having lunch with his wife at their pond when they witnessed nature in startling action. Someone else was feeding stale bread to the turtles in the pond. Geese crowded in to swipe the bread. And then a young alligator, which AT estimated at four to five feet in length, grabbed a goose. The gator made no attempt to roll or drown the goose, relying on the bite alone to subdue it. When AT approached with his camera, the gator swam away at a leisurely pace. At first glance, the photo looks like a some weird hybrid animal out of Greek myth.
In Vermont, a rabid fox attacked a boy and his ax-wielding parents. The Bennington Banner tells more:
Eight-year-old Rimmele Wood was playing in his family’s yard when the fox appeared and bit him on the leg on July 11, according to his father, Ned Wood. The fox "latched onto" the boy’s leg, he said, and was not letting go.
Ned Wood said he was able to kill the fox with an ax and free his son. "My wife brought me the ax and I dispatched it rather quickly," he said.
Dr. Robert Johnson, the state’s public health veterinarian, said the attack was the sixth rabid gray fox bite of a person this year in Vermont. The state typically sees just a "handful" each year, he said, but the high rate this year is not alarming, he said.
In other fox news, people have asked me about the recent attack on twin babies in the UK. Most fox attacks are, like the one in Vermont, the result of rabies. But the UK incident was clearly a predatory attack. Babies are small enough to fall within the acceptable size range for fox prey. In my files I have other cases of foxes sneaking into homes on food raids, but pet cats are the usual victims.