photo by Sheri Dixon

Friday, June 8, 2012

Deliver Us From Evil

People are afraid of the strangest things.

Actually, people do tend to fear anything strange, different, odd, or otherwise not like themselves.

In the animal kingdom, this means if people are prone to liking creatures besides other humans, the tendency is towards those who are warm-blooded at least, and generally the furry ones elicit more fondness than the feathered ones.

Those without fur or feathers usually need not apply.

So, while dogs and cats top the list of family pets, followed by any number of pocket pets (hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and whatnot) and birds like cockatiels and parakeets and finches, you need to go far down on the list- sometimes actually off of the list- to find things like snakes, tarantulas, hermit crabs and Madagascar giant hissing cockroaches.

(Yes. People keep Madagascar giant hissing cockroaches as pets- see?)

OK. I'm not a fan of the big bugs, either. Never wanted an ant farm, never been tempted even a tiny bit to get a tarantula, even a pretty one-

But I do love me some reptiles.

Lizards large and small, snakes long and short- In my life as a Veterinary Assistant I've handled and restrained almost anything- the largest snake I ever assisted with was an albino python belonging to a stripper. That one was about 14ft. long nose to toes about like the one in this photo-

...the stripper was substantially shorter, and a fair sight better looking than Steve Erwin.

People can't believe I don't mind working with snakes.

"Aren't they slimy?" No.

"Arent' you afraid that they'll bite you?" Mostly, no.

"Wouldn't you rather work with a cute little kitten?" Oh, not only no, but HELL NO.


Cats are pound for pound the 2nd most dangerous animal to work on.

They can bite, they can claw, they can literally spin around inside their skins to get at you, they hiss, spit and scream like banshees, and if all else fails they are not opposed one bit to peeing or pooping on you. Even the nicest cat leaves a pile of hair in your lap and/or stuck to your clothes anywhere it touches you.

Once you have ahold of any snake properly- right behind the jaws, and are supporting its body so it doesn't feel like it's going to fall, you're golden. They can't bite from there, they have no claws, don't pee or poo in anger, and don't even have fur to shed all over you.

So yes. This is the face of the 2nd most dangerous animal to work on-

What on earth could be the MOST dangerous?

Well, I've worked with dogs, cats, horses, pigs, goats, emus, snakes, pocket pets of all kinds including hedgehogs, birds from finches to macaws, and wild animals from armadillo to zebras and though I've been bitten, kicked, scratched, evacuated on, slammed into walls and damn near drooled to death, only one has left a scar.

Was it the 250 pound pot bellied pig that was anything but miniature and oh so unhappy to be sedated? Nope.

Was it the cayman we were anesthetizing that only SEEMED to be asleep the first dozen times we took off the mask? Nope.

How about the 45 pound raccoon that was found wandering the streets during the day, making him a terrific candidate for distemper? Not a chance. He was just old and didn't even have any teeth left.

Can you stand the suspense?

Give up in guessing?

The Number One Dangerous animal to work on, and the only one to leave me literally scarred for life in almost half a century of working with critters is

Pure. Unadulterated. Evil.


  1. a sweet, fluffy bunny?? I am appalled!

  2. Yes. A sweet, fluffy bunny. They kick out with their back legs and have very sharp claws. I have a nice scar that runs parallel and miraculously just to the side of one of those important veins on the inside of my left wrist.

  3. I remember picking up one of our females to move her away from the big boy..... I had exposed flesh on my was pretty much flayed by the time I had a good hold on her. Never made that mistake again!