Tonawanda News


February 28, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Caterpillars, alligators and little girls

Tonawanda News — My mother said she was the best parent, until she had a child of her own.

I have heard the same claim from pet owners as well. Animal trainers claim that they are great trainers, and then when I see them with a difficult student, I discover that they are great trainers only when the animals are great.

Troubleshooting, whether for pets or children, is an important step in preventing future problems. These problems can be behavioral or psychological. The biggest tip, which you may know, is reacting appropriately the first time you encounter a problem. Another important part of this troubleshooting equation is … you.

Your sudden or not-so sudden body language, thoughts and attitudes can easily affect your students.

This past week I was at the Florida State Fair. I was walking over a bridge and a girl was looking out enjoying the view. Her mom told her, “Keep walking and you better hurry up because of the alligators in the water. And do you know what alligators like to eat? Little girls.” I was so disgusted by this woman that I knew exactly then I needed to write a column dedicated to her lack of wilderness appreciation.

First, we were on a bridge. If there was an alligator, there would have been no way of it getting to us. Second, the girl was taking a break and looking at nature. She was not in harm’s way and not provoking an alligator by a river bed. Third, the mom bent the truth. 

An alligator’s diet changes slightly depending on its size and age. Smaller gators eat snails, fish and frogs and larger alligators eat larger food items. These can include turtles, large fish, birds and small mammals like muskrat and nutria (also known as a river rat or coypu). Now if you were thinking of adding Chihuahua to the diet, you are part of the problem.

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