Tonawanda News

Features

February 28, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Caterpillars, alligators and little girls

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — Yes, alligators have been known to accidentally attack and kill humans and pets; however it is not their first choice and it does not happen that often. It makes the news coverage because it is a horrible catastrophe and because it is an abnormality.

A tragic repercussion of the mother’s warning would be to have that girl grow up thinking that all alligators are little-girl-eating machines and not understand the importance of the animal.

I believe this Bradley Miller quote, “Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar,” is appropriate.

Teaching the girl on the bridge that alligators eat little girls is negative for both the alligator and the girl. Alligators have a large economic value for the Florida Everglades.

Visitors enjoy seeing these large, prehistoric reptiles in the wild. Alligators also act as an indicator species. They can alert scientists if the ecosystem is healthy and on the mend or if it needs extra effort and resources.

Stressful events in our adolescence can cause anxiety in adulthood. Biochemists at the Tufts University School of Medicine found that mice can carry the effects of stress into future generations. This study showed that the kids and the grandchildren of stressed mice were at higher risk to be anxious. The scientists believe it could be a result and combination of social and biochemical factors. Humans have the benefit of a more enriched environment that will allow us better coping skills. However, it is interesting to think that our internal chemistry could be a factor in how we interpret and react to new animals and situations.

If the future children or grandchildren of the girl are anxious or stressed about alligators, it could be because of that situation that I witnessed.

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