Other Outdoorsy Stuff

6 Common Myths About Wild Animals

December 15, 2017

Photo: Gary Bendig

You can run into just about any kind of wild creature while out camping. That’s why it’s important to understand what potential dangers they impose. It’s just as important, though, to know what common perceptions on wild animals aren’t at all true.

Baby Birds Need Help
There’s a common misconception that a baby bird left on the ground has been abandoned by its parents. This is rarely true. Baby birds on the ground are usually ones that have just left the nest for the first time and are in the process of learning how to forage and fly. You might not see them, but rest assured the parents are nearby watching closely. Leave them alone and be sure to steer clear of their nesting site.

Bambi Needs Rescuing
The same goes for baby deer you find alone out in the wild. The idea that a fawn left alone has been neglected by it’s mother is false; the female dear leave their offspring alone all the time in order to forage for food. It’s not uncommon at all for one to be left along for long periods of time. Don’t approach and don’t attempt to feed it.

A Foaming Mouth Means Rabies
Every camper knows to be wary of a foaming mouth. That’s because it’s one of the biggest warning signs of rabies. What a lot of people don’t realize is that a foaming mouth can actually mean a lot of things, many of which aren’t nearly as dangerous as rabies. Foaming can be a symptom of diseases like coccidian, distemper, and roundworm, or just a sign of liver failure, poisoning or dehydration. Still, it’s always important to be cautious and not approach any animal you see foaming at the mouth in the wild.

Toads Will Give You Warts
While often thought of as a popular old wives tale that’s used to help keep children in line, there are far too many adults around who still believe this silly myth. Toads cannot give a person warts, no matter how much you rub your hand over one. Warts are spread through the human papillomavirus and can only be spread through human-to-human contact.

Bears Are Vicious
Popular lore claims that if you see a bear in the wild you either play dead or you die. The truth is that most bears will never attack a human unless they feel threatened. Playing dead is also never a sure bet. In fact, playing dead with a black bear will certainly not end well for you. Instead, it’s better to stand your ground and ward it off with a weapon or can of pepper spray. Grizzlies, however, are more likely to leave you alone if you assume the fetal position. Whatever you do, never run from a bear–they’re bigger and faster.

Zigzag Away From Gators
Where this myth originated we’ll never know, but anyone who grew up around gators can tell you how silly it is. Still, some people believe it. The myth goes that in order to outrun an alligator or crocodile one simply has to run in a zigzag pattern. Due to the long body and stubby legs the creatures aren’t able to give chase in such a pattern. That’s a load of crock. Crocodiles and alligators are surprisingly agile creatures and the fastest way to outrun one is to run in a straight line like your life depends on it.

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