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Look to nature for survival skills … but skip their deadly diet

And we think we’ve got problems. Not so much. Members of the animal kingdom, particularly its smallest creatures, like insects and rodents, can have it a lot worse.

They face all the same survival issues that we humans do as well as the risk of being stepped on, killed during the sex act, entangled in spider webs, and squashed by bigger, badass bullies.

They suffer from food shortages, air and water pollution, climate change, wildfires, floods, and drought, etc. but — on top of all that — they face being wiped out by their own species.

But, hmm, wait a minute. That’s us too, right?

So I was musing about this in light of Charles Darwin’s early observations on ‘survival of the fittest’ after having read some interesting trivia (is that an oxymoron?) from the New Scientist:

“Female orb-weaver spiders usually eat their mate after sex, but the males have developed a way to fling themselves very far away and very fast, just as the act is done.”

Good advice. Gratification, then get out. Fast. Clever males. Darwin would be so impressed and all it takes is some agility and ingenuity — flight not fight. This life lesson from spiders could come in handy one day for mankind.

And while they may make honey, the life of bees is not always sweet. Bumblebee queens eat their offsprings’ eggs. And honeybee workers dine on the delicacy of their siblings’ eggs. Bon appetit.

According to LIVEScience, nasty crop Mormon  crickets (relatives of grasshoppers) who can’t wait their turn to devour their own ecoskeleton for nourishment, “simply devour the guy molting next to them.”

So that’s why keeping your social distance in a  long lineup at the grocery store is a good idea. Well, that and the obvious risk of spreading yet another virulent virus.

For humans and critters, these behaviors are linked to ensuring their species survives. And if that means animals eating their young, well, it’s just ‘nature’s way’ and ‘animal instinct.’

I found this out years ago, the hard way.

When I was about 10 years old, my father brought home two Golden hamsters. I named them Samson and Delilah. Like many biblical characters, they produced dozens of babies.

To accomodate the growing brood, my father continued adding on to a big wooden cage he’d fashioned out of orange crates. Perhaps it did not occur to him that hamsters can chew their way to freedom with their well adapted teeth.

One evening Delilah and some of her offspring fled the cage and had to be rounded up in the basement by the family posse before the cat found them. My father then added wire mesh.

But the next day, Delilah stuffed her newborn babies into her cheek pouch and smothered them. Her behaviour shocked me. Maybe she  thought she was protecting them from the cat.

Who knows. I was just a naive kid with a baby killer hamster who would never come to show and tell with me because then the truth would come out about Delilah’s wicked deed.

But after the horror of the moment passed, I consulted my ‘How to Raise a Golden Hamster’ book which confirmed that hamsters do indeed eat their young. Which is why, the book explains,  you shouldn’t disturb them too much.

Any similarities of the above quirks of nature to real people or events is purely coincidental. But just to be on the safe side, avoid those grumpy humans … especially first thing in the morning.

And if you do disturb them, be prepared to run like hell. It’s called survival of the fittest. Thank you for that, Mr. Darwin.

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