Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

A blog encouraging deeper relations between people and animals.

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Animal Relationships: Predator and Prey

Among the animal relationships, the one that bothers people is predator and prey. In understanding that all animals must eat to survive, people can accept the dynamic between predators and their prey. One aspect of this relationship is that they keep each other in check. For example, prairie dogs would breed uncontrollably unless black-footed ferrets hunted them. Crudely speaking, the number of prairie dogs determine the number of ferrets. The predator and prey relationship is the “ying and yang” of nature.

From a prey’s point of view, predators teach defense skills. When confronted with danger, prairie dogs will bark a warning, and hide in their burrows. Meanwhile, manatees will swim away, and sloths will hide in plain sight. A hedgehog will roll into a ball that a fox cannot open up. The grey kangaroo will stand her ground and kick the dingo to death.

As for predators, they have to develop strategies to get their food. Black-footed ferrets burrow into prairie dog towns at night, when these animals are asleep. Wolves work in packs to bring down a moose. Living at the bottom of the Amazon River, Mata-mata, a side-necked turtle, wiggles his worm-like tongue to entice unsuspecting fish to come near.

To learn more about the dynamics of a predator and prey relationship, choose a pair of animals to study. See how they interact. Study the animals together to see what wisdom they impart in their relationship. They are linked together in a dynamic dance.

For example, the great white shark is an apex predator in the ocean. For some unknown reason, when great whites reach a certain size and age, they all become female. Through the eons, she has developed her well-known torpedo-shaped body and eight senses. The great white is aptly known as the “Queen of the Seas,” for her speed and efficiency.

Meanwhile, the elephant seal lives in a male dominant society. He fights with the other bulls, to the death, to possess an elephant seal harem. This massive animal’s roar can be heard long distances away. The only animals that prey on him are the orca and the great white.

Study the interaction between the elephant seal and the great white. What lessons do they have to teach? For one thing, the animals balance each other. One is male, while the other is female. Great whites live in a matriarchy, with the queen shark eating first. Elephant seals live in a patriarchy with their harems.

Consider that both swim in the ocean, but the elephant seal lives on land. How does that relate to the great white? The elephant seal can always escape to land. Meanwhile, the great white counters that with her eight senses. One of them is that she can sense a beating heart at long distances. As you delve deeper into the lives of these two animals, you understand how they interact and what lessons they impart together.

The predator and prey relationship is an important one to study. When you ponder the interactions of both, you realize that each animal is more than the sum of their parts. If there is an animal that you receive guidance from, study their prey (or predator). See the two as a whole imparting a different wisdom to you.

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Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  


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