Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

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Cold-Blooded Ones: Sensitivity to One’s Environment

The Cold-Blooded Ones are called that because they lack the ability to keep warm by using their bodies. Since these animals need to regulate their body temperatures, the Cold-Blooded Ones use their environment to help them do this. A turtle will find a sunny spot to bask in. A salamander will move under a rock for warmth. Toads will bury themselves in the dirt. Snakes prefer living in rocky dens for warmth and under leafy bushes for coolness.

Reptiles are one of the most ancient forms of life, and also one of the most adaptable. Both the turtles and crocodiles have survived the dinosaurs, while remaining the nearly same today as they were in the past. In addition, crocodiles are distant relatives to birds and dinosaurs. Snakes and lizards have expanded the ways that reptiles adapt to their environment. Snakes lost their legs, while lizards adapted to life in the ocean. Meanwhile, worm-lizards (ringed lizards) have evolved to burrow underground by using their heads.

Amphibians are another ancient and modern form of life. They range from the lungless salamander to the cane toad to the caecilian. Amphibians are the oldest known animals to make the transition to life on the land. Therefore, they have a double life with two forms, one for young life in the water and for adult life on land. Like reptiles, amphibians are cold-blooded.

Many books and websites that discuss animal wisdom have snakes, lizards, and turtles listed as one animal a piece. However, the individuals in each group vary wildly in their characteristics and habits. A rat snake is different in temperament from a cobra. The lizard family encompasses tiny geckos, huge komodo dragons, and fierce horned lizards. Turtles range from the quiet box turtle to the rapacious snapping turtle

Since some characteristics pertain to the entire species, one can offer some generalizations about the group itself. For example, snakes have no legs or turtles have shells. However, bear in mind what most members in each group may have in common, some animals will not.

For example, monitor lizards do not lose their tails, which is often the focus of “the lizard totem.” Side-necked turtles cannot put their heads into their shells. They retract their heads just under the lip of the shell. Tiny blind snakes burrow into termite mounts to feast.

Concern over missing frogs and disappearing salamanders have led people to question their activities in regard to the environment. The wormlike caecilians are subjected to stress from environmental degradation. Before much can be learned about them, these elusive amphibians are dying out. Regarded to be a “living fossil,” the tuatara is the focus of concentrated efforts by New Zealanders to keep this reptile from going extinct.

The Cold-Blood Ones teach sensitivity to the environment. We need to be selective about the environments that we expose ourselves to. We also need to be sensitive to the plight of reptiles and amphibians. Halting habitat loss and pollution is critical to their survival. We should learn from them what is good for us to live in.

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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.  


  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert Thursday, 07 September 2017

    Lovely and informative, thank you.

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