Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

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The Elements: Reptiles and Amphibians

Alligator (American): Water

Greatly feared because of her size and teeth, the American alligator is a shy animal. She prefers to live in her “gator hole” or mucking around the swamp. The American alligator is a keystone species. She creates “alligator holes”--mud hollows in swampy areas. This provides other animals with water, food, and homes. Even her abandoned nest is used by other animals.

Salamander (Fire): Fire

Tradition has it that the fire salamander got her name from racing out of a log tossed onto a cooking fire. Since people saw her racing out of nowhere they assumed that the fire created her. “Salamander” comes from an Arab term for “lives in fire”.

Quite shy, the fire salamander warns other animals and people away with bright yellow blotches on her black body. By secreting a white sticky substance called salamandrin from small pores on her body, she can kill a small animal or cause vomiting in a person. Instead of running away, the fire salamander sprays her attacker.

Chameleon: Air

Contrary to popular belief, the chameleon does not change his colors to blend in where he is. Instead, the chameleon is a modern artist who uses color to express his moods, wants, and desires. Angry reds and yellows warn others. Flashy colors tells the ladies, he is available. Meanwhile, on a bright sunny day, the chameleon becomes lighter to cool off. When the day turns cold, he becomes black to absorb the light for warmth. Chameleon is an alchemist mixing color, quickness, and stodginess into an intriguing whole.

The Toad Sub-Family: Earth

Toads are frogs. The family Bufonidae, one of the twenty Frog families, encompasses over three hundred Toad species. Members of this family are squat, warty, with dry skins. Many have short hind legs for walking, which they prefer to do instead of hopping. The question of what is a toad and frog came about because in Europe, Common Toad (Bufo bufo) and Common Frog (Rana temporaria) seemed to be entirely different animals.

Toads do not bother anyone, since they live in dark dens in the woods and bury themselves in a hole for the winter. One way that toads defend themselves is by burrowing quickly. If need be, a toad can live underground for three years without eating.

NOTE: American alligator (top) with Chinese alligator (bottom)

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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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