Animals look adorable with their cute noses and big brown eyes, but some can be downright nasty. Squaring off against an enormous beast is a tricky situation that demands quick thinking. You must either turn yourself into a bad target or disappear at a moment’s notice.
The golden rule is keep a distance and avoid creating conflict where it doesn’t exist. Regrettably, it’s not as simple as smearing yourself with tiger urine. We have a checkered past with the animal kingdom, we love and fear them in equal measure. Some like skunks are not capable of great violence but can turn your world upside down – you could go blind. Llamas on the other hand are spiteful; they either harass you or spit in your face.
Dogs are men’s best friend but some like pit bulls just can’t play nice. The breed is responsible for up to 56 percent of fatal dog attacks on humans in the United States (1). Canines live amongst us and enjoy more opportunities to pick fights with humans. Most people read dogs well but surprise attacks still occur. When given two preventive options: reading signals or proximity take both but rely heavily on the latter. An incredible option is curling up into a ball and playing dead (hoping the mutt buys the act). Well, it doesn’t work – dogs love tearing at sitting ducks and we’re just not wired in that way! We are fleet-footed even when the odds of outrunning the aggressor are against us (dogs love runners!). Either way we’re screwed. What are the realistic ways to prevent a dog from taking you to the cleaners?
– Climb up a tree or any object capable of supporting your weight
– Pick a plank and whack the damn mutt
– Call out for your mommy (no, tried it didn’t help)
– Run towards the owner (if available)
– Use body blocks
– Keep a bottle of pepper spray and zap it
– Pretend to reach down for a stone or brick (works with some dogs – particularly those that have been previously whacked by a brick)
Kangaroos are gentle and cuddly animals, but make no mistake these Australian outbackers can throw quite a punch. They strike when threatened, irritated or just for fun. Keep a respectful distance to avoid black eyes, bloody noses and bruised egos. The marsupials practice by sparring with colleagues. The ‘roos swing punches and kick while balancing the entire body on tail.
They view humans as sparring partners (punching bags).
Apparently, we pose a threat to their offspring and dominance in a mob (2). To avoid being on the receiving end of a good flogging, stay well behaved and don’t try to bully your way around. These expert jumpers and swimmers generally live in groups called mobs.
Baboons are scavengers that do not take kindly to interference during a search and seizure mission. Doing so can earn you a bite or a mind-numbing slap. These terrestrial primates are both mischievous and ferocious. The troops protect themselves, particularly their young with displays of stupefying rage. Baboons are also expert stone throwers; whatever you do, never throw stones or objects – you’ll come out second best.
On the other hand, smiling or laughing in full view of male baboons can be perceived as an invitation to a brawl. However, the biggest mistake you can make is displaying food or trying to take back food that is already in their hands. Likewise, avoid walking in the middle of a troop, rather walk around them.
When it comes to humans, the hippopotamus is a tsunami waiting to happen. These beasts are masterpieces in both form and function. They are fast on both land and water (capable of reaching speeds of up to 30km/h or 19 mph) (4). This is despite weighing 4,500 kg (9,900 lb). When you encounter a raging hippo, the best option is to run faster than Usain Bolt. Its incisors can slice chunks of flesh off you while you flee. If you survive the melee, you could be left with little flesh on your backside to seat comfortably ever again.
Although bees are not always aggressive, they can deliver a painful lesson in mob justice. The reasons for the bashing vary depending on their status. A colony without a queen is an angry colony. A lack of nectar in the immediate environment also drives bees to resort to a life of crime. This breeds round-the-clock bad temper. They steal nectar from other colonies triggering bad moods from their victims in the process. Approaching a robbery scene could leave you seriously battered. Under normal circumstances, avoid smelling or looking like a flower (do not put perfume or wear brightly colored clothes when going near bees). Striking a bee may set off its defense pheromone which attracts the attention of furious relatives seeking vengeance (bees have a ‘one out, all out’ defense policy). Never jump into water – they’ll wait until you come up for a gasp of air.
Ostriches usually run away from humans, but these birds can attack when threatened. They brandish strong legs and sharp nails capable of slicing your gut open with one kick. Domesticated ostriches are unpredictable and should not be treated as tame.
To avoid becoming a victim, keep a distance or stand near a building or car – they run fast.
Alternatively, grab a long pole to keep the aggressor at bay. These cheeky birds happen to like bling; avoid wearing any shiny items like jewelry. You do not want the pointy beak pecking anywhere near your earrings or necklace. If all else fails hit the deck face down with hands on your head and play dead. Ostriches are not as effective attacking an object lying on the ground; they are lethal when kicking forward.
Hyenas are cheeky and daring animals capable of intimidating lions if the price is right. Their conduct is often as hideous as their appearance. Striped hyenas are considered timid around humans but display aggression at night. The best way to avoid an attack is to stay away from areas where they are found, particularly at night. The animals cackle (giggle) as a sign of showing interest in your salty flesh.
Hyenas’ jaws can crush the bones of elephants with ease by exerting force of up to 1,000 pounds. They won’t have a problem munching your scrawny limbs.
8. Electric eels
Electric eels are fascinating, thanks to their seemingly unnatural but God given ability to deliver 660-volt zap of electricity (6). It’s no surprise that humans do not eat the electrophorus electricus species. Even in death, these eels can zap the crap out of diners. To avoid becoming a victim keep a distance of not less than 18 feet from the eel. The current is generated by specialized cells that function as biological batteries. When trying to capture this armed species, it is best spook them repeatedly from afar. This allows their batteries to run dry from continuous but futile discharge.
9. Honey badger
Honey badgers are notorious for being vicious, fearless and clever little animals, but don’t let their size fool you. Picking a fight with these critters could lead to costly hospital bills. Badgers don’t care whether you’re a 6- or 7-foot humanoid, they give as much as they take. This applies even if you are holding a freshly sharpened machete. Once the fight starts, it can go on for hours – you might want to bring an energy drink. If you get too close, they can rip off your face or privates.
Lions and leopards have a tremendous amount of respect for these determined critters.
If you find yourself face-to-face with a growling mean badger – keep a distance or pick a direction, and be gone. When cornered, never consider climbing up a tree – you will lose any leverage you might have. They give new meaning to Mark Twain’s old adage: ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.’ Army units and infantry fighting vehicles are named after these feisty little creatures.
Although dogs are more likely to get decorated with a flurry of painful porkie quills, humans can be smacked too! Inviting an altercation with these heavily armed rodents will leave you sobbing in pain. Porcupines usually run away when approached by humans. However, do not push your luck by disturbing their peace or coming into contact with the quills.
Take extra care when hiking, especially at night. If you encounter one and it activates its defense mechanism by raising its quills, take the warning seriously.
Do not startle an animal that is snoozing – stay calm and do not yell. Shouting, “holy jumping Jesus it’s a leopard!” will certainly place you on its menu. If the animal notices you, take advantage of its inaccurate sense of proportion by trying to make yourself look much bigger. Unzip or unbutton your shirt or jacket and hold it on the ends. While animals maybe built to devour prey, they certainly aren’t too smart. When venturing into the wild pick useful items, such as a church bell, a whistle or a thong (no it will get you killed). Trespassing is generally frowned upon by many species and offenders are swiftly given what they deserve.