Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson

Growing up in the hills and forests of a Pennsylvania County, I had several uncles and an aunt who taught me to hunt and fish. Consequently, I had my share of small wild animal pets we used to rescue in the woods.

Often we brought these exotic animals home to raise only later to be released again into the wild.

I have heard of individuals who had pet snakes, spiders, lions, tigers, monkeys and a pet bull. Often these animals turned on their owners, just as the small animals I had turned on me. Wild animals do not make good pets. They are unsafe — take it from one who knows. These unpredictable critters often inflict nasty bites on owners who trust them. Wild animals belong in the wild, in my opinion. Their natural instincts often become evident, and contrary to human expectations.

My grandfather had a mink ranch, and as kids we helped feed the little critters. They were in long pens and we walked along giving them food and water — and often a few pats on the head. But, these little devils often decided to clamp down on a finger or two as we reached in the cages to show them a bit of affection!

We kept several first aid kits on hand to treat our injuries. The squirrels, raccoons and groundhogs we tried to make pets also gave us their share of finger bites. Bleeding, sore fingers were common we found when handling small, wild critters.

Recently a man who had what he thought was a pet lion found out the truth about these big cats. His friends found him in his backyard mauled by his wild cat. While still young, some wild pets can be cute and adorable. Better not turn your back on one when it becomes an adult. The once predictable pet can suddenly become unpredictable and dangerous.

People sometimes feed their food scraps to wild critters. I have done this with stale bread, thinking the crows are enjoying my efforts. Unfortunately, the bread has also attracted a raccoon, and he has become a nuisance, tearing up my bird feeders and hanging around getting into all manner of mischief.

Be careful of your choice of animal pet. That big old python might end up trying to eat you for lunch! And, that raccoon you befriended might have rabies. Watch where you place your fingers!

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each week in the weekend edition of this newspaper.

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