Murder Most Fowl

I know what you’re thinking. Is that rooster a danger to itself or others? Should I cuddle with my deadly pet snake? Will befriending a goose help me beat cancer? These questions and more will be answered in this edition of “Earth’s Crazy Animals, and Why We Should Eat Them All.”

First we travel to Australia, but only metaphorically, because that place is NUTS. A man from Hazelbrook is in the hospital after being bitten by his pet snake, a death adder, which is one of the most poisonous serpents in the world, ranking above the king cobra but below Judge Judy.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the man “was bitten twice on the hand … when he opened a cage at his home to inspect the snake.” Now, what sort of up-close inspection does a snake need? Was the man checking the snake’s pulse? Testing to see if the death adder had bad breath? I would hope the man is now questioning his behavior the same as I am, except that the news story also says “it was not the first time the man had been treated at Nepean Hospital for snake-bite-related injuries.” Furthermore, the fact that he even OWNS something called a “death adder” suggests to me that he is not of sound mind.

(Tip for finding a friendly and fun pet: Avoid animals with the word “death” in their names! In fact, don’t even go to pet stores that sell them!)

But snakes are not the only deadly creatures in Australia. No, you also have to worry about kangaroos, scorpions, Russell Crowe and roosters. Yes, according to another Sydney Morning Herald article, a rooster attacked a little girl a few weeks ago, sending her to the hospital with a collapsed lung. And while I normally consider children with life-threatening injuries to be extremely funny, for some reason this incident disturbed me.

Luckily, I was cheered up by the girl’s uncle’s description of the incident: The girl was “feeding the chooks” when the rooster “went berko. It’s gone off its tits. I don’t know what it was doing. You hear of cranky roosters but I’ve never heard of one actually attacking anyone like that.”

Ha ha! You can always count on an Australian to sum things up concisely and with a large amount of barely intelligible slang!

(Tip for finding a friendly and fun pet: Immediately kill any rooster you see!)

As these examples indicate, the reason animals dwell on the earth is to murder us. But occasionally, Mother Nature makes a mistake and creates an animal that actually helps mankind, instead of biting mankind or poking mankind’s eyes out.

That’s why the Associated Press story last week about a goose being nice to a man was newsworthy. Normally, any interaction between humans and geese ends badly for one or both parties, often with at least one of them being eaten. But in this case, a 73-year-old Idaho man with terminal cancer says his friendship with a feral goose has helped him live longer. (Sure, if you call being in Idaho “living.”)

According to the story, Bill Lytle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last fall, with doctors giving him only a few months to live. Yet here it is, not a few months later, but SEVERAL months later, and Lytle fails to be dead. He says it’s due in part to the wild goose, named Mr. Waddles, who honks and snaps at everyone else but who nestles up to Lytle and accompanies him on his daily walks through town.

“Sometimes he walks around me, sometimes he walks beside me,” Lytle says. “I rub his neck, and the top of his head and down to his back.”

Whoa, cowboy! Let me stop you there! This is a family column!

Is the daily exercise prolonging Lytle’s life? Or does Mr. Waddles have some kind of healing power unknown to science? There is only one way to find out: Cut Mr. Waddles open and see if there is magic inside of him. And just pray he doesn’t go berko.

I hope the T-word quoted in the rooster story didn't jar anyone too much. It's often used vulgarly, of course, but its original meaning -- an alteration of "teats" -- is fairly common among farm people, from what I gather, and that's how the man was using it. (The Sydney Morning Herald had no qualms about quoting him uncensored.) It's quite an odd figure of speech, though, to "go off one's teats." How does that come out meaning "go crazy"?

I began looking for animal-related stories because I wanted to do a column on PETA. It had been a while, and the PETA columns were always so much fun to do. But by the time I'd run through the animal news, there was no need to bring PETA into it, so those nutty activists will have to wait for another day.

I once encountered a goose.