Naturalist E.O. Wilson argued that humans have a deep, emotional connection to nature on account of evolution. Being in the woods can fill us with a sense of euphoria because all of our lesser-evolved kin are there with us, like family. The downside to this connection is that we're scared of things like snakes, when really we should be more scared of things like driving on the interstate or using cell phones, but those things haven't been around long enough to intimidate our DNA.
This is, of course, bullshit. I assume Wilson has never seen the following evidence:
This is a human boy:
This is a snake:
This is a snake working his snakery. (Note the hypnotic eyes.) (But don't note too hard lest you get some snakery worked on you.) :
This is a human boy having some snakery worked on him:
This is a human boy with a snake wrapped around his neck:
Sure thing, E.O. Wilson, it's just evolution telling me snakes are assholes. It has nothing to do with the fact that snakes are actually assholes.
If you ever read the Frances books when you were a kid, I'm afraid that you, my friend, have been duped. Unlike Frances the Badger who serves tea and throws birthday parties for her friends, real live badgers are thugs.
Badgers not afraid of anything, including king cobras. These suckers will literally take a meal out of a snake's mouth, and then when the snake tries to take it back, the badger will just decide to eat the snake instead. A cobra can strike a badger until the badger eats its head off, and then you know what happens? The badger gnaws and gnaws until it falls over dead. Only it's not dead. A few minutes later it wakes back up, finishes the snake, and stumbles home. Cobra venom barely gives a badger a hangover, is what I am saying.
If you think that motherfucker won't chase you down, you're nuts. Stay away from badgers, even if they, like little Frances Faker, promise to help you find some good deals at the after Christmas sales.
3) Polar Bear
Many conservationists would have you believe that bears are peaceful creatures who sustain their various ecosystems, produce adorable cubs, and only attack when provoked (i.e. when their adorable cubs are threatened). This is, in fact, a lie. One look at a bear proves that he has evolved into a beast whose greatest single delight would be to eat you.
Whoops. Ahem. Observe:
The questions you need to ask yourself are thus: Will my head fit inside that bear's mouth? (Yes.) Can he render me unconscious with one swift blow of his massive paw? (Yes.) Are his claws longer than all of the knives in my kitchen? (Yes.) Is he pissed? (Yes.)
This is where it gets tricky. All bears want to kill you, but the question is: which bear is angry enough to actually do it. Not the panda -- he enjoys the distinction of being China's second-best diplomatic export, behind opium. (Ed: Amy tells me that Pandas are herbivores, and that's the reason they won't kill you. Which: I am so sure.)
The black bear is certainly capable of slaughtering you. Wackopedia's ominous List of Fatal Bear Attacks In North America By Decade notes that in 2002 a black bear swiped a toddler out of his stroller off of his own porch and ate him for a snack. Brown bears (also known as Kodiak or Grizzly bears) are equal douchebags. The same Wackopedia entry says that in 2008 a famous Hollywood bear grew agitated during contract negotiations and bit his trainer in the neck, killing him instantly.
But the bear who is angriest of all is the polar bear. Years of bullshit environmental policy mean that the polar bear is losing its home and food supply. (Anger point number one.) Coca-Cola never came through with the residuals they promised. (Anger point number two.) And recently the polar bear has had to give up the title "Largest Land Predator" and share it with the Kodiak. (Anger point number three.) Also, if you happen upon the polar while on a leisurely walk, it means that he is lost, and polar bears are notorious for their violent outbursts when you point out that they are off-track. (Many zoologists blame the penguin for the polar bear's sensitivity, as it is a known fact that penguins have become quite cocky about their sense of direction after March of the Penguins' win at the Oscars.)
It would be unfortunate if you stumbled on any bear during a walk; however, scientifically speaking, we can only say for sure that it would be fatal* if you happened upon a polar bear.
It is not impossible to photograph an Acromantula. What is impossible is to stay alive after you photograph an Acromantula. As such, we must rely on the drawings of Mary GrandPré, illustrator of the Harry Potter (sorry, Tam) books to show us an Acromantula.
We must also borrow text from Newt Semander's Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them (again: sorry, Tam) to understand the full scope ofthe Acromantula's terror.
The Acromantula is a monstrous eight-eyed spider capable of human speech... It's distinctive features include the thick, black hair that covers its body;itslegspan, which may reach up to fifteen feet; it's pincers, which produce a distinctive clicking sound when the Acromantula is excited or angry; and a poisonous secretion.
In sum, the Acromantula is twice as big as your car, and thinks you'd make a tasty breakfast. He wouldn't even have to fight you, because once you saw him, you'd fall over dead.
1) Beagle Puppy
The dog guide books about beagles all say the same thing: cute, sturdy, lovable, obstinate, cuddly, howlers. But how can you be so sure that once you fall in love with a beagle and take it into your home, it will not eat the paint off your walls and drive away your neighbors with its incessant howling? You cannot.
The hardest part is, look at the damn things:
You happen onto one of those puppies in the woods, are you going to take it home? Yes, you are. But you know what? Bad idea. You aren't ready for the responsibility. If you find a beagle puppy, YOU GIVE IT TO ME RIGHT NOW.
* The only hope you have for survival is if you, like me, adopt a polar bear from the World Wildlife Federation. They send you a card that you can keep in your wallet and present to a polar bear if needed.