Of the 54 reasons I’m vegan, numbers 24-30 include smallish animals and reptiles, some considered by others to be nuisance pests.
“True benevolence or compassion, extends itself through the whole of existence and sympathizes with the distress of every creature capable of sensation.”
Reason 24: Mice, Rats, Beavers, and other rodents
When brushing Stella, Scott collects her dog hair in a little bag and leaves it by the door. Weeks ago, a strong wind came, as is often the case here during a Southern Oregon afternoon, and blew the bag onto the ground. Being too lazy to pick it up, I left it there and went about other chores. When I returned, I saw the bag moving. A little someone was yanking it from inside a storage cabinet. I stood there and watched for several minutes. The little someone, who was clearly laboring very diligently, was yanking and pulling and forcing the bag of dog hair beneath the door of the cabinet. In a moment it was gone. I guess Stella’s hair is making a soft nest for the little someone and his family. Despite the critter activity in our backyard, I have no photo. Instead, I’m sharing a photo of a church mouse from Raukokore, New Zealand.
The Mice and the Man
One night, my cousin, Victor, from Staten Island, was at work and found a mouse whose leg was stuck to a glue board. Vic was able to carefully pry it off without hurting the little guy’s foot. The little guy ran off. Not long after, Victor happened upon a mouse who fell into water. She was thrashing about, drowning. Victor rescued the little one only to realize he was too late. The mouse was no longer moving. So, Vic did what any good (brave, compassionate, and otherwise nutty) human would do: He gave the mouse mouth-to-mouth or what I like to call mouth-to-mouse resuscitation. Yes, he put his face onto the mouse’s mouth and gave her some air. She came around, squeaked a few times, and was looking alive. Vic put her in the grass and as he walked away, the mouse got up and ran. Victor now is probably a legendary hero in the mouse world.
His noble efforts don’t stop there. Victor along with his wife (my cousin, Vicky) and probably the kids, too, also gave mouth-to-mouth to raccoons, a kitten and a puppy that were not breathing when they were newborns. Everyone survived – humans and animals.
Beavers are considered the engineers of the ecosystem. The largest rodents, weighing up to 60 pounds, beavers are responsible for creating wetlands, propagating plant biodiversity (felling trees, creating more light in forests, increasing plant life), and sediment and water filtration through dam building. Read more here.
Reason 25: River Otters
Because otters! We found these QTpies at the end of town in Port Townsend, Washington.
Reason 26: Bats
I’m enamored with bats and not because they’re fascinating creatures leading mysterious lives or because they’re the only mammals capable of flying, thus they are unparalleled to any other being (and uber cool to boot). I love bats because they are major contributors to our ecosystem and biodiversity.
I have fond memories of bats flying around at night during the summer when I was a kid. They were a mystery to me. The place I worked as a teen had rafters in the ceiling, and each morning, we’d start our day by cleaning up bat guano. Every so often, I would spot the little guy, way up high, snoozing.
Besides being important pollinators, now more than ever, bats are vital contributors to our ecosystem as pest insect terminators. Synthetic insecticide spraying for mosquitoes is increasing because of the Zika hype. More spraying = more dead beneficial insects = more poisoned bats (and other vital beings – winged or amphibian or otherwise – who eat the mosquitoes). Bats will eat up to 1000 mosquitoes per HOUR.
It makes no sense to poison everything just to eliminate the one thing that would otherwise be eaten by many other things.
Reason 27: Squirrels and Chipmunks
Clever, chatty, and super cute. I love our squirrels. And like all small mammals, squirrels offer a valuable contribution to biodiversity. Among countless activities, squirrels help pollinate, disperse seeds, regenerate forests, and aerate soil which facilitates plant diversity.
Reason 28: Raccoons, Skunks, Opossums
Opossums are the only marsupials (mammals who have a pouch that houses their babies) in North America. Opossums are timid and very smart. They’re considered to be equally as intelligent as pigs, and pigs are considered to be smarter than dogs.
A skunk’s big contribution to biodiversity is their consumption of insects (70% of their diet) and rodents. They’re valuable to agriculture because they consume the pests that consume the crops. Like all other insect-eating animals, they are susceptible to pesticide poisoning.
Raccoons play a role in biodiversity via the food chain. They eat slugs, snails, dead birds, snakes, snake eggs, frogs, rats, field mice and other animals that would be in overpopulation if raccoons weren’t around. They are also preyed upon by foxes and bobcats.
My cousins in New York (yes, the same cousins as mentioned above) have rescued countless abandoned baby raccoons over the years. Their house is like the native wildlife rescue epicenter of Staten Island.
Reason 29: Mongooses
If you followed our journey around South Africa, then you met Mr. Mongoo, a rescued Mongoose, through the posts There’s a Mongoose in My Ear! and Babysitting a Banded Mongoose Pup . We babysat him a few times and fell.in.love.
This video is all about Mongoose Nap Time. Don’t be surprised if you fall into a love coma.
This video shows all the silly Mongoose pup antics in which Mr. Mongoo was completely unaware of our amusement. Or was he? He was a smart little guy.
The video Mr. Mongoo Gets Hungry shows
Click this link to see more Mr. Mongoo videos.
Reason 30: Land Turtles, Lizards, Snakes, Iguanas, Crocodiles, Alligators et al
You’ll notice a theme here. Reptiles play a valuable role in insect population control. Certain reptiles, snakes, mostly, help prevent the spread of disease by maintaining rodent populations. Crocodiles and alligators help maintain fish populations, which in turn benefits aquatic ecosystems. Reptiles will consume a rotting carcass, which clears dead animals from the environment. Many land turtles are herbivores helping to sustain plant biodiversity and terrestrial ecosystems. As prey to other animals (mostly their eggs) they are an important link to animal biodiversity. According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, “The loss of any turtle species, each of which represents over 200 million years of evolution, persistence, and genetic information, would create a void that can never be filled by other species.”
I do not knowingly kill any living thing – including insects or rodents – and I thank my food for sustaining me.
Reptiles and amphibians are sometimes thought of as primitive, dull and dimwitted. In fact, of course, they can be lethally fast, spectacularly beautiful, surprisingly affectionate and very sophisticated.
To see the other posts in this series click click click away
Post 1: International Homeless Animal Day & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 1-3
Post 2: Sanctuary One & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 4-11
Post 3: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Numbers 12-19
Post 4: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Coyotes and Wolves
Post 5: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Chickens and Turkeys
Post 6: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Smallish Animals and Reptiles 24-30
Post 7: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Marine Life & Birds
Post 8: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: African Animals
Post 9: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Rainforests, Air, Water, Soil, Climate Change, Peace & Hunger (50-54)