The Animal Food Chain: A Story about a Dog, a Cat, a Mouse and a Cricket
Samson returning from a hunting adventure underneath the cabinets.
The Human and Animal Food Chain
Isn't it great to be at the top of the food chain? Although the movies like to scare us by showing humans getting eaten by everything from large grasshoppers to Godzilla, the fact is, we eat but are rarely eaten.
It's a wonderful life.
A few months ago when it was just turning cold and wildlife were seeking warmth in our house, a cricket wandered into our living room. It was a very stupid decision. Our cat loves insects - as snacks. I spotted the cricket first. He was a little fellow - very black against our beige carpet. I knew it was just a matter of seconds before he would be seen by Samson, the cat. The cricket joyfully hopped across the room, seemingly pleased to have found such a warm spot to spend the cold winter months.
I tried to move quickly to catch the cricket before Samson, but I move much more slowly than my cat, who had discovered the cricket upon my first movement toward it. Samson wasted no time in jumping upon the hapless creature. Within a second, the cricket was partially dismembered. The events that followed I shall omit because of the family focus of this article, but suffice it to say, the cricket did not get to enjoy a warm winter.
While many people complain of spending early morning hours hunting down elusive crickets chirping in the dark, I can say we have never had such an opportunity. Samson, the snacker, has kept our abode as cricket, roach and spider free as the Orkin man would. And rarely do we find the corpses.
Razz, the hunter
My cat isn't the only domestic hunter in our household, though. Our dog, Razz, surpasses Samson on a larger scale, preferring rodents over the smaller prey. Razz is a terrier mix of some sort, and terriers were originally bred to hunt rodents and small mammals. And, unfortunately for rodents, Razz revels in his heritage.
Several years ago we lived on the outskirts of a Southeast Kansas town. Bordering our back yard was an open field that was home to numerous field mice. They would mistakenly burrow into our back yard where our rodent-killing dog awaited a good game. For many months, we thought Razz was coming up empty in the mice-dog wars. He would dig hole after hole, but we never found any dead mice.
It was later that our dog's deadly tendencies came to light.
I had discovered a mouse hole beneath Razz's never-used doghouse. We were busy figuring out how best to rid ourselves of the cute little nuisances when my husband lifted the doghouse for a final look. Razz, curious as to our interest in his useless home, was standing nearby. As my husband lifted the doghouse, a mouse fled, lightning-quick, from the hole. Razz matched the mouse's speed, and moving faster than my eye could follow, had the poor thing by its tail. He flipped it expertly up in the air, and in less than a second, the mouse was dead - his neck snapped in the attack. Razz dropped it at our feet, wagging his tail and expecting high praise for destroying the obvious object of our concern.
Previously, we had watched our cute, fuzzy dog playing with an old tennis shoe, holding the shoe by its tongue and flipping it in the air. After the mouse incident, we realized that the game with the shoe was only preparation for the hunt. We never again saw another mouse in our yard.
I tremble for these little creatures, though, when I think of what it would be like if my role was proportionally akin to theirs. To imagine a gray, striped cat, about 250 feet tall, standing menacingly over me with one clawed paw pinning my leg to the ground as he hungrily stares with those green cat-eyes is almost more than I can bear. I know how cats toy with their food. It would be a terrible fate, indeed. And how horrible it would be to have a smiling, panting 300 foot terrier pounce on me, grabbing a leg or an arm, and flipping me in the air with enough force to break my spine.
It must really be a drag to be low on the food chain.