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Wild Animal Safety 101

Updated on July 25, 2007

Wild Animals Are Not Pets

It goes without saying that young children should not be put in a situation to encounter a wild animal unsupervised. However, we can't shelter kids forever and depending on where you live, kids may eventually be exposed to wild animals. Fostering a sense of respect for nature and animals will serve your child in many ways - including their physical safety.

Children need to know they can't play with wild animals as they would a pet. Just because a squirrel comes up to you in the park while you're eating your lunch doesn't mean you can touch it. It's adorable when a squirrel stands on its hind legs to beg, but not so cute when it turns into an aggressive, sharp clawed rodent running up your leg to get your peanut butter sandwich.

Teach younger children to watch wild animals from a distance and not to get close before checking with you. Teach older children to think before they act. Animals need a lot of space.

Large Wild Animal Safety

Large predatory animals can sometimes attack people because they feel threatened, especially if they are mothers with their young. Occasionally they will become aggressive in the search for food. If a child lives or visits in an area where they may potentially come in contact with large, wild animals such as lions, bears, alligators, wolves, crocodiles, or other large animals, they need to have a few rules to follow.

The first rule of animal safety is to pay attention. Next, stay calm.

Make a safety plan and then role play with kids so they can practice reacting to different scenarios of wild animal encounter. You can be the wild animal and after your child gets over you crawling around and growling like a wolf, she'll have new skills!

Kids On Their Own

As kids get older and earn more independence, they need to be aware of ways to protect themselves against animal dangers. Following are some good rules of thumb.

  1. Never hike alone. Making lots of noise reduces the chance of surprising a wild animal and therefore scaring it into hurting you. A walking stick can be used to keep an aggressive animal at a safe distance.
  2. Don't run from wild or agitated animals. Back away slowly and quietly. Running can stimulate an animal's instinct to attack.
  3. Remain upright. The larger you appear to an animal, the better. Bending over can make you look like an animal of prey. Do whatever you can to look bigger.
  4. Never approach wild animals, especially when they are feeding their young.
  5. Always give a wild animal an easy route to get away from you.


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  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

    All sensible advice. Useful too to have a plan B and C. Although not a first choice shouting at an aggressive animal can frighten it as can a quick run forward waving your arms. I suppose it really sepends on how tight a spot you are in.

    I have been attacked by feral dogs in Arabia and in India. What worked for me was bending down to pick up a stone (even when one was not available) and that got them running every time. One or two exceptions but I won't go into them here.

  • profile image

    fhhfgfdhd 8 years ago


  • monitor profile image

    monitor 9 years ago from The world.

    You are absolutely right about the wild animals being a safety hazard if not treated as such, Lela. We must respect these wild animals and keep a safe distance from them, as well as protect our children from potential dangers. Your description of the squirrel going crazy for the peanut butter really put an interesting image in my mind. Great hub!

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