My wife, and a lot of other people, see a spider and the first thing to go through their mind is how to kill it. Now I do understand the desire of people to have spider-free homes but I do not agree with their techniques of ridding themselves of them. You probably think I am some sort of tree-hugging liberal. I do not hug trees. I used to climb them but have never hugged one, nor do I have any desire to hug one. But I have a principle that says “never kill anything that removes pests you do not like.” Spiders feed on flies and mosquitos, two insects I have no problem killing. If I could speak to a spider I’d say to her, “listen, you take care of those pests on the outside and I will take care of them in here.” Anyway, I take a paper towel, very loosely bunch it up, and gently remove it from the house to the outdoors where it can do some good.
People need to remember that the biggest pest in the entire animal kingdom is the human. No animal, rats included, are dirtier. I am sure you think I am crazy now because I included rats. Not at all. Zoologists point out, when asked, that the disease rats carry almost always is because of humans. Rats are natural scavengers, and they go where the easiest food supply is. Ergo, find where humans live and you will find a ton of “food” for the rat. Take that very same rat, put him far out in the wild, and what you will find is an extraordinary neat and clean animal. That includes the “rat’s nest.” A squirrel’s nest, the rat’s cousin, is never thought of as being a dirty place even though he builds his house almost exactly the same way. Now, as to killing rats, not a problem. Their disease carrying tendency is why, unlike the poor spider which carries no diseases at all.
If you compare the two nests above you will find little difference between them. In the wild the only difference is, squirrels nest in trees and rats nest on the ground.
I have absolutely no fear of snakes, nor do I look upon them as being evil. Many snakes feed on something we could do without, rats. Snakes are curious animals. Lacking teeth, they eat their prey whole and slowly digest it. Snakes are no in the least bit interested in living in close proximity of humans, anymore than most people are of them. When I lived in Italy, a couple of friends of mine came across a snake in the grass. Not fearing him I reached down and picked him up. Fortunately I knew about picking a snake up behind its head. Unfortunately, I picked him up about an inch too far behind his head. The snake whipped around and tried to sink his fangs into my thumb. Fortunately, for me, all he got was my thumbnail. I quickly dropped him but one of my friends, in spite of my protestations, stomped him to death. That was entirely unnecessary. The snake was rightfully protecting himself and had I left him alone nothing would have happened. The point is, to find a snake you generally have to be somewhere in the wild. There are exceptions, people who live in desert areas will tell you of encounters in their backyards with rattle snakes and others. But even so, we need to remember, it is we humans who have invaded their territory and not the other way around.
We human beings are supposed to be pretty smart but there is a wealth of information that tells a very different story. There is no better example of man’s insensitivity to the natural inhabitants of an area than in Southern California. There are few places in the world where man’s invasion has done more to hurt indigenous animals. The condor of California almost went extinct because of such human infestation and insensitivity. Californians complain about the coyotes and other desert dwellers who roam their backyards. Hey, they were there first! Time to learn to live with them. Even more, it is time to accommodate them.
Hawaiians have an interesting way of looking at a reptile that likes to wander into their houses, the gecko. They claim geckos are good luck in your house and warn against killing them. Good for them! They do not bite and if you want them out, remove them but do not kill them.
One thing is a constant in the animal kingdom, except for those who think they are smart. Animals give very clear signals of their intentions. They are, if you take time to understand them, very easy to deal with, as a rule. Give a snake a wide berth, he will not bother you. Do not corner an animal, he will not likely attack. If you stay away from a mother who is caring for her young, she will allow you to pass in peace. Remove a spider from you house into the great outdoors, and he will do you a huge favor by killing a mosquito that might have bitten you or by killing a fly who might have landed on some of your open food.
Killing ants, cockroaches, hornets, bees and termites in your house is understandable. But if you find that a squirrel has taken up lodging in your attic or wall you can be assured he found a defect in your roofing or walls. Thank him for it and find how he got in. Get someone out to your house who knows how to draw him out without killing him, it is possible. Extermination should always be your last resort.