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User:Cjensen/sandbox/Animals of North America

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Revision as of 03:09, 7 February 2007 by (talk) (Puma)
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This is just a scratch design for how one might make a list of dangerous animals. We usually don't make lists, but the point of this one is to make it easy to write a short reference to animals in some articles, but link here for a full description.

This article provides a short reference to some of the dangerous animals which live in North America. Please don't overworry about these animals, they aren't anywhere near as dangerous as the other drivers on the road who are far more likely to kill you by accident than any of these animals.

For each animal, we want

  • A brief description
  • where the animal is found
  • A list of do's and don'ts
  • What to do in an encounter
  • External references (wikipedia, national park service documents, etc)


Pumas are a large cat-like animal. While only about half the size of African Lions, they are quite capable of killing a human. Different regions of North America have different names for this one species including Mountain Lion, Puma, Cougar, and Panther. Pumas are extremely shy animals. Most people who live in the same land as Pumas have never seen one.

Pumas are pervasive throughout the western United States and Canada, and are found throughout Mexico and Central America.

Pumas are very shy and very "please don't bug me, and I won't bug you" animals. they will not attack joggers or "attack" anything unless attacked.

If you encounter a Puma, do not run. Look as large as possible. Pick up children without bending down. Pick up a rock or other weapon if you can do it without appearing smaller. If attacked, fight back.


Rattlesnakes are a venemous snake found in the Americas. Older snakes have a rattle on the end of their tail composed of dead skin stuff. Rattlesnakes helpfully shake this in order to make you aware of their presence and how they would very much like you to go away. Unfortunately, younger snakes may not have this helpful rattle, and are easily confused with other, harmless snakes.

Rattlesnakes will bite when threatened. For hikers, the usual pattern is that two hikers follow a path. The first one steps on a sleeping snake and pisses it off. The snake begins to shake its tail vigorously. The second hiker says "what the hell is that noise" and stops in his tracks. The snake then bites the second hiker. Try to avoid stepping on rattlesnakes by looking for them on the path. If you are the second hiker and hear a snake, don't stop unless you are certain you are not already standing next to the snake.

If you are bitten, the good news is that you almost certainly will live through the painful experience. Rattlesnake venom is essentially digestive enzymes, and will break down tissue around the bite. Try not to move much (which spreads the venom) unless you must do so. Seek immediate medical attention. The bad news is that some tropical species have neurotoxin venom, and are considerably more dangerous. In any case, seek medical attention promptly.

Black Bears

If you see a bear, climb a tree to get away. Black bears like to climb trees to eat people.

Grizzly Bears

If you see a bear, climb a tree to get away. Grizzly Bears like to push trees over to eat people. I was eaten by a grizzly bear once. Yup.

Polar Bears

Polar bears are one of the few species on the planet which hunt humans for food. There are no trees where polar bears live, so you won't need to waste time climbing one before you are eaten.


Manatees are slow-moving seal-like animals which graze on sea grasses at the bottoms of rivers and estuaries. They live in Florida and nearby states, except during their annual migration to Minnesota.

Because they aren't very visible, they often get run over by motorboats. If driving a boat in areas with Manatees, they might eat you. Climb up a tree to escape the cow of the sea!