Saturday, 5 May 2012

Ugly Animals - Misunderstood (Guest Post)

The human race is known for being drawn to what is aesthetically pleasing.
Attractive people, beautiful cars, houses and scenery are all things that draw the eye and fill a person with a sense of admiration and sensory pleasure.

(Image source: screen capture)
There are creatures in this world that make many recoil. You’re more likely to see a person strutting along with a sweet looking Labrador than a hairless, all be it, perfectly healthy runt. Bearded dragons can be considered 'cute' or 'interesting' and millions are kept as pets. The blobfish pictured above would not readily be kept in a vivarium in peoples homes.
As citizens, we are taught not to exclude or differentiate those who are not physically appealing and be compassionate to those who are disfigured.
Yet when it comes to animals, we decide that birds are beautiful but bats are ugly. I find this unfair and my mission today is to dispel these myths and cut these animals some slack.
Arachnids be gone!

Image by Rhys Asplundh 
Spiders and tarantulas are considered so frightful by such a large number of humans that a fear and hatred of them has been scientifically identified as arachnophobia.
While I am entirely sympathetic to anyone who suffers from a phobia, I find that spiders are far too often screamed at, squashed and bad mouthed.
They are incredibly shy and they quietly dispose of your house flies and other unwelcome bugs without expecting anything in return. They do their bit for girl power (the females outlive the males by years because they kill them after mating) and they are adorably house proud, weaving lovely webs and carpets from silk they resourcefully produce themselves.
I urge you all to join the British Tarantula Society and help promote these lovely creatures and defend them from being persecuted.
Cute and Fluffy Rats Vs This Ugly Thing
Rats continue to have a hideous reputation, largely due to their false association with the Black Death that ravaged Europe centuries ago. They were widely considered to be dirty, sneaky and generally unpleasant, but rats are gradually building up a loyal fan base among pet rat owners.
These rat lovers spread the word on the internet, run campaigns and generally fight tooth and nail for the acceptance of these lovely rodents into the top pet lists.
Pet rats do have cute faces, fun personalities and a high level of intelligence, making them stimulating and entertaining pets. Fact.
Try and say the same about this bad boy:

The naked mole rat – source: Wikipedia, public domain.
These dudes won’t get such a warm welcome at the rat conventions methinks.
They are blind as they live underground and have no need for eyes. Anyone who has seen Pan’s Labyrinth may be picturing this hideous guy right now.
I’m reluctant to admit that when I first came across this picture, I recoiled slightly and wondered how affectionate I would feel towards one of these little things if it were my pet. I too may be guilty of discriminating against more unbecoming creatures.
It would be more difficult for many people to pick up a tarantula than it would be to pick up a cat. I wonder how accommodating we’d be to aliens, if they came peacefully for a visit to earth looking like this:

Image by Steam Pirate
It could be the kindest, most gentle creature alive, but given it’s rather unflattering appearance, most people (conditioned by what society deems as physically appropriate) would run screaming in the other direction without stopping for a chat.
Let us all stop to think about these sentient beings that deserve to be loved just as much as the pretty ones. Here is a list of unattractive animals that you should stop and hug at some point in your life. Comments below, but keep them kind people.
-          The Sloth
-          The Hagfish
-          The Aye-Aye
-          The Horseshoe Bat
-          The Star-Nosed Mole (and don’t forget the lovely Naked Mole Rat)
-          The Mata Mata Turtle
-          The Vampire Bat
-          The Proboscis Monkey
-          The Warthog
-          The Angler Fish
-          The Turkey Vulture (and The Turkey for that matter...)

Susannah Plomer is a prolific blogger and friend to the underdogs of this world. She loves to write about animals for Supapet who happily provide a wide range of pet accessories for all pets from dogs to bearded dragons.