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October 06, 2008

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Chad Love: On Kids and Critters

WARNING: The following blog post contains the tired cliche "when I was a boy" so anyone who rolls their eyes at nostalgic references to childhood should probably stop reading now.

When I was a boy back before the dawning of the "Stoned on Electronic Entertainment" age, my young world was defined by dogs and critters. All kinds of critters. Snakes. Lizards. Frogs. Rodents. Turtles. Salamanders. Tadpoles. You name it, and I caught it, because at one time that's what boys were supposed to do.

But that was then, and this is now.

From the story in the New York Times...

CHICAGO (AP) -- Warning: young children should not keep hedgehogs as pets -- or hamsters, baby chicks, lizards and turtles, for that matter -- because of risks for disease. That's according to the nation's leading pediatricians' group in a new report about dangers from exotic animals.

Now I know the story deals mainly with "exotic" pets like iguanas and such, but how many parents do you think will read it and decide it's simply too dangerous to let their kids roam the woods because they might come in contact with some of these filthy, disease-ridden animals?

How much more bubble-wrapped from nature can we make our kids? The American Academy of Pediatrics may as well have issued a statement like "Warning: children who engage in traditional childhood activities may come in contact with substances like dirt, plants, trees, rocks, non-filtered air and non-bottled water. These substances are home to potentially hazardous organisms and children allowed to explore these areas are at an elevated risk of contracting serious illnesses such as curiosity, independence, self-confidence, physical fitness and an appreciation for nature."

I absolutely believe critter-catching is an important early gateway into a lifetime of loving the outdoors. Today's curious rock-flippers and log-turners are tomorrow's hunters, anglers, hikers, campers, biologists and scientists, but more importantly, they're tomorrow's advocates. How can you care what happens to nature when your parents are too scared to let you experience it on your own?   



No small pets now? What else can we take away from our kids?

We don't let our kids play outside, yet wonder why they are fat, full of allergies and lazy. Juvenile diabetes is skyrocketing, high blood pressure is becoming a concern and this generation may very well become the first that dies younger than their parents will.

Fat kids, turn into fat teenagers and fat adults.

You'd think today's pediatricians would be more concerned with that.

I'm in school right now

How many years have kids had animals like lizards and turtles as pets and no major problems have occured? Every day now a new study is coming out saying that something people love is bad for them. It gets old after awhile.



Moderate exposure to microorganisms will improve childerens immune systems. That is why babies eat insects, soil, boogers,etc. They are strengthening their immune systems. Keeping them too "bubble wrapped" actually makes them more susceptible to getting a disease. On the other hand there are some dangerous microorganisms on some critters so it is important tell them not to put their hands in their mouth or eat before they wash, just like it has always been.


I came from a generation that the only limit of your outdoor range was how far you could go. No stream was out of bounds, no wooded lot, farm field etc. Snakes, frogs, and salamanders were a joy to find, and as best i can remember I never missed a day of school sick(a few "fake" test misses). It was only later in life when I sat behind a desk that I got colds, the flu, etc.Today we have people so paranoid about germs and sickness that they over anti-bacterial themselves, now they have no resistance to anything. do something for a child, take them out into the woods and get them dirty. open up their minds to the wonders of nature.


All they have to do is wash their hands.


All they have to do is wash their hands.


Don't get me wrong, I like this blog, but I just feel the need to express myself right now.
It gets on my nerves when older people talk about how "things were different when I was your age" or "we would have never done that" or other other similar phrases. If I were born when you were born and if you were born when I was born then more than likely I would have done the same things that you did and you would be doing the same things that I am doing.
Right now I am 15 years old and I know it is natural for people to complain about things, but I can't control when I was born so quit blaming me for having an easier life than you did. Anyways, in some ways it is an easier life, yes, but in other ways it is harder. At least you didn't have to learn how to use all this new technology.
I know I will hear an earful about this post, but that is my view. Yes, it is unrelated to this blog post, but I just felt like this was a good place to share my view.


just so you know, i'm a 19 year old zoology major and i still collect random critters. definately one of my favorite past times.


One more reason not to read the New York Times. They'd have us observe nature from a distance rather than actually take part in it. Do you suppose they realize where newspaper comes from? Anyone taking outdoor advice from the NYT probably don't get out much anyway.
BTW Chad, when is [email protected] going to show us your mug shot?


As the parent of a 5 and 7 yr. old, I can tell you kids haven't changed, but some parents have morphed into "those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat" (joe Biden) Seriously, my kids will spend hours play in a creek and their friends all love the outdoors when I bring them along. Most suburban parents are ingnorant of nature and afraid of firearms. Our best hope may be hunting video game- a few of the kids who play "dangerous game" may try it for real some day..

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