Proverbial

A cat living by her wits goes hunting in a downpour.

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As patience to a predator, so is imagination to the prey. The field mouse that thinks, “It’s only rain” won’t live to bear another litter.

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When the birds start scolding, the mice relax.

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To the turtle in its shell, the thunder sounds like nothing more consequential than indigestion.

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If the swallows in the belfry had their way, we’d live without news.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

10 Comments


  1. Very appropriate with all the thunderstorms of late… I especially like “When the birds start scolding, the mice relax.”… the birds always make it clear when the rain is about to begin, and when the storm has finally passed.

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  2. Hi JLB, glad you liked. When the birds scold, the mice can relax because now they know where the predator is – its cover is ruined. The rain can go back to being rain, and not little cat feet.

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  3. Nothing delights a rat more than running over a sleeping person’s face.

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  4. A friend of mine was sleeping in the hammock in the jungle hut we were all sharing, and a rat ran down the rope and ran across his face, waking him up before it ran away. From his description, I had the impression that the rat did it purely for the fun of it. I firmly believe that bats also sometimes try to freak people out, just because it’s easy and fun to.

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  5. I’ll believe that of rats and cats, but not of bats.

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  6. I like the birds scolding one; I often think how glad the other birds must be of the swallows, because they are such vigilant scolders of birds of prey, and always see them first. Our dog has learned to understand blackbird language, when one of them is scolding about a cat in the garden she’s up and out to see it off!

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  7. Oh yes. There are certain species that appoint themselves to a guardian role. Here, the black-capped chickadees (a kind of tit) are a great one for that, and studies have shown than many other species of birds understand the vocubulary of chickadee warnings.

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  8. About the bats–it’s a long story–as humans have so many cultures within just one species, certainly bats also have many cultures within their many species. I’ve witnessed behavior that made sense to me as “scaring humans for fun,” but I will henceforth resist the urge to stereotype or paint all bats with the same brush.

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  9. “As patience to a predator, so is imagination to the prey. The field mouse that thinks, “It’s only rainâ€? won’t live to bear another litter.”

    Is that yours, Dave? A nice and pithy apothegm!

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