As I mentioned before, I had a little trouble with the fieldwork in my Master Naturalist class because I was very empathetic toward the creatures we were studying. For me, going out in the woods to look for things is fun. Catching them by their wings and/or putting them into specimen jars, even temporarily, is not.
Case in point: our guide caught some very tiny oak toads and was holding them while talking to us. I know he was being gentle, but they were perched on top of his hands and held by one hind leg. They seemed pretty comfortable -- they weren't struggling or anything -- although I imagine they were scared from all the pairs of eyes focused on them, when their main defense is camouflage.
|Photo Credit: University of Florida|
While explaining things, our guide was gesturing with his hands. I immediately wondered how it felt to the toads to be zooming around in the air like that. First capture, then a rollercoaster! I certainly wasn't learning anything while focused on what they might be feeling.
To his credit, when I mentioned it, he immediately held his hands very still for the rest of the talk. I was relieved. I bet the toads were, too.
|Photo Credit: Eric Shashoua|
(This one is actually bigger than the ones we saw. They are often teeny tiny!)
After he put them down, I stood near them while the class walked away. Otherwise they might have been stepped on. Even among these students of nature, I don't think anyone else gave them much thought after he put them down. It was kind of, "Okay, we're through staring at you for our own reasons. What's next?"
It sure made me think about anthropocentrism.
I know it's just two little toads but still. Every life matters when I can do something about it.