Will heat burn your pet’s feet? It depends

Charlie Powell

Working as a public information officer for one of the world’s best and most prominent veterinary colleges comes with plenty of weirdness, too.

After last week’s column, occurring the same week as April Fools’ Day, I got a questionable email. The former column was about preventing cat waste in gardens. The email said the author was suffering depredation of his garden by monkeys. You read that right, monkeys.

I was just about to delete it, when I saw the name and decided to investigate further. The name showed up in a Google search as being a gentleman from India (Indian name) who also is a university professor and associate dean in Indore. He was formerly in the Department of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science. And while there are a lot of men with his name, his was the most likely.

The email came from a Gmail account which can be international as well. The city where he is located, does indeed have a monkey problem, too. So, if someone is trying to make a monkey out of me, they went to a lot of trouble to make it look legitimate.

I decided to answer the vegetable garden depredation by monkeys question straight up; so here goes.

First off, primates can be extremely dangerous to humans, especially when the issue is food. It is not uncommon for humans to suffer horrific injuries from monkeys and apes. Fortunately, we don’t have any in our service area, and I hope I can retire before any get here.

Second, every human with electricity and access to the internet has the keys to every library on Earth as well as the shared resources of humankind. In a paper titled, “Controlling the Monkey Menace,” the authors provide an excellent background on the issue and some practical ideas: bit.ly/3s6m0dA.

“The population of monkeys has grown at an alarming rate during the last decade,” write the authors. “According to the last count, there were 50 million monkeys in India, which has resulted in their migration from the forest areas towards towns and cities and also to the cultivated areas. Crops damaged by the monkeys are a matter of grave concern. Monkeys like a wide range of food, including roots, shoots, leaves, fruits, even grasses. The large tracts/chunk of agriculture land has been left barren due to huge armies of defiant monkeys.”

Okay, so what do people do? Some arm their field workers with sticks and packs of trained dogs. In America, we wouldn’t put up with a horde of defiant monkeys because we have more guns than we have people. Now elk depredation is another matter here, and still we eventually have to conduct controlled hunt culls.

I found lots of stuff online, like what people use around here. We hang used CDs in the trees to ward off birds, and we use applications of peppers and other nasty things to keep out rabbits. In the end, most hazing tactics break down pretty quickly, including things that make loud noises and turn on flashing lights. I wouldn’t even attempt such things with monkeys.

I wish I could make some of this up but here is another tactic. “A farmer in Karnataka found a unique way to protect his field by painting his dog as a tiger to scare away monkeys and claims no more monkey attacks in his field since monkeys are afraid of and avoid unfamiliar species.”If one turns to YouTube, you can find plans and instructions for monkey proof structures, too. Now the question remains, who is monkeying with whom?

Powell is the public information officer for the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which provides this column as a community service. For questions or concerns about animals you’d like to read about, email cpowell@vetmed.wsu.edu.

Recommended for you