Have you ever come across a skunk and been unsure how to avoid getting sprayed? Or perhaps you've found yourself far too close to a black bear or an unruly deer in suburbia, where you least expect to run into something so wild.
As author Rachel Levin points out: "What we, as humans, are supposed to do when we encounter an animal depends on which animal it is. There are recommended ways to respond in every situation. It's just so hard to keep it all straight: Look big! Look small! Run. Don't run! Fight back. Play dead! Wait, no, don't play dead. Spray Tabasco sauce. Sprinkle baby powder. Pay $800 to a "salon" called Hair Fairies (no, don't — that's ridiculous)."
And that's the point — we all want the non-ridiculous answers that will ease our way through an increasingly likely wild encounter.
Levin walks us through what to do if we run into just about any animal — from bats to boars, from a coyote to a cockroach, from mice to porcupines. In "Look Big: And other tips for surviving animal encounters of all kinds," Levin takes a fun-filled, practical approach to dealing with all kinds of critters.
With just a page or two per animal, this book gives you only what you need to know — plus some intriguing information you didn't know you wanted to know — about 50 species of wild animals. Some you may never run into (like wolves and whales) while others are probably living in your house right now. In quick, bite-sized (no pun intended!) chunks of info, you learn about the species, its habits and habitat, how to recognize it by sound, and of course, how to keep some much-wanted distance between you and it.
For instance, raccoons are surprisingly big, bold, and pesky when prowling for food on your front porch — or worse, inside your home. When a raccoon raids your kitchen, Levin tells us:
"If you panic, the raccoon panics. And that makes things worse. So keep calm and help the raccoons move on. Open windows. Make a trail of marshmallows, cheese, Fig Newtons (apparently they're big fans) to try to lead the rascal outside, banging a broom behind it. Never try to trap one yourself — call animal control. These guys can get aggressive, especially if they've had babies and made your house their home."
It's a wonderful read for spring and summer, when animal encounters are more likely to happen because more people are out on hiking trails and more suburban and urban animals are raising families in attics and under backyard decks.
Beyond being a simple and speedy reference book, the gorgeous and often humorous illustrations from Jeff Östberg make this fun to flip through, too. It also features real-life encounter stories from popular writers including food writer Samin Nosrat and novelist Peter Orner. You'll likely find yourself spending more time than you expected learning how to look big.