In the Lowcountry, we sometimes find wild creatures in the strangest places.

I have been writing these nature articles for a couple of years now. It seems to make sense to now review some past articles and look for themes for future nature articles. Perhaps you, the reader can help.

I have written about dead trees, alligators, armadillos, opossums, raccoons, wood storks, snakes, and even feral cats. I could just as easily choose to write about bluebirds and hummingbirds. Or even the variety of herons that daily perch in the wax myrtle trees in my backyard.

Most people view bluebirds and hummingbirds as harmless. I have chosen to write about certain animals that many people often express concern about and want to have removed.

Upon moving here 13 years ago, one of our first conversations with others in the area was about wood storks. We were surprised and delighted to see such a magnificent bird here in South Carolina, as it is endangered and at one time could be found only in the Florida Everglades. Yet, some think they are dirty birds and, in particular, are concerned about their droppings when there is a rookery abutting their golf courses.

The armadillo is another wild animal that is oftentimes viewed with disdain. They do dig in our backyard looking for grubs. Some people believe that they can transmit leprosy. This is true only if you eat them. Otherwise, they are relatively harmless.

On a recent trip to the Pantanal in Brazil, one of the animals that people in our group loved to watch were the armadillos. By the way, the armadillos shared the land with the farmers – who liked having them around to aerate the soil and eat undesirable insects.

Recently an opossum crossed our patio with her four babies, called “joeys.” Rather than being a nuisance, they were a treat to watch. They help control harmful ticks, fleas, and other pesky insects. 

I have also tried to point out that all snakes serve an environmental purpose and even the venomous snakes are not harmful if we give them a respectful distance. Last week we spotted a snake, possibly a copperhead, and left it alone in our backyard. We later found that it became dinner for our local Great Blue Heron.

While it is true that some animals can pose a danger to our pets and families if we do not take reasonable and sensible precautions, we need to remember that most were here long before us. We do not have an influx or invasion of potentially harmful animals such as coyotes or alligators. We, homo sapiens, are usually the invasive species.

So, my continued theme of these articles has been, and will continue to be that many of us chose to live here because of the natural beauty. At the same time, there is a tendency for some of us to want to tame our environment. It is a continued difficult balance.

However, this is one person’s opinion. I would like to hear our readers’ thoughts about man vs. nature, pro and con.

John Riolo lives in Moss Creek and is past president of the Nature Club of Moss Creek. john.a.riolo@gmail.com