By Mordechai Schmutter

Today’s topic is: “Safety Around Animals.”

Most of you are thinking, “I know how to be safe; I just avoid areas where there are animals. How about I just don’t go into the woods?”

The answer is that sometimes the animals come to you.

Take, for example, the recent headline: “Mouse Delays London-to-San Francisco Flight for Four Hours.”

These airlines will take any excuse for a delay, won’t they? Sure, there are a lot of nooks and crannies for it to hide in, but why can’t they just start the plane, put on the seatbelt sign, and do a barrel roll?

I guess because it doesn’t end there. Because first you have a mouse, and before you know it, there’s a snake looking for it. And then you have mongooses.

But the truth is, apparently, a plane is not allowed to take off with a mouse in tow. A mouse can singlehandedly take down a plane. We’ve all seen cartoons.

Actually, a mouse on a plane is a pretty big deal, because it could chew through the wiring. Technically, people can chew through the wiring, but that’s why they give us pretzels.

So you’re like, “Fine, there are animals on planes. Fortunately, I don’t have a plane.”

Well, take our next story, from May: “Florida Woman Finds Python While Doing Laundry.”

This is why I don’t do laundry.

The woman says she found the snake wrapped around a small blanket belonging to her pet rat. Yes, she has a pet rat. Or had a pet rat. Not only does she have a pet rat, it has blankets. But the snake was the weird thing. Personally, I think that if you’re going to own a rat, and you’re going to do its laundry, this is the kind of thing that comes with the territory.

Let the rat do its own laundry.

But see, this is the difference between different cities. In London, one mouse can stop a plane. In Florida, a woman is upset because her pet rat is being hunted by her neighbor’s snake. I’m just saying this in case you’re thinking about going to Florida. Rats are full-fledged citizens over there, and are given blankets, as well as the right to operate amusement parks.

And that’s not the only thing you can find doing laundry. Take the woman in Idaho who came down to her basement one evening in January to find a moose in the family room.

It turns out that the family had left their window unlocked, and the moose had leaned forward and fallen into the basement.

Safety Tip: This is why you need to lock all your windows before you go to bed: Moosen. (Mooses? Meese?)

So the Department of Fish and Game showed up and tried to coax it out. They said, “Don’t you want to come out of the basement?”

And the moose was like, “No. It’s warm in here.”

It also kept charging at the officers.

So after about an hour of doing this, they called in their dart guy, who shot the moose full of tranquilizer. This might not have been the best idea, because then they had an unconscious moose in the basement.

“Now what?”

They had to carry it up the stairs. It took eight officers to do this, grunting and groaning and generally making moose noises all the way, and also davening that it wouldn’t wake up in middle.

So even your own home isn’t safe. There are also countless stories of people opening the lid of their commode to find animals in there, which, if nothing else, tells us one thing: Closing the lid does not help. Except maybe to keep the animals out of the rest of the house.

For example, in February, a 4-year-old boy in Texas found a snake in his toilet, and he did the first thing he thought of: He tried to flush it. This didn’t work, so he called his mother, who killed it with gardening equipment.

Safety Tip: Always have gardening equipment handy. In the bathroom.

Even if you’re like, “OK, so if I want to avoid animals, I’ll stay out of my house,” that won’t help. Your car isn’t safe either. Take the March story of a woman in Florida who was surprised when a snake slithered out of her AC vent while she was driving.

I don’t know why she was surprised. It was Florida.

So the woman swerved across two lanes of traffic and pulled into a parking lot, where she jumped out of the car and slammed the door on the snake.

Safety Tip: Don’t point the air vent directly at yourself. Best case scenario, it’s a small snake and it comes flying out when you start the car.

And in June, another Florida woman crashed her car because a spider came down from the ceiling into her line of vision. So in a panic, she did the only thing she could think of: She swerved into a light pole. In fact, experts recommend that in that situation, you swerve the car, so that the string swings out of your line of vision and sticks to the window. Or you can do a barrel roll.

Of course, some people are like, “Don’t be scared of spiders. Spiders are our friends.” Yeah, well if you were driving and your friend dropped down on you from the ceiling, you’d swerve, too.

Case in point: take the story of a circus bus that was traveling from town to town in Russia. And everyone was on this bus — the clowns, the ringmaster, his accountant, and so on, plus a lot of the animals, including a seven-foot crocodile. And I bet you can guess what happened next.

Wrong. The accountant fell on it.

Really. The crocodile spent the next three hours throwing up, and ended up in the hospital. It was no picnic for the accountant either.

See, this is why you wear a seatbelt.

Safety Tip: Beware of falling accountants. They’re very heavy.

And even parking lots aren’t safe. In March, authorities were called to the parking lot of a Florida Wal-Mart after shoppers found a five-foot shark in a shopping cart, and if you think, “Yeah, but it’s Florida! And Wal-Mart!” bear in mind that this happened five miles from the nearest beach.

Point is, when you go to a store, you think you’re probably safe from sharks. I think this every time I go shopping.

Of course, the question is, “What’s a shark doing at Wal-Mart?”

Maybe it was coming to buy a toothbrush.

The shark was found by an employee collecting carts, who didn’t know what to do with it. This wasn’t covered in training.

Also, she didn’t want to just put it in the trash, because then the trash fills up, and you have to push it down with your foot, and she doesn’t get paid enough for this.

Authorities said they have no idea how it got there, but they’re wondering if it’s related to the 4-foot shark they had found in a driveway a few miles away earlier that day.

Safety Tip: If you go to Florida, bring an umbrella.

So you think, “OK, but I should be safe in crowds, right?” Wrong. In June, a 10-mile marathon in Colorado was interrupted when a bear came right out of the woods and started running in the race.

You’re running a marathon, you figure you’re safe, because, worse comes to worst, if an animal shows up, you’re already running. You only have to be faster than the people around you. But what if the bear is running, too?

I’m not going to begrudge a bear from running a marathon. But first of all, it ran out in the middle of the race, which is cheating. And it didn’t have a number on it, though I don’t know if it technically needed one, because it was the only bear.

This does not happen during the New York City marathon. Usually.

The bear didn’t win. The people in front of it got a sudden burst of adrenaline for some reason. But the runners behind it slowed down. As one runner said, “I’m not passing a bear.”

“On your left!”

I really don’t think the bear meant to disrupt the race. It was probably just living by the old rule, “If you see everyone running in one direction, you don’t ask why. You run, too.”

But people can defend themselves from animals. In May, a Pennsylvania man burned down his house trying to get rid of an opossum.

OK, he didn’t plan to set his house on fire. He lit a pile of leaves, and his house went up.

The man said he was trying to scare away an opossum, which is ridiculous. When an opossum is scared, he doesn’t run away. He plays dead. And then you have to look around and go, “Now what?”

I know the annoyance of trying to get rid of opossums. Because whenever I try to get rid of one, Animal Control says I have to get into a car with it and take it to the park. But when a moose falls into someone’s basement, they send eight men to carry it up the stairs.

“Pivot! Pivot! Why do I feel like no one else is lifting?”

And in my experience, the opossums keep coming home from the park. The only way to effectively deal with opossums is to destroy your house and start over.

This is also how I would deal with a snake in my toilet.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of five books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com.

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