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Laura on Life

Stampeding Wildlife
By Laura Snyder
Apr 17, 2012 - 6:17:53 AM

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"Mom, did you know that sea cucumbers come in herds of thousands?"

How I kept a straight face, I'll never know.

"Is that so?"

I was cool as a cucumber - of the vegetable variety - even though I was coming apart at the seams inside.

If it wasn't the most hilarious thing I'd ever heard, the visual I got was, by far, the most bizarre.

It makes sense, though, that a creature with the name of a vegetable that was so ugly it would freeze Medusa, would need to travel in herds for protection. I imagine all the other sea critters would tease them mercilessly.

Still... a herd? Of sea cucumbers? They couldn't possibly move fast enough to be considered a herd.

There were once huge herds of bison that covered the Midwest. They were dangerous when startled because they would stampede.

Does a sea cucumber become startled? Ever? And could a mass movement of sea cucumbers be considered a stampede? After all, they don't rampage as one unit in fear and anger as much as ooze languorously in one direction.

Who knows what might motivate a slug-like vegetable/animal to herd or stampede?

I have dust bunnies that live on my ceiling fans all winter that are motivated by turning the fan on high.

Those dust bunnies don't arrive in a herd as much as a horde. They fly down by the millions and wander around my carpet until they find a nice place to light.

Dust bunnies may come down in a horde, but after their descent, they are basically solitary creatures. One gobbles up another when they wander into each other's territory.

One day, after many years, I might look behind my sofa, under a bed or between my washer and dryer, and find dust bunnies that have lived with us so long they have developed a personality.

My daughter had seven of them living behind her dresser that she named Grumpy, Sneezy, Happy, Sleepy, Fuzzy, Sloppy and Spock. (She likes Star Trek... and naming dirt.) Now she has only six because Grumpy ate Sleepy.

Once they have a personality, though, it's immoral to vacuum them up. Much easier when they are just a speck. The question is: If I know they will eventually be full-fledged dust bunnies someday, should I really be vacuuming my specks?

I guess the answer would depend on whether you are a liberal or a conservative. Or whether you're in the business of cleaning houses or encouraging life in alien species.

Does PETA involve itself with dust bunny control or sea cucumber stampedes? I have some questions...

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website for more info.

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