Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time

While spending a week at a house on a lake I decided to do some "nature" reading. I picked up "Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time" by Richard Conniff. The book is subtitled "My Life doing Dumb Stuff with Animals." That is an understatement.

Conniff who writes for Smithsonian Magazine and National Geographic has won the National Magazine Award for his writing and it is not hard to see why. The book, which is actually a collection of short stories about his travels and adventures in the course of his job is just a fun read. Written in a style that makes you think you're sitting having a beer with the guy. Conniff takes you through the African bush and the U.S. doing, well, just dumb stuff with animals.

Think baiting piranhas and then swimming in the same water. Hiding in the bush trying to find the Yeti. Trying to watch a panther only to discover it is actually watching you - for a dinner treat. Going through termite mounds, being bitten by fire ants, stalking lions and so on through the animal kingdom.
It is not just the animals. You will meet people too. Justin Schmidt, who has developed something called the Schmidt Pain Index. This man actually gets bitten by things for a living. There are also field biologists who name their study animals after favorite beers and single malt whiskeys.
This book is an engaging read, easy on the brain and well written. The stories are interesting and sometimes you will find yourself laughing out loud and shaking your head. As a bonus you just might learn something about natural history.
 
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