Red in Tooth and Claw

Photo: Courtesy Jane Scrooby

Photo: Courtesy Jane Scrooby

The other day I was reading about nature being “red in tooth and claw.”  The meaning offered for the phrase was this: “A reference to the sometimes violent natural world, in which predatory animals unsentimentally cover their teeth and claws with the blood of their prey as they kill and devour them.”

I couldn’t help but think of how we simply separate ourselves from this phrase – only animals are “red in tooth and claw.” After all, we’re not part of nature; we’re somehow nobly above it.

At least nature’s red in tooth and claw flows out of its pure motive to survive. It kills only for what it needs for its survival. Only humankind kills for sport, greed, and other insatiable appetites. I wonder who is really red in tooth and claw? Who is it that really kills and devours covering tooth and claw in blood?

I must confess moments of deep frustration, even anguish, when I share the sentiments of Laurens Van Der Post:  “Should the last man vanish from the earth tomorrow, there is not a plant, bird or animal who would not breathe a sigh of relief.”


About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
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23 Responses to Red in Tooth and Claw

  1. kimleach says:

    How sad and true at the same time!


    • Don says:

      Thanks Kim. It is sad. I’m so conscious that there might be those who feel that my perception of humanity is far too demeaning. It’s not intended to be that way. It’s just that I believe our sense of importance has gotten all out of hand and our so called ruling over nature has turned in to something which has become deeply destructive. We’ve forgotten that we are part of nature and therefore what we do to her we actually do to ourselves. So you’re right, it is both sad and true. Thank you for your comment.


  2. ladyfi says:

    Sadly, you are right! Animals do it out of instinct and survival – while we don’t.

    And that shot – wow! It’s fabulous!


  3. But … human beings have the capacity to know! We are the ones who communicate, appreciate and revel in life. Thanks for the thought-provoking comments.


  4. Hudson Howl says:

    It’s obvious this very important and personal for you Don. And you have my attention with this.

    In Canada, in various communities people still hunt for food, still trap to make a living. Both activities are dwindling over the years . Even so called ‘recreational hunting’, a practice that makes me cringe, has eased considerably. Inuit and some first nations peoples still hunt and honour the hunt ceremonially -traditional Inuit hunters may eat the liver raw and warm -out of ‘respect’. I have to admit I used to hunt and own guns over thirty years ago. Then for a host reasons, my conscience prudently took over. I stopped, sold or destroyed my guns. You mention sense of importance. I would also like to add ‘sense of power’; a false sense at that. Man and am going say men for the most part, are weak an wuspy compared to that which is wild and free. It is time for man to man up, that should be the challenge for humanity from now on.

    Laurens Van Der Post’s quote -one thing I know, if armed with a walking stick I can get extremely close to animals, more so than with a gun. I think animals would be happy with a level playing field.


    • Don says:

      I so admire you “putting your guns away.” I sound as if I’m talking to an old gunfighter in the West. I really do admire that in you Hudson. Your so right – it certainly does have much to do with a sense of power which has gotten out of all proportion. I sincerely hope that the rise of the feminine will begin to change our view, if it hasn’t already started to do so. Thanks for your comment Hudson.

      That image of yours has constantly been on my mind – haunting.


  5. nrhatch says:

    I can’t think of any way that we’ve advanced the ball for the planet and its other inhabitants. If we’ve made our lives “better,” we’ve done so at the expense of everything else.

    The water, the air, the earth, the trees, the birds, the bees, and all manner of flora and fauna fared better before we arrived.

    From my (albeit limited) perspective, the world would be better off if mankind had never been . . .

    If the Universe wanted an audience to applaud creation, why didn’t it create a more appreciative audience?

    Excerpted from:


    • Don says:

      Nancy, you articulate everything I feel. For many it sounds so negative, but it’s true. I loved your post. I have to agree with you; the simplistic religious answers just don’t do it for me. In fact I would go so far as to say that they have been part of the problem. I just try to live with the mystery and express concretely what I feel. I don’t do it for any great reward that I may receive at the end of life. I just simply do it because deep down I believe and feel there is a oneness and union between all things, and furthering and enhancing the life of the part, and the whole, is what it’s all about. I think that’s enough for me and it’s about all I can cope with. But like you it doesn’t stop me from asking the questions, and I suppose that’s good. Appreciate your comment immensely.


      • nrhatch says:

        Well put, Don. The idea of reward and punishment for our actions here is a dangerous fairy tale ~ it keeps the masses from feeling that sense of union and oneness and communion with all that is.

        Instead they see the world as their dominion to conquer.


      • Don says:

        Thanks Nancy. Thought I’d just mention that I’ve found the work of Ken Wilber deeply relevant and so insightful in my own walk. His book, “A brief History of Everything” has been particularly helpful and wonderfully insightful – a beautiful cosmology.


    • Hudson Howl says:

      ‘From my perspective, the world would be better off if mankind had never been’ (hardly limited) -yup no doubt it would be, but if it were to happen it won’t matter to us, as we won’t be around to know the answer if it is better off. Guess were stuck in the scheme of things to attempt to figure it out or just ignore it as is the norm.


      • Don says:

        Yip! We’re part of it all and nothing will change that so we’ve just got to figure it out, as you say Hudson.. To ignore it would be to our peril.


  6. We do seem to be a blight to the planet much of the time…

    Blessings ~ Wendy


  7. Pingback: Tooth Of The Day… The Best Come Backs! – allaboutlemon-All Around, In, And Out Of My Own Universe

  8. Pingback: Tooth Of The Day – allaboutlemon-All Around, In, And Out Of My Own Universe

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