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Other Animal Crashes

Deer and other large herbivores are a responsible for the majority of motorcycle/animal crashes, but by no means the only problem.

We like Hough's "Proficient Motorcycling" for its cogent treatment of either animal issues.

Dogs.

Dogs are carnivores, and act completely differently from deer.

Dogs can stray onto the road, and probably should be braked for in most cases, when in front of the bike. The strategy is similar to deer.

The most common problem with dogs seems to be in more rural areas, where god owners sometimes allow their animals to roam free. As predators, some dogs have an instinct to chase motorcycles. They are pretty good at estimating the closing speed of a bike, similar to fleeing prey. Hough recommends variations in speed to confuse the dog's closing speed calculations. Perhaps slow down a bit, let the dog fixate on you as a target, then speed up enough so the dog misses you. If the dog is really close, maybe just speed up.

In the case of a persistent bike-chasing dog, the god will eventually figure out the slow-down, speed-up routine and get you. Best bet there is to locate the dog owner and discuss the problem, requesting the dog be restrained. If an owner refuses to be reasonable, it might be possible to talk to the local animal control officer and have the issue sorted.

Other large carnivores.

I've seen panther signs in Florida, and there are mountain lions out West, and bears of varying ferociousness in many states. You don't often hear of bikers coming foul of these animals, but, as carnivores, a similar strategy to dogs might work. Most critters try to avoid humans, but give these guys a wide berth if you can.

Reptiles.

You sometimes see alligators on the road in the South and Florida. These guys are really quick. Stop if you can, and if you have to swerve around them, try to go to the tail side if you can. Again, slow down if you see alligators or signs, or dead gators by the roadside. They are carnivores and can move very fast, so avoid the sharp end if possible.

ET was once riding in a group led by a biker named Clone, in north Mississippi. Clone saw what he thought was a dead copperhead snake on the road, to his right, and, in the customary manner pointed the hazard with his right foot when passing.

The snake wasn't dead, and it struck at his boot, then skittered along the road passing close by the other two riders in the group. The boot protected Clone's foot and Clone was uninjured.

The moral of that story is don't assume snakes are dead. They can strike at you as you pass, but boots are good protection. It might be a good idea to swerve around snakes if you can, and if you can choose the tail end to swerve towards, so much the better. If you think a snake might strike, remember that they are predators, so the dog strategy of slowing down and speeding up to put the animal off its aim might work.

Large Farm Animals.

In certain parts of the country, on small rural roads in cattle country, you might see things like cattle guards in the road or at side roads. You might also see cattle, sheep or other animals grazing freely and no fence between the road and the grazing land. You might even see dead animals by the road.

As herbivores, if they get on the road, they might act like deer, suggesting the deer strategy of observation, slowing down, covering the brakes in preparation for an emergency stop, and wearing all the protective gear you have with you.

Be prepared to meet a herd of sheep or cows being moved along the roadway. The drovers will generally let vehicles by, but be patient and let them do their thing. Sheep will take you down if you get among them.

Insects, venomous spiders and scorpions.

There's nothing worse than getting a stinging insect under your visor or inside your jacket, but the major hassle from critters like this, while you are actually riding, is keeping your eye protection clear. Another good time to cover up and get the eye protection straight.

Crustaceans

Land crabs swarm in South Florida in the spring, as part of their breeding cycle. We've seen them completely close sections of US1 near Fort Lauderdale, tens of thousands of the critters completely covering hundreds of feet of the roadway. if you don't expect it, it's an amazing sight.

We've seen cars try to drive across the crab mass, and they generally get a few feet before all four tires go flat.

If you encounter swarming land crabs, figure out another route around them. They'll be there for a long time.

Small Critters.

Small animals, like squirrels, cats, rabbits, rodents etc. sometimes dart across the road. They usually move very fast and don't give you much reaction time. The conventional wisdom for small critters of 5 lbs or less is just to ride right over them. Swerving is problematic, as they move fast and can change direction unpredictably, and you'll probably be very close before you see them.

If you have religious scruples about killing critters, best bet would be to treat them like deer, i.e. try to emergency-stop.

There's usually no good way of predicting when small critters are around, unless you see others around. If you see a lot of squirrels, for instance, you might want to slow down and be extra vigilant. Same might be true of prairie dogs and the like.

Birds

riders occasionally hit birds. There's no warning, no way to avoid them, and wearing good gear might be the best counter-measure. Probably just forget about birds. Diminishing returns have set in, time to stop...