Warning Signs by SJ

By S. J. Brown

Warning signs are present in all our lives. Mothers warn their children all the time “I’m warning you”. When you see a dark black sky that is a warning sign that a storm is moving in. When I am traveling there are warning signs everywhere. A no left turn sign warns me not to turn left here, or I may get a ticket. Additional signs let me know when there is construction, bumps in the road, things might get icy or fall on me.

Road Sign

Now that warm weather has finally arrived more people will be venturing out to enjoy nature. The lives of wildlife are full of warning signs also. When our two worlds meet we need to be able to read the signs.

Most animals will warn an opponent before attacking. The way to stay safe in their territory is to know the warning signs and watch for them. The number one rule when you are out exploring nature is never, never, never get between a mother and her babies. Mama may not warn you to move on. Her first instinct is to protect her young.

Mama Bear

Even those who know little about wildlife know that when a rattle snake rattles its tail, this is a warning sign and you better back off .


Before embarking on a trip south I researched alligator behavior. An alligator will hiss and, or open their mouth as a warning sign. Of course when I was face to face with a large alligator I couldn’t remember their warning signs or how far an alligator can lung forward.


Deer will snort and stomp its foot to warn others of danger. They also raise their tail to signal other deer. Male deer known as Bucks will warn an opponent to back off by lowering their antlers in the opponents direction.


Before heading out to photograph some wild ponies I needed to know what to look for. I now know that it’s not good when their ears are tucked back. Many other animals share this behavioral trait, so watch for it.


Some animals will puff themselves up to make themselves appear larger to scare off an intruder. This is your first warning sign. Any animal that shows its teeth has little tolerance for you. It doesn’t matter if they are large or small those teeth are sharp and can cause a quite a bit of harm. So go out enjoy the great outdoors, pay attention to warning signs and come back safe. Thanks for stopping by to hear my thoughts on warning signs.

Have you ever been warned to back off, by an animal? What happened?

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17 thoughts on “Warning Signs by SJ

  1. Several years back I was covering a humane society social in SE North Carolina. The guest speaker was a dog handler who reviewed the ‘warning signs’ we should look for when face to face with a strange dog. Interesting talk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the information. I don’t go out as much as I used to, but there are still times. Additionally, I loved the photographs! Doris

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes there are warning signs about other people that I only am aware of through “gut feeling” but I’ve learned not to ignore them! And animals are great with reading warning signs of other animals or people. I think some people see warning signs as a challenge. Enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve not faced anything like an alligator, S. J. , but I am wary when in the company of an animal, especially one that’s wild. Knowing some useful signs, as you’ve given examples for, was something I was taught to watch out for as a teenage Girl Guide doing proficiency badges for the ‘Woodland’ series of achievements. I realise now that I only do the ‘watch and wait’ stuff because it was something taught welll during my formative years.


  5. S.J. how close were you to that snake? You looked too close to me. LoL. I Love your photos. Thanks for the warnings. I saw another pgoro you have pf a big black bear. You look too close to it too. Great post. Cher’ley


    1. The trick with snakes is they will strike at whatever is closest to them when they feel threatened. So I just keep the camera in front of me at all times. The hard part is trying to remember to press the shutter button if it strikes.

      The black bear was in the water. That gave me an edge. He had to get out of the water to approach me.
      Most of the time in the field I use a 300mm lens.


  6. Wow! S.J., your photographs are brilliant (and a little scary). I’m not sure how close you have to be to get to pictures, but I’m not sure it would be far enough away for me! Loved the post and the pics. I got pretty good at reading bull language whenever I went to my friend’s farm. The bull was fenced, of course, but was pretty placid until he wasn’t.


    1. When you don’t see in the alligator picture is there is a canal between me and the gator. That was our buffer. He felt safe as long as I was on the other side of the canal and so did I.


  7. Living near Yellowstone National Park for several years and traveling through the park on numerous occasions, I witnessed warning signs of buffalo, elk, moose, and bear. They are amazing to witness but need to be respected.


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