(3rd in a series on predator patterning)
I've been using the example of horses and humans as a parallel to human to human relationships. Horses are prototypical prey animals. Humans appear to be predators to them until and unless the human stops acting like a predator. To understand what makes us seem like predators, we have to understand prey patterning.
So what characterizes prey patterning?
Prey behavior is that which avoids the pursuit, capture, killing and eating by predators. Most species are potential prey for another animal at least sometime during their lives.
Silence, Camouflage and Disguise
The first line of defense for many prey is to avoid being detected by the predator. Many prey minimize the noise they make and the resulting silence makes it more difficult for the predator to find them. Other prey reduce visual cues that the predator might use to locate them. They utilize camouflage coloration that blends their bodies into the background making it difficult for visual predators to find them. Many moths, common prey for birds, look like the bark of trees on which they rest during the day. Snowshoe hares have brown fur in the summer but white fur in the winter to blend with a snow covered environment. Many prey remain as still as possible when a predator approaches to avoid detection. When threatened, some prey make themselves appear larger to fool the predator into thinking that the prey is a more daunting kill. Some prey use disguises that make them appear to be a different, more menacing, animal.
Many prey animals have their eyes placed on the sides of their heads as opposed to the front of their head. This gives them more than 180 degrees in their line of sight and increases their ability to spot predators.
Flight / Speed
If spotted, many prey have a second line of defense: speedy flight. Many prey species are very fast runners, swimmers, or fliers, and often use their speed to flee a predator in hopes of escape.
Even if a prey is spotted and caught, or cornered, the result is often not a foregone conclusion. Many prey successfully deter a predatory attempt by fighting back. A healthy adult moose is able to use its hooves and antlers as lethal weapons against its predators.
Some animals have physical characteristics that make it difficult for a predator to get them into their mouth. Many fish and insects have spines that prevent a predatory fish or bird from being able to eat them. Some prey make themselves larger if threatened, again making it more difficult for the predator to ingest the prey.
Many prey use social behavior as a predatory defense. Most predators have to single out and focus on an individual in order to successfully capture a prey. Many species of fish and birds travel in groups. These schools and flocks often move very quickly in a highly synchronized fashion which is believed to make it difficult for the predators to single any individual out. The quick movement is confusing to them. In some cases, a group of prey is able to successfully fight off a predatory attack, whereas an individual prey probably would not be able to do this.
Some seldom fall prey to predators because they employ a final line of defense: toxicity. They are poisonous. Predators learn to avoid them.
Let's end with this: We are, all of us, prey. Spiritual prey, all of the time. Sin is one of our predators. It is "lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it's out to get you..." (The Message). Our predators are spiritual "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (King James Version) We can learn some lessons from prey patterning on how to avoid or fight against our predators, but we should also learn this: Ultimately, we need a savior.
"Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of fowlers, the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD who made heaven and earth." Psalm 124:6-8 (KJV)
More to follow! Peace, Kim
PS - An incredible example of predator/prey is shown in YouTube's 2007 Award Winner in the category of Eyewitness, called Battle at Kruger. Worth seeing. http://www.youtube.com/ytawards07winners