Elephants may be large, but they certainly aren’t known for being overly fierce. The common house cat, however, might just be one of the feistiest animals around. This late-night garden standoff in Thailand makes that point quite clear.
Tiny Cat Scares Off Huge Elephant
In Nakhon Nayok in Thailand, there is an infamous elephant named Pai Salick. Though he normally lives in the forest, he often comes into the town at night time in search of food. He is an incredible nuisance to the residents, as he has a habit of trodding all over people’s gardens. (1)
Recently, however, Pai strolled into the wrong garden.
The backyard he wandered into is the home of Simba, the three-year-old cat. According to Simba’s owner, the cat is rather aggressive and does not take kindly to other animals coming into his territory. (1)
The giant, four-ton elephant did not scare Simba one bit. Without hesitation, he ran right up to Pai, who was rather frightened by the tiny cat and left as quickly as he had arrived. (1)
Pai is one of approximately 2,000 wild Asian elephants who live in Thailand. Most of them live in national parks and forests, however, it is not entirely uncommon to see them in some residential areas. (1)
Though like Pai, they can be a nuisance to landowners, there is not very much people can do about it. It is illegal to kill an elephant, and if you do you are subject to up to a three-year prison sentence and 1,000 baht ($33 US). (2)
Asian Elephants are on the endangered species list, which is why there are strict guidelines in place to protect them. (3)
Are Elephants Actually Scared of Mice?
Seeing the photos of a tiny cat scaring off a massive elephant brings up the age-old theory that elephants are afraid of mice. Are elephants actually afraid of small animals like mice or cats?
There have been many myths surrounding this, such as elephants being afraid that the mice will run up the inside of their trunks. Elephant expert Richard Lair has spent 30 years researching large animals. He says that this is not true whatsoever, as an elephant would simply bow the mouse out if this happened.
In reality, elephants don’t have very good eyesight. Small animals that scurry or slither past them spook them. Cats, dogs, snakes, mice – all of them can startle and scare the animals, particularly if they can’t see them.
“Elephants get a bit nervous sometimes when small, fast animals are around them,” said researcher John Hutchinson from the structure and motion lab of the Royal Veterinary College in London. “I can remember one occasion when a local dog in Thailand was running around while we were working with an elephant for our locomotor studies. The elephant really did not like the barking, sprinting animal around it, especially when it couldn’t see where the dog was. The elephant panicked, running off into the nearby jungle.”
If the animals are calm and the elephant can see them, they are fine. They start scurrying around, however, and that’s another story. So are elephants just big scardey-cats? According to elephant researcher Josh Plotnik, no.
“the same is true for most animals,” he says.