Discussion about the film Over the hedge. Released in 2006. Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick and Tim Johnson.

This episode’s guests are Environmental Educators: Ayesha and Lauren.

You may want to watch the film before listening and think about these questions:

  • What type of food does the movie focus on?
  • What might happen to these animals in the next year?

What the film did well

Highlighted the importance of eating and gathering food stores for animals which hibernate.

Highlighted the problem of habitat loss due to demands for space by humans

Human attitudes towards wildlife – Many of the humans were afraid of the animals despite not even knowing what they are.

What did the film miss the mark on?

Food

Aside from one mention of junk food, human food is depicted as better or more desirable than food animals would find in the wild. It ignores the potential for severe health impacts of feeding human foods to wildlife.

Constantly being fed bread can lead to malnutrition in ducks if their diet is not varied enough. Unwanted bread can also rot in ponds and waterways, leading to dangerous algal and bacterial blooms. Yeasts can also affect birds feathers, turning them red/pink/brown and affecting their waterproofing. It is safer to feed ducks and geese wheat grain or chopped lettuce, which is closer to their natural diet.

Jumbo the elephant is an extreme example of the problems that eating food meant for humans can cause in animals. Visitors to the zoo could buy cakes to feed Jumbo, but the diet of soft foods meant his teeth did not wear down enough and probably led to constant painful impacted teeth.

Urban habitats can provide some animals with lots of food. Garden flowers can provide pollen and nectar for more of the year, giving insects a food boost early and late in the year when native flowers may not be in bloom.

Habitat loss and fragmentation

The movie never really dealt with the long term consequences of having a much smaller habitat, habitat loss. They ended the film with the squirrel’s saved acorns, but what will happen to the animals once those are gone?

The forest is also now cut off from other forests, habitat fragmentation. It will be much more difficult for animals to move to new locations. What will be the long term consequences of being cut off from other turtles, porcupines, or opossums?

Send us your thoughts on the film to: knowingnaturepodcast@gmail.com

Tweet us @kn_podcast

Intro/Outro music: Selfish by Derek Clegg. Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 US License

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