Animals and The Urban

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Creation Date April 5th, 2021
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  1. We meet some friendly otters in Singapore, go on a night out with some Spanish bats and board a plane via JFK’s new animal terminal, the Ark. Plus: falcon-spotting in London with the ‘grandmother of peregrines’.
  2. This week we're going to learn about some animals that have made their homes in cities alongside humans. Thanks to Corianne who suggested this amazing topic! Further reading: The BBC's Urban Fox FAQ Toronto vs. Raccoons The urban fox has a favorite coffee shop and knows where to find parking downtown: The urban raccoon's apartment is really small but it's in a great location: The urban (rock) pigeon can walk to work in good weather: Show transcript: Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw. This week we’re going to look at animals that live in cities. This is a great suggestion by Corianne, who especially suggested the pigeon. But pigeons aren’t the only animals that live in cities alongside people. In fact, in 2018 a large-scale camera trap study of animals in Washington DC and Raleigh, NC concluded that just as many mammal species live in cities as live in the countryside. That’s only mammals, though. There aren’t as many species of other animals in cities. Different animals hang out in cities in different parts of the world. In parts of Africa and Asia, local monkeys have moved into cities and cause mischief by stealing food from markets and tourists. Gulls are also thieves of food, sometimes getting so bold as to snatch a sandwich from a person’s hands while they’re eating it, even in cities nowhere near the ocean. City parks attract squirrels and deer, decorative fountains and ponds attract geese and ducks as well as alligators, peregrine falcons move in to feast on pigeons, rats, and other small animals, and some cities have to deal with the occasional bear or leopard, wild boars, even penguins. But today we’re going to focus on three really common city dwellers, both because they’re interesting and because there are so many misconceptions out there about them. We’ll start with urban foxes. We talked about foxes in episode 106, but while urban foxes are plain old red foxes and not a separate species or subspecies, they’ve adapted to city life easily since they’re omnivores and agile animals that can climb obstacles like fences. Many cities throughout the world have urban foxes, but they’re especially common in the UK. They eat out of trash cans for some of their diet, but they also hunt rats and other small animals that live in cities too, along with earthworms, insects, and even plants. They especially like fruit and acorns. When a fox finds some food, it will often run off with it and bury it somewhere, then come back later to eat it. Because an urban fox doesn’t have to worry about predators as much as ordinary countryside foxes do, it can grow larger on average than its country cousins. But it’s also in more danger of being hit by cars or infected with diseases common to dogs and other canids, like mange and distemper. Urban foxes have a bad reputation for biting, attacking pets, and in general being a nuisance. But the fox is just being a fox and doing the best it can. In many parts of the world, the red fox’s natural habitat is fragmented more every year as cities grow larger and farmland and woodland is turned into houses. Besides, foxes have been reported in cities for a long time—over a century in London, England, where foxes are relatively common. They especially like areas with parks, or where people have gardens or lawns. The biggest problem with urban foxes is people who treat them like they’re dogs. They’re wild animals, so while it’s okay to leave food out for them, don’t try to touch one or get too close to it. Foxes who get too used to people can become aggressive. Foxes usually don’t bother animals as large as cats, either, and they avoid dogs, but don’t leave small pets like guinea pigs or rabbits outside, especially at night, because that is just asking for trouble. The urban fox doesn’t always live only in the city, though. One fox, nicknamed Fleet, was tagged by researchers in 2014 and tracked to see where he spent hi...
  3. What should you do if you encounter an aggressive animal –either at home or out in the wild? Kojo discusses with local animal experts.
  4. Pigeons, bats, dogs and cats; cities aren't just for people and an exhibition in Sydney explores the idea that the city is shared by animals too.
  5. Die New Yorker sind Tiernarren. Viele haben Hunde, können sich tagsüber aber nicht um sie kümmern und vertrauen ihre Vierbeiner professionellen Dogwalkern an. Vor allem Musiker und Kreative verdienen ihr Geld mit Gassi gehen.
  6. Zoologist Liza Lehrer from the Urban Wildlife Institute joins us to talk about wild animals living in cities. Turns out many species are our neighbors! Listen in to discover how you can help animals have a good life in the city.  Grab the show notes at sidewalkclub.com/articles/wild-animals-cities-podcast

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