These Wild Animals Are Taking Over New York City


Photo: Flickr/garyburke

Walking down New York City’s urban streets, the only animals we notice are the people. Sometimes we’ll get a glimpse of a rat, mouse or pigeon.But the urban world around you is also teeming with other wildlife, according to evolutionary biologist Jason Munshi-South, who discussed urban evolution and the wild beasts that live in New York City at this month’s Secret Science Club.

See New York’s urban wildlife >
In order to monitor what species are living in the area, motion sensor infrared cameras were set up in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx over a three month period. These cameras captured coyotes, squirrels, raccoons, and more.

While some species are rarer, or even suffered local extinctions, some species are adapting and surviving under these urban pressures. Click through the slides to see the animals that are all around us.

You may notice rats are not mentioned in the slideshow and that’s because they are abundant, vicious, and smell bad so Munshi-South avoids them like the plague. He’s also done a ton of research into the mice of the city, and how they’ve adapted to city life genetically.

Squirrels are so abundant, they make up 70 to 80 per cent of all the pictures taken by Munshi-South's motion sensor cameras.

Rabbits are common and were also captured often on the motion sensor camera.

Coyotes are becoming increasingly abundant. These coyotes are larger than ones from the West Coast. Researchers believe this is because they mated with wolves in Canada while migrating here.

The white-footed mouse is one of the most abundant species in NYC.

Red Foxes love hanging around the city, and are extremely cute, but don't try and pet one.

Red Salamanders are common amphibians in NYC.

Dusky Salamanders from one side of a bridge were genetically compared with those from the other side of the same bridge. These close populations had a big difference in genetic make-up since the two populations couldn't interbreed.

Spotted Salamanders are less common than other species of salamanders, but can still be found around the city.

The raccoon population has become more abundant since we have been dosing them with rabies vaccines. The vaccine was necessary after a rabies outbreak severely decreased their population.

Skunks have recently seen an increase in population, Munshi-South said.

These cute Meadow Voles have patchy populations, but are still fairly common.

Short-tailed Shrew are hard to capture because the food they like to eat is snapped up quickly by other creatures. Still, based on what the researchers are seeing, they are thought to be common.

Last month's Secret Science Club explored a different part of the world.

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