How Animals Adapt to Cities
For the entirety of existence wildlife has thrived in nature without our modern cities.
The sudden expansion of humanity has certainly done a number on many wild creatures, and it’s completely changing the ecosystem of Earth itself!
While some animals have suffered as a result of human expansion, other creatures have adapted rapidly to urban environments, and new species have in fact emerged as a result of our urban cities.
The video version of this post has some fascinating footage, which you can watch HERE.
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Anyways, some insects have rapidly developed into entirely new species as a result of our modern cities.
One type of insect nicknamed the London Underground Mosquito has distinct differences from other mosquitoes.
These mosquitoes have evolved to thrive inside of London’s underground metro systems, whereas other mosquitoes are more adapted for life on the outside.
Many other animals are adapting to urban life in fascinating ways that scientists could not have predicted.
Take the raccoon for example. Outside in nature they are more exposed, more prone to illness or death, and more likely to die. Our urban environments provide them with food + shelter, helping them to thrive.
A recent study done on raccoons also proved that urban raccoons were significantly more intelligent than raccoons found naturally in nature. We have made other content about this- our cities are effectively training grounds for increasing intelligence in many types of wild creatures!
Raccoons, skunks, rats, mice, possums, dogs, and cats have all adapted to our urban environments because of their increasing intelligence, ability to shrink into small places, and increased shelter they get.
But even birds are benefiting quite a bit.
One species of birds nicknamed the “Crows of Sendai” in Japan have adapted in a fascinating way.
The crows typically grab walnuts and drop them from a high height in order to break it open to eat it. The Crows in the Japanese city of Sendai have discovered it’s much more efficient to place the walnuts in front of slowly moving vehicles to let the tires crush the walnet.
These crows can now be observed grabbing walnuts and placing them on the roads for our cars to break so that they can eat them!
Insects adapt quite quickly to our urban environments. One study estimated that on New York’s Broadway ants may eat an estimated 2,100 pounds or 544 kilograms of food found on the ground per year- this is the equivalent of 60,000 hot dogs!
So why is it that some creatures are able to adapt quickly to our urban environments while others aren’t?
One theory is that many of these creatures- especially the insects- have shorter birth/death cycles, making mutations & diversity more likely to happen quickly.
The lifespan of other wild animals can be much longer (for example on humans we have an average of one new generation every 20 years). The longer the lifespan and slower the new generations come about, the less likely we’ll be to see change quickly.
Insects are especially fairing well in our urban environments, which is likely due to the fact that they reproduce and die rather quickly. Insects that are not capable of handling our new urban cities will die quickly, whereas those that can adapt will reproduce quickly, creating more variants that are more likely to be adapted to the city.
The same is true of other small rodents. Raccoons get a new generation every 1-2 years, and urban raccoons are more likely to survive if they are smarter + kinder to humans, so they are evolving in that way as non-smart and aggressive animals start to die off.
We can’t say for sure what will happen in the coming years, but one thing is certain: wild animals, insects, and even plants are rapidly adapting to our cities and leveraging our inefficiencies (such as food waste) in order to thrive.
Note that we aren’t saying this is a good or bad thing. This is just what is happening, and we should still make sure to preserve natural areas and biodiversity.
All that being said, wild animals are getting smarter and smarter, and because of this intelligence they are infesting people’s homes with ever-increasing frequency!
If you think that you have a wildlife or pest problem, Wildlife x Team International specializes in safe & responsible removal of wild animals + pest.
Call us at 855-WILDLIFE or visit www.wildlifexteam.com if you think you have a wildlife or pest problem!
Thanks for reading!
-Wildlife x Team International