How Does Radiation Affect Wild Animals?

We all know that radiation is bad for you- however, how does it actually affect wild animals, and what are the symptoms of radiation exposure? 

On a grander scale, how does radiation affect wild animals, insects, and nature herself? 

There are all types of radiation, affects, and so in today’s post we’re going to cover how exactly radiation affects wild animals and what you should know. 

Our video version of this post is really cool and has footage from Chernobyl! Check it out by clicking HERE

Feel free to download the audio-only podcast by pressing the download button above

Types of Radiation

First, not all types of radiation are harmful. In fact, you are exposed to certain kinds of “radiation” on a daily basis, or even use it for optimal benefit! 

The microwave is an example of radiation that you may use on a frequent basis. A specific wave form is shot into the microwave, warming it up. The radiation wave is… You guessed it: the microwave! 

There are also minimally-harmful types of radiation such as X-Rays. It is believed that this form of radiation is not that harmful to you, especially considering that people don’t receive X-Rays that often, and more importantly the benefit you get from having an X-Ray significantly outweighs any risk. 

Even if there was a bit more risk, it would be worth it to see what’s going on under the skin, so that you can fix the more pressing problem. 

There are all kinds of radiation, and we won’t go into all of the details in this post, as that would be a lengthy, scientific post on its own. If you’d like us to summarize it, feel free to respond and let us know to do so. 

Some types of radiation, such as the radiation released at the Chernobyl incident as well as the Fukushima incident, is directly harmful to all life. 

How Does “Bad” Radiation Affect Us? 

The bad forms of radiation are not good for your cells. Radiation has the potential to mess with the chemical bonds inside of your cells. 

For example, it can break down good processes, or even alter the processes and create new ones that are not productive for the organism. 

In many cases the radiation can destroy the DNA in an organism directly. This causes cells to malfunction, or for cells to “lose their identity.” For example, a cell may suddenly think that it should start growing rapidly, thus causing cancer. 

The most simple explanation of what DNA does is “cause alterations to organisms on a cellular level.” These alterations are almost never good, despite what some movies have depicted (ie. people gaining superpowers after being exposed to radiation). 

Physical Effects of Radiation

All kinds of symptoms can be experienced from radiation poisoning, and many of them mirror what a typical illness might do, making it harder to detect. 

Some symptoms include weakness, fatigue, fainting, hair loss, fever, dehydration, inflammation of exposed areas, bruising, bleeding, and at the worst, cancer or premature aging. 

As you can see, almost all of these symptoms are related to other illnesses caused by bacteria & viruses. 

What the radiation essentially does is break down cells which leads to malfunctions in the organism, causing the organism to get sick or become more susceptible to certain types of diseases. 

This is often what happens in aging as well, hence why you will see a lot of similarities between aging & radiation exposure. 

There is still more research that needs to be done as to the physical effects of radiation on an individual level. 

Some creatures have varying thresholds of radiation. This may be do to some creatures having more antioxidants that protect their DNA from being damaged so severely. 

Genetic Mutations from Radiation

Due to the genetic damage that radiation causes, organisms often experience increased rates & degrees of mutation that are significantly larger than what you’d normally expect. 

For the most part these mutations are NOT a good thing. It leads to animals being born with less advantages compared to other animals, causing them to die off sooner. 

Deformed creatures being born is normal in the Chernobyl area. 

Wildlife Effects of Radiation

As a whole, nature does NOT benefit from radiation! 

Some people may suggest that the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is good for animals because there are no humans to bother them, however studies have confirmed that overall there is less biodiversity, and less populations of animals. 

Damage from radiation is simply not a good thing for nature, wild animals, insects, or humans- it impacts everyone negatively, as far as we can see now! 

Nature has adapted in areas such as Chernobyl (we made a great video on this), however it is still not a net positive as a whole (some species such as the wolves are experiencing certain benefits, as they may be more resistant to radiation or not normally exposed to as much). 

Implications on Society

On a societal level, it’s extremely important that we manage our resources carefully when it comes to nuclear research & power, and even more important we avoid nuclear war. 

There are simply no benefits to anyone in the event of a disaster! 

While nuclear power can be an extremely productive form of producing energy, it’s also an extremely risky form of energy, as evidenced by the Chernobyl disasters, and other small-scale nuclear disasters. 

Nuclear war has proven to be devastating as well, as evidenced by the two bombs dropped in Japan during World War II. 

In short, radiation exposure is NOT good to anyone. It damages the natural processes that occur in cells and mutates the DNA in ways that are not good either. This causes less biodiversity, more suffering, and less good. 

Animal Adaptations

No matter what we do though, one thing is certain: nature will adapt. We have already observed this in Chernobyl- even if the benefits aren’t positive, life has found a way to carry on. 

Animals are quickly adapting to our urban environments (especially small rodents & insects that can evolve faster), and so they may be looking to infest your home! 

If you have a wildlife or pest related problems, please contact us at 855-WILDLIFE or visit so we can sort the problem out for you. 

We safely & responsibly remove the wild animals so that they can live peacefully in nature (and far away enough from you) and you can live peacefully in your home. 

Thanks for reading! 

-Wildlife x Team International 


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