Weird Nature

13 Animals That Have Adapted To Thrive In Cities 

Jonathan Sherman
5.1k views 13 items

The number of humans continues to skyrocket across the globe; the human population is projected to grow to 8 billion by 2025. As cities grow to keep up, the other creatures that call this planet home have been forced to adapt, or risk extinction. Luckily, city wildlife seems more than up for the challenge.

Animals that live in the city have made some remarkable adjustments to their newfound environments. Raccoons, for instance, have seamlessly transitioned from eating nuts and insects to scavenging from dumpsters. Rats and pigeons have become synonymous with city living. And then there are peregrine falcons, who thrive amidst towering skyscrapers.

While perhaps not the most adorable creatures, these city dwelling animals have proven that cleverness, resourcefulness, and the ability to adapt reigns supreme in the urban jungle.

Rat is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 13 Animals That Have Adapted To Thrive In Cities
Photo: jans canon/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

Rat species have thrived amongst humans for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. But they aren't welcome cohabitants. New York City's rat problem only continues to grow, but recent studies show that it isn't the most rat-infested city in America - Los Angeles and Chicago claim a higher rat population.

Rats enter an estimated 21 million American homes each year, seeking warmth and food. According to Orkin, "Rodents depend on humans and their resources to survive, so unless residents and city officials take proactive steps to prevent rodents, infestations can easily get out of hand."

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Rock Pigeon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 13 Animals That Have Adapted To Thrive In Cities
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/GNU Free Documentation License

Often called "the rat of the sky," the pigeon has benefitted just as much from expanding cities as its rodent counterpart. The spread of human cities dramatically reduces the number of natural predators, and millions of people drop food on the street for pigeons to swoop down and eat. Additionally, city buildings serve as perfect breeding grounds. 

Pigeons are a mainstay in practically every city; the number of pigeons worldwide could be as high as 28 million.

Raccoon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 13 Animals That Have Adapted To Thrive In Cities
Photo: Triker-Sticks/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Raccoons are a perfect example of animals who have actually benefitted from the massive expansion of human urbanization across the globe. City life is so good for raccoons, in fact, that they may be evolving accordingly. Studies suggest that city-dwelling raccoons are smarter than their counterparts in the wilderness.

Suzanne MacDonald, a comparative psychologist who studies raccoon behavior, has found stunning differences between urban and rural raccoons. "Raccoons in the city are extraordinary, not only in their ability to approach things, but they have no fear, and they stick with it, they will spend hours trying to get food out of something," she said.

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Cockroach is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 13 Animals That Have Adapted To Thrive In Cities
Photo: nasrullahs/flickr/CC-BY-NC 2.0

Cockroaches and cities go hand in hand - or leg in leg. They're one of the most resilient animals on the planet, and known to infest urban areas. It's almost impossible to avoid roaches entirely, but staying out of the southern United States might be a good idea: of the top 10 American cities with the most reported cockroaches, nine are in the South. An estimated 41.1% of households in New Orleans reportedly have cockroach problems.

But that's not to say northern cities are roach-free. New York City is uniquely suited to cockroach life, as "there are vast structures underneath the city both for roaches and rodents."