Thursday, June 8, 2017

New York Animal Mysteriously Dropped From Wildlife List


There's a new public awareness campaign in NYC - WILDLIFE NYC

Raccoons
Red-tail Hawks
Deer
Coyotes
Piping Plovers
        Piping Plovers!!! for pete's sake.

What's not to LOVE about the WildlifeNYC campaign sponsored by Department of Parks and Recreation -  to increase public awareness about the wildlife all around us in the city. Feel good photos, hyper-anthropomorphized descriptions of New Yorkers with fur and feathers.   
But what isn't part of the campaigns is so obvious. 
Specimen #1- the New Yorker known as the raccoon- the campaign presents raccoons as adorable, inventive, lil' rascals.  
Ha? I grew up in NY and raccoons have always been demonized. Public health officials have done quite a job in scaring us away for generations. Raccoons, one of the top three carriers of rabies in the state of New York! (More about this in a future post).

Specimen #2 -total silence about the most ubiquitous species of wildlife in NYC!  We're mystified how the campaign can neglect the most populous species of urban wildlife. So, just putting it out there. 
-----------------------

Introduction

Describe New Yorkers 
Numbered in the millions? Always on the move? Resourceful. Good in crowds and used to tight spots.  How about  - highly adaptable and determined to withstand whatever the city dishes out?  Real estate junkies - housing is always on their minds and they grow very attached to their neighborhoods. And let’s not forget - lovers of nightlife, the outdoor café scene.  

Well that certainly does describe New York City brown and black rats to a t.  One of New York’s species of wildlife!


Background
Talk about "give us your tired and poor..." NYC rats are immigrants extraordinaire! Experts believe that NYC's rats migrated from northern China. And they have travelled the world.  Except for Antarctica, these rats dominate the rat populations in Europe and North America.  It’s no surprise that our very own NYC rats are often called the most successful mammals on the planet!!   (Thank you Encyclopedia of Life  http://eol.org/pages/328448/details).


Appearance
They make cute babies. 




Full gown they are brown or grey with a body up to 10 inches long.  Their hairless tails can be that long too. Males weigh about 12 oz and females a bit less 9 oz.  


Behavior
Like so many of us, NYC rats are creatures of habit.  They stay close to their birthplace all of their lives and travel familiar paths as they make their way 'round town.  They can squeeze through holes or gaps the size of a quarter.  How do these remarkable animals do that? Evolution has made sure that their skulls are not plated together so their skull bones can easily move - perfect to squeeze through the city's tight spaces. 

They're super jumpers - they can leap about 4 ft.  And always handy in a city of tall buildings, they can fall five floors, get up dust themselves off and get on with things.  Great swimmers - they can tread water for days.   
Oh, and rats don't really practice birth control.  (Thanks Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rats_in_New_York_City#Habits)

To close let's point out, like so many New Yorkers, these rats are  always on the lookout for great food.