Strange Urban Animal Infestations, a History

Miami and house-eating snails, Seattle against a band of coyotes, and more stories of urban outbreaks.

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Reuters

Sometimes, the natural world and the urban environment collide. Take Beijing, for example. The city is battling an out-of-control feral cat problem. As contributor Debra Bruno writes:

Somewhere between 500,000 and 5 million feral cats are skulking through its courtyard houses, construction sites, and gated apartment complexes, braving the city’s bitter cold winters and raging traffic. Their lives are nasty, brutish, and short.

And in a densely populated city like Beijing, the rise in the number of feral cat colonies is not especially welcome. The cats’ nighttime howls keep people awake. They smell. They prey on the Asian magpie and the Siberian weasel, sometimes known as the "hutong weasel," a ferret-like creature that looks a little like a cute red panda. The cats tend to prefer a perch on the BMWs of the city’s nouveau riche.

Beijing isn't alone. Across the world, cities have struggled with feral hogs, house-eating snails, even lions. Below, a look at some of the stranger urban pest problems from recent and not-so-recent history, and how municipalities have dealt with them:

Photo credit: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters

About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.