New York City Squirrels Live Just As Well -- If Not Better -- Than Their Country Counterparts
Urban squirrels have successfully adapted to ignore most New Yorkers, according a new study in the Journal of Zoology. Living in a busy metropolitan park, squirrels have learned to assess which humans pose threats. The key? Running away when approached and or looked at (solid advice for anyone who wants to survive in New York).
Australian researchers monitored squirrels in a park -- home to roughly 800 squirrels -- near Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan's lower east side. If humans who strolled by foraging animals stayed on a footpath, 95 percent of squirrels paid them no mind. But if passersby left the path, or worse, made eye contact, the squirrels were much more likely to flee.
"For a squirrel, the city provides a habitat with fewer predators than in the woods, and food tends to be available all year around," saysBill Bateman, a wildlife biologist at Australia's Curtin University. He points out, however, that traffic "remains the biggest killer for all urban wildlife."