Whether or not we recognise it, we’re constantly surrounded by animals considered as pests. From the pigeon on the telephone wire outside to the ibis in the park near your office, or the line of ants grabbing some leftover crumbs in the kitchen, our everyday world is coloured by animals. Many such ‘inconvenient’ animals are considered as pests.

Even though there are many animals we consider pests I believe it’s possible to be inspired, even by these animals. You may need to squint and tilt your head a little – but I still believe it’s possible!

Let’s explore the world of ‘pests’

When you think about it, the concept of a pest is something that’s unwanted, an annoyance, or considered inconvenient by… us – humans. It’s our perception of the role an animal (or indeed any entity we consider a ‘pest’) has in our world. Our world, in this case, might be as small as our neighbourhood or even our home.

So what if we adjusted our perception, even just a little? We might discover some amazing things. Even some inspiring things.

Like the way in which some animals have been able to adapt, and even thrive, in urban environments. And the fact that many of these animals have had no choice, because of urbanisation and other challenges to their survival, to make the most of their situation.

They display some amazing behaviours

My challenge to you is to pry open a part of your perception to allow respect and appreciation – just a little – for unwanted guests.

While I was preparing and researching this post, I opened my eyes a bit more to the ‘pests’ I encounter in everyday situations. I noticed, while walking in my neighbourhood, pigeons taking flight. Have you ever noticed the ‘clapping’ sound pigeons make when they’re startled and take off quickly? It turns out this noise is designed to scare off predators and a result of them clapping the backs of their wings together as they take off. There’s a great video from BBC Earth Productions exploring the movement and the sound. They may be thought of as the “rats of the sky” but these birds actually have a place in our world and have adapted to their urban environment.

Isn’t that kind of amazing?

Speaking of adaptation…

The rapid expansion of human communities has left many animal populations reeling, and struggling for survival. Some, however, have developed adaptation techniques relatively quickly and taken advantage of new opportunities presented by human environments.

The ibis, whose natural habitat is interior wetlands which have been reduced by urbanisation, have not only survived but thrived. Unlike other animal groups affected by the same trends, the ibis moved to the coast. It turns out this suited them rather well. They’ve adopted scavenging behaviour and become reliant on bins and scraps for food, developing a fearlessness for humans along the way. This is why they’re considered pests – they hang around picnic areas and rubbish bins causing a nuisance – and why they’re scorned by many. But if you consider it from the bird’s point of view, isn’t it actually an incredible modification and evolution to sure up survival?

There are plenty of examples of animals adapting their behaviours – even their physical bodies – to survive in an increasingly humanised world. Ants, for example come in many shapes and sizes. In cities some species have adapted to eat junk food off the pavements in order to survive. We may take for granted that ants eat human leftovers – but when you think about it, this isn’t a natural behaviour. Ants have evolved to survive alongside humans in the urban environment. In New York City it’s been found that they even change their nesting behaviours, building larger colonies with more than one queen. Human society is forcing animals to adapt and evolve to survive in these new environments.

And then there’s this:

Together, the ants of the world weigh as much as all the people of the world.

National Geographic

And if the above examples don’t inspire you…

Here’s a video of a baby ibis following its mama around our picnic blanket crying for food. At first you might be forgiven for brushing it off as annoying. Look closer and you’ll see a little fluffy mohawk. Listen and you’ll hear a baby’s incessant cries for dinner.

 

Like I said – tilt your head and squint, and you may just be inspired by an animal you would otherwise consider a pest.

If you’re inspired by animals and would like to explore ways to align your everyday choices with your values, check out the free one-pager to help you do just that! You’ll also receive monthly inspiration from the animals around us, and tips to reduce your impact on their lives. 

 

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