Big City Safari

If you don’t already know I have a huge love for animals, you must have been living in a cave!  Every time I step out my front door, I’m always on the lookout for a new furry friend (or two), but living in a city sometimes makes it hard to come across anything more wild than a pigeon picking at leftover food or an ant scurrying across the pavement at your feet.

So I had to share this post with you, in conjunction with Holiday Lettings, who have come up with a way to spot some fascinating wildlife without taking you out of the city.

If you’re interested in wildlife, but shudder at the thought of long flights and hot treks, rest assured that there are easier ways to glimpse unusual animals. Most major towns and cities are home to many interesting – and often unexpected – creatures, brought there by trade, travel and natural migration.

The Big Apple is no exception. This city has been host to lost whales, runaway peacocks and rampaging goats. Plenty more peaceful and elusive animals reside there too. You just need to know where to look.

So choose shades over tropical hats, swap your water bottle for a macchiato and follow Holiday Lettings to comb pavements and parks in search of some seriously special New Yorkers.


Coyotes are regularly sighted north of the city, but they’re sometimes known to explore more densely populated areas. Shy and elusive, they keep to themselves and are hard to spot. However, researchers using remote-controlled cameras have recorded them in Central Park, as well as near Columbia University.

Coyotes have spread and settled quickly across many parts of the US, including in large towns. With a diet ranging from beetles and berries to garbage and squirrels, cities provide veritable smorgasbords.

A little caution is advised: coyotes are large and territorial, and while they rarely cause trouble for human beings, we recommend admiring them from a safe distance.



These small, graceful falcons have been spotted on the MetLife building, the New York Hospital, and the George Washington Bridge. Birdwatchers can venture to the upper floors of the Empire State Building, which offers front row seats for seeing the peregrine in action.

But you need to look alive if you hope to spot these birds: peregrines are quite fast, the way Long Island Iced Teas are pretty strong and Times Square is rather bright. Clocking speeds around 200 miles per hour – as fast as a Lamborghini Diablo 6 flooring it – these feathered rockets hold the record as the fastest animals on the planet.



Small, shy and nocturnal, these marsupials were brought to New York City decades ago in the hope of curbing the rat population. They weren’t expected to have babies, but they did – lots of them. Currently found across the whole town, they give park wardens headaches and upset evening revellers.

With an appetite to match a starved dockworker, and a diet that puts goats to shame, possums target rubbish as well as small wildlife. They’re harmless to humans – but you might want to keep an eye on your snacks.


Harbor Seals

Harbor seals have lived on the shores of Staten Island for a long time. Once a common sight, they have given their name to Robbins Reef, located in the northern part of the island (‘robyn’ is Dutch for seal).

They are still seen here, often on the island’s eastern beaches or, more rarely, sunbathing in marinas. Given that they’re nautical heavyweights and can grow as tall as an adult human, they’re pretty easy to spot.


The Northern Dusky Salamander

Despite its Game of Thrones-sounding name, the northern dusky salamander is gentle, elusive and small enough to sit in your hand. They prefer to hide under logs or rocks until nightfall, when they venture out in search of food. Crevices near streams or waterfalls are their favourite hiding places.

Spotting one requires luck and patience: once widespread, these nimble amphibians have now become a rare sight. Many species of salamanders in New York City are threatened, and work is being done to protect and grow the population.


Red-Eared Slider Turtles

These semiaquatic turtles are easily recognisable by a tiny red dash around their ears. They’re called ‘sliders’ because of their knack for quickly sliding off rocks into water, and they’re often seen relaxing on warm stones or showing off their superb swimming skills.

Red-eared slider turtles have muscled into the territories of other pond-dwellers and can be found in several locations around the city. Many have been turned loose by their owners; cheap and pretty, they make for attractive pets – but with an average adult length of 10–20 centimetres, they quickly outgrow small terrariums.


Have you come across any interesting wildlife in a big city?  Holiday Lettings and me would love to hear about it! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Big City Safari

  1. thegrownupgapyear says:

    Aw, so cute! Other than foxes, don’t know if I’ve seen much wildlife in a big city but I did see loads of lovely seals not far from my hometown the other day – first time I’ve ever seen them in the wild!

    • Ayla says:

      Same, I haven’t really seen much around London so I’ll be keeping my eye out more from now on. Although the UK is pretty unexotic so I’d not sure I’d spot much! Oh wow I didn’t realise there were wild seals around the UK. That’s a great spot!

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