It’s a tough life for a city-dwelling animal, especially as new developments drive natural wildlife further and further from their homes. So these days it seems like any regular old Joe Schmo can find himself at the mercy of an angry raccoon, coyote or skunk at the end of the driveway, making the city (and suburbs) a dangerous place indeed.
Rachel Levin gets it. In her new book Look Big, she breaks down how North Americans can handle attacks from 50 different animals common to the continent, tackling everything from sharks and bears to bobcats and rats.
While we’re hoping not to have a wild run-in with a bear anytime soon, here are 10 random animals that may be “on the prowl” in a catwalk near you, and how experts advise you can survive them.
This one is predominantly for dog owners, since skunks only really spray when they’re startled. A barking dog is sure to do that. Avoid skunks by walking the pooch before it gets dark or stick to well-lit areas. But if you do run into one of these creatures, just calmly walk away. You’ll know when they’re planning to spray (it will raise its tail and start stomping), but move quietly–making a loud noise or coming across as threatening is a surefire way to set it off.
If you’ve got coyotes in your neighbourhood, first and foremost don’t feed them. That’s a guarantee they’ll come back, where they’ll get used to human interaction and probably use your pet as a snack. And if you do come across one that looks particularly aggressive, don’t run away or back down. Instead throw something at it, yell and wave your arms.
Bees, Wasps and Hornets
We all know someone who loses their jacket when they’re confronted by one of these flying stingers, but really there’s no need to overreact when these insects buzz on by. Most will only attack when provoked, which happens easily when you swipe at them, wave your hands or do the equivalent of the chicken dance when they appear. Instead stay calm and don’t pull out any sudden movements.
Rats have a bad rep, what with their history of spreading disease and those gross, long tails. They’re also quite unwelcome when they take up residence in your home. The good news is that if you do have rats they aren’t very likely to nibble on you in your sleep unless you’ve got food smeared on you. So do the wise thing and wash your face before bed, and invest in a good trap or two.
These bandits are definitely used to human interaction, which unfortunately also makes them prone to attack when startled or threatened. If you do find yourself facing a particularly angry raccoon, stand up as tall as you can, shout and wave your arms. If things escalate throw water or stones at it and hope for the best.
Wild turkeys may be tired of serving as Thanksgiving fare, because they’ve been known to attack humans they feel are subordinate to them. So how do you avoid these pesky beakers if you do come across an angry rafter of them? Don’t let them intimidate you, above all else. Make loud noises, take a broom to them or spray them with a hose. And be sure to have a friend capture it all on film wherever possible… for our sake.
These blood-sucking bugs are becoming an increasing problem in the summer months for animals and humans alike. Avoid them and the disease they bring by steering clear of areas with overgrown grass, dress accordingly, and wear insect repellant. If you do get bit by a random tick, dislodge it with a tweezer immediately and then clean the area and your hands thoroughly. Whatever else, don’t crush it with your fingers.
If these birds think you’re threatening their eggs or babies they will definitely grow defensive. People have reported broken bones, head trauma and of course, emotional distress from angry geese in the past. To avoid becoming one of these stories, remember that geese have excellent vision and are watching you closely. Maintain eye contact, face your body directly towards the bird and don’t turn away or squint. Back away slowly and don’t run, yell, or kick.
If a moose wants to attack you things are pretty dire, so it’s best to try and avoid that situation in the first place. Don’t approach a moose no matter how cute or friendly it looks, and never, ever feed it. If a moose does decide to go after you, run as fast as you can and hide behind the nearest tree, fence, or building. Has the moose knocked you down? In that case, curl up in a ball to protect your head and organs.
They may seem like docile farm animals, but hikers have a history of being attacked by fields full of cows when the animals feel threatened. If you don’t want to be trampled, avoid walking through herds of them, keep your dog under control, and try not to surprise the creatures. If a cow does start to act angry, don’t turn your back or run. Keep your body facing the animal, don’t make eye contact and keep moving away until you’ve reached safety.