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The 5 Most Dangerous Creatures in New York City

If you’re like most people, the idea of encountering a dangerous creature in New York City is probably pretty far down on your list of concerns.

However, some of the city’s animals can be quite hazardous, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with them. Here are five of the most dangerous creatures in New York City.

What Is New York City Famous for?

New York City is a global center for finance, fashion, entertainment, and culture. People often refer to it as “The City That Never Sleeps.” New York is home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, including the Empire State Building and Central Park. 

The city is also home to renowned museums, theaters, and a thriving food scene. People know New Yorkers for having fast-paced lifestyles to “make it” in the Big Apple. From Wall Street to Broadway, New York City is truly a one-of-a-kind destination.

What Wildlife is in New York City?

Did you know that New York City is home to some dangerous creatures? And no, we’re not talking about our fellow human beings; we’re talking about actual animals. Believe it or not, some animals call New York City home, just like the millions of people living there.

While you won’t find a wild grizzly bear, a mountain goat, or a bighorn sheep, you will most definitely come across a squirrel, a rat or mouse, and even a few bats. But there are coyotes, skunks, and red-tailed hawks taking residence in the Big Apple.

You’ll also come across snapping turtles, several snakes, many species of birds, foxes, opossums, and more. But the most surprising creature you may come upon is in the ocean.  Seals enjoy the warmer waters here compared to the frigid waters up north, so you’ll often find them migrating to the coastal waters of New York City.

With more than only humans calling New York City home, you may be excited to come across sightings of these wild animals while visiting this bustling metropolis. Keep in mind some of these animals are also dangerous creatures.

Pro Tip: Escape the hustle and bustle of NYC in the Hidden Elevated Acre in New York City.

New York City skyline on the Hudson River.
While NYC is a busy city, there are still lots of wildlife you can spot in the streets.

The 5 Most Dangerous Creatures in New York City

Generally, when thinking of dangerous creatures, a few species don’t cause much concern. The ones that elicit thoughts of danger are ones like lions, tigers, and bears. However, the animals we may brush off as harmless are on our list of five dangerous creatures in New York City.

1. Coyotes

New Yorkers are no strangers to urban wildlife. Raccoons rummage through trash cans, bats roost in church steeples, and deer graze in city parks. But perhaps the most adaptable and New York-savvy animal is the coyote.

These wily canids have been living among us for decades, thriving in even the most inhospitable environments. How do these animals manage to survive in New York’s concrete jungle? Coyotes are naturally curious and adaptable. They can wander 10 miles of open space in one day, and their diet is incredibly versatile. They can change their diet to include whatever is available, and in the city, that could be pets and trash. 

If you see a coyote, do not feed it, and keep your distance. Each year across the nation, there are only a handful of bites reported from coyotes, a testament to their wariness of us, even in New York City. Let’s help keep it that way.

2. Bats

One type of mammal that people often see in the city is the bat. Bats roost in numerous locations, including inside or beneath buildings and other human structures. They could even roost in your home. While bats are generally harmless, they can be hazardous to pets and people if they carry rabies. 

Bats’ teeth are tiny, and you may not notice their bites. If you or your pet comes into contact with a bat, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible to ensure that you or your pet do not have rabies.

3. Red-Tailed Hawks

New York City is home to various wildlife, including several species of hawk. The most common type of hawk in North America is the red-tailed hawk, which people often see perched on buildings or flying over open spaces. These birds of prey usually nest in trees but have built nests on ledges and other structures over 13 feet tall. In recent years, red-tailed hawks have become increasingly visible in New York City, with sightings atop the RFK Bridge, the Unisphere, and several other prominent buildings.

While these hawks typically hunt rodents, reptiles, and other small animals, they also prey on small dogs and cats. Pet owners should be vigilant when outdoors, particularly during the spring and summer months when hawks are most active.

Rat by dumpster in NYC
Keep an eye out for rats scurrying about the streets of NYC.

4. Rats

Rats are probably the most common wildlife in the city, outside of the millions of insects. They are attracted to trash, debris, and sources of food. While rats are generally not harmful to humans, they can threaten life and property. 

They can spread disease through their urine and feces, and their gnawing and burrowing can cause significant damage to buildings and infrastructure. To keep rats away, it’s essential to keep spaces clean and free of debris. Weeds and trash provide shelter for rats, so it’s best to remove them from your property. It would be best if you also sealed any cracks or crevices in buildings, as these provide access points for rats. By taking these steps, you can help keep New York City free of these unwanted and possibly dangerous creatures.

5. Skunks

New Yorkers are used to seeing many animals in the city, from rats and mice to pigeons and cockroaches. But one creature people don’t often see scurrying about is the skunk. These nocturnal animals are pretty common in New York City, though. While they prefer open grassy areas, skunks will den where they can find shelter, including under buildings or in abandoned burrows. 

In the winter months, you may not see them as often, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone; skunks do not hibernate. The most famous (or infamous) feature of skunks is their powerful scent, which they use to defend themselves from predators. If you startle a skunk, it’s best to back away slowly; if the animal feels threatened, it will spray you with its foul-smelling oil. 

While skunks typically don’t threaten humans, they can carry rabies, so it’s best to keep your distance if you see one. And if you have pets, keep them on a leash or out of known skunk habitats. By taking simple precautions, you can enjoy New York City’s wildlife without making yourself (or your nose) a target.

Pro Tip: NYC is full of many unique tourist sites, but these are 5 Reasons to Avoid Times Square in New York City.

Is It Worth Visiting New York City?

If you’re looking for an urban adventure, New York City is a must-visit. But even in this concrete jungle, there are plenty of wild and possibly dangerous animals. Even though their habitat is also home to millions of people, you should always respect these animals by viewing them from a distance, keeping them wild and free. So is it worth visiting this city? Absolutely! Just make sure you watch your back while you explore.

Have you had any encounters with the animals on our list? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

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