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Top ten urban critters

This past week hasn’t produced many inspiring “science news” events, so given that it is a Sunday, and I am…

By Trevor D'Arcy , in Blogs The Blogoratory: Science News Commentary , on February 10, 2008

This past week hasn’t produced many inspiring “science news” events, so given that it is a Sunday, and I am not hot and bothered about anything, I thought I would make a little contribution to Nicholas Read’s Urban Critters column. 

Urban Critters is published in Saturday editions of the Vancouver Sun. For each column, Read writes a brief profile of an animal found in or near the city. So, using this column, as well as inspiration taken from Amy Hadley’s blog full of random categories, I give you my top ten urban critters: 

Ugliest critter
Just when you thought that mammals and insects couldn’t reproduce, you dig up a most confounding and grotesque beasty. It is hardly a familiar animal, yet it is common across the globe, the mole cricket spends most of its life hiding away underfoot. 

The “I can’t believe its not listed” critter
While Read’s column clearly takes a haphazard approach to deciding which critter will be featured, I am shocked that he has yet to profile the raccoon. When I first moved to the Lower Mainland my house was surrounded by a veritable platoon of raccoons lurking in the expanses of ivy and cedar trees of my back yard. They are a quintessential urban critter, in the same league as the rat, mouse, pigeon and crow.

The critter I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley
This critter could also fall under the previous category, as it is no doubt the scariest animal ever to wander onto Vancouver streets. The black bear, however, is really not that dangerous, especially when you have a tranquilizer gun and a trampoline.

Most obscure critter
Read may not have listed the raccoon, or bald eagle, but at least he didn’t overlook the omnipresent fruit fly.

Least likely to see on Urban Critters
Despite the fact that they qualify as by far the most populous organism anywhere, as well as being found inside every human being, I doubt you will be seeing any kind of bacterium profiled by Read. Critics would argue that it is not technically classified as an animal, but hey, even though it is unicellular, I think it deserves some attention.

Best selling critter
If Read was looking to get some front page action, he could do a profile on the inconspicuous, but brazenly named bushtit. Drop that name during an editorial meeting and watch as papers literally fly off the stands the next morning.

Most edible critter
Not too common to the lower mainland, but unavoidable in the Okanagan, quail are juicy little morsels that can easily be trapped in the backyard using the old box and stick trap. I would also suggest the Canada goose for this category, but I wouldn’t eat an animal that feeds on manicured sports fields.

Critter I would like to see most
Rumour has it that great white sharks can sometimes be seen off the coast of Vancouver Island, and boy would I like to see one of these. Too bad they have yet to be reported in English Bay.

Best critter for your mom’s underwear drawer
What better way to exterminate a pest species than to leave it at the mercy of an alarmed relative. Easily found in ponds around the city, bullfrogs are not only slimy and gross, but they can grow to 15cm and have a voracious appetite.

Finally, in honour of Miss Hadley, the “What the #@*%?” urban critter
Dinosaurs may have perished 63 million years ago, but Read could soon be adding them to the list. I never thought dinosaurs would have anything to do with Vancouver, but I guess my imagination is not as active as others.

That concludes my top ten list, if you made it this far, thanks for sticking it out. In case you are wondering, “Why ten?” I am told that top ten lists attract high readership. I hope it works.


  • Hi Trevor,

    I just found this blog when I was looking for Nicholas Read’s contact info. I enjoyed reading the top 10 list.

    I would like add a link to all the Urban Critters column to Nature Vancouver website. Let me know if you can help.


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