New York City. If it’s not the raccoons, it’s the coyotes, geese, sewer gators, rats, bedbugs, or the dangerous fornicating opossums. The New York Post reveals that city officials decided to try to fuck with biology by introducing the rat-tailed marsupials into Brooklyn a few years ago to rid residents of rats…but alas, the opossums have only taken over as well, with “bands of the conniving creatures sauntering through yards, plundering garbage cans, and noshing on fruit trees.” Will we never be free from the vile doings of urban wildlife? And, who have we the most to fear? Let us break it down for you.
Viciousness quotient: “They are very clever,” said raccoon-sufferer Tracey McTague. “They are like Moby Dick. If you
are going to hate an animal, they should challenge your wits.” Also, they should poop profusely, kill koi, and evade high-powered electric fences.
Embeddedness: “They’re climbin’ in your windows, they’re snatchin’ your people up.” Basically.
Most frightening tale: Decapitated raccoon turns up in your kitchen drawer. In Park Slope.
Terror alert level: High.
Viciousness quotient: “It lunged at me twice, and I slapped its face away” each time, coyote-battling teen Eric said. He smacked the coyote a third time “so it would go away.” In Westchester!
Embeddedness: Too close for comfort.
Most frightening tale: The same face-smacked rabid coyote ate its own pup. Gross. And then it bit a man in the butt.
Terror alert level: Elevated, but at least in the city they seem to know their place. So far.
Viciousness quotient: Have been known to down planes. And they get kinda bitey sometimes when you try to feed them sandwich crusts.
Embeddedness: Large numbers of these guys, along with guerrilla goose hero Sticky, who took an arrow to the neck and survived during an assassination attempt, were wiped out during the goose gassings that swept Prospect Park this summer. Despite efforts to recruit new numbers into the ranks, they’re not what they once were.
Most frightening tale: “Two geese flew into the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 in January, 2009, causing it to splash down in the Hudson River. Everyone on board survived.”
Terror alert level: Low, at least, until mating season.
Viciousness quotient: In a word, teeth.
Embeddedness: One was found under a car in Queens this summer. Last week, a man dropped one off at the 88th Precinct. Despite years of “urban legend” protests, they are among us.
Most frightening tale: Finding a gator in your toilet after a hard night of drinking. Could happen.
Terror alert level: Guarded. Currently not appearing in great enough numbers to denote mobilization, but the lessons left by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles should not be ignored.
Viciousness quotient: They may be tiny, but they have one-track minds (or not minds at all) but anyway, all they wanna do is suck your blood!
Embeddedness: Literally, in your bed. And in Hollister, Abercrombie, Victoria’s Secret, and now…Niketown. Consider shopping addiction conquered.
Most frightening tale: “After sex, he confessed he had bedbugs.”
Terror alert level: Severe. They’re already everywhere, especially where you’re at your most vulnerable. And hence have come the inevitable comparisons with STDs. It’s not a question of if, but when. Prepare yourself buy purchasing a full-body condom (a/k/a, “mattress protector” for your bed).
Viciousness quotient: The critters have a mouth full of 50 sharp teeth, tend to exude a foul odor, and can occasionally contract rabies, said Stuart Mitchell, an entomologist.
Embeddedness: “They are everywhere,” said Theresa Scavo, chairwoman for Community Board 15, which represents Sheepshead Bay and surrounding south Brooklyn neighborhoods. According to the local officials quoted in the Post, “They’ve even taken up golf.”
Most frightening tale: “The possums hang from the trees,” said Maria Herrera, 27, a stay-at-home mom, recalling her close encounter with a long-tailed pink-nosed marsupial. “He played dead till my bull terrier, Chico, finished sniffing him — just like in the cartoons.”
Terror alert level: Elevated. They’re kinda cute, after all.
In conclusion, in the battle of urban wildlife, it seems that the bedbugs have already won. Yet, because they survive on us, there’s a certain host-parasite relationship (okay, an actual host-parasite relationship) that seems to ensure they won’t actually do away with us all but will allow us to survive as long as they can feast on our blood now and again. Which kinda makes us think of True Blood, and at the very least, should help keep us skinny, no? No? Well, whatever, at least they’re not raccoons.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 20, 2010