July 10, 2014

Downtown Facts

  • Mumbai has been measured to be the most crowded city on the planet with 11.6 square miles of open space and only 3.9 square miles of usable open space for human beings. That comes out to only 9 square feet per person — meaning that if everyone in Mumbai were evenly distributed in the city’s available open space, there wouldn’t be enough room for the average person to stretch his or her arms out without hitting someone else.

  • An estimated 21-22 leopards roam in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, an urban park in Mumbai that is approximately 40 square miles in size. Only 12 or 13 leopards are sustained by similarly sized areas in the wild, but encroachments by humans have shrunk the habitat area and — through the introduction of dogs, goats, and other pets — expanded the prey base.

  • An estimated 2,000 coyotes live in the Chicago metropolitan region, and they have been spotted in the vicinity of such densely packed areas as Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the Loop, and Wrigley Field.

  • Chicago’s urban coyotes are significantly more likely to survive their first year of life than are rural coyotes; 60 percent survive their first year in urban Chicago, while 30 percent of coyotes survive their first year in rural areas.

  • Urban coyotes establish much smaller territories than their rural counterparts, resulting in population densities that are three to six times higher in urban areas than in rural areas.

  • A red-tailed hawk named Pale Male has lived in New York City for more than 20 years. He has raised over 20 chicks and nested for most of that time at 927 Fifth Avenue, adjacent to Manhattan’s Central Park.

  • Red-tailed hawks’ eyesight is up to eight times as powerful as that of human beings and allows them to see colors along the ultraviolet spectrum that we cannot see.

  • The underside of the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, houses the largest urban bat colony in the world, numbering approximately 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. Nearly two times as many bats live under that one bridge than do people in the entire city.

  • Austin’s bat population eats between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds of insects every night. The ways this benefits humans—many of these insects are, for instance, agricultural pests—have prompted the construction of new bridges designed for bats.

  • The sloth is the slowest mammal in the world, which is part of the reason why an entire ecosystem of life can survive in its fur. More than a hundred moths may be living in a sloths’ fur at any given time, but when a sloth scratches itself, it moves slowly enough that the moths can remain undetected.

  • Male and female rats can have sex 20 times a day and can potentially produce 15,000 offspring a year.

  • Male rats, broadly speaking, travel farther way from their nests than do their female counterparts; but in general, contrary to some perceptions of them as wide-ranging wanderers, rats tend to stay within 65 feet of their nests, which allows them to become very familiar with their home territories.

  • Burmese pythons are among the six largest snakes in the world, commonly reaching a length of 16 feet although lengths of 22 feet are possible in captivity. Females tend to be larger than males.

  • Bark scorpions are the most venomous type of scorpion in the United States, and it doesn’t take much for them to enter a human home; a mere 1/16th-inch opening is all that’s required for entry.

  • Boars can be spotted in urban areas across Europe, but their presence in Berlin is unique in that they stay for extended periods of time and even raise families there.

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