Wild Pets: The World’s Strangest Feral Animals

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(images via SF Citizen, Daily Mail and Miheco)

Everyone has seen their share of once-domestic cats who have left the litter-box behind in favor of an outdoor life.  Feral cats have made the transition easily.  They are natural predators and able to fend for themselves.  Other domesticated species seem, at first, to be less able to make it in the big, bad world.  But pet birds, farm animals, and even aquarium fish have been able to thrive in the wild in certain situations.  Here are some examples of domestic species that have unexpectedly made a life for themselves outside the cage.

Australia’s Feral Camels

camels

(images via anra.com.au and jjron)

Camels were imported to Australia to help with the exploration and settlement of the Outback.  Their use declined with the advent of railways and automobiles, but the camels continued to thrive in the harsh environment.  Some estimates claim that there are nearly 0ne million humped creatures on the continent.  Because of their rapidly increasing numbers, hunting and eating camels is encouraged.

Feral Parakeets

parakeets

(images via Chicago wilderness mag and Japan Times)

The hardy monk parakeets, also called Quaker parrots or Quaker parakeets, have become famous residents of urban areas like Chicago’s Hyde Park.  These wild parakeets are descended from pets and have somehow managed to adapt to the conditions and thrive in the city. They are larger and louder than common budgies.

Feral Honey Bees

honeybee

(image via Brisbane Insects)

Most bees were born in the wild.  However, some, like the one in Southeastern Australia in the picture, were actually descended from domesticated honey bees.  In the wind, they continue their hive lifestyle, creating honey that will never find its way into a jar.

Thailand’s Soi Dogs

soi-dogs

(images via Thai Dogs)

A Bangkok alleyway (soi) is bound to have a few rather mangy residents.  Feral soi dogs are sometimes fed by compassionate residents and sometimes able to scrounge food from trash or roadkill.  They are as much a part of the city’s personality as its markets and temples.

Aquarium Fish in the Wild

fish

(images via bestfriendsnetwork, Kalamunda Reporter, and pigsofdarkness)

Most of the tropical fish species that you’d find in a pet store are bred specifically for the tank environment.  Hardy fish like koi and common goldfish are able to survive is most freshwater environments even if they were born in a tank.  For other fish, like the Pearl Cichlids that wreak havoc in Northern Australian streams, a more specific settings is needed to survive.

Wild Parrots

parrots

(image via hylobatidae.org)

Perhaps the most famous animals on this list are wild parrots.  The red-masked parrots who starred in the documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill are the poster children of the wild parrot population in the US.  In fact, there are communities of parrots all along the West Coast that are equally welcomed by residents.

Feral Farm Animals

pigssheep

(images via Queensland government, truestitches, and trailcenter.org)

It would seem that most farm animals are ill-equipped to survive in the wild.  What would a pig used to feeding at the trough do outside of its pen?  But feral pigs and sheep are commonplace in rural areas around the world, especially in agricultural areas in the US.  Some are hunted like wild animals and others are considered a nuisance, eating crops and forever altering eco-systems.

Feral Cows of Hong Kong

cows

(image via HKoutdoors)

It is a common sight worldwide: cows sitting lazily in fields, chomping on grass.  It is the same on Lantau, a sparsely inhabited island in the territory of Hong Kong.  The difference is that these cattle do not belong to a dairy or beef farm.  They are feral, but that doesn’t seem to have changed their lifestyle much.

Hawaii’s Feral Mouflon

goats

(image via rarehawaii)

Hawaii’s countryside is  being eaten by the  rapidly expanding populations of feral sheep and European mouflon.  Mouflon are thought to be the forefather’s of domestic sheep.  Their appetites mean that they can mow through vegetation quickly.  With no natural predators besides humans, populations are difficult to control.

Bali’s Tame/Wild Monkeys

monkeys

(images via D.Meutia and the Shopping Sherpa)

Though they are not, and were never, domesticated, it would be easy to mistake the Crab-eating Macaques at Ubud Monkey Park on Bali for trained pets.  They pester visitors for hand-outs and some are able to turn on the charm the way a clever dog who wants a treat might.  According to Balinese lore, the monkeys are protectors of the area’s Hindu temples.

Feral Guinea Pigs

guinea-pigs

(images via wildlife ranger, U of Hawaii, and behav.org)

Last year, people began seeing a strange rodent on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.  It’s not that guinea pigs are a rare animal; it’s just that they are usually found in cages with wheels and water-bottles (or as the main course of an Andean meal).  The large litters that these rodents can have makes them a danger to any natural environment into which they are introduced.  Some speculate that the original 40 sightings of feral guinea pigs last year where the result of one pregnant female being released.

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