Rats by Robert Sullivan

Rats centres around a single New York alley way, called Edens Alley, over the course of one year. In the book, Robert Sullivan spends that year watching and getting to know the rats of Edens Alley and learns a lot about rats, humans and New York City.

Why does Sullivan set out on his year of ratting? He gives a number of answers:  because of their proximity to humans and the parallels between the story of rats and the story of humans in America; because they have typically been excluded from the pantheon of natural wonders; because of, as Sullivan puts it, the propensity that I share with rats toward areas where no cruise ships go, areas that have been deemed unenjoyable, aesthetically bankrupt, gross or vile.

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Top survival tips for urban nature

Steven D. Garber’s The Urban Naturalist provides an introduction to nature in the urban environment, with chapters on grasses, trees, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Although it was published in 1987, I think Garber’s book has much to teach any species thinking about moving to the city.  So, inspired by The Urban Naturalist, here’s the top 5 survival tips for would-be urbanites.

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City Critters by Helen Ross Russell

City Critters bills itself as a fine general introduction to a natural world that is often ignored. In her general introduction Russell covers sparrows, starlings, pigeons, seagulls, mice, rats, squirrels, earthworms, and house pests. Each chapter provides an overview of the creature’s presence in the city, how it came to be there or to adapt to life in the city, as well as its habitats and mating habits. Russell also looks at the various methods used to control these “pests”. She seems to be in favour of measures to limit their numbers, but she also recognises the value they bring to the city and doesn’t want them to be eliminated completely. Not only do many of these species provide people with pleasure, but they (and we) are also interrelated:

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