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Two red-tailed Sciurus granatensis on a vine
city wildlife
City Wildlife in Colombia

I am amazed that any wildlife can survive in the cities of Colombia. This red squirrels living in our mango tree have to survive city rats, feral cats, wild dog packs and the biggest threat of all, maniacal drivers. I don´t know how he does it. You can see sloths and agoutis in city parks, macaws and other parrots in city trees, and lizards, butterflies and snakes in your garden. Large iguanas can also occasionally be spotted inside the city. Again, how they survive is a wonder. Normally wildlife becomes sparse around population centers, not just from lost habitat, but from those with little money. For example, the eating of iguana eggs has cut into the iguana population.

Gardening in Colombia is nowhere near as popular as in the United States, and it is typical for most yards to have very simple and sparse landscaping. Many believe gardens attract unwanted animals and insects. In fact some don´t like others to have a garden either. I had all three of my neighbors complain about my flowers and leaves falling on their cemented properties. One female neighbor came to my front door, with the expectation that if she complained about my flower petals falling on her concrete yard (she literally does not have one plant on her property), I would rush to torch my garden. After listening to her I calmly asked, “Why do you hate flowers?” Surprised by the question, she said, “I don´t hate flowers. I just don´t like sweeping up your leaves.” Then I asked. “Is there something about greenery you don´t like?” Seeing her realize this was not going to be easy, I kept at it: “Do you hate nature also? I don´t understand why you hate flowers. Would you hate it if someone gave you a bouquet of flowers?” Frustrated she asked, “Are you going to cut your plants?” I told her, “I am not going to cut anything on my property and what you choose to cut on your property is up to you.” It´s been a few years and I have not heard a word from her since. I truly believe that if you want to live in Colombia you need to isolate yourself from Colombians, avoid neighbors, and build a large wall around your property. Particularly if your neighbors are old, because they seem to have nothing better to do all day, but to watch what active people are doing. Cultural differences can be more than just cultural differences. It can translate to strange behavior.

The funny thing about my neighbor’s complaints is that most Colombians don´t hesitate to discard trash on the ground. The city is littered at the end of the day, particularly in the markets and business centers. There is nightly trash pickup, but blowing trash will require daily yard clean-up. The litter is worst outside the city in the small towns where they do not have daily trash pick-up. Most people here don’t seem to have any concern about dumping trash. It is not a rare sight when it rains and the streets become arroyos to see people throwing unwanted items into the street to be carried out to the sea. Colombia is not a clean country where people live.

Three year old face to face with a red squirrel
A brown agouti walking on a grass lawn
A sloth hanging upside down in a park tree
Orange with bluish green iguana in a city park
A brown butterfly with aqua blue patches on its wings on the ground
Red Sciurus granatensis climbing across a vine
Copper colored iguana on a tree branch in a park
Iguana climbing a tree in a playground
Green Iguana on top of a rock
Small green lizard in a garden

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