+
upworthy
Science

How human behavior turned these 6 animals into garbage lovers.

Even though they might be pests (to us), it's partly human behavior that made them that way in the first place.

garbage, environmental, emergency, health, animals
Canva

It's not really their fault

Not every animal can be a majestic stag leaping over a Scottish field while grown men in kilts cry in the background.

Some animals are the opposite. They’re not majestic beasts of the wild glen, they’re just ... kind of trashy. As in, they literally eat trash.


Even though they might be pests (to us), it's partly human behavior that made them that way in the first place.

Animals are eating garbage because humans create so much of it. Americans are producing about 268 million tons of waste every year.

This steady source of free food — and shrinking natural habitats — has drawn the animals out of their innate routines and into our garbage cans and dumpsters, earning them their "nuisance" label.

But which animals are the trashiest?

Here are six animals who, with the help of us humans and all our trash, love to eat garbage.

raccoon, garbage, environment. health and safety

As cute as can be yet not made for cuddles.

Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

1. Raccoons are taking over the world.

Raccoons have become invasive species in Europe and Japan because people began bringing them into homes as exotic pets.

While domesticating a raccoon for Instagram fame might seem like a cute idea, in reality, these animals aren't meant to cuddle on the couch with us. Even "tame" raccoons are still wild animals. Plus, wild ones can carry diseases like roundworm and rabies.

lime disease, ticks, opossums, garbage, behavior

A little weird looking and hungry for ticks.

Photo by Kurt Anderson on Unsplash

2. Wild opossums help keep Lyme disease away.

This is the one animal on this list I’m most likely to freak out — hey, give me a break, they’re super weird-looking and kind of hissy — but in the wild, they can actually be kind of cool. Opossums eat ticks, for example, which helps prevent the spread of Lyme disease. Plus, they carry their babies on their back, which is adorable.

I can’t be mad at them. Just as long as they stay out of my garage.

Yellowstone, humans, garbage, behavior, bears

Garbage dumps contribute to bears' loss of natural suspicion of humans.

Photo from Pixababy

3. Yellowstone used to be full of trashy bears.

Dumpster bears were actually a big problem at Yellowstone. The park used to feature large garbage dumps, which bears would visit for free food. The close contact with people made the bears lose their natural suspicion of humans and people got hurt.

Thankfully, better garbage cans, improved guest behavior, and closing nearby dumps helped solve the problem.

monkey, tourism, health, environment

Monkeys work in packs.

Photo by Tracy Kasssandra on Unsplash

4. Monkeys have learned to commit crimes.

On the one hand, who doesn’t like monkeys?

On the other, monkeys can be wicked smart, have little grabby hands, and can run in packs, which spells trouble. In fact, group of macaques in Indonesia has even learned to steal stuff from tourists and hold it for ransom.

rats, New York, environment, health and safety

Rats are excellent survivors.

Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

5. New York City's spent millions trying to exterminate rats.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed $32 million to rat extermination, but they’re not likely to disappear anytime soon. Rats are excellent survivors, and estimates on the NYC rat population number in the millions.

Then again, I think rats in general are pretty misunderstood. Sure, they’re kind of icky, but they also laugh when tickled.

trash, plastic, environment, seagull, garbage

Eating plastic makes seagulls sick.

Photo by Navi on Unsplash 6. Even seagulls can get sick from eating trash.The noise! The screeching! The fact that they always seem to smell kind of like stale poop. If any animal was going to be crowned King Trashy, seagulls would be it. Of course, eating garbage isn’t good for them. Yes, even seagulls can get sick from eating garbage — especially if they accidentally gobble up stuff like plastic.The thing is, these animals wouldn’t be so trashy without, you know, our trash.All of these animals were doing just fine without garbage dumps. They’re simply responding to our expanding cities and the smorgasbord of free (if smelly) food we leave behind. Not all animals can be majestic, it’s true, but we certainly can do a better job helping them not be trashy, either.This article originally appeared on 01.31.18

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.

Keep ReadingShow less

A woman working out at the gym wearing headphones.

In 2018, author James Clear released “Atomic Habits,” a book about making significant changes through building small habits. The book's takeaway is that you don’t have to commit to drastic, overnight changes to improve yourself. You can do so by slowly working your way towards a goal.

"All big things come from small beginnings,” Clear writes in the book. “The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time."

TikTokker Ashie Adams has a similar theory she calls the Lazy Girl Fitness hack. She says people can create a regular fitness routine by breaking a trip to the gym down into 2 distinct events instead of one that feels overwhelming.

Keep ReadingShow less

Albert Einstein

One of the strangest things about being human is that people of lesser intelligence tend to overestimate how smart they are and people who are highly intelligent tend to underestimate how smart they are.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect and it’s proven every time you log onto Facebook and see someone from high school who thinks they know more about vaccines than a doctor.

The interesting thing is that even though people are poor judges of their own smarts, we’ve evolved to be pretty good at judging the intelligence of others.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Creator shares strange animal facts, weirds people out with jacana bird

Sometimes we see things that simply cannot be unseen. TikTok creator Mamadou Ndiaye who goes by the screen name mndiaye_97, has made his career out of educating people about weird animal facts that he finds fascinating. In most of his videos people walk away feeling more knowledgable on what animals to stay away from and which are actually as cuddly as they look.

But sometimes his videos makes the internet collectively gasp as they hear these untold facts. Recently, Ndiaye shared a video about the Jacana bird, who at first glance looks like an average bird with abnormally large feet. Viewers quickly realize the video is taking an hilariously uncomfortable turn when the next fact he drops involves a picture of the bird appearing to have eight sets of legs. Or maybe claws? No matter what it resembles, it's what nightmares are made of.

One viewer called it, "Birdie Kruger," and they're not wrong because the facts about this bird just kept getting more disturbing.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Woman sets up an adorable 'date night' with her elderly dog

More than 1.5 million have watched the dog's unforgettable birthday dinner.

Representative Image from Canva

Spoil your pets every chance you get.

It’s one of the most bittersweet experiences that life has to offer—watching our fur babies grow old. No matter how much time we are blessed with such lovely creatures, it’s never enough time.

But, even during our pet’s golden years, when energy wanes and things tend to slow down, we can still spoil them and give them the greatest life possible. And if you’re in need of some inspo—or just a good reason to have a happy cry—look no further.

Dog mom Vicki had the brilliant idea of giving her elderly, but still so handsome Lab the most adorable ‘date night’ for his 16th birthday. He even got his own tux!

Keep ReadingShow less

Artist's apartment gains protected status after his death

You move into an apartment and can't wait to decorate it however you'd like but unfortunately you're pretty limited on what you can do. Most apartments don't approve anything that can't be easily removed, some don't even allow you to paint. One man in England decided that he was going to make his apartment his own by decorating it with his artwork.

Ron Gittins was an artist that lived in the same apartment for over 30 years before his death. During his time in the apartment, the artist had created art all over the walls. Not just elaborate paintings but huge sculptures affixed to the walls that took up the wall's entirety. His family visited the home after Gittins passed away, they were shocked to find such massive elaborate art pieces throughout the home.

The artist died in September 2019 according to CNN, but if you stepped into the home now, you'd see everything still in its place.

Keep ReadingShow less