Wild animals in Rome: 5 “close encounters” in the city
Wild boars in north Rome, foxes in the Villa Ada park, wolves in the woods south of the city: local media are hopping on the trend of wildlife sightings becoming a more common occurrence these days.
To be fair, though, it is not a new thing at all: “exotic” animal species have always been a fixture in Rome since emperors used them in circuses as entertainment.
Granted, elephants, giraffes and big felines are only found in the Bioparco/Rome’s zoo these days, but if you have visited for some time you will have noticed that some species have become increasingly common in parks, and not just there!
Here are the most exotic types of animals that are currently making their way towards Rome:
More and more common in cities throughout Italy and Europe, you can see and hear them from afar as they shriek and move in formation, so to say, over some parts of the city center of Rome, including the Forum and Oppian Hill park, close to our managed accommodation on Via Mecenate.
They mostly belong to two different species: the monk parakeet and rose-ringed parakeet, even though some aras/macaws have also been spotted on the Caelian Hill. It’s obvious they originally escaped from some private homes, but it’s unclear when and where this happened exactly.
As with wild boars, their reproduction rate is off the roof, particularly because they don’t have any predators around, and so they have multiplied relatively fast – their flocks are spectacular, much like the starlings’ appearing in the fall and winter, although they are extremely aggressive towards other local species of birds.
As with other cities around Europe (London comes to mind) foxes are now used to getting closer and closer to the cities to scavenge for food, usually near dumpsters or… restaurants. Some of them have made their homes in some of the biggest parks in the city, including Villa Ada and Villa Pamphilj.
They’re not domesticated in the slightest and they could be carrying illnesses like rabies, so it’s not recommended to try and get closer to them – but if you’re interested in a great photo opportunity, going to the mentioned parks and wait for them to show up could be a great alternative use of some of your Roman days!
Another instance of a species attracted to the city by the warmer climate and larger availability of food, packs of wild boars have been observed in the outskirts of the city – they are considered dangerous and likely to attack humans, in particular should they have piglets with them.
In spite of alarmist news coverage on this specific subjects, wolves have not re-entered the walls of Rome and have only been photographed or filmed in natural parks outside of the city.
They are possibly pushed south by the climate change, and in their search for food they have made their way to the woods around the Urbs Aeterna – a return, if you will, given the myth of Romulus, Remus and the she-wolf!
Herons, cranes and other birds
The Tiber and the other rivers flowing in and outside Rome provide a natural habitat for many species of birds. Pelicans and cranes have been observed closer to the coast, even at the airport at Fiumicino, along with flamingoes and other aquatic birds like the egret.
Of course the seagull and cormorant are the most conspicuous species in the center of the city, however should you leave the center for more suburban districts like Ponte Milvio or Marconi will give you an opportunity to spot such birds as kingfishers or herons – among many others!