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Boston Safari: Alligators, Bats, Pigs, Snakes, Oh My!

Here's the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by Boston real estate agent David Bates that drills down into the Hub's housing market to uncover those trends you would not otherwise see. Follow him on Twitter and check out his ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets, 2.0.

Birds this summer built a nest by the entrance of my condo and started dive-bombing anyone who came out the front door. When I started using the back door to make my way to the car, I would find, without fail, a 20-pound, ears-up rabbit surveying its surroundings. Hey, am I living in Coolidge Corner or on a wild-life preserve?

Every time I think city living means not being besieged by the animal kingdom, a sign pops up that we still share the same space. This month it was birds and rabbits, but last month Pepe Le Pew thought my yard was a good place to vacation. Before him, a family of raccoons were occasional squatters in between my lot lines. One time I tried to shoo them away, but they just hung out, boldly looking at me like they were trustees of the property. Funny, I didn't see them on the condo docs.

Two Thanksgivings ago, eight wild turkeys slowly walked around my fence to enjoy pre-holiday festivities. One of them even gave birth near my neighbor's porch. At first I was taken aback by their presence, but subsequently they have dropped by my condo more often than many friends.

Once, after a big storm, breaking news came on our TV about a coyote sighting. The landscape behind the live reporter looked familiar and when we peeked out the window we could see the TV crew's Klieg lights about 100 yards down the street.

Mark Giannangelo, the acting director for Boston's Animal Care & Control Department, informed me of a few more wildlife challenges my urban brethren typically face. The department can get as many as 20 calls a night in August about bats getting into homes. You read that right, Dracula, 20 a night. If a bat got into your home, and you think or are unsure if it bit you, give the Animal Control Department a call and they will test it for rabies. For the most part, wildlife is protected and has to be in the house or pose a threat for Animal Control to take action. So if you just see that bat in the building's hallway, it's probably the association's responsibility to have it removed.

I was quick to ask Mark about the wildlife I like least: snakes. In July, garter snakes start sunning themselves and because they can grow to a few feet the department gets calls. In other parts of the year, the calls about snakes almost always concern pet snakes that escaped, often in college areas. (Note to self: Add snake question to student rental application.)

Some Bostonians make unusual pet choices, like the one who had an alligator for a pet and when it got too big released it in Fenway. Today's trendy pet is the micro-pig, a pig that is only supposed to grow to 60 or 70 pounds, but sometimes grows larger. Animal Control hasn't run across any micro-pigs in Boston, but there was a time a few years back that one of the city's residents had a pot-bellied pig of a few hundred pounds. It had to go: You can't keep livestock in the city.
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]