Animal Theft: The Ugly Truth

Is dog truly man’s best friend?

Most would agree, but let me ask you this: would your best friend help himself to your dinner while your back is turned?

Scholars at the University of Portsmouth discovered that, when given the opportunity, most dogs will do just that. The researchers studied 84 dogs, placing food within their reach and commanding them not to eat it. Then they repeated the same procedure under reduced lighting.

dog_eating_people_foodPhoto by Carter Brown

What did they discover? When the room was dark, the dogs were four times as likely to steal the food. Your best friend may not be as trustworthy as you think, so take caution when leaving your favorite snack unattended!

Sneaky Monkeys

Now that we know to keep an extra close eye on Fido when we turn down the lights, let’s move on to one of man’s closest relatives: monkeys – specifically the Vervet Monkeys of the Caribbean.

vervet_monkeysPhoto by Julian Mason

Vervet Monkeys were to the Caribbean from Africa roughly 300 years ago when slaves were being forced to work the sugar cane fields to support the rum industry. The monkeys acquired a taste for the rotting sugar cane, which fermented in the fields. Today they satisfy their thirst by stealing drinks from tourists. The problem is so sever that researchers are investigating the parallels between alcoholism in humans and monkeys by using data collected from the Vervet Monkeys on the island of St. Kits in the Caribbean.

Kleptomaniac Raccoons

With their naturally-occurring masks of fur, it’s no wonder that raccoons are famous for helping themselves to things that don’t belong to them!

sneaky_raccoonPhoto by Steve Gregory

Two of their favorite spots to scavenge are unattended garbage cans and dumpsters, but they like to visit squirrel territory too – making their way to bird feeders and prompting residents to fight back against their thieving ways. Raccoons are equal opportunity thieves; not only do they swipe our scraps, but they also go after food intended for our four-footed friends, as one dexterous raccoon demonstrates in this video.

Borrowed by Gulls

Anyone who has spent any amount of time at the seashore knows that the gulls are constantly roaming for a free lunch. Their speed in grabbing unattended food is remarkable.  One beach-goer who was attempting to capture the sunset over the ocean in San Francisco experienced a thieving gull with higher aspirations.

It’s hard to tell if that gull was particularly strong or if cameras these days are just lighter than ever, but one thing is for sure: the next time you visit the beach, you should strap down your camera extra tight.

Thieving Squirrels

We mentioned them earlier. They are the bane of anyone trying to maintain a bird feeder, but they don’t limit themselves to stealing from our feeders. They lay waste to home gardens as well.

squirrellPhoto by Daniel Lackey

One cook who loves to create with food with fresh ingredients, grown from her backyard, wages daily battle with squirrels that attempt to steal her almonds and other crops. Worse yet, the creatures end up discarding most of their spoils to the ground. Sometimes violence just can’t be avoided; this gardener has taken preventative security measures and now employs a black cat that she has dubbed her “Director of Pest Management.”

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