Creature comforts - Places to visit that are over-run by animals

creature comforts
Rens Hageman
Rens Hageman

From a village full of foxes to an island of bunnies: Destinations around the world that have been taken over by animals.

It's the stuff of dreams for any animal lover - a destination overrun with cute creatures. And happily, they really do exist.

From a village full of friendly foxes and another crammed with rabbits in Japan, to an American island populated with feral ponies, which are thought to have survived a shipwreck long ago - these are the places where animals rule the roost. But there are the slightly less appealing infestations.

A lake in Palau filled with more than a million jellyfish, for example, and a tiny island that is home to 43 million crabs on Christmas Island, not far from Australia. Here, we present locations around the world that animals have reclaimed, and you can be their guest.

Rabbit Island, Japan.

Rabbit Island, officially known as Okunoshima, is a small island off the coast of Hiroshima Prefecture, and is home to hundreds of wild but friendly bunnies who approach tourists in large groups to scavenge for food. It’s not known how the island came to be overrun by rabbits, but from 1930 to 1945 it was used as a testing ground for poison and it is thought during that time that the test subjects included rabbits. Things got very hairy for one tourist when she visited the island. After offering them some food, she was chased down a road by a stampede of them.

Crab Island, Florida.

It is estimated that more than 43 million crabs inhabit tiny Christmas island, their presence more obvious during breeding season when they head to the water’s edge to reproduce. During the migration period the state government closes the roads on the island to ensure the crabs have a safe journey, but many are still killed on train tracks.

Fox Village, Japan.

Fox Village, located in Japan’s Miyagi prefecture, is home to a leash of more than 100 foxes, composed of six different species, all allowed to wander free in a large forested area. Visitors to the village can pay around £4 (700 Japanese Yen) to enter and feed the animals. Foxes are heralded in Japan, with many believing they have mystical powers and bring good luck.

Jellyfish Lake, Palau.

Located on Eil Malik island in Palau, Jellyfish Lake is home to over a million stingless golden jellyfish. Hundreds of years ago the lake had an outlet to the ocean but when the sea level dropped the jellyfish population were isolated and began to thrive. They had no predators so over time their stings disappeared and now divers can now swim alongside them with no fear of being stung.

Monkey Forest, Bali.

Monkey Forest, located in Ubud, Bali, is home to more than 600 monkeys. Tourists the world over flock to come and interact with them, but being bitten is common. The forest hosts a variety of ancient Hindu temples that date back to 1350, and which the monkeys have made their home.

Pony Island, USA.

The rural island of Assateague on the coast of America is home to more than 300 feral ponies thought to have made their way there after surviving a shipwreck. The best way to see the ponies, on the 37 mile-long island off Maryland and Virginia, is by kayak along the island's waterways.

Pig Island, Bahamas.

On a small uninhabited island in the Exuma region of the Bahamas, wild pigs paddle freely. Tourists can reach the site by boat to feed and play with them. According to legend they were left there by sailors who had plans to return for a pork roast, but never did, leaving the pigs to turn feral.

Cat Island, Japan.

On the Japanese island of Tashirojima - population 100 - there are more cats than residents, and they are valued by locals who feed them in the belief that they bring good luck. They are particularly useful for the local farm-raised silkworms industry because they chase away mice, which eat them.

Deer Island, Japan.

Situated in the west central section of Honshu, the largest island of Japan, Nara is home to more than 1,200 deer - believed to be sacred among the locals. Tourists can purchase crackers to feed to the tame deer, which roam the streets freely in large groups all year round.

(Article source: Daily Mail)

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