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10 Unsettling Tales Of Swarms Of Invasive Animals

by Gregory Myers
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Humans love other animals, and we even keep some of them as pets. Cats, dogs, and even exotic animals like ferrets, snakes, or tarantulas are considered by some people to be beloved family members. Zoos are also a huge attraction and make money every year by bringing in new and exotic animals for people to gawk at. People love reading and learning about different animals in the world, and many people would tell you that they are animal lovers.

However, when a large, deadly animal, or a lot of small ones, decide to make your home their new habitat, they quickly become significantly less endearing. Animals that you previously enjoyed from behind the safety of thick glass can quite suddenly become your very worst nightmare. For some people, that nightmare became horrifying reality.

10 A Town Is Taken Over By Tarantulas

Tarantulas are not venomous enough to actually kill a human and they generally don’t attack unprovoked, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not potentially dangerous. A fully grown tarantula’s fangs are large enough that its bite is no laughing matter. Recently, a diving species of tarantula was documented for the first time. This species is called the diving tarantula because of its ability to create air bubbles to breathe underwater. Like other tarantulas, its venom can’t kill you, but it is still strong enough to make you sick. People who are bitten report vomiting.

Normally, tarantulas only swarm together in numbers of about 100, but in 2015, the small town of Maningrada, Australia, dealt with a situation straight out of a horror movie. For some unknown reason, roughly 25,000 diving tarantulas descended upon the town and made it their home. While residents were likely less than thrilled, some scientists believe that the swarm could lead to important breakthroughs.

The fact this particular tarantula’s venom is so strong intrigues scientists, and they wonder about the possible medicinal applications. Also, given that this tarantula had only recently been documented, scientists were thrilled at having so many together in one place to study. The simple fact that so many are together is an intriguing anomaly. They also suggest that over time, it could be a big economic boom, but many residents are likely skeptical of this and wish that their town wasn’t infested by hairy, eight-legged monsters.

9 The House Built On A Snake Nest

Snakes in a house

A couple in Idaho thought that they were getting a steal of a deal when they bought their house for roughly $180,000, but it quickly turned out to be a total nightmare. When the couple had talked to their real estate agent, he told them some stories about loads of filthy snakes crawling all over the property and nesting under the house. According to the homeowners, the real estate agent convinced them that the stories had been made up by the previous owners to get out of their mortgage. He made the new owners sign a statement indicating that they knew about the snakes. This should probably have been a red flag. After all, if there were no snakes to worry about, there would be no need for them to sign a statement in the first place.

Nevertheless, the couple signed and decided to live in the home. Before long, they started finding snakes—more snakes than they knew what to do with. While they were nonvenomous, it was still a serious infestation and was putting the entire family on edge. The family claims to have caught 43 snakes in just one day and that the water started to taste how the snakes smell. After a few months, they’d had enough and decided to move out.

It later turned out that the previous owners had tried to sue the real estate agent, but the newest couple could not due to the document they had signed. In the end, they had to file for bankruptcy and likely learned a valuable lesson: You should take the stories seriously if someone says a bunch of snakes are living under your house.

8 Bats Infest A School

Bat infestation forces school to move to a new campus

In early 2015, the students at a charter school in New Orleans had their education disrupted because their school became infested by bats. While the nocturnal bats mostly stayed inside the walls during the day, the infestation became bad enough that some bats started to appear outside the walls, and school officials were worried about it making concentration difficult for their students. Of course, considering that bats are known for carrying many different diseases, it was also a considerable health risk.

The school quickly moved the students to a temporary location when the problem started to get out of control, but that didn’t mean that they had any handle on a permanent solution. The location was previously known for having a bat problem before the school set up there, and the officials had been given advice by experts on how to properly deal with the issue. The experts had suggested a special treatment that would allow the bats to fly out to hunt but not allow them to return once they did.

Unfortunately, the school took a cheaper route and hired a roofer who had no idea what he was doing. He ended up sealing the bats inside. When the bats needed to find somewhere else to move, they started to seep into the school itself. The experts had to be involved again, removing parts of the ceiling and opening the windows in order to coax the bats out of the school.

7 Dozens Of Exotic Animals Are Released

Zanesville, Ohio: Hunt for Escaped Exotic Animals

The citizens of Zanesville, Ohio, had always been a bit worried by a nearby animal preserve. The owner kept many different exotic animals (including lions, tigers, and bears). He was also known for not taking particularly good care of his animals and had been cited in the past for neglecting them and allowing them to live in filth.

One day, the police noticed that a lot of very exotic-looking animals were walking around outside near the preserve and realized that something out of the ordinary must be going on. It quickly became apparent that most of the animals in the preserve had been released by the owner himself; he then went on to take his own life. Dozens of exotic animals were running free, and the sheriff and his deputies were doing their best to track the creatures down and get the situation under control before anyone was hurt.

Sadly, many animals had to be killed due to the actions of the preserve’s unhinged owner. According to a news report, the body count was nearly 50. Included in the death toll were 18 Bengal tigers (an extremely rare animal), lions, mountain lions, several different kinds of bears, and a baboon. While it was extremely unfortunate that so many rare animals had to be put down, allowing them to continue to run loose would have been far too dangerous. On the bright side, six animals survived because they were not released from their cages. They were given unharmed to the Columbus Zoo and now have a much better home. Also, in spite of the insanity of the situation, no one was hurt due to the quick action of the Zanesville Sheriff’s Department.

6 A Town’s Docks Are Taken Over By Sea Lions

‘Fake Willy’ arrives to scare Astoria sea lions

Astoria, Oregon, a town of about 10,000 people, ran into some rather bizarre wildlife-related issues in 2015. Normally, the town of Astoria plays host to a large number of sea lions every winter, but the sea lions have always left by the time summer comes. In 2015, however, the sea lions came and decided to hang around and not go anywhere at all. Scientists believe that the shifting climate is causing temperature changes in the ocean, making the sea lions look for less warm areas in which to swim and fish.

This has left the town of Astoria with a very serious sea lion problem. Hundreds of the animals are sitting around on the docks, making an incredible mess and also eating tons of the same fish that the residents rely on for food and jobs. The town is worried that if they cannot get the sea lions to leave, it will have a serious and lasting impact on their community’s economy. So far, they have tried brightly colored beach balls and special electric nets in the hopes of getting them to leave without spending too much money. More recently, they tried to use a gigantic fake orca to make scary noises and scare the sea lions away. The plan hit a snag when the motorized Orca malfunctioned, and the pilot had to be rescued, but they hope to try the plan again at a later date.

5 Hundreds Of Birds Invade A Couple’s Home

A California couple had just come back from a small vacation when they were astonished to find hundreds of birds all over (and inside) their house, just chilling out and enjoying themselves. They were everywhere and making quite a mess, as you can imagine. An ornithologist who was asked about the situation explained that they were a type of swift that tends to migrate at that time of year and had likely mistaken the couple’s chimney for a tree, where they would normally roost. Luckily they’re not any danger to humans even in such numbers, just a major nuisance.

They left the couple’s home before long but returned once more in large numbers, circling for a while before entering through the chimney. After shooing the birds out once again, the fire department installed a grate to ensure that none could get through. This didn’t stop the birds from attempting to get in again.

This may sound like an odd anomaly, but this couple isn’t the first to report large amounts of birds flying down a chimney and deciding to set up shop for a while. While it’s good that these kinds of birds are not dangerous, we certainly don’t want to imagine what it would be like to clean up the mess they must have left behind on their way out.

4 Scorpion Infestations Are A Major Problem

Arizona Bark Scorpion

Photo credit: Musides

In Nevada, many different scorpions are native to the area. While they can be a nuisance, most of them aren’t poisonous enough to harm humans, nor are they annoying enough in terms of infestation to be considered a huge threat. However, the Arizona bark scorpion, which is not native to the region, often arrives when people plant palm trees brought in from another state for landscaping purposes. This scorpion can be dangerous to very young children, as well as the sick or elderly, so families with young children tend to be especially concerned by this. One entomologist explained that the way houses are built in the area tends to make it extremely easy for them to be infested by scorpions, and the habit people have of bringing palm trees to the area makes it hard to control. For some families, it becomes a daily nightmare.

Some people have reported seeing these scorpions in their sink, house, yard, and everywhere else they could possibly show up. One resident complained of finding at least five each night and said that one of her cats was stung and died. As of this writing, the family plans to move, but their landlord won’t pay to have the infestation removed. So, for the time being, they wear shoes around the house and check everything carefully with black lights in order to avoid the stinging menaces. For those with small children who are afflicted by a similar infestation, experts suggest putting glass jars under the crib posts, because scorpions cannot make it up the smooth surface.

3 Animal Rescue Operator’s Home Is Infested With Thousands Of Rats

Hundreds of rats found living inside woman’s home

A woman who ran an animal rescue was well known for her good work for over a decade, and according to her count, she adopted out well over 4,000 animals before she was shut down. For many years, she had been doing fine and was by all accounts very good at helping animals and finding them a home. Then, her hands got a little too full. An anonymous person dropped off some rats in a cage, along with some food, but didn’t even inform her. The animal rescue operator found them after they had already multiplied like crazy. Being an animal lover, she tried to care for them and adopt them out.

Unfortunately, she let it get out of control. Rats breed too fast and multiply too quickly for one person to handle, and the situation got worse. The infestation became so bad that the city called for the home to be condemned, and the operator may face penalties for her actions beyond just having her operation shut down. She had only been allowed to keep 80 animals at a time, and she exceeded that by quite a lot. When interviewed by the news, she was in tears, saying that the rats deserved better and wishing that more people wanted to take care of them. While perhaps she should have done something about this before it got out of control, it was also clearly irresponsible for the anonymous person to leave such fast-multiplying animals without informing her.

2 Hordes Of Monkeys Are Invading India

NBC News, Monkey Problems in India

While sometimes, it seems like animals do their level best to take over a house or a small town, in the case of India, they are doing as much as they can to annex the entire country. According to Vice, recent figures estimate that there are roughly 50 million monkeys in the country. This huge influx of monkeys has caused entire towns to be overrun, and India is at a loss for how to curb the problem.

Monkeys are a protected species, so they cannot simply go on a massive monkey killing spree. On the other hand, the problem has become increasingly severe. Monkeys accidentally killed the deputy mayor of New Delhi back in 2007 when they caused him to fall from a balcony. They have also been reported to be stealing official files and damaging historic buildings. The problem is such a national embarrassment that when President Obama visited, people were hired to chase the monkeys away from him to avoid the embarrassment of a visiting dignitary being harassed by animals.

The monkeys have infested New Delhi and many other cities throughout the country, stealing food from locals, harassing them, and generally causing huge amounts of mayhem. One city reports as many as 400 bites a month due to the overpopulation of monkeys, which can be especially problematic because of the diseases that they are capable of spreading. One reason that the population has boomed so much is because many Indian people feed the monkeys, partly due to them being considered sacred by some people’s beliefs. This has made the issue hard to control, and it may be a very long time before there is an end in sight to India’s monkey infestation problem.

1 A Huge Swarm Of Mormon Crickets Terrorizes A Town

Mormon Cricket Swarm

Photo credit: Katie Madonia

In 2003, the town of Elko, Nevada, was overrun by a veritable army of insects known as Mormon crickets. The creatures piled up all over the roads, around the hospitals, on the streets, and in front of shops. The town quickly lost a lot of tourism money, and many shops were closing because no one wanted to stop in the town to shop. One law enforcement official claimed that he saw a 1.6-kilometer-long (1 mi) column of them running from a wildfire. While this may have been an exaggeration, there was no question that the infestation was seriously out of control and costing the town a lot of money. In order to combat it, they spent over $50,000 on a special insecticide that the insects love to eat, which kills them rather quickly. Since the crickets eat their own when they die, this became a very effective way of spreading the poison and controlling the problem.

Although these particular insects are known as Mormon crickets, they are actually a form of katydid. They were only called crickets because that is what the Mormon settlers who dealt with them thought they were. Back in the mid-1800s, the Mormons in the region were dealing with a similar infestation, and nothing was working—not fire, drowning, or beating—to stop the creatures from destroying their crops. Finally, they decided to pray to God, and the legends say that he sent a flock of seagulls to devour the annoying pests and save their livelihood. This is known as the miracle of the gulls in the Mormon faith.

fact checked by Jamie Frater