Aggressive, pesky or smelly? Animals with bad reputations | Environment| All topics from climate change to conservation | DW | 12.03.2015
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Aggressive, pesky or smelly? Animals with bad reputations

While many animals elicit a collective coo of affectionate appreciation, there are also those widely deemed as menacing. Here at Global Ideas, we have come up with a list of creatures people love to hate.


As winter gives way to spring and the air fills with the fragrant smell of a plants in bloom, the world is alive with promise. Until… the high-pitched screech of a blood-thirsty mosquito in flight zips past your ear. As carriers of killer diseases such as malaria, they are very unpopular.


The most feared marine predators, sharks are regarded as indiscriminate eating machines that lurk in the shallows waiting to devour the legs of unsuspecting swimmers. And while attacks do happen, they are relatively uncommon. And not all sharks are carnivores.


While honey bees are the darlings of the insect world, wasps are seen as one of its greatest pests. They feed their young on meat, and are always ready to defend their scavenger's sense of entitlement. Their sting is aggressive enough to kill those in whom it triggers an allergic reaction.


Another creature that has a particularly bad reputation is the cockroach. Reputedly able to live for weeks without food or, for that matter, their very own heads, they are certainly not everyone's idea of the perfect house guest. But that doesn't stop them from taking up residence.


Dubbed by some as rats of the skies, pigeons have earned themselves a thoroughly bad reputation. A feature of many a cityscape, they are prone to chasing away smaller birds in order to secure their next meal. And when they're done eating, they do their business wherever, on whomever happens to be passing by. Hmm…


Often depicted as evil creatures waiting in the wings to devour unsuspecting victims, vultures are rarely viewed through forgiving eyes. They feast on raw, and sometimes decaying meat, pushing their heads into the carrion of the day. Their stomach acid has been compared in potency to battery acid.


Their near hysterical laugh, shifty look, and renown as scavengers all contribute to the hyena's notoriety. Although they are quick to clean up other animals' leftovers, they are also skilled predators, with a weakness for birds, snakes, wildebeest and antelopes. And then of course, there's the Lion King…


As cute as they are to look at, skunks have what might politely be termed, a "distinctive" smell. When they perceive a threat, the black and white animals spray their predators with an oily liquid produced by glands under their bushy tail. The stench, which is an effective deterrent, takes days to wear off.