Foxes, rats and bats: What might be sharing your Paris Metro journey

Foxes, rats and bats: What might be sharing your Paris Metro journey
Photo: AFP
The Paris Metro system can be pretty crowded at rush hour, but at least then it's only fellow humans that you need to worry about. When the Metro is quieter some more unusual travellers come out.

Metro commuters last week were stunned to hear the announcement that services on Line 8 were disrupted – due to a fox on the tracks.

 

But foxes are just one of the animals that have made the dark tunnels of the Metro system their home.

“It's not unusual for foxes to use the Metro tunnels, they are quite nomadic, unlike humans, they are not afraid of the dark and are quite opportunistic; they go where they find food,” Vincent Vignon, an ecologist at the Office de génie écologique and author of a census of foxes in the capital, told French newspaper  Le Parisien.

There are a few other species lurking in the dark.

As with most parts of Paris, mice and rats live there and are a problem for city transport operator RATP.

Not because they freak out commuters – but because they have an unfortunate tendency to nibble through important wiring. 

RATP conducts regular campaigns of poisoning against the rats and mice in an attempt to keep the population down and damage to a minimum.

The have also been reports of weasels living in the tunnels and bats are a regular sight – enjoying the gloomy underground atmosphere.

Older commuters also recall hearing the noise of crickets in the Metro tunnels until the 1995 public transport strike.

The insects apparently arrived in France in sacks of bakers' flour from warmer countries and eventually moved into the warm, dark tunnels of the Metro where commuters would hear their distinctive singing noise.

But according to Frédéric Malher, regional delegate of the Ligue de protection des oiseaux en Île-de-France (society for the protection of birds in the Île-de-France region), the three-week Metro strike of 1995 sounded their death knell.

The lack of trains and commuters meant the temperatures in the tunnels fell and decimated the cricket population.

The ban on smoking on the Metro also eliminated one of their main sources of food – the cotton in cigarette butts – and now you are unlikely to hear the chirp of a cricket as you make your way home on the Metro.

READ ALSO The strange rules of the Paris Metro you probably should know about

 

 


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