Top 20 Islands Ruled By Animals You’ll Want To Visit

Did you think, by any chance, that the planet we live in is ruled by humans? Well, you better think twice, cause over the past century, scientists have discovered some fascinating island ecosystems where animals are the ones who rule. From a stray dog sanctuary in Central America to a snake-infested island off the Brazilian coast, the sites we’re about to see are absolutely thriving. Don’t miss these top 20 islands ruled by animals, some of which can actually be visited!

Photo: Courtesy of Give It Love

#20. Cats At Tonawanda Island, New York

In the state of New York just north of Buffalo, there’s a small 85-acre island that every cat-lover should visit. Tonawanda Island is inhabited by more cats than people, as thousands of cats roam throughout the town’s streets.

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But not everything is as perfect as it sounds. No matter how adorable these kittens are, many of them live in the streets without adequate food and they’ve also created plenty of problems for the locals. Because of this, animal rights activists have been putting forward a campaign to promote the adoption of stray cats. For another cat-infested island, slide to #13!

#19. Foxes At Zao Fox Village, Japan

This is the first of the several Japanese islands included in this list, and definitely one of our favorites! Surrounded by mountains, Zao Fox Village is located in the Miyagi prefecture and it is home to over 100 foxes.

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If you ever travel to Japan and feel like visiting this island, I’ve got some good news for you! You can visit this village for just 100 yen (which is less than a dollar), and once you get there you’ll be provided with food to feed the foxes!

#18. Sheep At New Zealand

Here’s a crazy fact you probably didn’t know: can you believe that in New Zealand there are nearly 20 sheep per person? In other words, this means that over 74 million sheep live in this country. How crazy is that?

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The country’s sheep population rocketed towards the end of the 18th century when British explorer James Cook brought in a sheep from Europe. Ever since then, sheep farming became one of the country’s most important agricultural industries, and that’s why you can find these animals all throughout the nation.

#17. Rabbits At Ōkunoshima, Japan

Do you know what’s even cuter than an island filled with cats or sheep? One filled with rabbits! Welcome to Ōkunoshima, a tiny island which you can visit by just taking a ferry ride. It’s really prepared for tourists, as it has several campsites, trekking routes, and even a few historical buildings. And of course, the bunnies!

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The craziest part is that nobody is 100% sure how all these rabbits ended on the island. Some believe that such overpopulation began when a group of schoolchildren took 8 rabbits to the island around 1971, and they quickly began to breed. I guess we’ll never know!

#16. Horses At Assateague Island, Maryland

Assateague is a barrier island located in Maryland, USA, which every animal lover should visit. It truly has beautiful scenery, as it is home to the Assateague Island National Seashore and State Park, and guess what? The park is full of horses!

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Legend has it that horses first reached this island when a Spanish ship with horses on board wrecked near the coast, and some of these survived. Watching the horses roam free through the island’s grasslands makes this unique site worth visiting!

#15. Birds At Ursula Island, The Philippines

The Philippines is not only famous for its breathtaking beaches and towering mountains, but for its rich wildlife too. But if you visit Ursula Island, you’ll have both things combined! Apart from its white sandy beaches with turquoise waters, you’ll also find a fascinating bird sanctuary.

Photo: Courtesy of Visit Philippines

There are no resorts on this island, precisely to protect this rare species of birds, which are mostly types of pigeons. They live in the middle of the island in some marshy woods, but bear in mind that you need to obtain a special permit to come here!

#14. Dogs At Heredia, Costa Rica

Dog lovers, we’ve got good news: we’ve found your perfect spot! Heredia is a small island in Costa Rica that is not only home to breathtaking beaches but also to an amazing dog sanctuary. This sanctuary, known as Territorio de Zaguates (Land of the Strays in English) is run by volunteers and harbors nearly 1,000 pooches.

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The sanctuary has a no-kill policy that forbids animal euthanasia. Furthermore, they put forward an adoption campaign to find these stray pups a home. If you feel like this is your place in the world, you should know that the island is open to the public. Don’t think it twice!

#13. Cats At Tashirojima, Japan

As you can see, Japan is home to many animal islands, and Tashirojima is one of the most beautiful ones! While this island is home to only 100 human residents, it has an enormous stray cat population of several thousands.

Photo: Courtesy of Give It Love

But the living conditions of these cats are way better than the ones from New York’s Tonawanda Island. Apparently, locals believe that feeding the cats bring about wealth and good fortune, so these little fellas are happy to live there!

#12. Chickens At Kauai, Hawaii

This is Kauai, one of Hawaii’s most unique islands. It is widely known for being home to a vast population of chickens, most of which have resulted from the cross between domestic chickens and the red jungle-fowl.

Photo: Courtesy of Flickr

According to locals, these chickens descend from a flock of birds that escaped when Hurricane Iwa hit the island and blew open a bunch of chicken cages. One way or the other, you should visit this island, not only cause of the birds but because of its paradise beaches too!

#11. Wallabies At Lambay Island, Ireland

These kangaroo-looking creatures are one of the most adorable animals out there, and guess what? There’s an island in Ireland that’s full of them! Just 4 kilometers from Dublin, Lambay Island has a large wallaby colony and you can visit them at any time of the year!

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How did these animals first get here, one may wonder? Apparently, nature-lover Rupert Baring tried to introduce different exotic species during the 1950s but the wallabies were the only ones who survived. Nowadays, there are over 100 of these animals on this small island.

#10. Monkeys At Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico

Cayo Santiago, also known as Isla de los Monos (Monkey Island in English) is a small 38-acre island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. It’s widely famous for being home to over 1,000 rhesus macaque monkeys.

Photo: Courtesy of The New York Times

These monkeys are actually native to Southeast Asia, but back in 1938, 406 of them were shipped all the way across the Pacific to Puerto Rico. They are one of the most-studied primate colonies in the world, as scientists from the University of Puerto Rico and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons constantly travel to the island for fieldwork.

#9. House Mice At Gough Island, UK

An island full of mice sounds like anyone’s worst nightmare, but believe me, these house mice are actually harmless and pretty! Located in the South Atlantic Ocean, Gough Island is famous for being home to thousands of these small brown mice.

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During the early 1800s, a bunch of house mice escaped from a whaling ship which was near the shore, and that’s how they first came to the island. Ever since then, they survived eating insects until the population grew bigger and bigger, and here we are now!

#8. Seals At Seal Island, South Africa

Located near Cape Town and surrounded by striking beaches, Seal Island is home to hundreds of seals. Although the island is just 5 acres large, it is home to nearly 65,000 seals. Go for a boat trip and take some photos of this site from the sea!

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This tiny island is made out of granite and it rises only 5 meters above sea level. Unlike the surrounding areas, it lacks any vegetation and sand, making it an ideal spot for these marine mammals to live in.

#7. Pigs At Big Major Cay, Bahamas

Have you noticed lately that people from all over the world have been uploading adorable pictures of piglets swimming in turquoise waters? If you were wondering whether those pics were fake or real, we’ve got the answer: they’re 100% real!

Photo: Courtesy of Twitter

Pig Major Cay is a small island located in The Bahamas, and it’s famous for being home to a small population of feral pigs that have grown fond of swimming in the site’s pristine waters. There are nearly 20 of such piglets on the island, apart from a number of goats and stray cats.

#6. Deer At Miyajima Island, Japan

Not only is Japan famous for its cat island and rabbit island… it has its own deer island too! Miyajima Island is located in Hiroshima Bay and it harbors hundreds of sika deer. The animals can be found roaming the streets as if they were dogs.

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Most deer usually get scared easily and run away as soon as there’s a human in sight, but not these guys! In Miyajima, deer are completely used to people and they may walk up to a tourist or a local and stroll beside them. How cool is that?

#5. Cows At Goa, India

We all know that India’s main cities are usually full of cows, but can you imagine a paradise island full of them? Goa is a small Indian state whose islands are full of cows, and since they’re sacred for Hindus, they cannot be slaughtered nor eaten.

Photo: Courtesy of Give It Love

But do these cows roam along the beaches all day? Well, at first, they have their breakfast among the trees, and only then do they head toward the shores. They usually hang out in groups of 10 and they spend long hours lying on the warm sand.

#4. Puffins At Runde Island, Norway

Norway is not only famous for its majestic fjords, but also because of its rich and unique wildlife. If you ever visit this country, head towards Runde Island, which is home to one of the world’s most extravagant species of bird, the puffin.

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The birds clearly outnumber the people: while the island is home to nearly 200 residents, over 500,000 puffins live here! Take a guided boat trip and visit the different puffin colonies and hike along the island’s different trails. You won’t regret it!

#3. Snakes At Queimada Grande, Brazil

Quiemada Grande is one of the most dangerous places on Earth, to the point in which the state has forbidden humans from setting foot on the island. Located just 90 miles from São Paulo, this tiny island is home to nearly 5,000 snakes. Yikes!

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But these are no ordinary snakes: we’re talking about the golden lance-head, one of the most venomous species of snakes in the world. Please, don’t you dare put this site on your bucket list, or you won’t live to tell the tale!

#2. Polar Bears At Churchill, Canada

Seeing a polar bear in their natural habitat is something truly amazing yet extremely difficult to achieve since they mostly live in remote places near the Arctic. But if meeting polar bears has always been your dream, then head towards Churchill, an island in Northern Canada, also known to be the world’s polar bear capital.

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Churchill Island is home to over 1,000 polar bears. A few decades ago, the Manitoba Conservation and Worldwide Fund was created in order to protect this polar bear population. You can visit this site and go on a polar bear tour from July to November.

#1. Crabs At Christmas Island, Australia

Can you believe that Australia’s Christmas Island is home to nearly 45 million crabs? Now that’s what I call a living nightmare! But let’s look into this island’s story, cause many scientists consider it a miracle!

Photo: Courtesy of Give It Love

When the yellow crazy ant was first introduced into the island, nearly 15 million crabs died, and that’s when conservationists planned to reintroduce crab colonies to prevent their extinction. The conservation efforts were notably successful and the crab population began to multiply over the years. Bravo!

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    Hernán Tamargo

    Teacher. Political Scientist. Writer. Feminist... and much more!

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