Are Rodents Really Our Enemies? Unpacking the Concept of ‘Pests’ in Bethany Brookshire’s Latest Book

Are Rodents Really Our Enemies? Unpacking the Concept of ‘Pests’ in Bethany Brookshire’s Latest Book

Have you ever looked at a mouse, raccoon, or seagull and thought of them as nothing more than pests? If so, you’re not alone. However, Bethany Brookshire’s new book, “Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains,” offers a refreshing and enlightening perspective on these creatures that might just change your mind.

As Brookshire writes, these animals are not naturally irritating. Rather, they’re winners in a world where their habitats are being taken over by parking lots, apartment buildings, and manicured gardens.

The author, who holds a PhD and is the host of the “Science for the People” podcast, takes us on a journey through the cultural history of nature and how it’s evolved with us. She explores the idea that semi-imaginary animals, created in our minds, are just as influential as real animals and how we label them as heroes or villains, depending on our changing views.

From pigeons to black bears, Brookshire delves into the world of creatures that are around us every day, bringing to light surprising information and details that are both fascinating and humorous. Throughout her research, Brookshire tackles important questions of inequality and injustice, examining the relationships between humans, animals and the issues that arise between them.

In “Pests,” Brookshire provides a captivating blend of scientific research, personal anecdotes, and expert interviews that make the book both educational and enjoyable to read. She also takes a close look at the impact of humans on the environment, including the issue of free-range cats, which can wreak havoc on nearby wildlife.

In the end, Brookshire’s book leaves us with a powerful message from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince”: “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” As Brookshire expertly demonstrates, it’s important to be mindful of our changing relationships with animals and to see them for what they truly are, rather than just labeling them as pests.

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in sustainability and wildlife conservation. It not only offers a unique perspective on the world of pests, but it also challenges us to rethink our attitudes towards these creatures and the impact we have on their lives.


If you’re passionate about sustainability and wildlife conservation, make sure to check out Bethany Brookshire’s book “Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains.” With its captivating blend of scientific research, personal anecdotes, and expert interviews, this book is sure to change the way you think about rodents and other so-called pests.

This article by Nicholas Vincent was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 25 March 2023. 

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