It’s wild in San Francisco. Literally. I’m not talking about nightlife or street scenes or crazy housing prices. I’m talking about wildlife. All around us:

Hermit crab living in a vase-sized glass terrarium at a client’s house. Packed with the glassware and china by the family’s moving company. After a (no doubt) terrifying afternoon spent encased in bubble wrap, the crab is extricated from his temporary tomb. Restored to the family’s kitchen counter just before the semi-truck leaves for the East Coast.

Ordinary Lone Mountain home circa 1942, comprised of simple kitchen, regular dining room, predictable bedrooms, normal bathroom and modest yard. But wait! What’s this? In the basement? A surprise. A man cave crowded with big-game trophy heads from all over the world. Silently staring at visitors. Daring them to move in.

A juvenile mourning dove. Fallen from the sidewalk tree into our front yard. Too young to fly. Too old to tuck back in its nest. “Little Bird” – as we come to call him (surely a female would have taken wing) – cowers among the roses and grasses for a whole week while his parents feed and guard him. Finally he flies. Or is eaten. By a rat?

Sugar ants march boldly all over our house while El Nino rains pour. Rain goes away and ants march boldly out of the house and on to other adventures. Where have they gone? When will they return? What are they doing now? I set the honey jar back on the countertop.

Well-fed cat vs. equally fat raccoon. Ongoing nocturnal battles in the jungle that is our untended backyard. Bone-chilling screams and growls at midnight. Shut the window! Don’t look!

Church bells on Easter morning and a dog passionately howling back. Refusing to budge from the corner of Sanchez and 23rd as her owner tugs at her leash.

20-year- old frog in our away-at- college son’s room. Suddenly singing. Flopping about. Doing – apparently – what elderly frogs do in springtime.

Swimming in the unusually clear water of the cove at Aquatic Park. Another body is coming close to me and it’s not another swimmer. More premonition than sensation. Something my size and speckled swims four feet below me. It burps. A seal? Let’s hope.

Raptors in Golden Gate Park. Coyotes in the Presidio. Cougars walking along the freeway. Yes, we live in a city, but the wild is not too far away. What’s your favorite San Francisco wildlife tale?

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit

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