Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Raccoon Reunion!

Raccoons have already started having babies, as Michael found out when he went to a job in the Fort Worth area yesterday.

A customer called 911 Wildlife, mistaking us for animal control, wanting us to pick up the raccoon he had trapped. Luckily, we are not animal control, or this story would have had a sad ending. Because raccoons are considered a rabies vector, animal control policy is to automatically euthanize any raccoons trapped and picked up. (While raccoons in Texas can get rabies, the raccoon strain of rabies is not present west of the Appalachian Mountains.)

Michael talked to the customer and explained why this little lady kept getting into his garage (the answer is almost always a food source).

And then Michael found what she had left behind in the attic.

Unfortunately, lots of people learn the hard way that you should never assume there are no offspring, or that an animal is definitely gone from the attic before you close it up (unless you use a one-way door like 911-Wildlife!).

But these babies are now safely reunited with their mother again, just not in someone's attic. Well, at least not this attic. Michael put a one-way door over the raccoon's entrance (just to be safe), and put the babies in a reunion box next to the door. He released the raccoon from the trap and she retrieved all four babies under cover of darkness last night! Now they are living in her plan B den site, which is hopefully a tree, and not a chimney somewhere.

However, think about what would have happened if the raccoon had even just been relocated. The mother would have a 20% chance of survival in a new area, and the babies would either have died or been given to a raccoon rehabilitator. While rehabilitation doesn't sound too bad, rehabbers can't teach baby raccoons the skills they need, which their mother would have done. And these guys have their eyes still closed, so they would not have had their natural fear of humans, possibly lowering their chances of survival. Luckily, we don't have to worry about that now, so just look at these adorable pictures!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Thing From Beneath

In Urban Wildlife Management, we use a lot of tool to help us identify creatures. Lately, my favorite is my Truth Cam. This camera is marketed to hunters, but man does it work great in our jobs! Just have a look above. The house this fella came out of was sure there were rats in the foundation, you can even see a live rat trap in the lower left hand corner. To be sure though the trusty camera caught the true squatter making an exit. He couldn't quite fit into the trap to get at the peanut butter.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Next-Door Nature

DO skunks spray other skunks?? Inquiring minds need to know!

Luckily, Dr. Kieran Lindsey has the answers! Dr. Lindsey is an urban wildlife biologist and current lecturer at Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources. She actually co-authored the textbook of my Urban Wildlife Management class at Texas A&M, along with the professor who taught the class, Dr. Clark Adams.

Sidenote: The textbook, Urban Wildlife Management, is a wonderful resource. It is very informative and I think it's a must-have for anyone who is genuinely interested in the realities of urban wildlife.

In any case, Dr. Lindsey also co-authors this amazing wildlife blog! Even if you just want to look at some great wildlife photos, definitely check out Next-Door Nature.

And yes, skunks DO spray other skunks. Find out why here. And thanks to Bonnie for telling us about this!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So There's The Culprit!

Ever had a "Mystery Hole" dug in your garden, beside your A/C pad, or up under your deck? Here in Texas, no matter how urban the area is people associate that type of digging with armadillos. Not so says the skunk in this IR picture!
This little guy/girl has been creating havoc for a condo HOA in Clear Lake. It's digging habits started over a month ago, and were so vast homeowners were sure this was a person vandalizing their living space!

Friday, February 11, 2011

And Now For Something Completely . . . Relevant

And now, for the viewing pleasure of all, I present a link to and description of the wonderful company that makes all of this possible:

911 Wildlife!

Now, you may be asking yourself, "Self, why is 911 Wildlife so amazing?"

Well, 911 Wildlife was created by licensed wildlife rehabilitator Bonnie Bradshaw five years ago. For ten years, Bonnie has been rehabbing . . .

Yes, raccoons!

The raccoons Bonnie deals with are almost exclusively orphaned, usually by efforts to remove the mother from someone's house or backyard. This is, in fact, one example of a reason live-trapping can be inhumane. Most people can't tell if a raccoon (or squirrel, opossum or skunk) is a lactating mother, and taking her to another location could mean leaving her babies to fend for themselves.

However, you should think twice before relocating even a swingin' bachelor raccoon. Several studies (ex. “Toward a professional position on the translocation of problem wildlife.” S. Craven, T. Barnes, and G. Kania. 1998. Wildlife Society Bulletin 26(1): 171-177) show that most relocated animals do not live longer than a few weeks in their new environment.

Bonnie wanted to give people a way to keep their homes wildlife-free while keeping animals safe and keeping family units together. Luckily, AAA Wildlife Control, Canada's largest wildlife control company, has been makin' it happen with this philosophy for over twenty years. (So if you live in Canada, call these guys! Preferably only if you have a wildlife problem, but who knows? Maybe a talkative customer service representative would like to take your call anyway.)

Bonnie made a trip to Canada to investigate their methods and came back more convinced than ever that 911 Wildlife could work! Now it's been five years, and 911 Wildlife is serving more areas than ever, including Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston, and boasts these fantastic features (taken from

  • No traps or chemicals of any kind are used.

  • Specially designed one-way doors are installed to prevent animals from being trapped inside attics and chimneys or under foundations.

  • Exclusion work is guaranteed for 10 years.

  • Educational literature on preventing wildlife problems is provided to every customer.

  • Proven effective techniques endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States.

  • 5-Star rating on Service Magic and Angie's List.

  • Darren and I are members of the Houston Team, so call 713-287-1911 with any wildlife questions or problems! Or, for the Dallas-Fort Worth area: Dallas (214)368-5911; Fort Worth (817)737-0911; Denton (940)898-0911; Sherman (903)893-2911.

    Sorry about the novel, but now you know what we're all about!

    Dog Days

    I'm so sorry that I've been away for so long! I will only present one of my excuses (carefully selected from a long list):
    Two of my dogs got into a fight! Oh no! Alas, it's true. Kif (one of my two dogs) and Wash (one of my parents' two boxers) got into a scuffle while we were all playing in the backyard.
    Wash (back) and Kif (front) seen here in better times.
    In case you ever witness a dog fight, here are some tips:
    DO NOT put your hands in between them or try to grab them. They are only focused on the fight, and they WILL bite you.
    DO try to break up the focus of the fight WITHOUT direct contact, preferably long-distance. For example, use a water hose on a high pressure, or water balloons.

    I tried using a plastic lawn chair to break them up, but it was probably too light to do anything. As bad as this sounds, a metal chair would probably have worked better. I used to work at an animal clinic, and clients once brought in their brittany spaniel that had been attacked by a mastiff. They told us they had to hit them metal pipes to get them apart. It is pretty amazing that even that worked, and that the brittany was alive, considering the ferocity and strength of a mastiff.
    P.S. The brittany is fully recovered and happy again.

    Kif disengaged first, possibly in part because my mother managed to grab Wash's collar (not advised). Neither dog was seriously hurt, although each of them got some staples and stitches. We reintroduced them the next day, with water hoses ready, but they are getting along fine now, although Wash is clearly dominant.

    And yes, Kif and Wash are strange names. They are both from different television shows.
    Kif Kroker of TV series "Futurama"

    Hoban "Wash" Washburn of TV series "Firefly"

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Living Just Enough for the City

    Coyotes! From news reports full of photos of small dogs that have presumably been savagely mauled by coyotes, to your friend's cousin's roommate who definitely saw one last month, it seems like coyotes are everywhere.

    Well, the truth is that they probably are. In fact, coyotes in America are more plentiful today then they ever have been before, not least because killing coyotes causes the remaining females to increase their litter size. But more coyotes, even if they're in your neighborhood, is not necessarily a bad thing.

    The reason coyotes do so well in cities is not because they eat cats and dogs. It's because they eat rats and trash and anything that won't be too hard to catch or put up too much of a fight. Most people that believe their dogs or cats were killed by coyotes only know that their pet disappeared and, having seen coyotes in the area, assume that these canids are the culprits. While this is sometimes true, predation is not a main cause of death for stray animals. But that is beside the point. If you watch your animal while it's outside and keep it inside the rest of the time, it will be safe from all predators, not just coyotes.

    To be continued! With more info on why coyotes are actually pretty okay.