Texas is best known for its BBQ, rodeos, chili, bluebonnets and ….wildlife?
The entire state of Texas has an abundant wild animal population and Houston is no exception. In fact, Houston, with its many miles of bayous and lush outdoors, actually fosters one of the most populated and diverse wild animal ecosystems in the state. Even within concrete urban areas you may stumble upon a raccoon trying to get into a garbage can, an opossum walking down a neighborhood street or bats flying low at an evening ballgame.
Among the top five critters on the list are raccoons, bats, skunks, coyotes and foxes, which all pose a real threat due to their high risk of rabies. Here’s the scoop on three of them:
- Raccoons – These opportunistic critters are intelligent and can adapt well to living in close proximity to humans. They are omnivores that forage mostly at night. Raccoons can cause considerable damage to farm crops and animals, but in urban areas they are mostly destructive to attics, roofs, fruit trees and vegetable gardens, and love getting into your trashcan! They can cause harm to humans by biting or scratching or by carrying/transmitting rabies, although it is unusual for them to be aggressive – unless, of course, it feels threatened. They can also bring fleas, ticks and other parasites into your yard.
- Bats – Most bats found in Texas live in caves and trees. Many roost under bridges, in buildings or in other man-made structures. Roosts are usually dark, secluded areas where the bats spend the day sleeping. Bats normally leave the roost to feed just after sunset and feed off and on throughout the night. In urban areas, bats may become a nuisance because of their squeaking, scratching and crawling in attics, walls, chimneys or other structures. Their droppings and urine create an objectionable odor and, in some cases, can present a health threat. In addition, bats also can carry rabies. Most bites occur when people or pets pick up sick or dying bats that have fallen to the ground. Normally, bats are not aggressive and rarely attack people. In fact, more people die from dog bites than bat bites.
- Skunks – Skunks are one of the most abundant species of wildlife in Houston and are a high risk rabies carrier. And let’s not forget their obnoxious musky spray! Primarily nocturnal, skunks can be found living in crawlspaces, under front and rear porches, patios and basements in homes and businesses in and around Houston. Skunks are omnivorous but they mainly eat insects, grubs, small rodents, small birds, fruit, and dog and cat food. Any shelter that seems good for nesting and raising a family will appeal to a skunk. To avoid damage, keep your property maintained and look for any telltale droppings or signs of burrowing.
If Texas wildlife is driving you batty at home, contact your pest professional for a free estimate.