Nature is an uncontrollable enigma. Although we might try our hardest to wish away bad weather, or keep invasive plants from growing in our gardens, the natural world holds a trump card over all of us … and we just have to accept it. One of the most unpredictable elements of the natural world comes in the form of wildlife. You know what we mean, the squirrel who insists on dropping all his nutshells on your car window, the woodpecker who has made the windowsill outside your bedroom his new favorite pecking place. But what can you do?
We can build fences all we want, but that’s not going to keep those woodland creatures away. All we can do is sit back and enjoy the creatures that share our world with us. They do have their redeeming moments after all.
Check out these wild creatures who have no qualms with making your yard their home.
1. Feisty Foxes
Though foxes are typically pretty wary of people, the lure of easily accessible food found in neighborhoods draws them close to our homes. Pet food, garbage and other food sources are a serious draw for these adorable animals. So, it is not uncommon for them to be regularly sighted in near U.S. houses.
Though foxes won’t normally mess with full grown pets, kittens and very small pets (usually less than 5 pounds) should be kept away from these sly animals. It’s always best to keep a close eye on your pets, even if they’re just going for a stroll in the backyard; an encounter with wildlife can be dangerous for both parties involved.
There is no way to keep these animals out of your backyard indefinitely, but if you spot one too close for comfort, making loud noises will typically make them run off. If you don’t mind having these super cute animals hanging around, sit back and get your phone ready to catch any adorable shenanigans they may get into.
2. Stealthy Raccoon
Raccoons can be found in neighborhoods across the country. With their dexterous little hands, these animals are well equipped for stealing cat food … and whatever else catches their fancy. These animals are nocturnal, so are usually only seen at night. Like foxes, the draw of pet food and garbage is too much for these little guys to stay away.
If you aren’t fond of having these backyard burglars around, there are some tips and tricks to follow. First, don’t leave pet food outside. Second, get garbage cans with locking lids. If raccoons are digging up your yard (for worms and other delicious bugs), you can try using a humane hot sauce repellent on the spots.
Though it is tempting, don’t feed the raccoons in your backyard. Your neighbors probably wouldn’t be thrilled, and getting them accustomed to human contact could lead to a potentially dangerous situation.
If you love raccoons as much as we do, then you probably have an appreciation for their mischievous nature. Who knows what kind of trouble they will get themselves into! Just remember, don’t try and pet them! Let them go about their business (as strange as it may be) with as little human contact as possible.
3. Dainty Deer
Any neighborhood that is near a wooded area is going to have the chance for some deer visitors. Though their habitat has been greatly taken over by our “urban sprawl,” these white-tailed deer are doing just fine adapting. Plants, such as tulips, are an ideal snack for these adorable creatures, so they are more apt to wander into our gardens.
Unfortunately, many feel that the best way to deal with deer coming into “our” neighborhoods is by killing them. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), killing deer as a “solution” is a short-term, inhumane, and ineffective approach at best. Instead, we should learn to live with these wonderful animals. By changing what we plant in our gardens, we should have no issue sharing our backyards with these cute (and fun to watch) creatures.
4. The Moose
All you northern U.S. (and Canada) folks are probably quite familiar with moose. These incredible creatures are much bigger than the deer the rest of the U.S. is used to seeing; they are also much less common. However, urban sprawl also contributes to some unwanted moose-human interactions. Luckily, due to their large size and docile nature, people are more respectful of their moose visitors. This has allowed them to successfully navigate between wilderness and backyards with minimal issue.
If you are excited about seeing these animals on a regular basis, HSUS recommends creating an “urban sanctuary.” Your backyard can become a place that seems comfortable for these animals, encouraging them to stop by. But as with all wildlife, be sure to keep a safe distance from these animals and don’t feed them! You remember what happens when you give a moose a muffin …
If you live in Florida, you are familiar with the alligator, the state’s favorite backyard reptile! Anyone lives, or has lived, in Florida knows that alligators are regular a part of life. In fact, it is said that these scaly creatures can be found “in every body of water in southern Florida.” Seeing that the people of Florida have turned much of the alligator’s natural habitat into housing and other developments, you can spot these reptiles in some pretty unusual places. Golf courses, for example, are always chock full of these awesome creatures.
If an alligator makes its way into your yard or decides that a game of “ding-dong-ditch” is appropriate, don’t try and handle the situation yourself. Alligators are incredibly fast and won’t hesitate to bite. If an alligator has made its way too close to your home for comfort, call a local animal control office. These offices, especially in Florida, are used to removing such large and dangerous animals.
People who live in places where alligators are common should also be sure to keep pets inside at all times, unless you are outside with them keeping close watch.
Opossums are the only marsupials in the U.S., however, they have somehow gained a bit of a bad reputation. These adorable animals (though, not everyone will agree with that description) can be found all across the U.S. Like raccoons, opossums are all about eating cat food that is left outside for pets, but unlike their bandit counterparts, opossums won’t tip over your garbage cans or dig up the yard.
No need to scream and run when you see an opossum on your back porch. This nocturnal animal is probably more scared of you than you are of them. Plus, unlike other backyard animals, opossums can help your garden. According to HSUS, opossums commonly eat snails, slugs, insects, and even small rodents. This helps keep your garden pest free (naturally).
These animals aren’t there to cause you any harm, but they don’t want to be played with either. Make sure to leave visiting opossums alone. They will be moving along on their way in a short time anyways!
Loving Our Neighbors … From a Distance
We share our world with animals of all shapes and sizes. Having animal visitors shouldn’t be something we try to stop. Instead, we should embrace their visits and appreciate the beauty of nature.
NOTE: As an important note, do not try to help wildlife of any sort unless you are trained. Find a local wildlife rehabber/rescuer or veterinarian ASAP, or call a rescue hotline. Here are some that might help!”
Lead image source: Mike Keeling/Flickr