Different Rat, Same Story

A lot of people here in Florida know there are rats around. We are basically surrounded by water between rivers, oceans, lakes and ponds and water attracts rats. What we don’t realize is that there are a ton of different kinds of rats. I personally would just assume a rat is a rat is a rat, but then I would be wrong!

The most common rat found in Florida is the Roof Rat. What does a roof rat look like you ask? They are about 3-8 inches in length, they have a really long tail, huge ears and eyes and generally are black or dark brown. They are smooth and sleek, which is part of the reason they are so quick.

The next common rat we have here is the Norway Rat. Yes, you read the name right. These guys are around 14-16 inches and their tails are sorter than their bodies. They are grey or brown and their bodies and ears are covered in weird scales.

Then we have the Wood Rat. These guys can grow up to 7 inches and are around the same length as the Norway Rat but they are furry and hamster like. They are black, brown or grey. Sounds cute right? They are still rats!

At the end of the day, all of these rats are in fact that…rats. They will all cause the same damage to your home and pose the same health risks. It is extremely important to rid your home of the pesky critters asap, even if you think they are adorable!

Squirrel Invasion!

Not too long ago I was sitting on my back porch with my niece talking about our days and we could hear this loud squeal/screeching coming from the trees and we weren’t sure what it was until we saw a couple of squirrels came darting across the yard. Those little guys were insanely fast! The noises continued so we searched on the internet to find out why they were making these noises and it turns out there was a nest of babies somewhere in the trees. I had to tell my niece to stay away from them because in her 13 year old mind babies need her to help them…which we all know is not the case and mama squirrels can get defensive, I don’t know about you but Id rather not be attacked by a vicious squirrel.

About an hour went by and there were even more squirrels in our backyard. We’re talking probably 10-14 of them. This is odd because usually we will see one or two, nothing serious. So I was a little concerned but super curious as to why this was happening and went out to the yard to check it out. In my backyard we have a “tree line” that runs along the back side of our fence, so animals aren’t a new thing for us, it happens a lot. So I couldn’t really tell why there were so many squirrels.

I went back to my seat on the porch and told my niece I had no idea what was going on and she responded….welllll I did throw a big bag of peanut shells over by the firepit. There was the answer! Squirrels love nuts of course, so they were scavenging looking for peanuts. Kids are great, aren’t they?!

What is that SMELL?!?!

Have you ever been driving down a dark road late at night, windows up, ac on and all of a sudden you’re hit with an awful smell that makes your eyes water? I think the general instant reaction is to say “What is that smell?” The smell will often linger for about a mile and then it goes away. Its an intense odor that words cant really describe….that smell is a skunk! A few things could have happened, someone could have run one over and it sprayed, it could have sprayed close to the road because of fear, or it sprayed another animal for a similar reason. You might be thinking, How would I be able to smell a skunk in my car, windows up, ac on? Well that’s a good question and the answer is pretty simple. Skunks can spray up to 10 feet away from them, but the scent can travel about 3.5 miles!!

Skunks use this smelly spray as their defense mechanism, I dont know about you but that would definitely keep me away!!

Raccoons During the Day

Growing up, everyone always told us if we saw a raccoon out during the day it had rabies and to run from it. Well, in my mind if it is rabid and you run from it…it’s going to chase you and has super animal powers so it will catch you and then bite your face off (keep in mind, I was around 8 when my parents told me this). Many years ago if you spotted a raccoon outside, it may have been rabid but things have changed drastically over the years. Growth and development have forced raccoons, and most other wildlife, into our neighborhoods, homes and businesses.

If you watch videos on YouTube of raccoons you will see how smart these animals are. They are part of the K-9 family so their mannerisms can be close to your dogs. People keep them as pets (if they obtain them as very young pups) and they can be trained, taught how to do tricks or other fun things. But its important to keep in mind, at the end of the day these are wild animals and maybe not the best idea for a pet.

Raccoons are spotted out during the day these days for a few reasons and the main reason is simple….food. Raccoons know that our garbage cans are full of food. Being an opportunistic animal, its simple for them to knock over your cans, rummage through your bags and find all kinds of tasty treats perfect for their liking. The next reason being…babies! A lot of times the momma raccoon is out during the day because she is either looking for a place to nest or after finding food they are bringing it back to their family. The very last reason you’ll spot a raccoon out during the day is because it is sick or injured.

A sick raccoon will act either super aggressive and crazy, or the exact opposite. An injured raccoon will act similar but you will clearly see it is hurt. If you notice a raccoon is sick or injured or sick, please call animal control in your county right away.

Help! My Attic became a Raccoon Den!

It’s that time of year that all Floridians look forward too! Cool nights and comfortable days! I don’t know about you but on these cool night there is nothing like snuggling on the couch wrapped in a warm blanket. Well guess what?! We aren’t the only ones wanting to be warm and cozy at night! Raccoons are finding a cozy place to be at night too. Unfortunately for some that means your attic or crawlspace!

This can become a noisy nightmare for homeowners. During the summer months raccoons gorge themselves on any food they can find to store up some body fat to last through the winter. After they are done they find a nice place to take a long nap and call home for the winter. Your attic is the perfect place to make a den within all of your insulation.

A good idea to prevent this is to seal up your home before they find their way in!

13082755_616123115219149_5376452113604439128_n

You shouldn’t kill that snake in your yard!

I am terrified of snakes, and I’m not afraid of anything so my first instinct when I see a snake in my yard is to scream and make someone kill it, but this is a bad idea and here are some reasons why.

Snakes eat rodents! If they’re catching and eating them outside, there leaves less chances for them to get into your home. A lot of non-venomous snakes in Florida eat insects, frogs and other small reptiles or amphibians and that’s why you don’t have an abundance in your yard.

Most snakes are not aggressive and will not harm you on purpose, they are probably in your yard and you don’t even know it. If a non venomous snake bites you, it will probably hurt and could lead to an infection if you don’t clean it and take care of it. However, if you get bit by a rat you take the risk of getting a number of illnesses and disease, including salmonella, histoplasmosis, typhus and meningitis. I don’t know about you but Id much rather take the risk of being bitten by a little garden snake than a filthy rat.

Moral of the story is simple, snakes are great for the environment….leave those slithering guys alone!

 

Foxes in Florida?!

There are two types of foxes in Florida; the red fox and the grey fox. I had never seen a fox here until recently and when I did I was shocked and excited. It was on the side of an off ramp on 95 North right at dusk and had I not been going so slow, I would have missed the sighting entirely. Im pretty sure it was a red fox based on the appearance, how cool right?!

The red fox is about the size of a small dog, they can be up to about 15 pounds and an average of 2 feet in length. Of course the have a reddish color and white bellies, they can also have some white spots on them. Their tail is bushy and has a white tip on them, these are the foxes we most commonly see depicted in cartoons and movies. They eat small animals like rabbits, rats and mice.

The grey fox is usually smaller than the red fox, they too have some reddish fur but are mainly grey. They can be up to 13 pounds and around 40 inches long. The female is usually smaller than the male but both look similar. These guys have a 12 inch tail!! That seems pretty long for such a small animal, their tails have a black tip on them. A big difference in the grey fox is they prefer wooded areas and climb trees. They tend to sleep in trees to avoid larger predators. Grey foxes eat the same things as a red fox will, but will eat just about any animal it can get its paws on.

Next time youre driving on 95, look around if its close to ark…you never know if you will spot an awesome fox!

There’s an Opossum in my kitchen!

A customer called us in an absolute panic, she said there was an opossum in her kitchen cabinets and she did not know what to do and of course she was terrified. Can you imagine opening your cabinet to grab a pot and a giant opossum is staring back at you? Me either! We sent a technician out to her home immediately to see what we could do to help her.

When the tech arrived the customer was on the edge of hysterics, she showed him where she had last seen the opossum and he was still there. Of course the animal was scared as well and not happy to be outside of his natural environment. When the tech opened the other cabinet door, the opossum hissed at him and bared his teeth. At that moment the tech knew he had to remove this guy and get him back to his normal home.

He went to his truck, put on his kevlar gloves and grabbed a catch pole. He went back inside and suprisingly enough he wrangled the animal pretty quickly and safely had him in a cage within minutes. The customer was very grateful and couldnt thank him enough. He took the animal to a wildlife area and released him safely.

Another happy customer, another animals life saved!

Florida Endangered Species

In Florida our population growth is very high, with growth comes development of land and that means the wildlife gets driven into residential areas, or their resources (food, shelter) gets depleted and the animals die out. What you may not know is endangered species are not just wild animals. There are also fish, plants and water critters, like crustaceans and coral.

Here are some of the more known endangered species:

  • Plants.
  • American Alligator.
  • American Crocodile.
  • Sea Turtles.
  • Birds.
  • Florida Panther.
  • Manatee.

If you see these animals healthy or injured please report it to Florida Fish and Wildlife. They keep track of sightings to maintain records of growth or depletion.

 

The War On Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are considered to be migratory, non-game birds and so they are protected in the state of Florida by law. In order to have the birds and their nests removed you have to have someone with a special license perform the extraction and the laws for removal are very strict, there has to be good reason to have them removed or the removal will be denied.

Woodpeckers are attracted to fruits and nuts, so if you have a bird feeder or fruit trees in your yard, that could be whats attracting them. Of course removing your fruit trees would be hard to do and a little extreme, however removing your bid feeder is a good idea…not to mention bird feeders also attract rats, mice and squirrels and those guys can burrow into your home rather quickly.

There are some things you can do to prevent or control the woodpeckers from destroying your home or business.

Bird Netting- Netting is generally made out of a durable plastic material and looks like screening, this can be easily attached to your siding, eaves or other areas that are problematic.

Metal Barriers- Metal Sheathing can be used to cover areas that have already been disturbed by this invasive creatures. You can also use plastic sheeting but it wont be as effective and will have to be replaced often here in Florida due to weather conditions.

Fake Em Out- Use fake owls, hawks, snakes or other predatory animals to scare the birds off or to keep them away.

Loud Noises-You can try an air horn, banging some pots and pans or loud crazy music. The birds can associate your home with those loud noises and they may stay clear.

These guys can be pesky and annoying but handling them appropriately is very important, do not attempt this on your own!