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If you live in the Sunshine State, you’re no stranger to wild animals that call the subtropical southeast home. From alligators cropping up on golf courses to cougars stalking Floridians on hikes, we have a few “wild” stories about exotic—and dangerous—animals that will make the hair on your arms stand up.
Fortunately, most wild animals that you might encounter aren’t apex predators looking to make you a snack. When it comes to common wildlife problems for Florida residents and business owners, most animals that end up at your doorstep are quite skittish and generally keep their distance from humans.
Nonetheless, it’s important to know how to identify wild animals that may wander too close to your property and learn about the problems they can cause.
Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are “masked bandits” that typically grow to be around 3.5 feet long and can weigh up to 16 pounds. They have grayish fur, a black mask, and a long tail covered with black and brown rings—that’s what gives them the nickname "ringtail."
What’s interesting about raccoons is that they have little hands that look similar to human hands, meaning they’re able to do a lot of things humans can do—such as open windows, break into bird feeders, or remove trash can lids.
Because of their unique abilities and opposable thumbs, these “trash pandas” can end up strewing garbage all over yards and driveways as they sift for a late-night meal. Raccoons are also known to build nests inside properties, causing considerable structural damage while contaminating the area with their feces and urine. As cute as raccoons may seem, they’re not an animal you want having free reign in your yard or inside your property.
The grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) typically measures around 18 inches long and weighs only about one pound. They are, as the name suggests, grey in color and counter-shaded—meaning they can easily camouflage themselves from predators.
Some people really enjoy seeing these little tail-flicking, playful critters scampering around their yard and up in the trees, but others find them less than appealing—as they tend to dig in vegetable gardens and flower beds.
Even worse, if squirrels make their way into your attic, they’re likely to cause damage to insulation, chew on your home or belongings, and possibly cause a house fire by severing electrical wires. And, if you are unlucky enough to have your bedroom close to the attic, they can also cause one too many sleepless nights.
Measuring 15-30 inches in length and weighing 4-13 pounds, opossums (Didelphimorphia) are the only marsupial—a mammal who’s born incompletely developed and carried and suckled in a pouch on the mother's belly—living in North America and Canada. With narrow snouts, long tails, and a menacing-looking snarl, opossums typically have grayish-white fur, but they can sometimes be black or brown.
If threatened, these critters will "play opossum," meaning they will go limp and pretend to be dead. If opossums have invaded your property, they typically can be found underneath outbuildings or decks—but they’re also known to make their way into attic spaces where they can cause significant damage while building a nest.
It’s important to know that an opossum contracting rabies is extremely rare, as their low body temperature makes it difficult for the rabies virus to survive in their body.
Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are cute little creatures roughly the size of a small dog, weighing in at about 13 pounds. They have a sharp muzzle, a fluffy tail, and are usually a reddish-brown color. However, they can also be red, brown, black, grey, silver, or even white depending on their environment.
However cute these dog-like animals seem, it’s not a good idea to have them hanging around on your Florida property. They are known to carry diseases—such as rabies and distemper—and if you have a farm, they can carry off chickens, piglets, sheep, and even small dogs and cats for a meal.
Measuring from 5-59 inches and weighing from 3-130 pounds, armadillos (Dasypodidae) can be pinkish, dark brown, black, red, gray, or yellowish in color. These mammals are characterized by their leathery armored-shell made of dermal bone and sharp claws. These “little armored ones” can jump 3-4 feet vertically and enjoy eating insects, grubs, and other invertebrates.
Armadillos are amazingly good at digging things up, meaning if they get onto your property, they can do considerable damage. They sometimes take up residence underneath porches, near foundations, or near gas or water lines where they will dig and burrow until their heart's content.
If armadillos dig a nest and end up leaving on their own, other creatures commonly move into the burrows that armadillos established, giving you a new set of pest problems to deal with.
If you’re having problems with any sort of wildlife pest, our team at McCall Service will work with you to humanely trap and relocate any nuisance or damaging wildlife (or other household pests) from your property—allowing you, your family, or your customers to rest easy. Call McCall today to send wildlife back to its proper home...in the wild!