Living with Urban Wildlife

Young Opossum1

Here in Houston there are many kinds of wild animals that thrive in urban areas. Most of these are relatively common animals such as birds, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, snakes and many more…

These animals are often attracted to human dominated landscapes because they are highly adaptable, opportunistic feeders that are energy-efficient. By highly adaptable we mean that they can easily adjust to changes in their environment. Opportunistic feeders are animals that are generalists, eating a variety of plant and animal material including food often left out by people. These animals are energy-efficient in that when given the choice between a meal that has to be chased or one that is easily found in a backyard, they will always pick the easy meal. Everything these animals do is related to food availability.

The kinds of wildlife that thrives in suburban environments are among the most adaptable and interesting animals. Inevitably there are occasions when wild animals can be as intrusive as we must seem to them. Though we can’t come to your place personally, we can help you learn how to co-exist with wildlife when conflicts arise.


Preventing Conflicts – Keep Wild Things Wild!

Here are some simple rules for living with the wildlife found in urban areas. These tips explain how to live with and enjoy wildlife responsibly. Our behavior as people affects the behavior of wildlife.

  • Don’t feed wildlife! Direct feeding can alter an animal’s normal behavior. Problems occur when animals become habituated (used to humans).
  • Keep trash and garbage around your yard contained and picked up. Do not put your trash out for pick up the next day unless it is in a sealed container that wildlife cannot get into as many wildlife species are most active at night.
  • Keep compost in a container that allows the material to vent but keeps wildlife from getting into it.
  • Do not feed pets outdoors. The pet food attracts wildlife right to your door.
  • Restrain or secure your pets. Although free roaming pets are more likely to be killed by automobiles than by wild animals, there are wildlife predators like coyotes, foxes or hawks that view cats and small dogs as potential prey and/or competition for food resources. For the safety of your pets, keep them restrained at all times.
  • Remove bird feeders especially if wildlife is seen around the feeders. The seed in bird feeders can attract many small and medium-sized mammals (squirrels, mice, rats) these, in turn attract animals that prey on squirrels, mice, and rats. If possible, try to find a bird feeder that does not allow seed to spill.
  • Close off crawl spaces under porches, decks and sheds. Wildlife will use these areas as dens for resting and raising their young.
  • Do protect livestock and produce. Wildlife predators will prey upon livestock. There are techniques for protecting livestock from predation. Fencing can be useful in keeping wildlife out of certain areas. It is a good idea to clear fallen fruit from around fruit trees in the fall.
  • Don’t approach or try to touch wildlife. Wildlife which becomes habituated may approach other humans expecting food or attention. This is not safe for the animals or for people. Don’t provoke an encounter
  • Do educate your neighbors. Share this information with your neighbors since your good efforts could be futile if neighbors are purposely or unintentionally providing food or shelter for wildlife.