Animal Question and Answer
There’s a turtle trying to cross the road. What should I do?
Roads present a major challenge to turtles and other animals. Imagine having to crawl across Central Expressway to get to your favorite grocery store! At certain times of the year turtles move about looking for mates or new homes. So, if it’s safe for you and other drivers, stop and help the turtle cross the road. Point the turtle in the direction it was headed and let it go do its wild animal “thing.” Watch out for Snapping turtles though! They have very long necks and can reach around to inflict a nasty bite.
For help with identifying Texas snapping turtles try the following links: http://www.naherpetology.org/nameslist.asp?id=7
There’s bird in my yard that keeps throwing itself against my windows. How can I make it stop?
Birds often see their reflections in glass and think it’s another bird invading their territory. They sometimes attack this reflection and will do so repeatedly until the invader disappears or the extreme urge to defend their territory diminishes. Homeowners can help the situation by temporarily covering the invader (the window or mirror), with a non-reflective substance such as brown paper.
There seem to be tarantulas everywhere! Are they “poisonous” and is my family safe?
Tarantula venom is no more toxic than a bee sting. If left alone, tarantulas rarely, if ever, inflict a bite. If you find a spider in your home, carefully scoop it into a box or similar container. Cover the box and take the animal outside to a safe location for release. Tarantulas can, if threatened, shower your hand with the fine hairs on their abdomen. These hairs can be quite irritating to the skin so wear a glove. Tarantulas do not jump up to attack humans, but they will rear back on their legs to look more threatening.
Remember, all wildlife, including spiders, have their place in the web of life; everything in nature has a job to do.
There’s a snake in my garage/yard! Is it venomous and should I kill it?
The most common venomous snake in our area of Texas is the Copperhead. They are venomous but most are not aggressive. Keep in mind that if it weren’t for snakes, mice and rats, which follow humans wherever they live, would be everywhere…under your bed, in your Cheerios, or stashed in your sock drawer! Snakes do us a great service by helping to keep rodent populations in check. The best way to handle a snake problem is to wear protective clothing such as heavy gloves, long pants and shoes with a closed toe and sweep the snake into a deep bucket or waste basket. Cover the bucket and release the snake outside in a safe place. If you are in doubt about whether the snake is venomous, call your local animal control office for help.
For help in identifying native snakes try the following links:
Or, take a digital photograph and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The snake will be identified as soon as possible.
We have a python snake/slider turtle/bunny rabbit/parrot that we can’t care for any more. Will you take it and give it a home?
Although we use native animals in education programs we cannot take in pets from the public. Animal lovers should always consider the life span of an animal before making the purchase of a pet. There’s nothing cuter than a baby animal in need of a home but we should always consider that, if taken care of properly, pets can live for many years!
My cat brings me birds/rabbits/squirrels that he has caught. What should I do?
Cats are predators; this is “hardwired” into them. For cats, the need to hunt is independent of the need to eat. As sweet and lovable as they are, cats do not belong outside, ever! Domestic and feral cats (and there are millions of them in the United States), are responsible for the decimation of many wild animal species throughout North America and the world. The best way to help wild animals survive in an already challenging world is to keep the kitties inside. If you permit your cat to roam outdoors and you maintain bird feeders, please stop feeding the birds. This practice makes the birds “sitting ducks.”
Cats can be quite happy living indoors and experiencing their time outside on a leash. There are many unique cat toys available which allow pet cats to fulfill the need to stalk and hunt.
We’d like to cut down shrubs/trees/tall brush, but there are nests in them. Can you take the baby animals if we bring them to you?
We cannot accept wild baby animals. It is always best to make major changes to a landscape in late autumn and winter. Baby animal season in North Texas typically runs from late February until September. By scheduling our landscape needs for the “off-season” you help wild animals succeed in their efforts to reproduce.
When it comes to birds, however, homeowners should bear in mind that all native bird species are protected by federal and state law! It is illegal to possess, or tamper with, any native birds, their eggs, nests or feathers. The only birds not protected by law are Rock pigeons (city pigeons), House (English) sparrows, European Starlings and Eurasian Collared doves. Please be certain that you identify any birds correctly before making changes to a backyard habitat or tampering with a nest.
If you should find yourself in a position that requires the help of a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian, please use the following suggestions for capturing and transporting wildlife:
All wildlife rehabilitators must be permitted by Texas Parks and Wildlife and, in the case of native birds, U.S. Fish and Wildlife. For help finding a permitted rehabilitator please contact the DFW Wildlife Coalition: www.dfwwildlife.org or call 972-234-9453.
- In advance, prepare the container you will put the animal in. Be sure to use a container that has proper ventilation and is such that the animal cannot escape. Use an old clean t-shirt or similar fabric to line the container. Do not use terry cloth towels as animal toes are easily caught in them.
- Protect yourself.
- Carefully pick up the animal and place it in the container.
- Do not hold or cuddle a wild animal. To them you are just a big, scary predator and cuddling them only stresses them out.
- Wash your hands after handling a wild animal.
- Keep pets and children away from the animal. Loud noise and constant “peeking” will further stress a wild animal.
- When transporting an animal, do not play the radio, smoke or spray deodorizer in your vehicle.