Riley Pest Management
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FLORIDA WILDLIFE
A source for information on wildlife in florida

Florida's wildlife and human population are encountering each other more often than ever before. As humans develop more open space and wildlife habitat is reduced and fragmented, encounters between humans and wildlife become more common. For most people, observing wildlife is a thrilling experience, but when an animal causes damage or attempts to share your living space, that thrill can turn to irritation or fear.

Just like us, birds and other animals are doing their best to make a living and raise their young. Developing an appreciation and understanding of your wild neighbors can help you learn to accept them and live in harmony with them without resorting to extreme measures. Tips for keeping the awe in your wildlife experience.  

  • Feeding wildlife accustoms them to humans and is a certain death sentence for bears, alligators and other species. 
  • Making simple accommodations will often solve the problem of marauding raccoons and other critters. Remove the free meal attractant by feeding pets indoors, installing baffles on bird feeder poles and fastening trash cans lids with rubber straps. 
  • Bringing pets inside at night will keep them safe from hungry predators. 
  • Cover possible entryways with hardware cloth to exclude squirrels, bats and other animals scouting out your home for a safe place to raise young. 

Although relocation is sometimes necessary, trapping and relocating wildlife is a last resort and only warranted if all other measures have failed and an animal becomes a threat. Removing one animal may only serve to open up territory for others to move in. Rather than getting your feathers ruffled, make simple accommodations to avoid wildlife conflicts then relax and enjoy the wonders of wildlife in your own backyard. 

Florida has an abundance of wildlife, including a wide variety of reptiles. Snakes, and their cousins the alligators, crocodiles, turtles and lizards, play an interesting and vital role in Florida's complex ecology. 

Many people have an uncontrollable fear of snakes. Perhaps because man is an animal who stands upright, he has developed a deep-rooted aversion to all crawling creatures. And, too, snakes long have been use in folklore to symbolize falseness and evil. The ill- starred idea has no doubt colored human feelings regarding snakes. 

Whatever the reason for disfavor, they nonetheless occupy a valuable place in the fauna of the region. On the plus side, for example, snakes help keep in check rodents that threaten crops and, not uncommonly, carry diseases that afflict man. Depending on your point of view, Florida is either blessed or cursed with a rich diversity of snakes. Our 44 species of snakes are found in every conceivable habitat, from coastal mangroves and saltmarshes to freshwater wetlands and dry uplands, and many species thrive in residential areas. However, there are just a few species that are commonly seen in developed area, although any snake may occasionally be found in urban settings. 

Only six of Florida's 44 snake species are venomous, the eastern coral snake, the southern copperhead, the cottonmouth, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the timber rattlesnake, and the dusky pygmy rattlesnake.  Most Florida snakes are harmless and beneficial and remove extra rodent populations.  Even the venomous species are not particularly dangerous unless stepped on or otherwise provoked. 

Most snakes you encounter are most likely to be nonpoisonous. By recognizing common non-venomous snakes and understanding something of their habits, you can take a more relaxed attitude toward them and appreciate them as an integral part of Florida's wildlife. 

What to do when you see a snake 

What should you do when you come upon a snake? Just stand back observe it. Snakes don't purposefully position themselves to frighten people. They'd much rather avoid encounters and usually will flee. You can try to figure out what kind it is by using this article or one of the other references listed.   Some snakes, such as the Eastern indigo snake, are designated as endangered or threatened species and are protected. 

There is no good reason to kill a snake except in the unlikely situation of a venomous snake posing immediate danger to people or pets. Snakes usually bite people only if they are molested; it's their only means of self-defense. Even a poisonous snake in the woods or crossing the road poses no threat and should be left alone. Also, most larger snakes travel in large areas, so one you see in your yard today may be far away tomorrow. 

If you do not like snakes in or around your dwellings or out-buildings, they can be removed from buildings without harm to either you or the snake through the use of glueboards or funnel traps. 

The frequent sighting of snakes near dwellings or out-buildings may indicate the presence of rodents. Removal of brush, lumber or other debris accumulations will discourage both rodents and snakes.  Rodent food sources like chronically spilled bird seed under feeders or pet foods scraps should also be policed regularly. 

Venomous reptiles may only be possessed under license and specific laws are in effect for handling, caging, and transporting. 

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-- Duggan Cooley, former CEO- RCS

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