Home and Garden Critters

picture of a cotton tail rabbit

Animal enthusiasts exist in all families. When it comes to dealing with the types of animals that share space in residential areas, family members may agree or disagree on what constitutes a problem animal, or what are often called critters or pests, in the home or garden.

This guide to your basic homes and garden critters begins with rabbits. The Leporidae family consists of approximately fifty different types of rabbit and hare species. Cottontail rabbits account for most of the responsibility for gardeners considering rabbits as garden nuisances.

Raccoons

picture of a raccoon
Raccoons get recognized as the neighborhood garbage bandits.

Families bothered by neighborhood raccoons are therefore often encouraged to keep strong lids on top of the garbage cans.

Less well known is that fact that raccoons also display a mean streak when it comes to pets, especially cats.

Skunks

picture of a skunk
Controlling skunks around the home and preventing family members, including pets, from getting sprayed by skunks can be as easy as following a few skunk preventative steps.

Step one is know your skunk’s food and shelter preferences. While all skunks are classified as carnivores, omnivore might better describe their dietary habits. Homeowners living in prime skunk habitat should be aware of removing pet food, garbage and other potential food sources from the yard.

All skunk species are known for their use of discharging an unpleasant chemical as a defense mechanism. Whenever a discussion of skunks arises, so too does the age old issue regarding removal of skunk gunk, the odor created when the skunk sprays its chemical defense. One of the most highly recommended organic remedies goes as follows: In a large, open container:

  • mix 1 quart fresh hydrogen peroxide
  • with 1/4 cup baking soda
  • with 1 teaspoon of liquid laundry soap or dish washing detergent

Use the mixture immediately on the affected area, dog, person, clothes etc., al.

Rinse and repeat if necessary.

The hydrogen peroxide and baking soda combine to break down the oily substances in the skunk spray.

Opossum

picture of an opossum in the yard
Despite their state wide range, opossums normally don’t pose too great of a problem for people living in residential areas.

First, they tend to be wanderers and don’t dig burrows or nests in order to create a permanent home in the yard. Second, their diet consists of many potential back yard pests such as insects, rodents and garbage. Finally, they are nocturnal animals not known to be aggressive to humans or pets as with raccoons.

Armadillo

picture of a nine-banded armadillo
The nine-banded armadillo (dasypus novemcinctus), a non-native species, once crossed the border into the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. In a short one hundred and fifty year period the Armadillo’s range has extended north, east and west.

Walking was, and is, their preferred mode of transportation. When necessary, they climb. When all else failed, they also swim. Interestingly enough, an armadillo possesses the ability to holds its breath and walk along the bottom of a shallow waterway, or it can swallow a substantial amount of air, inflate its stomach and float.

As a novelty animal, armadillos were exported to other states for exhibit. Additional releases and continued northern migration has resulted in their current range now extending from Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

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