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Alligator
Beaver
Chipmunks
Coyote
Stray Dogs
Flying Squirrels
Red & Gray Fox
Muskrats
Nutria
Rabbit
River Otter
Porcupine
Snapping Turtle
Weasel & Mink
Mystery Animal


Alligator

Biology: The American alligator is the largest reptile in North America. Alligators can be found in ponds, lakes, canals, rivers, and swamps throughout Florida. Alligators are about 10"-12" in length when they are hatched from eggs. Females can grow to approximately 9' in length and 200+ pounds. Males can grow to approximately 13'+ in length and attain 500+ pounds. The record alligator was 19 feet 2 inches. They can live to be 100 years old. When alligators mature their diet includes animals such as muskrats, nutria, beaver, raccoons, large birds and fish, snakes, turtles, deer, etc.

I wish that I could catch alligators, but the stinky Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission restricts permits. Give them a call at 352-732-1225 if you need alligator control.

Nuisance Concerns: Alligators are considered a nuisance due to the potential danger they pose to pets or even children wandering near or swimming in Florida waters. Nobody wants an alligator taking up residence in their private pond or worse, swimming pool!

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Beaver

Biology: The beaver is the largest rodent found in North America. Adults can weigh up to 65 pounds and measure from 24 to 36 inches, plus a tail of 12 to 18 inches. With its webbed hind feet, waterproof fur, and unique paddle-shaped tail, the beaver is well-adapted to living in an aquatic environment. Beavers are a major nuisance species in many parts of the country, but to be honest, I've never had to deal with a single case here in Orlando.
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Nuisance Concerns: Beavers are considered a nuisance for two primary reasons: tree cutting and dam building. Tree cutting is undesirable to landowners who want to protect their trees. Dam building is a more serious matter, resulting in flooding forest and farm lands, plugged culverts and the washout of roads.

Beavers do not respond to repellents, and they are impossible to exclude. They may abandon a dam site that is continually destroyed, but the most effective means of beaver control is trapping.

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Chipmunks

Biology: Chipmunks are rodents, best described as small ground-dwelling squirrels. They are typically 5-6 inches long and weigh about three ounces. Chipmunks are omnivores. Their diet consists primarily of grains, nuts, berries, seeds, and insects. They are burrowing animals. They hibernate, and store food for the winter. Some people consider them a nuisance and catch them with small cage or even lethal rat traps. Read more about wildlife management.

Nuisance Concerns: Chipmunks are considered a nuisance because they may consume flower bulbs, fruits, seeds, and seedlings. When present in large numbers, they can also cause structural damage by burrowing under patios, stairs, retention walls, or foundations.

I have quite a bit of experience in chipmunk control from working up north, and am familiar with the most effective trapping methods, and am successful in eliminating nuisance chipmunks around the home. However, I've never dealt with any chipmunk problems of any kind here in Orlando. I've never even seen a chipmunk down here.

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Coyote

Biology: Coyotes are members of the canid family, which includes wolves, dogs and foxes. Adults coyotes weigh an average of 30 to 50 pounds, and are four to five feet long from nose to end of tail. They are carnivores, whose diet consists of rabbits, deer fawns, birds and various invertebrates. They also scavenge and can bring down larger prey in packs. They raise pups in dens, but seldom dig their own. They possess exceptional senses of smell, sight and hearing, and can produce a distinct howl.

Nuisance Concerns: Coyotes prefer solitude, but become a big nuisance when it comes to certain livestock. Occasionally, an individual coyote learns that chickens, sheep, lambs and calves are easy prey. Although there are some coyotes in the Orlando area, I never deal with them.

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Stray Dogs

Dogs are often our beloved family pets. Unfortunately, many dogs do not have homes, due to a variety of reasons. Some dogs become a nuisance around town. They can bark, harass other dogs, scavenge, and worst of all pose as a violent threat to unsuspecting civilians. Others simply wander without homes, and still others have homes, but have gotten themselves lost. If you find a stray dog, or are having problems due to dangerous strays, contact the Animal Services division in your county, and they will attempt to capture it and bring it to the local humane shelter. Here are the phone numbers: Orange County Animal Services: 407-352-4390 / Seminole County Animal Services: 407-665-5201 / Orlando Humane Society: 407-351-7722

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Flying Squirrels

Biology: The northern flying squirrel is a small, nocturnal mammal weighing 3 to 5 ounces and measuring 6 to 8 inches in total length. It has a long, broad, flattened tail, very eyes, and thick, silky fur. It is a colonizing mammal. It does not actually fly, but uses flaps of skin on either side of its body to glide through the air.

Nuisance Concerns: Flying squirrels are a nuisance because they are colonizing animals. In the wild, they prefer hollowed out trees as nesting sites, but many decide that your attic is a swell environment. Because they are nocturnal, you may hear them scurrying about at night, particularly as they move in and out of the building. Many people hear the noise and mistake flying squirrels for rats, mice, or other types of squirrels, such as the Eastern Gray Squirrel. People don't like the noise that a colony of flying squirrels can make at night, nor do they appreciate the biohazard that the droppings pose. Flying squirrels chew, like all rodents, and can leave stains on your house at exit/entry sites.

I deal with many flying squirrel jobs each year. Their tendency to use the attics of buildings brings them into the realm of the nuisance animal. I can always identify them by their unique scent. My methods of capture, exclusion, and damage repair will eliminate your flying squirrel problem. If you are hearing noises in your attic, soffits, or walls at night, there's a good chance these little critters are responsible.

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Red & Gray Fox

Biology: A medium-sized canid with a large bushy tail, often tipped in white. Ranges in color from grayish and rust red to a flame red, usually reddish-brown. Adults measure 35-45 inches in length from nose to tip of tail and weigh between 12 and 18 pounds. Generally moves at dusk and dawn, though may be active in mid day. Fox use a variety of habitats for dens, including abandoned holes dug by other animals. Diet is varied, though it often includes small mammals and birds. Click here for photos of a Florida Fox that I caught.

Nuisance Concerns: Fox are a nuisance primarily for poultry producers. Turkeys, chickens, ducks, and geese are all susceptible to an opportunistic fox. Young pigs, lambs, and small pets are also killed by foxes. Foxes may carry rabies. Additionally, foxes have been known to steal pet food left outside for outdoor pets.

I don't really deal with fox because they are rare and relatively harmless.  But if you do have some foxes living under your shed or something, I can certainly come and trap and remove them. Are foxes dangerous?



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Groundhogs

Biology: The groundhog, also known as the woodchuck, is a member of a group of large, ground-dwelling squirrels, called marmots. Adult groundhogs measure 18 to 24 inches long and weigh about 6 to 10 pounds. The woodchuck is almost a complete vegetarian, eating leaves, flowers and soft stems of various grasses, of field crops such as clover and alfalfa, and of many kinds of wild herbs. Certain garden crops like peas, beans and corn are favorites. Chucks occasionally climb trees to obtain apples and pawpaws which they relish.

Nuisance Concerns: Groundhogs are a nuisance primarily because of their tunneling ability. The are prodigious diggers, and often choose to dig burrows along edges, such as your house or deck. They can seriously undermine support of your house's foundation, deck, or outdoor stairs. It is important to eliminate groundhog tunnels next to a house. Its burrows are also dangerous to both horses and cattle. In addition, groundhogs will eat most of the crops in your garden if given access. There really aren't any groundhogs here in Orlando.

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Muskrats

Biology: The muskrat is the largest member of the rat and mouse family (Cricetidae) in North America. Adults weigh 3 to 4 pounds. The muskrat is adapted to an aquatic way of life, and is an important and valuable furbearer. They live in family groups, each group occupying a portion of a pond containing a house, feeding areas, and canals through cattails and other pond vegetation. Muskrats eat pond weeds and emergent vegetation. They also eat a variety of animals, including freshwater mussels, frogs, salamanders and small fish.

Nuisance Concerns: Muskrats burrow in the banks of rivers, streams, and ponds. The primary concern is bank erosion. Of course, they pose a threat to dikes as well. Most of the calls I get are from people who don't like numerous burrows, which erode the bank or can be accidentally stepped in, on the edge of their private pond or stream. I've never encountered muskrats here in Orlando.

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Nutria

Biology: Nutria are members of the rodent family. Adult nutria are about 14 inches long from the nose to the base of the tail. The tail itself is 12 to 17 inches long, round, and hairless. Nutria average 15 to 20 pounds in weight. Nutria are native to South America. Nutria prefer to live in salt water shoreline mudflats and tidewaters.

Nuisance Concerns: They can disrupt catfish farming, destroy rice and sugar fields, and disrupt flood control. Nutria tear out aquatic plants by the roots to eat them. They are destroying many hectares of marsh vegetation, such as bullrush and cordgrass. When nutria eat all of the grasses in a marsh, the ecosystem is disrupted. This damage impacts wading birds, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and many other organisms. The roundworms infesting nutria can cause health problems for man. The roundworm larvae is present in the water where nutria are found, and this larvae can penetrate human skin. Known as "nutria itch", severe inflammation can result, which requires medical attention.

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Cottontail Rabbit

Biology: The Cottontail Rabbit is not in the rodent family. It is classified as a Lagomorph. An adult cottontail is about 15 to 18 inches long and weighs between two and three pounds. Litter sizes up to l0 have been reported, but typical litters number from 3 to 5 young, born after a gestation period of about 28 days. Eastern Cottontails are herbivorous, eating a wide variety of plant materials.

Nuisance Concerns: Rabbits are primarily a nuisance due to crop damage. In high numbers, they can decimate your garden. Additionally, Tularemia is a bacterial disease of rabbits that is transmittible to humans, usually through openings in the skin. However, it's extremely rare, and rabbits are not terribly common here in Orlando. I recommend that you just leave rabbits alone.

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River Otter

Biology: The river otter is the largest member of the Mustelidae family which includes the mink, weasels, skunks and badger. Adult animals are three to four feet long, including the 12- to 1 8-inch tail, and generally weigh 15 to 25 pounds. Otters are usually found in or near water and are well adapted for aquatic Iife. Their streamlined bodies, webbed feet and long tails contribute to their excellent swimming ability. Fish make up the greatest portion of the otter's diet. Crayfish are also an important food when available. Other foods include amphibians, insects, mammals and birds.

Nuisance Concerns: Not many, though otters occasionally cause depredation problems at fish hatcheries and rearing areas. As with all animals, their presence on your private property may be unwanted for a variety of reasons. There have also been recent cases of otters carrying the rabies virus. However, I'm reluctant to trap this playful and uncommon animal.

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Porcupine

Biology: The porcupine is a rodent of about 20 inches long and 10 to 20 pounds. They are famous for their many sharp quills, which are actually modified hairs, and used in self-defense. Porcupines are nocturnal. They feed on a variety of plants and trees.

Nuisance Concerns: Porcupines are considered a nuisance when they destroy trees or other wood, which they gnaw on, like all rodents. They can also choose your deck as a den site. They pose a potential danger because of the sharp, barbed quills. Like most animals, they are not aggressive, choosing flight over fight. There are no porcupines in Florida, I just like porcupines.

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Snapping Turtle

Biology: Snapping Turtles average 8-12 inches long and 10-35 pounds, though they can grow to weights of up to 65 pounds Common snappers are at home in slow-moving streams, rivers, lakes and ponds. They consume a variety of aquatic plants and many kinds of animals including fish, frogs, birds, and small mammals. They are also effective scavengers and clean up dead fish and drowned animals.

Nuisance Concerns: Pond n. - A body of water surrounding a Snapping Turtle. If you own a pond in Florida, even a small one, there's a chance you've got a home for a Snapping Turtle or two. Snapping turtles are well-known for their aggressive behavior. Their strong jaws are capable of delivering a serious bite. Your pet might be in for a surprise should it encounter a nesting snapper on land.

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Weasel & Mink

Biology: Weasels and mink are members of the same family, Mustelidae. Weasels are 10-16 inches long, and mink 18-26. Their slender bodies allows them to enter tunnels to hunt for gophers and other animals that live underground. They usually take up residence in the burrows of other animals. They eat rabbits, rats, birds, frogs, ground squirrels, and of course, mice.

Nuisance Concerns: Poultry farmers beware, the small weasel and mink are aggressive and can kill several chickens in one spree. This really isn't a concern in Orlando FL, and I've never seen a weasel or mink here.

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Mystery Animal

That scratching in the attic, that bump in the night, that howling on the wind ...it could be anything!  Or perhaps you saw some creature which you swear doesn't have a listing in the Audubon Society Guide To North American Mammals. Well, don't trouble yourself over it any longer.  Just call Sherlock Seerveld of AAAnimal Control we'll discover the identity of the culprit.  We carefully examine every bit of evidence.  Footprints! Hair samples! Excrement samples! Telltale odors! Scratch marks! Chew marks! Bedding material! Hole size! Type of noise! Environment of animal! Time of year! Time of day! DNA evidence!  By golly, if it's there, AAAnimal Control will find it and bring it to justice. Just call our crime lab at 407-729-6946


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