First order of business a WARNING on RABIES
Rabies is one of the oldest diseases known to man, and occurs everywhere in the world with the exception of the Hawaiian Islands. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 70,000 people die from rabies each year, primarily in Asia and Africa. In the United States, rabies is a rare illness in humans due to the advent of extensive vaccination programs for domestic animals begun in the 1950s. In an average year some 3 to 5 individuals in the entire United States are diagnosed with rabies.
Rabies is almost always fatal.
Rabies has the highest case fatality rate of any illness known, which means that 99.99% of those people who receive a diagnosis of rabies die from the disease. Luckily, a reliable and effective treatment for rabies is available, even after an individual is bitten by a rabid animal if received in a timely manner. The key to surviving the disease is to seek immediate evaluation for exposure and treatment by medical professionals.
SOURCES OF RABIES
The main wildlife sources of rabies in Florida are raccoons and bats. Infected raccoons and bats can expose people, pets, livestock and other wildlife to rabies, typically through bites. Outside cats are by far the most common domestic animal found to have rabies in the state of Florida largely because they are often not kept up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. Dogs, cats and ferrets are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies in the state of Florida.
Any mammal can contract rabies. Rabies is most often reported in mammals that tend to come in contact with humans or live near human settlements, including:
High-risk animals: Any exposure inflicted by a raccoon, bat, skunk, coyote, fox, otter, bobcat, or by a stray dog, cat, or ferret should be considered as high risk for rabies infection in Florida
SQUIRRELS – Most Common in park
Grey Squirrel: The eastern gray squirrel is found in wooded, suburban, and urban areas everywhere in Florida. Basically, they live anywhere there are large, deciduous trees (trees whose leaves die in the Fall). It is usually light to dark grayish brown with a white or buff underside but may also be all white or blonde with a white underside. It has small, rounded ears. Its long tail is flattened and bushy.
Grey Squirrels also come in Rare White (Albino) but not blue eyes), and somewhat rare Black.
Black, white or gray, our squirrels are all variations of the
American gray squirrel.
Picture from the Bay Weekly
FERAL CATS – Number 2 rabies carrier
The law in Highlands County on Feral Cats:
No person other than the property owner shall feed feral cats on public or private property unless authorized by the property owner in writing, a copy of which has been filed with Animal Services. Being that you are leasing the land, you are not considered the property owner therefore it is illegal to feed Feral Cats in Tanglewood. It is also a bad idea as draws other animals and rodents to the areas, it can also lead to the Feral cats forming a pod in the development. Remember these guys and their eating friends are RABIES carriers.
It is your responsibility to report neighbors who are feeding the cats, in time they will make a mess out of your flower and shrub areas..
The chance of rabies in an opossum is EXTREMELY RARE.
Opossums are found in a variety of forested habitats and survive well in suburban areas where they are often considered pests because of their habits of raiding garbage cans. They spend the day resting in tree cavities, hollow logs or underground burrows and emerge after sunset to search for food. They eat practically anything, including fruit, insects, worms, small vertebrates, carrion, garbage and pet food.
ARMADILLO – Chance of Rabies low, do carry Leprosy
While they can host parasitic worms and even rabies on rare occasions, most of the conversation surrounding armadillo diseases is about leprosy. Besides humans, nine-banded armadillos are the only animals that can carry M. leprae, the bacteria that causes leprosy. YOU CAN BUY ARMADILLO REPELLENT.
Northern Yellow Bat ALL BATS can CARRY RABIES
One of the largest and most visible bats in Florida, yellow bats start flying well before dark. As long as there are flying insects, these bats are active year-round. They fly slowly, and seem to hunt systematically, hawking back and forth over the same piece of ground. They can be seen over open areas such as lake edges, fields, golf courses and beaches. They are also common in suburban residential areas. Yellow bats rarely roost in human made structures, preferring clumps of Spanish moss or dead palm fronds as daytime hiding places. They eat a variety of insects including dragonflies, moths and beetles. The morbidity period is usually 4 to 17 days. Infected bats may die from rabies with or without evidence of neurologic disease
RACCOON – NUMBER ONE CARRIER OF RABIES AND DISTEMPER
Under most circumstances they are fun to watch and harmless when left alone. Problems arise because people find it difficult not to feed them. Raccoons are highly intelligent animals that will eat practically anything, it takes only a few handouts from people to teach them that humans are a source of food. They raid garbage cans, find their way into garages and sheds, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.
Because they may carry distemper and rabies, any contact with a raccoon is dangerous. Even though they look really cute Do not feed them. Most rabies outbreaks in Florida are associated with raccoons, in fact each year, raccoons account for 65% of cases of animal rabies in the state.
COYOTES – ARE RABIES CARRIERS IN FLORIDA
Coyotes are well established throughout the state. Coyotes are adaptable and opportunistic carnivores, flexible in their feeding habits and quite tolerant of people. They feed on small animals, such as dogs, cats, Raccoons, fruit, and insects. They will also eat out of garbage cans, and scavenge road-killed animals. Coyotes also take domestic livestock and are known to be serious predators of sheep and newborn calves. Urban coyotes have a fierce and formidable reputation as midnight predators that stalk and kill our beloved pets, especially small dogs and outdoor cats.
GRAY FOX -FOXES DO CARRY RABIES
Foxes are extremely sensitive to rabies virus
The usually die in a period 1 to 15 days after contracting rabies
The gray fox is one of Florida’s most commonly seen carnivores. Though most are wary, some individuals become quite tame. Red and gray foxes are similar in size and weigh (7-11 lb). A coyote weighs about 3 times as much as a fox and looks like a smaller bushy-tailed version of a German shepherd dog. Gray foxes are adaptable, opportunistic carnivores, flexible in their feeding habits, and quite tolerant of people. They feed on small animals, fruit, and insects, but they will also eat out of garbage cans and scavenge road-killed animals. Gray foxes prey heavily on rabbits, but they also eat rodents, birds, insects, acorns and fruit. Like Coyotes, Red & Grey Foxes will eat small pets such as cats and small dogs if the opportunity arises. Don’t leave small pets outside unattended, especially at night, when Red Foxes live in your area.
RED FOX – DO CARRY RABIES
Red foxes avoid the more heavily wooded areas occupied by gray foxes, preferring the edges of forests, meadows, agricultural fields and open pastures. They are excellent ‘mousers’ and catch rodents with a characteristic floating ‘mouse leap’, springing high in the air and pinning the unsuspecting mouse with their front feet. Like Coyotes, Red & Grey Foxes will eat small pets such as cats and small dogs if the opportunity arises. Don’t leave small pets outside unattended, especially at night, when Red Foxes live in your area.
FLORIDA BLACK BEAR – As warm-blooded animals, bears can get rabies, but it is very rare.
Florida black bears are not huge; female bears average about 180 lbs (82kg) and males 249 lbs (113 kg). However a few males grow considerably larger – in 1990, a male killed by a car in south Florida weighed in at 627 lb!
Big and scary? Cuddly and cute? The black bear is not a ferocious killer nor is it a cute
teddy bear. Black bears typically want nothing to do with you and will run and hide from people when given the chance. However black bears are large and powerful wild animals and they have scratched and bitten people who have provoked them.
Give the bear respect and space. Like most wildlife, if you don’t bother it, the bear likely won’t bother you. If a black bear is nearby. If you encounter a bear at close range in your backyard or in the outdoors, remain standing, don’t stare into the bear’s eyes, back up slowly and speak to the bear in a calm voice. Don’t run away, approach the bear or play dead. Find a safe place and make sure the bear has an escape route, then yell or bang pots and pans together to scare the bear away.
The Male does not stay with the mother and her babies, after mating, the male moves on to find another mate. Both sexes are promiscuous. One male may mate with several females.
Also as stated earlier, bears do not want to be around you anymore than you want to be around them.
Bears are attracted to pet food that is left outdoors, bird feeders, barbecues, composters, fruit trees, beehives, sweetcorn and grain fields. Garbage dumps provide a concentration of readily available food that often attracts bears. Bears lose their natural fear of humans through repeated exposure to people in areas where food is intentionally or unintentionally provided. In such cases, conflict with humans is inevitable; bears may even become destructive or dangerous. Such bears are often destroyed because they have become a “nuisance” or are perceived as a threat to human safety. That is why you should never intentionally feed bears or place food to attract wildlife to your yard for viewing.
People & Bears Can Co-Exist
People need correct information about bear behaviour and their biological requirements. This allows an appreciation for these animals and encourages the will to coexist. People and bears can coexist. We just need to know more about the bear as it really is, not the bear that exists in our head. Learn more at Wise About Bears.
Bears are very strong and quick. Bears have the capability to be dangerous, however the possibility of a bear harming people is overstated . Bears have the power to inflict great damage but for some reason they exhibit tremendous restraint when dealing with people. Bears that allow themselves to be seen by people don’t tend to be a threat to human safety. This is documented. In addition, so called nuisance bears have not attacked and killed anybody that there is record of. Some times a bears nervous behavior is misinterpreted for actions of aggression and the bear is unfairly dispatched (killed).
Experts will tell you to stand your ground if a black bear charges you, or make noise and wave your arms. Their charge is a bluff, they will mostly likely turn around and go about their business, my dad told me that when I was young we lived with lots of bears in far northern Wisconsin, 10 miles from the nearest town. Just don’t corner them, give them their distance.
A short story, I ran into a bear on a logging road that was working a fallen tree for ants, like a real brave kid, I threw my hunting knife at him when he saw me, then I turned and I ran as fast as I could home, when I got there, I told my dad, he looked at me and said” if you would have looked back, the bear was going in the other direction just as fast.” Just give the their distance.
SPOTTED & STRIPED SKUNK – While skunks are one of the most common carriers of rabies you’ll find in your yard, only a rabid skunk poses a danger.
The spotted skunk is small, the size of a gray squirrel, and an agile climber. It is marked with a ‘stay-away’ black-and-white coat. If you disregard the warning and get too close it will raise its tail and spray you with a foul-smelling fluid. Bathing with tomato juice may help to wash away the smell. You rarely see a live skunk but they occasionally appear as roadkills; you can smell the distinctive odor as you drive by. The other species of skunk in Florida, the striped skunk, is the size of a house cat, and rather slow moving. It is also marked with black-and-white warning coloration. Both species usually emerge at dusk to forage, rooting through leaf litter and soil in search of insects, eggs and small vertebrates.
BOBCATS –Bobcat attacks on humans have surged this year, chiefly due to rabies in the feline species, which is considered rare by experts. Authorities caution that anytime a bobcat attack is documented, rabies should be strongly considered as the cause. Animals and humans contract rabies from bites, scratches and even licks from infected animals. Early diagnosis is crucial for humans, because once symptoms are noted, people rarely survive.
Bobcats are medium-sized cats; males weigh about 12 kg (26 lb), females slightly smaller at 9 kg. They have a short tail, only 4-6 inches long, white underneath and dark bands on top. Their large ears are tipped with a short tuft of black hairs. The backs of the ears are black with a prominent white spot. Bobcats prefer areas with dense cover or uneven, broken terrain. Hunting primarily at night, bobcats kill mammals ranging in size from mice to deer, as well as fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds. Most prey weigh about 2 kg (4 lb), but these cats are capable of taking prey 10 times their own weight. In Florida, cotton rats, rabbits and birds are major prey items.
Bobcats pose little to no threat to humans, both adults and children. It is impractical for them to hunt creatures that are way bigger in size as compared to them. Being solitary and reclusive, you won’t find them too often in densely urban areas. But as we’re the ones encroaching their habitat, there is a possibility that one might encounter a bobcat on rural farms or urban outskirts. They are usually lured here with the expectation of finding food, small pet dogs and cats.
They have been seen numerous times right here in Tanglewood
FLORIDA PANTHER – Not a know carrier of Rabies but can be infected with it.
You may hear the Florida panther called by several names, including puma, cougar, mountain lion and catamount, but all these names refer to the same cat.
Florida Panthers usually give humans a wide berth. The Conser ation Commission confirms in Florida in modern times, there had never been a verified panther attack on a human in the state. They do kill a high number of domestic pets, and in other parts of the country they have been know to kill hmand. Florida panthers are a subspecies of cougar that once roamed across the state. A male panther requires about 200 miles of open territory to thrive, because man is reducing their territory, we are starting to see them more often in developed areas, they have been seen numerous time here in the Tanglewood area notably the path to Heartland bank and on the golf course.
WILD PIG – JAVELINA
Wild pigs are omnivores: they feed on mast (nuts), mushrooms, fruit, berries, and grass. They will also eat just about any type of animal life, including snakes, frogs, salamanders, ground-nesting birds, eggs, insects and carrion. pigs spend a lot of time rooting in the ground with their broad noses, looking for bulbs, tubers and anything else edible. An area recently rooted by pigs looks as if it has just been plowed.
They have been known to totally destroy lawns and sprinkler systems here in Tanglewood, rooting for grubs