Who Is Annoying Who?

young raccoon in gcbo dumpster

young raccoon in gcbo dumpster

Last month I woke up to a big surprise; a family of raccoons had fallen into our atrium. Of course they made a mess of the place and it was a lot of work to get them out, but we knew that they were only trying to survive.

Raccoons definitely look their part of the masked bandit. These explorative little creatures have a knack for finding weakened chimney caps and attic vents as a means to get inside your house. They also love to steal your trash, bird feed, and even dog food. Raccoons aren’t the only animals that many people consider to be a nuisance though.

We all know the “lovely” fragrance of a scared or breeding skunk. And we’ve all tried to get rid of the smell using everything from tomato juice to hydrogen peroxide. Thankfully most skunks stay outside, but if you have a doggy door or leave your door open, it’s possible to find one inside.

Opossums can be found in garbage cans everywhere. They are scavengers and eat just about anything they can get their mouths on. Opossums are also known to climb into walls from crawl spaces and die.

Squirrels, as cute as they are, can be a nuisance to many people. Their favorite food source is a birdfeeder full of seeds. In urban areas, it seems they prefer to live in attics rather than the hollows of trees.

When I first moved into a dorm at A&M, the powers at be really tried to scare us about bats. There were flyers posted around every corner about what to do if you see a bat because they can carry rabies. In urban areas, bats’ favorite place to roost is indoors, particularly in attics.

Mice and rats are particularly harmful because they carry a wide variety of diseases. They both like to chew on everything in your house from insulation on electrical wires to sheetrock, but because rats are larger they can cause more damage.

I’m sure we’ve all come out of the store and found that our favorite parking lot birds have decided to use our car as a toilet. Some of the more unlucky ones of us have had a bird mistake us as a proper place to relieve themselves. The most common of these birds found in parking lots in urban areas are Great-tailed Grackle, Common Grackle, and Rock Dove (pigeons).

Laughing gulls can be a big nuisance on the beach. They eat anything they can find, even if that means stealing a sandwich right out of your hand. Once they get food from you, the word gets out quick and a swarm descends on you (and your neighbors) trying to get food again.

These animals are just trying to survive. It is our impact on their environment that drives them towards our homes, parking lots and urban areas in general. People have invaded and destroyed many of their homes in order to build our own. After all, they are only trying to adapt to the new environment we created in their space.

Andrea Sanchez is a summer intern from Texas A&M University at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, 103 Highway 332 W. in Lake Jackson. Contact the observatory at 979-480-0999 or visit gcbo.org.

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