We love our pets and always want to keep them safe. But here in northern Virginia, as with anywhere people live alongside nature, there come certain wildlife dangers that all pet owners should be aware of. Snakes, skunks, coyotes, bears, and other wildlife roam their natural habitat, content to live their primal life. Sometimes, though, they wander into our backyard, and how can
we blame them? They don’t look at a survey map to see property lines and say, “Hey, this isn’t where I should be!” Animals simply follow their natural and predatory instincts, searching for food and, in most cases, just trying to survive.
Here are some tips to help ensure the safety of your pets when it comes to potential wildlife encounters.
- CONTAIN GARBAGE: Wild animals are constantly looking for food, and our spoiled garbage can be quite attractive. Keep your garbage in a trash can with a secure lid, preferably in an enclosed garage or shed. Empty your bins regularly and don’t forget to wash them out periodically. The smell of decay for us might be pungent, but for an animal it is the scent of an easy meal.
- DON’T APPROACH: Never approach a wild animal or, for that matter, any animal that you don’t know. They may attack when startled, or might be ill or carrying a disease, which could cause them to act unpredictably. One very important note: if an animal is displaying unusual behavior such as foaming at the mouth, swaying in an unnatural manner, or exhibiting aggression, this could be a sign of rabies and animal control needs to be notified immediately!
- BE AWARE OF SNAKES: Coming upon a snake can be startling for both you and the snake, and usually the snake will want to get out of there as much as you want it to! However, if a snake is habitually hanging around your property where your pets can come into contact with it, your best course of action is to contact animal control. They will safely remove and relocate the animal.
- DON’T INTERVENE: If your pet is outside and you do see a wild animal, don’t do anything rash to put yourself in jeopardy. Instead try to calmly lure your pet away from the area. Our pets may be domesticated, but their instincts are far more acute than ours. They usually will be able to keep themselves out of trouble much more efficiently than when you get in the middle.
The end goal is to live peaceably with wildlife and nature. Wild animals live by very basic rules, and by our having a cursory understanding of them it will allow for a more harmonious coexistence. Wild animals are not spiteful or vindictive, and they do not intrude onto your property on purpose. They are simply living their lives and trying to survive. Enjoy local nature and wildlife safely with these tips under your belt.