During the fall, you may find you see more wildlife than usual. Dave Wilson, senior director of Shelter Health & Wellness and retired vet, shares why this is, and how you should be prepared as a pet parent.
Why are wildlife more active in the fall?
Wilson says wildlife is more active in the fall for two reasons. One is they are preparing for winter by building up calories and storing food. The second reason is most animals limit foraging to dark hours. This means there may be the same number of animals, you’re just seeing them more.
“As the daylight gets shorter in the fall there’s more darkness hours, so we’re seeing them out more,” he says.
Snakes in the grass
In particular, snakes may be seen more in the fall. Wilson says snakes are looking for an underground burrow rather than their simple summer shelter.
“They’re looking for that hibernation spot. Where can they go for deep hibernation for the winter,” he says.
Ontario only has one species of venomous snake, Wilson says, and the rest are more afraid of us than we are of them.
“You’ve got to realize they’re not out for fun, they’re out for a purpose. They’re looking to save their own lives,” he says.
Avoiding wildlife with your pets
Wilson says it’s important to always avoid wildlife when with your pet. He says you can also check with your municipality for what services are in place if you encounter wildlife.
“If you encounter wildlife, turn around and go the opposite direction,” he says.
It’s also important to know what’s coming with the winter, Wilson says. He says you don’t want to be interfering and causing harm or distress to the wildlife, so avoidance is best.
Wild dog species like foxes and coyotes become accustomed and comfortable in their environments, Wilson says. This means if you see them walking down your street, they know the environment well.
“They’re not really trying to interfere with us, and by the same token we shouldn’t interfere with them,” he says.
If you have any questions, contact your local municipality.
Shelter Health Pro is an online resource that presents information from researchers and shelter professionals in an accessible format. It equips animal shelter staff, volunteers and pet owners with resources to make animals more comfortable and provide a humane and healthy environment for them. It also has great tips for enrichment and socialization of your pets!
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