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Wildlife Advice

We get asked a lot of questions about all sorts of animal issues

Here are some of our most frequently asked questions...

Burrowing Owl

I found and injured wild animal, what should I do?

Call your nearest wildlife rehabilitator first!

  • Often times the best thing to do with injured wildlife is to leave them alone. Call your local wildlife rehabilitator to determine what is best for your circumstance. Always, think of your safety and the safety of those around you first.
  • Myths can pressure people into overreacting and causing more harm than good! For example: touching a baby bird does not cause the parent to reject them. In fact, sometimes it is normal for baby birds to be on the ground because they do need to leave the nest on their own and test out their fancy new wings that they have grown in while being in the nest. This is called fledging the nest and is a normal part of their lives.
  • Other myths include:
    • If you have found a baby or injured wild animal, do not feed it or give it water.
      • Bread and milk from other animals can be very harmful, and the delivery method is very important for babies! You could accidentally drown a baby squirrel by trying to give it food or water improperly.
    • Having foxes, raccoons, coyotes, opossums in your yard is not cause for an emergency call! They are simply your wild neighbors.
      • See our “How can I get help identifying this animal” section for further info about these important parts of our local ecosystem.
    • Turtles and tortoises need you to leave them alone. If in the road, help move them across the road in the direction they were going, but just to the other side of the road on land.
      • Many reptiles are directly harmed by intentional displacement, especially tortoises (which are land animals) when tossed into canals by a well-intentioned do-gooder.
      • See our “How can I get help identifying this animal” section for further info about these important parts of our local ecosystem.
    • A baby animal found all alone does not need immediate intervention. Sometimes mother animals accidentally drop their babies or walk too fast for them to keep up.
      • They can and will come back for them if they’re able.
    • Snakes do not chase people. If you encounter one unexpectedly, back away and leave it alone. It is only trying to protect itself.
      • Control what you can control such as keeping family and pets away from the snake.
      • The same goes for all types of lizards! Except sometimes for Komodo Dragons but you do not have those in your yard.
      • See our “How can I get help identifying this animal” section for further info about these important parts of our local ecosystem.

For wildlife emergencies in South Florida, contact these local wildlife rehabilitators: 

  • South Florida Wildlife Center is one of the best contacts available for our community with the most resources, large and diverse facility, large staff and veterinarians to ensure proper care. They will give situational advice and redirect you as needed after answering any immediate concerns about wildlife.

South Florida Wildlife Center
Phone: 954-524-4302
Address: 3200 SW 4th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, 33315
Website: https://www.southfloridawildlifecenter.org

Pelican Harbor Seabird Station
Phone: 305-751-9840
Address: 1279 NE 79 Street, Miami, 33138
Website: https://www.pelicanharbor.org/

Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital
Phone: 954-752-9453
Address: 3000 Sportsplex Drive, Coral Springs 33065
Website: https://sawgrassnaturecenter.org

  • Wildlife Rescue of Dade County - call them at 305-342-1075. If there is no answer, please leave your name, best contact number, general location (i.e. Homestead) and a brief description of your rescue emergency.

Wildlife Rescue of Dade County
Phone: 305-342-1075
Address: 12055 SW 240th St, Homestead, FL 33032
Website: http://dadewildliferescue.com

I'm afraid of a wild animal, what should I do?

Leave it alone.

  • Control what you can control first such as yourself, your family, and your pets. If you leave wildlife alone, they will likely be on their way sooner rather than later.
  • For concerns about alligators or crocodiles call FWC's toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286) first before doing anything else and experts will advise you on what is best to do in your current situation.
  • For suspected venomous snakes, other large reptiles, or other public safety issues related to wildlife – don’t attempt to approach, kill, or remove wildlife on your own.
  • Contact Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Venom Response Team at 786-331-4443 and they will help identify wildlife via text, email, and by phone to determine if there is any risk to you or the public and what is the best and most appropriate course of action. The vast majority of snakes that people encounter are harmless. If you feel like you may have seen a venomous snake, you can try to use this guide to help you identify it as you talk to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue about the situation.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Venom Response Team

Phone: 786-331-4443
Website: MDFR Venom Response Team

Wildlife Assistance Program: Helping Resolve Conflicts with Wildlife

  • The FWC's Wildlife Assistance Biologists work with individuals and communities experiencing conflicts with wildlife to find sustainable resolutions and to develop strategies to coexist with native wildlife.
  • If you are experiencing conflicts with wildlife and you know which species is responsible, you may visit the FWC Species Profile for additional assistance and information. If you are unsure what animal may be causing the conflict or damage, or would prefer to speak directly with FWC Wildlife Assistance staff, please contact your FWC Regional Office to speak with a biologist.

I can no longer take care of my exotic pet, what should I do?

Don’t let it loose! Be a responsible pet owner

  • FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Program has almost a thousand registered adopters ready to give your exotic pet a quality home, no questions asked.
  • The Exotic Pet Amnesty Program is an effort to reduce the number of nonnative pets released into the wild. Owners of nonnative pet species face no legal penalties or pay any fees to surrender their pet through the program. Owners may surrender nonnative pets for any reason at any time. The FWC will facilitate the adoption process and make every effort to place the nonnative pet with an approved adopter.
  • You can email the Surrender Form to  PetAmnesty@MyFWC.com
  • They have a dedicated phone line 888-Ive-Got1 and an informative website with many resources for specific needs - https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/amnesty-program/
  • If you see a nonnative animal/pet that has been released, you can call the hotline or report it on the IveGot1 app.

FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline

Phone: 888-Ive-Got1 (483-4681)

Website: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/amnesty-program/

I found an invasive animal, what should I do?

  • If you have a smartphone, one of the best ways to report a potentially invasive species is with the IveGot1 app that is available for free at the major app stores. The app will allow you to take a picture, record the location, and add any notes to the sighting. It will immediately notify the appropriate agency personnel in case they would need to take action. The app also contains a lot of information on different invasive species that may allow you to identify what you are seeing. If you do not have a smartphone, you can also record invasive species sightings at https://www.eddmaps.org/ or the FWC Exotic Species Hotline 1-888-Ive-Got1 (483-4681).
  • They also have great resources on their website like “Managing iguanas on your own property” and “Burmese Python information and removal opportunities.” Be sure to head over to their website https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/ and scroll down to the “Popular Topics” section.

FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline

Phone: 888-Ive-Got1 (483-4681)

Website: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/

How can I get help identifying this animal?

  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides a tremendous resource on their website in the species profiles section https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/
  • If you have a smartphone, the iNaturalist app, a joint venture between the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic, will allow you to upload photos and/or sound clips and species experts or fellow citizen scientists can help in the identification of your sighting. The app is available for free in the major app stores.
  • If you are trying to identify an amphibian or reptile in Florida, the Florida Museum of Natural History maintains a wonderful website and database to help you identify a species whether it is native or non-native: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-herps/florida-amphibians-reptiles/
  • If you are trying to identify an insect, spider or their kin, an amazing resource is BugGuide.net that is hosted by the Iowa State University Department of Entomology. You can request an identification for free by uploading a photo(s) in the ID Request section after registering for a free account. https://bugguide.net/

 

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