11 Chapters
Medium 9781574411546

1 When Raccoons Fall through Your Ceiling

Andrea Dawn Lopez University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter One

The two-level wooden farm house was the heart of the sanctuary.

It sat on 21 acres of Texas hill country with a little green pond out back. The entire place was enclosed by a 12-foot-high fence. A dirt road took you from the front gate, through thick cedar trees and brush, about a half mile to the house. It served as an office, nursery, critical care unit, and, at one time, employee sleeping quarters.

Driving down the dusty driveway was an adventure. It was like driving through a mini-safari. In the spring, white-tailed fawns frolicked in the fields to the left, while wild rabbits and javelinas foraged for food together in an enclosure to the right. If I looked closely through fencing that enclosed thick oak and cedar trees, I could see great horned owls perched on branches there, blending in with the landscape. Whitewinged doves pecked at seed in brown wooden cages along the way, recuperating before their release back into the wild.

Eventually that road widened into a massive dirt parking lot. Primate enclosures bordered the left side of it, holding caramel-colored

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2 Myths about Baby Birds

Andrea Dawn Lopez University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Two

for almost an hour and she hasn’t moved!”

The bird’s baby had just died. The woman called the wildlife hotline to see what she should do.

The death came about after a long series of mistakes on this woman’s part. The mother bird had built a nest right above the woman’s doorway, but she was afraid all the commotion would be too dangerous for the mother and her baby. She was afraid that opening and shutting the door could cause the nest to fall.

In an effort to make sure the baby bird wouldn’t be injured, she took the nest and baby inside her home and called the wildlife hotline.

She didn’t know what to do and she needed advice.

The first problem was, however, that she waited about two hours before calling the hotline. Parent birds feed their babies as often as every 15 minutes from dusk until dawn. After two hours, the little bird was becoming weak from no food.

The woman was told to put the nest and the bird back outside immediately so that the parent bird could continue to care for the baby. She was told that her human scent wouldn’t cause the bird to abandon the little one. That’s a common myth.

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10 There’s a Snake Asleep in Our Jeep

Andrea Dawn Lopez University of North Texas Press PDF

There’s a Snake Asleep in Our Jeep

go to work because there was a snake under the hood of her car, curled up right next to her engine. She had no idea what to do.

We told the woman to put a line of flour or baby powder around her car so that we could keep track of the snake. If he was to leave without anyone seeing, the woman would still think he was in her car. By placing a line of powder around the car, we would be able to tell if the snake had slithered off at any point because he would leave a track.

The next step was to try and get the snake to leave her car. Snakes generally crawl up under the hood of cars because they like the warmth from the engine. Snakes are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperatures are the same as their surroundings. The warmer the environment, the more active they are. Underneath a hood is also a quiet, dark hiding place. Often, the midday sun is too hot for a snake. They like to keep warm, but they don’t like to bake in the sun during the hottest time of the day. Engines can be ideal resting places.

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8 Thumper, Flower, Meeko, and Who Knows What Else?

Andrea Dawn Lopez University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Eight

as neighbors, however, was, whose house she had turned into her own. After all, this family of seven had to be holed up somewhere!

It didn’t take long to figure out where she raised her new family.

One of my neighbors caught her in the act of moving her young one night at dusk. He was sitting on his back porch enjoying the last bits of sunlight from a wonderful summer day when he saw the mother raccoon emerge from his neighbor’s chimney. She paused at the top and then returned to the darkness to retrieve something—one of her babies.

He didn’t know why she was moving her young. It seemed like a vulnerable situation for the babies. After all, where was she moving them to? Would they be all right in the meantime? Apparently, there was no need for worries. My neighbor watched as the mother went to and from the chimney, carrying one baby away at a time. She repeated the process until each of her six babies had been moved to a new location. We never knew if that homeowner knew he had raccoons in his chimney. Whatever the situation, the mother made up her mind that the chimney had served them long enough.

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3 Growing the Deer-Resistant Garden

Andrea Dawn Lopez University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Three

Her joy over seeing healthy green shoots protrude through the rich mulch in her garden would turn to horror soon after they had broken through the ground’s surface. Before they even had time to roll out leaves or blossom flowers, these shoots would turn into nothing more than gnawed-off stems.

My mother thought the culprits must be snails. It was an odd conclusion to come to, because she didn’t think there was a problem with snails in Colorado. Sure enough, one early morning as dawn crept across the sky, she found out that her theory was wrong. The culprit that morning was standing in her garden, not creeping along leaving a trail of slime. He was a young buck taking a fancy to petunias.

The young buck came as a bit of a surprise. He was something we didn’t expect to see in our neighborhood full of sidewalks, paved roads, and elementary schools. But our development was built in miles of foothills full of scrub oak, pine trees, and grassy clearings— areas once roamed by herds and herds of mule deer.

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