We love animals of all shapes and sizes here at Brookhurst Animal. Although our veterinarian primarily treats domesticated animals nowadays, Dr. Lopez has had extensive experience with exotic creatures in the past! He’s treated all types of wild animals, like snakes and lions.
There are tons of critters freely roaming the streets even here in Anaheim. Although these animals are beautiful and deserve to be respected, they can also be dangerous to us and our pets. We’ve compiled a guide for pet owners and how to handle wild animals in Anaheim!
Street dogs live in urban areas, subsisting maily off leftover scraps from garbages and small animals. Like domesticated dogs, they’re highly intelligent and they’ve learned how to survive by learning human behaviors. For example, wild dogs have learned to use crosswalks and ride subways efficiently.
Although these scrappy dogs may be adorable, they can be dangerous to people and their dogs. We advise people to avoid approaching street dogs since street dogs are not vaccinated and they could be carrying heartworm, parvo, rabies, ticks, or more. Since these dogs also don’t have owners or training, they can be difficult to control when they feel threatened. You can’t know for certain whether a street dog is hostile or not.
If you encounter a dog on the streets, do not approach it. Go a different route or wait somewhere out of sight. Most street dogs will attack out of fear, so you don’t want to trigger the dog by running towards it or kicking it. If you’re walking your dog, do not let it engage with the street dog. Use your body to block their view of each other and stand still, avoiding eye contact. Usually, dogs will not attack people who are standing calmly.
In the event that the street dog does attack, try to distract it by throwing food or a stick far away. Call animal control as quickly as possible and try to protect your face, hands, and chest. One tactic that often works is giving the dog a piece of clothing to attack rather than letting it attack you.
Feral cats are quite common in Anaheim. Unlike stray cats, who are tame and comfortable with human interaction, feral cats have adapted to wildlife and rarely engage with people. Many of these cats coexist in colonies, sharing space and food with each other. They typically keep their distance and they’re able to survive independently by hunting small animals and scavenging for scraps.
It’s improbable that feral cats will pose much of a threat to you as they are usually quite fearful of humans. However, they can be a nuisance in the neighborhood. Since they’re not domesticated, they will urinate and defecate almost anywhere which can be unpleasant for people living nearby. Feral cats are also known to carry fleas, dig holes, and fight loudly. For people with small pets like rabbits, hamster, guinea pigs, or birds, it’s important to keep them inside unless you’re supervising because they are easy prey for feral cats.
The best way to prevent feral cats from occupying areas close by is spaying and neutering them. Cats are known to breed constantly when they’re not sterilized. Since there aren’t enough homes or food to provide for them, it’s better to spay or neuter them to avoid overpopulation. Orange County offers Trap-Neuter-Return and Spay-Neuter-Return for people who would like to stabilize the feral cat population.
These backyard marsupials are pretty common in Anaheim. Unlike cats and dogs, they’re rarely domesticated. The nocturnal creatures are mostly harmless, but they can become troublesome if they’re ruffling through your trash for scraps and digging up your backyard. Since opossums are omnivores, they can also pose a threat to smaller pets like kittens, hamsters, mice, etc.
Here are a few ways to ward off unwanted opossums:
- Eliminate areas for them to nest and seek shelter by clearing bushes, filling potholes, removing rocks, and trimming grass evenly
- Place locks on trash cans
- Keep doors closed and vents covered
- Scatter crushed garlic around the area
- Install lights or sprinklers that are motion-activated
Opossums are also fearful of predators like large dogs and full-grown cats. Having your dog mark its territory outside and guard the premise is another excellent opossum deterrent.
Believe it or not, there have been multiple sightings of rogue peacocks in the streets of Anaheim. Originally introduced from India to Los Angeles, these peacocks eventually made their way to Orange County. It can certainly be surprising to see a wild peacock in your backyard, but it’s not too uncommon here in Southern California!
These magnificent creatures certainly add vibrancy to the local scenery, but Anaheim might not be the most ideal place for them to live. Many residents have complained about the fowl shrieking in the morning, scratching vehicles, defecating, and digging up plants. Furthermore, it’s not completely safe for them to be walking around. They could easily consume harmful pesticides and rat poisons or get hurt by the feral cats and dogs.
To ward off these birds, you can sprinkle red pepper in your yard and cover plants with netting to prevent them from scratching up your hard work. You can also get a motion-sensored sprinkler or throw water at them manually. If your property has trees, make sure to keep branches clipped as peacocks often climb trees in the early mornings. Should things become too unmanageable, you can always call animal control.
Lions, tigers, bears, and… coyotes? Yes, there are plenty of coyotes roaming around Anaheim Hills that have made their way down to Anaheim. These highly adaptable animals have been extremely successful at surviving and spreading to urban areas throughout the US. Despite making homes in our community, it’s still rare to encounter upon a coyote in broad daylight. The animals much prefer hunting at dusk or dawn.
In civilized areas, coyotes may rely on hunting smaller, domesticated creatures. Fully grown coyotes are usually about 1.5 feet tall, 4 feet long, and around 20-50 pounds heavy. Coyotes are larger than most cats and dogs, so if there is a coyote warning, we highly recommend taking outdoor pets inside to avoid problems.
Though coyotes usually hunt rabbits, squirrels, and snakes, they are known to go after larger prey in times of desperation. Especially after the fires and drought in Orange County, coyotes have become much bolder because of their dwindling food supply.
As urban coyotes become more used to humans, it’s important to know what to do should meet one. Like their domesticated counterpart, dogs, coyotes usually won’t attack unless they feel threatened, so don’t make sudden movements that could startle them. Treat coyotes as you would a street dog – stand up straight to look larger and place a large object between the two of you if possible. You can also make loud noises to scare off the coyote if it doesn’t back off. If you encounter an entire pack of coyotes, call animal control immediately!
The most common snakes found in cities are garter snakes. They are small to medium-sized snakes that eat small creatures that they can hunt, such as mice, slugs, lizards, and small fish. Though snakes have a treacherous, killer reputation, garter snakes are typically harmless. Though they do produce venom, it’s such a minimal amount that it can’t hurt humans.
Rattlesnakes are also fairly common in Orange County. They’re easily identified by their tails, which have rattles at the end. Unlike garter snakes, their venom is poisonous to humans and they can even paralyze.
If you come across a snake, don’t panic. Urban snakes are usually much too small to be hunting and attacking humans. These snakes will only bite if they’re frightened. If you have small children or pets, you can call a professional service to remove the snakes or purchase a snake trap. Otherwise, leave it alone! If anything, these slithery fiends will only help get rid of household pests like rats and bugs.
Ducks, Swans, & Geese
We often see ducks, swans, and geese at the local pond or park, but sometimes, they may wander into our neighborhoods. These birds are pretty harmless, but we don’t recommend trying to provoke them or even feeding them near your home. Since most urban waterfowl are used to being fed by humans, they aren’t scared of us like other wild animals. Once they realize you have food, they won’t hesitate to chase you down!
Small children should be supervised if you are observing them. These bold birds may peck with their sharp beaks if you’re not careful. To keep your dogs and cats from chasing or hunting them, we encourage owners to keep their pets on leashes if there are wild birds around.
Perhaps the bravest of all wild animals is the raccoon! These striped, nocturnal animals mainly eat human leftovers by sifting through garbage. These critters are notorious for breaking into homes to filch snacks and damaging property. Worst of all, they could get into fights with household pets. If you have tiny pets like kittens, puppies, gerbils, etc, make sure they’re safe from raccoons. The omnivores will eat almost anything they can get their hands on.
To prevent raccoons from infesting your home, block all entryways inside. If they’re already there, you can install one-way doorways to keep them from coming back. Place locks on all trash cans and use sensory alarms to ward them off. Bright lights, pungent smells, and sprinklers are all great ways to scare off raccoons. Many people use the scent of ammonia and cayenne pepper to repel them.
Unbeknownst to most, bats are quite populous in Anaheim. Luckily, these bats aren’t really harmful and they only come out at night. In fact, they’re a huge help in controlling the bug population and balancing the ecosystem. With the recent increase in mosquitoes, we’re actually welcoming them with open arms… or should we say, wings?
The only concern with bats is the host of diseases they might be carrying without being symptomatic. In Anaheim, bats have been known to carry rabies and SARS. These diseases can be transmitted through their feces, urine, and saliva. Make sure your curious pets and small children stay away from such substances should you come across them.
If you find a bat, don’t touch it! Either leave it be, call animal control, or if you must, use gloves and protective clothing to trap and remove it. In order to evacuate bats from living in your home or attic, you will need to call a wildlife professional. They can safely move the bats to another place. If there’s a family of bats during summer, we don’t recommend trying to relocate them until the fall. Parent bats can easily get separated from their young and lose them in the process.
Squirrels are probably the least problematic of all the wild creatures on our list. They’re quite common in Orange County and generally appreciated by the community for their nondisruptive and adorable demeanor.
Squirrels are less of a problem for people than people are for squirrels. Dogs and cats often hunt squirrels because they are natural prey. To prevent dogs and cats from bringing home dead squirrels, practice on obedience training and keep them on the leash when out.
Here in Orange County, you’ll find a huge variety of adorable rabbit breeds in parks, backyards, and other fields. Like squirrels, bunnies are herbivores who are unlikely to agitate your pets. They do, however, overpopulate quickly and they can lead to barren gardens full of droppings. To deter rabbits from using your backyard as an all-you-can-eat buffet, here are a few tactics to keep them out:
- Plant strongly scented herbs such as garlic, onions, oregano, and basil
- Keep the yard clean, so they have no place for shelter
- Get motion-activated sprinklers or lights
- Set up wire fences around gardens
We don’t recommend trapping and relocating rabbits because they could be traumatized and hurt in the process. If they’re really becoming a problem, we suggest hiring a professional.
Our veterinarian in Anaheim is tending to wildlife problems regularly. At Brookhurst Animal, we respect all animals and we encourage pet owners to do the same. If your pet has been in an altercation with a wild animal, bring them the local vet immediately. Wild animals can carry diseases that must be treated as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to call Brookhurst Animal for animal emergencies in Anaheim or the surrounding Orange County area. We’re here to help!