Whether you’re new to the East Coast or just new to homeownership, one thing that cannot be denied about living in the Sunshine State is that Florida has some pretty interesting wildlife you will probably have to deal with at some point. Hopefully, it isn’t a full-grown alligator (trust us, those stories are greatly exaggerated!) but depending on where you live almost anything is possible. It’s part of what makes Florida such a diverse and beautiful state to live in.

Of course, it’s still completely natural to get a little nervous if you aren’t used to dealing with our wild backyard friends, and each case may need to be handled in its own way. Whether it’s a giant iguana on your pool deck or a raccoon that just won’t leave your trash bin alone, there are a number of pesky critters that can destroy your property or just plain be an annoyance that you’d rather not have hanging around on a regular basis. The good news is, you have plenty of options.  

The first thing you should know is that all Florida wildlife is protected by anti-cruelty laws and trapping or killing wildlife generally requires a permit. Fortunately, there are a huge number of professionals in every county that are trained to trap and remove nuisance wildlife for you. This not only includes reptiles and mammals, but also wild birds and bees, which should definitely be taken care of by someone who’s well-trained to remove a hive. These professionals do usually charge a fee for their services, but at the end of the day it’s not only safer for you and the animal, it might also prevent you from inadvertently breaking the law. The exception to this is, of course, a case of the aforementioned alligator. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has a designated hotline specifically for reporting nuisance gators, and if they deem the animal is a threat to people, property, or pets they will send a specialized trapper out to remove it for you. Simply call 1-866-392-4286 (1-866-FWC-GATOR). 

So, assuming your problem is slightly tamer and you want to handle nuisance wildlife on your own, what are your other options? Well, just like with most things, prevention is key. 

  1. Make sure all spaces into or under your home are sealed. This means screening your windows, sealing any cracks near your roof, and, if applicable, blocking all open spaces under your home with lattice or wire cloth.
  2. Secure your garbage cans! This means having bins with lids and typing them to a secure fixture or fence if you find them being knocked over regularly.
  3. Take all pet food in at night in order to prevent raccoons and possums from visiting your yard in search of an easy meal. 
  4. If you have landscaping or ornamental plants around your home that you’d like to protect, try sprinkling cayenne pepper around your garden to deter wildlife from digging. You can also spray your property line with fox scent to discourage raccoons from entering your yard. 
  5. Buy metal guards to wrap around your trees in order to prohibit raccoons and other climbing animals from using them to reach your rooftop. 
  6. If a squirrel or similar animal builds a nest in your attic, you can encourage them to leave peacefully by making your attic smell unpleasant, installing a light and leaving it on 24 hours a day, or by using a portable radio to fill the attic with noise.

If you follow the steps above, you should find yourself living quite comfortably without being hindered by the wildlife around you (and without them being hindered by you). Naturally, avoiding all wildlife completely is an unlikely scenario, but with proper preventive care, you should have very little to worry about. And remember, when in doubt, call an expert!