I feel like I live in a Disney movie when I glance out of the window and watch the geese flying overhead, the squirrels racing across tree branches, birds chirping and chipmunks scampering across the lawn. But lately media reports of unusual behavior make me think that wild animals are getting a little out of control.
In the past few months, more than 36 coyote sightings have been reported in Central Park. I don’t think the coyotes are looking for the pretzel vendors. A Manhattan man walking his dog at 9 pm even captured a photo of a coyote trailing yards behind him on a dark path in the park.
A town in New Jersey has been under siege by a large flock of wild turkeys. Residents of a Toms River retirement community are afraid for their grandchildren and pets. These bold turkeys actually perch on car roofs and stand en masse in the middle of the street ignoring car horns. One man took a photo of a wild turkey pecking at its reflection in the silver car bumper. Mail carriers have reported wild turkeys chasing after the mail trucks. These brazen birds dig up plants and shrubs and leave their feathers and droppings everywhere.
In Pennsylvania, a man was attacked by a rabid bobcat hiding under his home’s front porch. A woman in Maine was bitten on the leg by a rabid fox while getting her newspaper on her front walkway. Hungry bears are breaking into homes from Connecticut to California.
In south Florida a couple of weeks ago, the temperatures dipped below forty degrees and iguanas started dropping out of the trees! Seriously! TV weather forecasters actually issued “falling iguana warnings” in Miami.
Originally from Mexico, Central and South America and parts of the Caribbean, the green iguana population has exploded across the state of Florida. Possibly purchased from pet stores or brought back from vacations, people apparently decided to get rid of their overgrown reptile pets over the years and just let them loose in Florida.
When the temperatures drop outdoors, the iguanas literally fall out of the trees onto roofs, sidewalks and cars. These large arboreal-dwelling creatures can weigh up to eight pounds and grow between 12 – 17 inches long. Used to more tropical climates, the green iguanas try to protect themselves from cold temperatures by going into a state of torpor where their breathing and metabolism slow down, they lose muscle control, and fall to the ground.
Can you imagine? Residents are cautioned not to pick up the frozen iguanas but to let them defrost naturally when the sun comes out and the outdoor temperatures rise. Florida residents are also warned not to try to “help” defrost these creatures by putting them in the microwave or holding them over the backyard fire pit. Despite the rumor that green iguanas are considered delicious in some countries and referred to as “chicken of the trees,” residents are warned not to eat iguanas.
Considered a year-round nuisance in Florida, wild iguanas eat landscape plants, burrow into seawalls, levees and pump stations, and leave copious amounts of droppings. Florida has lots of nuisance animals that find their way into homes and backyards every day. Snakes, geckos and alligators show up in garages, living rooms, sun porches and backyard swimming pools. Many dog walkers have been pulled into ponds by aggressive and hungry alligators.
Florida has a myriad of annoying insects including fire ants, earwigs and palmetto bugs. Palmetto bug is a fancy sounding name for this large, winged American cockroach on steroids. Florida residents must keep the exterminator on speed-dial!
Kim Kovach enjoys letting her curiosity run wild to find interesting topics each week. www.kimkovachwrites.com