Wildlife in Chicago and the habits that bring them into conflict with humans

  • - Bats are a beneficial animal to have around because they primarily eat insects such as mosquitoes. They mate in the spring and usually only have one offspring at a time, but may mate up to three times a season. The mother nurses her offspring until close to maturity, as a bat cannot forage until they are able to fly. Most often they are found in attics or crawl spaces. The danger of having bats around is that their disease can carry rabies, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and possibly the Ebola virus. Despite the risks, bats are a vital part of the ecosystem in that they fertilize plants, distribute seeds, and prey on the insects that can decimate fruit orchards. A balance of bat control to human interaction is vital.
  • - Opossums are opportunistic feeders. They will eat pet food left outside. They are mostly nocturnal, and love to get into the trash. While making their nests they can tear your house apart. They will burrow through doors; steal insulation and anything else they want to build their nest. They are almost as destructive as termites when it comes to structural damage. Opossum removal is the only option for a permanent solution as they can reproduce at a rapid rate. One female opossum can carry up to thirteen babies in her pouch and gestation is twenty-eight days.

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  • - Raccoons may look adorable, but these masked bandits are opportunistic and very clever at finding tasty treats. They will eat pet food left outside, and get into trashcans to get food. Once they have discovered that a particular trashcan holds a tasty item, they can be very persistent about getting into it. Being clever, they can figure out how to get a lid off despite your best efforts to keep it sealed. These cute, inquisitive animals often have to be relocated to cease being a nuisance.
  • - Skunks have a gestation period of approximately 66 days, and can give birth to three to seven kits. The mother will nurse them for about two weeks before weaning them. The kits will remain with the mother for up to a year. The biggest danger to humans with this animal is that it can carry rabies. 21% of reported cases of rabies last year came from interaction with a skunk.
  • - Rats are quick breeders that can rapidly become a serious problem for your home. They will chew on the wood, insulation, sheetrock, and most dangerously, the wiring. These culprits have been the leading cause of many house fires. They promote the spread of the hanta virus, and the urine is very difficult to remove.

**Wildlife and pet Should be contacted if serious problems occur.