One of the things I love most about living in Central Texas are all the fun critters that wander through our yard. Here are a few of the most commonly sighted Austin area wildlife and why we love them.
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White Tailed Deer – We have an abundant population of white tailed deer in Central Texas and it is not unusual to see them in all parts of town at any time of day. They tend to live in the same area year round, so you may start to recognize the does and their new fawns over and over in your yard – especially if you put corn out.
Opossums – These guys look like big rats and are nocturnal but we have occasionally seen them during the day. If you do spot one during daylight, he’s likely to flop over and play dead! Did you know Opossums carry their young in a pouch? They are not aggressive unless you get too close (they will hiss and growl when threatened) and are actually good to have around our property because they eat insects and snakes.
Cottontail Rabbits – My kids think they are pretty cute and we love seeing them hop through the yard from summer to fall (unless I am trying to get a garden to grow, and then I wish they’d stay away)! Did you know one rabbit eats the same amount of vegetation as one sheep? While I don’t want them munching on my homegrown vegetables, rabbits also eat weeds out of our lawn which is kind of helpful.
Raccoons – While they might look cute and cuddly, these creatures can be a nuisance and have a tendency to dumpster dive and spread garbage around my yard. I’ll never forget the night I went to put a bag of trash in the bin and lifted the lid to find a raccoon staring back at me. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or him!
Armadillos – I’ve always been intrigued by these unique armored mammals. Nearly blind and quite harmless, armadillos help keep the insect and vertebrate population down. When I find tufts of grass turned over in our yard in the morning, I assume a hungry armadillo was digging for grubs. Did I mention they are the official state animal of Texas?
Squirrels – The cheeky rock squirrels with their black heads and feathered bodies are probably the most entertaining wildlife in my yard. They are playful and curious and not at all shy! The boys think it’s especially fun to put out a bowl of seeds and watch their antics as they eat.
Coyotes – Our yard backs up to a preserve and we hear them howling outside our windows after dark. On occasion I have seen them strolling through our neighborhood before dusk. Larger than foxes, and very smart, coyotes eat anything, dead or alive. They play an important role in the ecosystem by helping control rodent population and clean up carrion.
Gray Fox – These omnivores have salt and pepper fur and are very playful, especially when young. When I worked in an office that backed up to the green belt, a mother fox and her litter used to play outside my office window regularly. They are the cutest things – they act like kittens, and are very distracting if you’re trying to work!
Porcupines – While I don’t let my kids or pets get too close to this prickly rodent, I honestly think they’re kind of cute! I’ve only seen a few around because they are nocturnal, but they are fun to observe from a distance. Porcupines are very slow walkers but they are expert tree climbers and they provide a natural tree pruning service that keeps the Hill Country healthier.
What is your favorite wild animal in Central Texas?