Wildlife in the Suburbs

create a mini wildlife conservation area

I enjoy watching wildlife, and so does my husband. We used to get to witness lots of wildlife when we lived in the country, including deer, wild boar, coyotes, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, reptiles, and wild turkeys and many other kinds of birds. A couple of times, we even got to see a puma, or as they’re called around here, a “Florida panther.” Now that we live in the suburbs, we don’t have the variety of wildlife that we did living in a very rural area, but we still have some wildlife visitors to our back yard. We’ve seen foxes, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, flying squirrels, frogs, lizards, geckoes, snakes, and many bird species. We like the idea of wildlife conservation, so we do several things to attract wildlife animals to our back yard.

We sort of turned our yard into a mini wildlife conservation area. We provide wildlife animals with food, water, and shelter. In the spring, we leave bits of cloth and string outdoors so the birds can use them for building nests. Following are some tips for how to attract wildlife and turn your yard into a wildlife conservation yard. Enjoy the wildlife photos!

I miss seeing big wildlife like deer in my back yard.
I miss seeing big wildlife like deer in my back yard.
Use deer feeders to attract wildlife.
Use deer feeders to attract wildlife.

Birds

Just about everyone enjoys watching birds, and they might just be the number one subject for wildlife pictures. We have several bird feeders around the yard, including hummingbird feeders. We fill a couple of feeders with sunflower seeds for larger birds like blue jays and cardinals, and we fill other feeders with small seeds for small birds. The feeders we have for small birds are designed so that larger, heavier birds can’t feed from them. We also have a feeding shelf on which we can place suet and peanut butter-filled pinecones.

Squirrels

We have lots of squirrels! They’re probably the most abundant form of mammalian wildlife we have. We have several large oaks that produce a bounty of acorns, which attract squirrels. Once the acorns become scarce, we place food out for the furry rodents: pecans, peanuts, apples, pears, and dried corn. We also have plenty of places for squirrels to nest, and one of our big oak trees looks like a squirrel condominium!

Foxes

We have at least one red fox that comes in our yard almost every night. Actually, I was surprised to see this type of wildlife in such a congested area. I also thought that foxes and similar wildlife would be scared away by dogs, but this isn’t the case with our fox. Sometimes when we let our Great Danes out at night, the fox will come into the yard and follow them around. I’ve wondered if maybe it’s lonely. Anyway, we leave food out for the fox, too: leftover chicken, grapes, strawberries, and other fruits.

Rabbits

Our rabbits aren’t as bold as our opossums and raccoons are. They usually stick to just the fringes of the yard, so that’s where we place their food. Sometimes we even take food and leave it at the edge of some nearby woods for the bunnies. This usually consists of carrots, carrot tops, lettuce and celery. Sometimes we buy a bale of hay for other purposes, and the rabbits like it, too.

Opossums

We recently discovered that opossums like sleeping in large plastic trash cans. One day hubby found a young possum in one of our cans, fast asleep. I don’t think the little thing could ever have gotten out on its own, so we gently turned the can over on its side. Since then, we’ve seen the little critter napping in the can several times. We’ve also noticed that the possums enjoy spending time under our large deck. I guess they feel safe there. In the colder months, we place some pine straw under the deck so that the wildlife will have somewhere to burrow for warmth. Opossums love dry cat food, and we leave that out at all times.

Raccoons

Our raccoons love cat food, especially fish-flavored cat food. They like to dunk the kibble in water first, so we keep a shallow tray of water nearby. Raccoons also love grapes and other fruits. In fact, I don’t think there’s much a raccoon won’t eat, which is why they’re notorious for turning over garbage cans and plundering through them. We’ve seen the masked bandits under our deck, so I guess they like cover as much as the opossums do.

Geckoes

We have a “colony” of Mediterranean geckoes living on our porch. They come out at night to feed on insects that are attracted to our porch light. We make a point of leaving the light on for several hours each night so that the insects will come around. If you want geckoes, you’ll need to provide them some cover, too. Ours hide in our wooden columns or behind our porch shutters during the day and 24/7 in cold weather. We always know summer has arrived when we see the first geckoes of the year!

Reptiles and amphibians

We really don’t do anything to attract reptiles and amphibians to our yard, other than the geckoes I mentioned earlier. We have a deep drainage ditch at the back of our property, however, and it attracts several species of amphibian and reptilian wildlife. We’ve seen frogs, toads, turtles, and snakes. Fortunately, we haven’t seen any venomous reptilian wildlife. The snake species we’ve encountered here include garter snakes, rat snakes, and Florida ring-necked snakes. We usually catch the snakes and move them to the nearby woods. We have small grandchildren here often, so it would suit us just fine if the venomous snakes stayed out of our little wildlife conservation project!

Wildlife photos - wildlife pictures

Our cardinals love black oil sunflower seeds.
Our cardinals love black oil sunflower seeds.
Our hummingbirds left about two weeks ago.
Our hummingbirds left about two weeks ago.
garter snake
garter snake
Mediterranean gecko
Mediterranean gecko
southern cottontail
southern cottontail
opossum and rabbit
opossum and rabbit
gray squirrel
gray squirrel
Red fox - I was surprised to find this kind of wildlife in our conjested neighborhood.
Red fox - I was surprised to find this kind of wildlife in our conjested neighborhood.
Raccoons are super omnivores - they'll eat anything!!
Raccoons are super omnivores - they'll eat anything!!

More by this Author


Comments 20 comments

Hillbilly Zen profile image

Hillbilly Zen 4 years ago from Kentucky

Absolutely loved this one, Ms. Habee, although I felt sorry for the lonely little fox. Your dogs must be as kind-hearted as you and your hubby to let him tag along. Something else for our feathered buddies is dryer lint - they love to use it in their nests. What a great, great Hub, and the pictures are wonderful! Thumbs (paws, talons, hooves and lil gecko toes) up and awesome!


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 4 years ago from New Orleans, LA

Nice, lots of animals all getting along in your backyard. Good for you for being welcoming to them instead of chasing them away. Your yard is like a sanctuary.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

You are certainly a kindhearted soul to be feeding and encouraging all of these wild animals into your suburban yard. So much of their natural territory is being taken over by suburban development. We have many of the same animals except for spotting foxes, rabbits and deer because of our fences.


jenubouka 4 years ago

What a cool way to enjoy nature at your fingertips, the only thing around my neighborhood that qualifies as "wild" is the occasional city raccoon who got itself lost.


carcro profile image

carcro 4 years ago from Winnipeg

Man I love those pics, there is nothing better than watching the wildlife right in your own back yard. We only get the smaller critters, but it can't help but make me smile to have them visit my yard everyday! Great hub, Voted UP!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wow, what a variety of animals! I love your picture. I have lived in city or suburban settings my whole life and have learned to enjoy the wildlife that we see in them everyday.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

I was out driving near your home the other day, Holle, and I saw a raccoon on the side of the road facing the forest and holding up a big sign with a large red arrow pointing toward your property and the words below spelled out: "FREE EATS!" Cross my heart ...

And you have a big one, my dear, heart that is.

Great photos ... rated up


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Zen, I forgot to mention the dryer lint! Our dryer is vented to the outside, and there's always a little wren sneaking the lint for its nest. Nice to see you again!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Truth, I follow a simple rule: I don't allow any creature to be hungry around me - and that includes humans and wildlife! My mom taught me this, and I try to follow it always.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Peggy, I feel so sorry for all the critters near us as humans are taking over their habitat. We live just a block off a busy interstate, and there's one little strip of woods left in our neighborhood. I don't know what will happen when that's destroyed. Where will the wildlife go?


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Jenu, I could always mail you some wildlife! lol. At least you can enjoy wildlife photos! And you won't have to feed them.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Carcro, it's hard for me to imagine life without some sort of pets or wildlife. I've always been a huge lover of all sorts of critters! Thanks for reading.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Random, it's amazing what sorts of wildlife can be found in cities and suburbs, isn't it? The first time my dad told me he saw a fox in the yard, I thought he was seeing things! But after I inherited the house and moved in, hubby and I began to see the fox (or foxes) on a regular basis.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

drbj, when we lived out in the country, I was convinced there was a sign somewhere near our house that read "Attention homeless animals: Stop at the next house for food, love, and medical care!" We had scores of "dropped off" dogs and cats.

And...I DO NOT have a big heart! I just had an echocardiogram, and it showed that I have a normal size heart! lol


jenubouka 4 years ago

Thank habee! I may take you up on that!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

Living in a suburb as I do, I was glad to see a fox show up - they get rid of vermin, as do the beautiful hawks that often fly past, shopping for a quickie - birds at our bird feeder.

Last spring, my son called me at midnight and claimed a dragon few past the house. Okay, the kid was 19 at the time, a bit too old to be standing at the window with the heebie-jeebies cause a dragon flew by. But after a moment, I heard it too - the most horrible scream and a large, dark creature darting between the houses. It sounded like a banshee. After some research, we figured that it was a yellow crowned night heron - a very cool bird sighting for our area, but boy, what a scary sound.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Cool, Dolores! I love wildlife sightings, especially when they're of something rare or unusual.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

And the fact that you're sitting in your little suburban house makes it oh so cool. We had a coyote running around for awhile. My sons used to refer to the short fox and the tall fox they'd see on the way to school early in the AM. The tall fox wound up being a coyote - I saw it then heard it howling late one night. Have not yet heard a fox - now that is one scary sound.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Dolores. A fox has a short bark, sort of like a small dog. We had lots of coyotes when we lived in the country. They'd really howl whenever a train passed by.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

I've heard, online listening to wildlife sounds, a fox screaming. It's horrible, like a banshee or something. You must have heard it when you lived in the country.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working