Nuisance animals flood residential areas, seek higher ground and food after heavy rains

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The above-average rain fall that has soaked Palm Beach County is pushing "nuisance animals" into residential areas according to wildlife experts.

As of June 1st, West Palm Beach is nearly five inches above average.

The saturation is driving animals like foxes, opossums and bobcats from desolate areas to more crowded neighborhoods.

"I thought it was a cat. He's cute, but he's got to go," said Rochelle Healy about a fox seen outside her Royal Palm Beach house.

Healy said the fox and other critters have recently made her yard their home.

Animal control experts said the reason for the influx of animals is the rain.

"The rain will take away their areas they use to tuck away in the darks spots and they start moving into higher ground and find their way into houses," said Robert Eaton of Animal Ranger Animal Control.

Eaton said he has been inundated with calls about snakes, raccoons and even opossums that are sneaking their way into homes.

David Hitzig at the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter said he has seen an increase among baby animals and even bobcats.

"The more rain you get, everyone is just out moving around," said Hitzig.

Waterlogged animals are not only seeking shelter Hitzig said, but also food. He said instead of just hunting in the night, the animals are also hunting during the day where they are more likely to be hit by a car.

"When it comes to dealing with the environment and wildlife, common sense is definitely the key," said Hitzig.

Wildlife experts urge residents to not leave their garage doors open and to tuck pet food away from outdoor areas.

Healy said she has taken note and will now keep her pets inside and lock up her chickens to protect them from the fox that is roaming in the backyard.

"We only have five chickens left so he'll be hungry in a while. So hopefully they can catch him and he can go to a new home," said Healy.

The Busch Wildlife Sanctuary said most of the snakes they have collected have not been poisonous, but still encourage residents to allow the experts to remove any critter they are not familiar with handling.

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