Wildlife Myths

Myth: If I touch a wild baby, the mother will reject it. 

Fact: Wildlife mothers will accept their babies even if a human has touched it. Humans successfully reunite orphans with their mothers all the time.

Myth: All Opossums and Raccoons are nasty animals that carry rabies.

Fact: Although any mammal can contract rabies, the opossum's low body temperature creates a natural immunity to most diseases. Opossums are also immune to venomous snakes. Very few raccoons carry rabies. According to The Ohio Department of Health, their employees investigate approximately 20,000 rabies exposure incidences per year. Ohio's last human rabies case was in 1970. 

 

Myth: Bats are blind.

Fact: Bats hunt in the dark using echolocation (echoes of self-produced sounds bouncing off objects to help them navigate), but they can see just fine. So contrary to myth, the phrase "blind as a bat" is completely inaccurate. 

Myth: Rabbits/Cottontails like to be held and cuddled.

Fact: A wild cottontail's natural instinct is to stay low to the ground and hide. When you pick up a wild cottontail, she experiences an incredible amount of stress. To her, you are a predator. Holding her may even cause a seizure and death. 

Myth: Raccoons are nocturnal, so a raccoon out in daylight must be rabid.

Fact: Raccoons frequently forage during the day. Mother raccoons that are trying to keep up with the demands of nursing kits will forage for food any chance they get. Raccoons can lose almost half of their body weight in winter months, so in the fall they will constantly forage to bulk up. Further, raccoons do not truly hibernate. They forage around the calendar. 

Myth: Squirrels forget where they bury their nuts.

Fact: Research conducted at Princeton University's biology department sought to dispel this mischaracterization of squirrel behavior. Wildlife biologists discovered that squirrels are far from squirrelly-brained about food. Remembering the location of 95% of their caches, squirrels are masterminds of planning for the future.

Myth: Opossums and raccoons are rodents.

Fact: The Virginia Opossum is North America's only marsupial (with young joeys in the female's pouch). Raccoons are related to red pandas and bears. 

Myth: A skunk will always spray you if you get too close.

Truth: The skunk is one of the most peace-loving, non-aggressive animals you could meet. She will only spray only as a last resort. She will even give you plenty of time to back off by stamping her front feet as a warning. The skunk's spray is its only defense, and it can take 10 days to reload. The skunk really doesn't want to unload on you. Leave her be and she will do the same.