KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
June 13, 2022
By Natalie Cook Clark
Katy is a fast-growing community that shares its land with wildlife that residents often encounter. A Katy family recently worked with a local expert to rescue and relocate armadillo pups.
Photo credit: Judy Messock.
Found Near Windsor Park Lakes
A Katy family found four armadillo pups in their backyard near Windsor Park Lakes. The mother had been run over and the pups would only venture out of their burrow to eat.
This isn’t the first time they have found armadillos. “My husband has caught them before,” says Judy Messock. “He’s caught them by using a large outside garbage can, placing it in the back of his pickup and releases them at the reservoir or George Bush Park.
Due to the age of these pups the Messocks wanted a little more help. They found Marissa Gonzalez on social media and she worked to assist them. Gonzalez is a lifelong animal lover and helps Katy families safely relocate animals.
When in Doubt, Seek an Expert
“I’m always open to extend myself to help people and give these animals a chance at a life,” says Gonzalez.
The armadillos were living in a burrow in the Messock’s backyard. “We have natural foliage running east to west on the south side of our one-acre property,” explains Messock. “When Windsor Park Lakes was built, they put up a fence that left the foliage intact, so the armadillos were living in a burrow in the dense area.”
Gonzalez went out to help. They waited until sunset, when the pups had been seen going out and she was able to safely catch one in a pool net. The pups are all about the size of a football with the first one caught being the smallest. That one was taken to the Texas Wildlife Coalition.
Gonzalez believes that these pups were weaned but armadillos can stay with their mom for up to nine months. Since they were young and still would have been with mom, it was unlikely that these four would have ventured too far.
After the first pup was caught the others stayed in the burrow. Gonzalez offered to return each night until they were all safely caught and relocated, but the Messocks saw how easy it was and decided to give the project a go on their own.
Katy is home to many critters including Nine-banded armadillos, which was adopted as the official state mammal. According to Gonzalez, who has worked as an armadillo rescuer for relocator for two years, most Katy families will see evidence of an armadillo before they ever see the animal itself.
“Armadillos burrow and forge for food. Residents can find burrows in flowerbeds and gardens that can range from a couple of feet to 15 feet,” says Gonzalez. “They tend to dig in gardens, near trash cans and anywhere were there are insects.”
Texans love their gardens and because of this, armadillos can be considered pests. Gonzalez loves to talk about these animals and educate people on how to safely relocate them.
“It’s really very easy,” she says. “The best method is a humane, live trap. Set it up outside of the burrow and block the sides so you create a run into the trap. Wet kitten food, grubworms such as super worms, and banana and blue berries can be used as bait.”
Gonzalez also says that it’s important to know your timing. She advises families to set up cameras to see when they come out. The most common time is between 8:00 p.m.- 10:00 p.m. Younger ones are also known to come out at sunset.
If families are worried about the animals, they can always call pest control but that will cost money. Gonzalez says that it’s easier to do it on your own and to always reach out to relocation specialists for advice. As always, anyone (especially a non-professional) needs to be careful when dealing with wildlife. She suggests wearing thick garden gloves if you will be handling an armadillo.
Since the relocation efforts began over Memorial Day weekend, two of the four armadillos have been successfully relocated. Gonzalez took the one she caught to the Texas Wildlife Coalition and the Messocks took one to George Bush Reservoir. They still have two living in their yard and will continue to attempt to relocate.
Wildlife of Katy
Katy is home to many wildlife from armadillos, rabbits, turtles, coyotes, alligators, snakes, opossums, and more. Residents should always leave wildlife alone and take precaution when attempting to relocate.
“This is a season for baby animals because of our climate,” says Gonzalez. “Most animals will have babies starting in early spring and into September and October.”
In most cases, displaced wildlife are more afraid of us than we are them. Take caution and if you need assistance call your local animal control or a professional.
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