KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
July 17, 2023
By Natalie Cook Clark
Katy residents share their neighborhoods with many wild critters. A bobcat was recently seen strolling through Seven Meadows, a large alligator was seen along Mason Creek all serving as reminders of what lives among us. As Katy continues to grow, more residents will come face to face with local animals.
Katy is home to a large variety of wildlife.
Katy is full of wildlife and while it can be exciting to witness an encounter, residents need to know how to stay safe. Know your Katy-area wildlife.
Photo credit: Robert Bory
“Seeing native wildlife such as coyotes and bobcats should be handled the same way as when one sees alligators in the summer,” says Fort Bend County Constable Chad Norvell. “Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone.”
Last week a bobcat was seen strolling through Seven Meadows in a resident’s yard. Robert Bory was surprised to see the large cat but left it along and the bobcat moved on.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas bobcats can weigh between 15 and 30 pounds. They are opportunistic hunters that mostly will hunt small mammals like rabbits and rats. They can pose a threat to small pets.
Screenshot video credit: Shannon Hayes
Coyotes are another local threat to small pets. Katy residents have witnessed packs of coyotes pull small dogs through iron fences, they have also witnessed coyotes jump tall fences to get to pets and kill them before terrified owners can rescue them.
Katy cats have gone missing and been found deceased with evidence of coyotes or bobcats.
How to Deter Coyotes/Bobcats from Your Home
Do not keep pet food outside.
Clean your grill after use.
Clear away potential hiding places.
Cover trash and recycling cans.
If composting, do not add meat or bones.
Keep small pets indoors.
Photo credit: Joshua Moore
Alligators of varying sizes, but even up to 12-feet, are frequently spotted in Katy neighborhoods and nearby parks and creeks. Recently a large one was spotted in Mason Creek through Nottingham Country.
Last year a Katy ISD junior high student had an alligator snatch his catch from his fishing pole while at a Cinco Ranch creek. Read about his encounter here.
Alligators are frequently seen in the Katy area near lakes, ponds, and neighborhood water areas and ditches. According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), "Most Texans in 'gator country' will live in close proximity to these native reptiles with no confrontations."
Many any kinds of snakes call Katy home, including four that are venomous. Thought they can be found all year, this time of year they are most active, and residents should stay alert.
The greater Houston area has 34 different kinds of snakes. Of that number, about four are venomous. If you see a snake, leave it alone or call Animal Control. Katy moms have found them at local playgrounds and park, they have been spotted in garages and even homes showing just how close they can get.
“The best way to ward off unwanted animals is to control what they eat,” says Chris Williams of Urban Jungle Wildlife Removal. “To avoid snakes, spray for bugs to ward off lizards, control rat and rodent population. Everyone has them but if you control the food source, you’ll avoid those types of predators.”
Photo credit: Ryan Morone
While currently their numbers are more manageable thanks to community members working together to trap them, wild hogs continue to be a problem in the Katy area especially now the north side.
These wild animals did attack a walker and her dog in George Bush Park a few years ago, but they are mostly destructive to property included extensive damage to the golf course and Willow Fork Country Club.
Each feral hog sow is capable of two-to-three litters a year with each litter resulting in around 12 offspring. They can breed all year, which means they can multiple quickly.
Many officials believe that this is an HOA issue and that residents should discuss sightings with their HOA. As seen in Cinco Ranch, once their sanctuary is discovered setting up traps was easy with the help of a professional group.
Photo credit: Larry Kessler.
Opossums often turn up in Katy neighborhoods and have been guilty for rummaging through trash and even leaving a mess. Katy families have reported sightings of opossums on their patios enjoying a drink from a dog water bowl, taking shelter in an attic or even a warm vehicle. However, these mammals are very beneficial and deserve our respect.
Opossums are the only mammal that routinely dines on snakes (even poisonous ones.) They do not dine on your flower beds but rather eat pests that will destroy your yard.
According to the Texas Wildlife Center of Texas, opossums are resilient to diseases. They are even considered a “dead-end” host to rabies due to their lower temperature and the fact that diseases can’t spread effectively through them.
As always, if an animal such as an opossum becomes a problem, reach out to local animal control or the Wildlife Center for ideas to help the animal move on.
Photo credit: Judy Messock.
Katy residents, like many across Texas, find armadillos most often dead on the roadside. Still some are lucky enough to stop and see them crossing the road at night.
One Katy family found a dead one in the road and then found her pups near their yard!
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.
“I’m always open to extend myself to help people and give these animals a chance at a life,” says Gonzalez.
All four pups were successfully relocated to the Texas Wildlife Coalition. You can read more about their rescue here.
Photo credit: Sarah Angeles
Each year, rabbits deliver litters of bunnies. The peak season runs from February to October, though nests can be found outside season. Their nests are often found in backyards and care should be taken when mowing or raking to avoid injuring baby wild rabbits. If found, these rabbits should be left alone.
“Baby rabbits leave the nest when they're three weeks old and about the size of a chipmunk,” states the Humane Society’s website. “If you find a chipmunk-sized but fully furred rabbit with eyes open, ears erect, and the ability to hop, they are meant to be on their own. As small and helpless as they may look, they are not an orphan and don't need your help.”
Wild rabbits that are truly orphaned are extremely difficult to wean and care for. If they survive, the Humane Society recommends turning them over to a vet or rehabilitation group to be released.
Some Katy families have done this with success only once they watched and knew the mom wasn’t returning. Read about the Angeles’ bunnies and how they were rescued.
Katy is also home to wild turtles, foxes, racoons, squirrels, deer, rodents, stray dogs and cats, and other wildlife. As Katy grows we move into their territory and need to proceed with caution.
The best practice when encountering local wildlife, especially if they are stressed from inclement weather is to leave them alone. It's also important to educate and teach children how to stay safe around wildlife.
Always supervise children when they are playing outside.
Do not let children play in flooded rainwater. This water is dirty and dangers such as snakes, gators, and bugs can be hiding in it.
Teach children about dangerous wildlife and tell them to always notify an adult when they spot a creature that could be harmful.
Watch pets when outside and keep them on a leash.
Do not touch a wild animal.
“Our native wildlife lives among us and isn’t cause for alarm,” says Constable Norvell. “Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone.”
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.
Harris County 281-999-3191
Fort Bend County 281-342-1512
Waller County 979-826-8033