Learn About Toronto's Wildlife

Removing wildlife humanely in Toronto requires in-depth knowledge of all the usual players, their biology and behaviours as seasons change. ICE has assembled this resource for home and business owners throughout the GTA so they can learn more about what they're up against. Although you might be tempted to take care of removing a nuisance animal yourself, evicting an animal from its home is a difficult and oftentimes dangerous task—it's best to leave this job to a wildlife technician who is experienced, ecologically responsible and professional. We can help you with pest control, wild animal control, and a variety of specialty services. Click on an animal to find out more information.

Raccoons

Got a raccoon in the attic or another part of your home? Rather than handling the problem on your own, you need professional raccoon removal in Toronto to make sure that the infestation is taken care of in the most effective and humane way. Working in accordance with municipal by-laws protecting wildlife from cruelty, Innovative Care of the Environment, Inc. provides wildlife removal services including raccoon control in Toronto.

Information
Raccoons are unusual for their thumbs, which (though not opposable) enable them to open many closed containers such as garbage cans and doors. They have a reputation for being clever and mischievous. Their intelligence and dexterity equip them to survive in a variety of environments, and they are one of the few medium- to large-sized animal species that have enlarged their range.

Raccoons are omnivorous; they eat fruits, nuts, grains, insects, frogs, crayfish, bird eggs, and anything else available. They do not really wash their food, but usually obtain their food from lakes and streams. It is also a myth that raccoons lack salivary glands; this has been proven to be a folktale.

Reproduction
Raccoons do not live together as mated pairs. Males mate with as many females as possible. During the breeding season (February-March) females find a den. The male raccoon locates a female and, if she is willing, moves into her den for a short period of mating. Afterwards, the male resumes his wandering lifestyle. After a 63-day gestation period, two to seven young are born with their eyes shut. Their eyes open in about three weeks. Their mother cares for them until the fall when they leave on their own.

Getting Rid of a Raccoon in the Attic
Raccoons can and will use attics, as well as hollow spaces beneath porches and buildings for shelter.

They can contract several diseases, some of which can even be transmitted to humans or pets. Rabies among raccoons is a concern. Although very few residents get rabies when trapping raccoons, the job should still be left to professionals to avoid health risks. These animals are not normally aggressive, but they will defend themselves if threatened.

For these reasons, raccoon removal is best left to ICE. After identifying the source of your animal problem, our trained wildlife control technicians will implement a "hands-off" one-way door system to safely remove the raccoon from your home. Preventive measures will then be put into place to prevent any future occurrences.

Our frequently asked questions section provides some more detail about our raccoon removal methods.

Squirrels

Nests are most commonly constructed of grass in the branches of spruce trees. Nests are also excavated from witches' broom–abnormally dense vegetative growth resulting from a rust disease–or cavities in the trunks of spruce or poplar trees. Each individual red squirrel has several nests within its territory and females with young move offspring between nests. Red squirrels experience severe early mortality (on average only 22% survive to one year of age). The survival probability, however, increases to age three at which point it begins to decrease again. Females that survive to one year of age have a life expectancy of 2.3 years and a maximum life span of eight years.

Reproduction
Ovulation is spontaneous with red squirrels. Females enter estrus for only one day, but venture from their territory prior to ovulation and these exploratory forays may serve to advertise their upcoming estrus. On the day of estrus, females are chased by several males in an extended mating chase. Males compete with one another for the opportunity to mate with the estrous female. Estrous females will mate with 4 to 16 males. Gestation time has been reported to range from 31 to 35 days. Females can breed for the first time at one year of age but some females delay breeding until two years of age or older. Most females produce only one litter, but in some years reproduction is skipped while in other years some females attempted to breed twice. Litter sizes typically range from one to five, but most litters contain three or four offspring. Offspring are pink and hairless at birth and weigh approximately 10-15 grams. Offspring grow at approximately 1.8 g/day while nursing but do not reach adult body size until 125 days of age. Offspring first emerge from their natal nest at around 42 days of age but continue to nurse until approximately 70 days of age.

Skunks

The striped skunk occupies a variety of habitats, including fields, woodlands and urban locations. In urban and suburban locations they are quite at home under porches, decks, and sheds. The skunk may excavate its own burrow, which can be six to 20 feet long and below ground three to four feet, ending in round chambers lined with leaves and grass. More often, a skunk will take over the burrows of woodchucks or foxes. Skunks are normally nocturnal. They spend the day sleeping in dark locations such as burrows or under porches, etc. and exit in the evening to search for food.

Their presence usually becomes apparent only when the odour from their scent glands permeates the air after being released at real or imagined danger. Skunks spray as a last resort and would prefer just to walk away from danger. The skunk gives a warning that it is about to spray by arching its back, raising its tail high in the air, turning its back toward the enemy, and stomping its front feet.

They are omnivores, with small rodents, insects, and seasonal fruits making up most of their diet. They eat the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds and regularly dig up turtle eggs and the nest of yellow jacket wasps. A favourite insect food is the grubs of Japanese beetles and June beetles, which feed on the roots of lawn grasses. Skunks are also fond of garbage and pet food set outside.

Reproduction and Life Span
Skunks are polygamous, meaning they mate with more than one member of the opposite sex. In the northeast, the breeding season begins in February and lasts through March. After mating, the male leaves the female and takes no part in raising the young. Four to eight young are born between late April and early June after a gestation period of 62 to 68 days. The young are born helpless, blind, and hairless, although the striped pattern is distinguishable on their bodies. Their eyes open at about 22 days and at six to eight weeks weaning begins and the young forage for food with the mother.

Opossums

Opossums are opportunistic omnivores with a very broad diet. Their unspecialized biology, flexible diet and reproductive strategy make them successful colonizers and survivors in unsettled times.

Opossum Facts
The opossum is a small to medium-sized marsupial, about the size of a large house cat (2'-3' long and 4-15lbs.). Most members of the opossum family have long snouts and narrow braincases. They can be traced back to the time of the dinosaur.

When threatened or harmed, they will “play possum”, mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. The lips are drawn back, teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands. This physiological response is completely involuntary, rather than a conscious act.

Their stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away. Many injured opossums have been killed by well-meaning people who find a catatonic animal and assume the worst. The best thing to do upon finding an injured or apparently dead opossum is to leave it in a quiet place with a clear exit path. In minutes or hours, the animal will regain consciousness and escape quietly on its own.

Reproduction
The opossum has a 12 day gestational period and gives birth to anywhere from 5 to 25 young. They are about the size of a bee and crawl the two inches from the birth canal to the mother's pouch.

Chipmunks

Chipmunks are small members of the squirrel family. There are about 20 species of western chipmunks and one species of eastern chipmunk in USA and Canada. Chipmunks can be found in woodlands, along forest edges, bushes and gardens, parks and around houses or cemeteries. They have reddish-brown fur, with white and black stripes on their back. They also have long flat bushy tails. The largest chipmunk is the eastern chipmunk, which grows up to 11 inches and weighs as much as 4.4 ounces. The smallest chipmunk is the least chipmunk, which grows up to 8.5 inches and weighs up to 1.8 ounces.

The chipmunk is a solitary animal and will socialize during the breeding season. This animal is diurnal and eats insects, snails, nuts, berries, seeds, fruit, and grain. The chipmunk is a ground dwelling mammal. It constructs burrows which can be up to 30 feet in length. Eastern chipmunks spend a lot of time gathering and storing food for the winter. Chipmunks hibernate from late fall to early spring, but every two weeks they will wake to eat. Their predators include: foxes, weasels, badgers, bobcats and snakes.

Reproduction
Mating takes place in March. The gestation period is 31 days. Three to five young are born. Young chipmunks are fully grown by three months.

Groundhogs

The groundhog is the largest member of the squirrel family. A groundhog is also called woodchuck or whistle pig. It has short legs, strong claws, and a stubby tail. Groundhogs are covered with two coats of fur. The outside fur keeps water out and the inside fur keeps body heat in. Groundhogs weigh between 4 and 14lbs. and live most of their lives underground. Foxes, wildcats, coyotes and hawks are their natural enemies. Groundhogs are the only animals that have their own national holiday: Groundhog Day.

Groundhogs are solitary and herbivorous animals. They eat grass, roots, seeds, plants, and sometimes insects. Groundhogs live in burrows underground and are hibernating mammals. Their burrows can have more than one entrance. Groundhogs are at their maximum weight before entering hibernation. Hibernation lasts about five months.

Reproduction
Mating season is in spring. The gestation period is between 28 and 32 days. There are four to five babies and they are born blind and naked. Young groundhogs stay with their mother for about six weeks.

Coyotes

The coyote is a member of the dog family which includes wolves, dogs and foxes. Adult coyotes are 40 to 52 inches (101 to 132cm) long and weigh between 20 to 35lbs. (9 to 16kg). They have a black-tipped bushy tail and their coats can vary from light or reddish grey to a buff colour. They have pointed, erect ears and yellow eyes.

Coyotes are the best runners of all the canines. They have long strong legs and four well-padded toes with non-retractable claws. They can travel great distances, at speeds up to 30 miles an hour (48km/h).

They have 42 teeth set in a strong jaw, which are perfect for holding and biting prey. Their sense of smell, sight and hearing are exceptional which makes them very cunning hunters.

Habitat
Coyotes are found in eastern Alaska, western Canada, most of the western United States and Central America. They are very adaptable and live in the desert, forests, mountains, plains and even in tropical areas. When they sleep they curl up in any protected spot they can find, often without much shelter.

Diet
Coyotes are carnivores (meat eaters). They hunt for rabbits, deer, elk, birds, snakes, lizards, fish, sheep, young calves and any carrion they find– but they also eat some fruits and grasses. When they are near humans they eat the rats and mice that feed off rubbish dumps. Because they can adapt so easily to their surroundings and the different seasons, they have more chance of finding something to eat and are able to survive.

Family members howl and yelp to communicate with each other, and to let any neighbours know they are there. Coyotes are most active at dawn, dusk and during the night. Because they are good hunters and can adapt to different habitats and seasons they can usually find food easily. They are also cunning enough to survive being hunted by humans who set traps and put out poison for them.

To get rid of your raccoon problems, or if you need other wildlife removal services such as bird, bat, opossum, skunk, or squirrel removal in your Toronto home or business, don't hesitate to call us today!

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Toronto, GTA, North York, Etobicoke, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Vaughan, Downsview, Woodbridge, Bolton, Caledon, Nobleton, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Brampton, Peel Region, Scarborough, and their surrounding areas