By: Dru Gary
Published on: September 1st, 2023
Moving to a new place far from home can be intimidating and exciting. There are so many things to learn about your new environment. Ontario is known for its stunning provincial parks, abundance of beautiful lakes, as well as a wide array of wildlife.
Ontario has a unique ecological landscape that a variety of creatures call home. There are some critters that dwell in cities and others that can only be found in woodsy and rural areas. Being familiar with your local wildlife and aware of the role they play in the ecosystem is a way to connect and learn about your new surroundings.
What do you do if you encounter a skunk at a park? What if you see a bear in the woods? What to do when a raccoon is rooting through your trash? Are squirrels okay to approach or should they be feared and avoided?
This Newcomer’s guide to wildlife will go over the basics and how to deal with common animal encounters.
Skunks are extremely common in Ontario. They are nocturnal. They are known for their signature jet black coat with two white stripes down the sides of their backs. They live in grassy fields and at the edge of forests. In urban areas they can be found in parks or in burrows beneath buildings and porches.
The black and white creatures are also known for the putrid odor they emit as a defense method when they feel threatened. It is best to never approach a skunk to avoid getting sprayed with their odor. If you do by chance get sprayed, you will not be injured or harmed, but the stench will stick to your clothing.
Taking a bath with 2 to 4 cups of baking soda added to the water will remove the smell from your body. To remove the smell from clothes, regular detergent with a ½ cup of baking soda should do the trick. Make sure to air dry the garments.
Raccoons are among the most populous wildlife in Ontario. They are known for being nocturnal, as well as, for their gray and black striped coat and their “bandit-mask” facial colouring. They are intelligent and sneaky creatures, they are incredible food scavengers. Raccoons can live in tree stumps and logs.
More commonly in cities, raccoons can make their homes in garages, under porches, attics, and sewers. Raccoons are known for rummaging through trash for food, because of this, it is best to use a garbage can that seals or securely closes to avoid these creatures tearing up your trash.
Bats are highly mythologized animals. The fear of bats comes from spooky vampire tales, but luckily, bats are fairly harmless. If bitten by a bat, you should immediately wash the infected area with soap and water and get checked out by your family doctor or go to the Emergency Room just to be safe.
Bats are nocturnal animals. If you find a bat flying into your home, do not try to capture it. You can open the door or window and wait for the bat to fly out. If you are having issues with bats in your home it is best to not resolve these problems on your own. Instead, call your municipal animal services and let them handle it.
Foxes are relatively small animals with red/orange colouring, a white underside, and black legs. These canines are falsely attributed to being deceitful or nefarious animals, when in reality they are often shy and nervous by nature.
Foxes, like raccoons, are known for rummaging through trash. To prevent this, ensure that your garbage cans are securely closed. To avoid fox encounters, it is also important to not approach foxes and teach children to do the same. Most importantly, do not feed foxes.
If you have any pets do not allow them to be outside at night unsupervised. Foxes are omnivores that eat small mammals as part of their diet, they hunt primarily in the mornings and evenings.
Moose are another Canadian classic. They are known for their large stature. They can weigh between 300-700 kg and reach 2.1 m in height. These giant creatures are less common than the other animals listed here, but if you are camping, in more rural areas or provincial parks you might just come across one. They are nocturnal and like feeding and grazing in mostly swampy areas.
Moose are generally not aggressive and will only attack if they are stressed out. If you see a moose out in the wild you should not run. You should stay calm and freeze in place and then slowly back away and head back in the direction you came. If a moose ever charges you, it is best to find something sold to hide behind.
Squirrels are small rodent-like animals with bushy tails. Squirrels in Ontario are most often black or brown. They are active during the day and sleep at night. They are extremely common in Ontario, especially in urban environments. They are generally harmless and will not approach you.
A squirrel is most likely to approach you if you offer it food, which as a rule of thumb you should not do. Squirrels will not be quick to attack or bite. The fluffy tailed creatures are known to make homes in attics. To avoid this it is best to make sure there are no holes in the external structure and to make sure that long tree branches are trimmed back so squirrels can’t get on the roof or into the home.
Becoming familiar with the creatures of Ontario and the ways they interact with human beings is an integral part of maintaining a happy harmony with nature and your new environment.