The coyote resembles a small German shepherd dog, but carries its tail below the level of the back rather than curved upward. Its upper body is typically light gray to dull yellow, but can vary from mostly black to nearly all gray or white.
Generally, coyote are extremely shy and avoid contact with humans. In populated areas, however, coyote may be less likely to fear people and more likely to associate them with an easy, dependable food source. If you live in an area where there are coyote, it is important to supervise children and pets when they are outside. Coyotes can eat cats, dogs and livestock.
The ground hog or woodchuck is the largest ground squirrel found in Illinois. They are a stocky animal with a relatively flat head, blunt muzzle, short legs, and a bushy tail, with yellowish-gray brown to black fur.
Ground hogs may damage garden vegetables, field crops, orchard and nursery stock. They can cause structural damage to your home by digging under foundations, decks and outbuildings. Ground hogs can also be enticing to skunks, raccoons and other animals.
The opossum is a mammal with gray to black fur, a pink nose, naked ears, and an almost hairless long tail. They are North American's only marsupial and are solitary, slow moving animals who are most active at night.
An oposssum may follow the scent of garbage, or outdoor pet food and wonder into a garage, garbage bin, or under your home. Opossum's feces and urine may contain sporocysts; cysts that contain spores that can reproduce asexually. Horses can ingest these sporocysts with feed, grass or water contaminated with opossum feces.
Four species of tree squirrels can be found in Illinois: The fox squirrel, the gray squirrel, the red squirrel and the southern flying squirrel. All are small mammals characterized by a long, bushy tail, prominent ears, and long hind feet and reside in wooded areas.
Besides consuming seed, they may damage bird and wildlife feeders by chewing on them. Squirrels can cause damage to your home by chewing on wood or vinyl structures, by chewing on electrical line, or by getting into your walls to chew on interior wiring. As squirrels find their way into your home, they can also introduce fleas.
Skunks, with their black fur, white stripes and big bushy tails are easily identifiable and known for their defensive pungent spraying. Skunks may burrow under buildings, raid garbage, dig holes in lawns while hunting for grubs and sometimes raid poultry pens or bee hives.
When a skunk finds its way under your home, it may become fearful and spray which can cause the odor to spread to your entire home and can be extremely difficult to remove.
The eastern mole is the most common species of mole found in Illinois. Moles are small mammals, with charcoal gray fur and they spend almost their entire life underground.
The tunneling behavior of moles can damage lawns or garden plants by damaging plant roots. Their surface tunnels and molehills may be considered unsightly in a manicured landscape. Mole tunnels may also give mice and voles access to seeds and tubers.
Chipmunks are distinguishable by the broad stripes along their backs. Chipmunks are known to dig in lawns, eat plants and bulbs, and steal from bird feeders. They can cause damage to homes by chewing on garage doors, outdoor air conditioning units, wiring and insulation, and may use your crawl space for storing nuts.
The raccoon is a small nocturnal mammal, with grayish brown fur, a bushy banded tail and black masked face. They are highly adaptable, extremely intelligent animals that live well in cities, suburbs, and rural environments.
Raccoons can cause damage such as dumping trash cans, disturbing gardens and ponds, and injuring small pets. They can damage homes by shredding duct work, or chewing on wiring which may also cause a fire hazard. They may enter attics, chimneys and crawl spaces and bring ticks and fleas into your home, not to mention the droppings they leave behind that can carry round worm.
Some species of birds can create a nuisance with their noise and droppings, while some may even cause property damage. Plus bird droppings can cause Histoplasmosis, which is an infection by a fungus found in the droppings of birds and bats in humid areas.
Choosing the right course of action is essential, as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) provides federal legal protection for wild birds. Species not native to North America and resident game birds are not protected under this act.
Both red and gray foxes are native to Illinois. Red fox are the larger of the two species; gray fox are much smaller. While it is not uncommon to confuse them by color since red fox can appear gray, and vice versa, a white-tipped tail indicates a red fox.
Fox inhabit diverse habitats, and adapt to suburban and urban areas. They are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of animals and plants, including squirrels, mice and fruits. Homes and yards provide foxes with habitat and food, while conflicts often occur in the springtime when they are looking for denning sites and may build under a porch or shed. They can also eat cats, dogs, chickens and ducks.
Beavers are the largest rodent in Illinois, reaching lengths of 3 to 3 1/2 feet and weighing 25 to 60 pounds. Their stout bodies are covered with reddish-brown to blackish fur except for the broad, dorsally flattened tail, which is covered with dark, leathery scales.
Beaver can cause quite a bit of damage to property, including cutting down valuable trees, damaging corn fields, damming drainage ditches, and causing flooding. Once a beaver colony is established it is very difficult to control and time consuming to remove. However, beaver dens should be removed as quickly as possible to avoid attracting more beavers.
Nearly 40 species of snakes can be found in Illinois. Some species are more common than others, most of which are not poisonous and are ecologically beneficial. Snakes are drawn to potential food sources such as bird feeders. They are also drawn to good hiding places such as brush piles, under homes and porches, low hanging bushes, foliage and overgrown grassy areas. Snakes can be found both inside and outside the home. If mice are finding their way into your home, there is a good bet a snake could use the same entry.
River otters are the largest member of the weasel family found in Illinois. They are long, streamlined mammals, dark brown to black in color, with a tapered, furred tail, a broad, flattened head, prominent nose and long, bristly whiskers. An otter can completely clean out a pond of fish if not removed from the area.