Wildlife: Reptiles

Are you experiencing an issue with wildlife in your area?  If you have an urgent concern, please get in touch with us right away.  If you are looking for more information, please click on one of the questions below to expand the content and find your answer.  If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at DFW Wildlife Coalition.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1536271652868{padding-top: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_tta_accordion style=”modern” shape=”square” color=”juicy-pink” active_section=”” css_animation=”bottom-to-top” no_fill=”true” collapsible_all=”true” el_class=”acc-menu”][vc_tta_section title=”I found an injured animal!” tab_id=”1536517198500-f3a494a0-31d3″ el_class=”bird-tab”][vc_column_text]

  • If the animal has been hit by a car, attacked by a cat or dog, and an adult can safely do so, a helping hand is appreciated.
  • Your personal safety is first and foremost. We recommend using gloves. If you do not have gloves use fabric such as a towel, T-shirt, or whatever fabric you may have on hand. Cover the injured animal as this will reduce stress and assist in protecting yourself.
  • When a bird is covered it will lay still and not struggle pick up from behind keeping the wings close to the body. With raptors, such as owls and hawks, keep in mind where the beak and feet/talons are located. You must wear heavy gloves, long sleeves to protect your hands and arms from the talons and beak. Eye protection is required. Use extreme caution with long beaks, such as a heron, be sure the beak is covered securely and firmly pointing away from your face. Wear eye protection, as these birds use their beaks as a spear.
  • When trying to rescue water birds such as ducks or geese, try to get a blanket covering the eyes. If you cannot get close enough to place a blanket, then walk the bird to an area with undergrowth away from the water. Once the bird gets in the tall grass or undergrowth it will assume you can’t see it. You can then cover the duck or goose with the blanket and from behind pick up keeping wings next to the body. Generally speaking it is easier to rescue at dusk.
  • When a mammal is covered, depending on the species, they may still move or struggle, however it will be reduced as compared to not covering the animal as you are reducing the fear of the animal by blocking their vision. Never pick an animal up by the tail.
  • If the animal is an adult rabies vector, raccoon, fox, coyote, skunk please contact authorities for assistance or the hotline 972-234-9453.
  • Remember if you cannot contain safely, contact authorities for assistance or the hotline, 972-234-9453.
  • An injured animal will if able try to defend itself. Do not pick the animal up unless you can safely do so. If you are bitten or scratched, and the animal is a rabies vector it will have to be tested for rabies. So, do not risk yourself as you are also jeopardizing the animal’s life.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Read FAQ: How to contain and prepare wildlife for transport.”.
  • Read FAQ: Ways to provide heat for orphan or injured wild animal”.
  • Read FAQ: How to locate a wildlife rehabilitator”.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”How to contain, prepare, and transport wildlife” tab_id=”1536262382233-1726e5fb-d96f” el_class=”bird-tab”][vc_column_text]Thank you for being a caring person and for taking the time to save wildlife! Once you have identified an animal in need of care, it will be necessary to contain the animal so that it can be safely transported to a permitted animal rehabilitator. Only adults should handle wildlife, provided it can be done safely.

Steps in the Transport Process:

  1. Choose an appropriate container for transport.
    Containers need to be chosen based on the wildlife being rescued/transported. For tiny to small animals, a shoe box with a few extra air holes poked from the inside out works well. For medium to older babies, use a small to medium pet carrier or larger box. If using a pet carrier, cover the carrier to make the inside dark.  For adult animals, be sure the container has a lid and that the animal cannot chew through or get out of the container. Remember darkness helps the animal to relax. Never transport with an open container!
  2. Prepare your container
    Provide soft bedding. An old T-shirt or similar fabric is ideal. Avoid fabrics with large loops or an extremely open weave. Towels, terry cloth, and similar fabrics have threads that can get wrapped around little toes and ankles and cut off circulation.
  3. Placing animals in the container
    For baby animals, use an old T-shirt or wear gloves to gently pick up and place the baby wildlife in the container.  Older wildlife will definitely require gloves and the T-shirt or a towel In order to have adequate fabric between you and the terrified animal.  The towel serves two purposes: aids in protecting your hands and covers the little animal’s eyes to make it less afraid as you pick up and place in the container.
  4. Provide heat source.  Read FAQ “Ways to provide heat for orphaned or injured wild animal”.
  5. Reach out to a professional.
    Contact DFW Wildlife Coalition hotline 972-234-9453 or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator for instructions and information on when and where to transport. The hotline is staffed by volunteers and rehabilitators might be caring for animals when you call. It may take an hour or so for a return phone call. Until then, keep the container in a quite dark place away from family pets and children.
  6. Be prepared to transport as soon as possible.
    If you are personally unavailable, check with friends, family, or neighbors.  Often there is someone willing to participate in the rescue. If you still are having difficulty check with your HOA, neighborhood app or Facebook.  Uber is an option as well.
  7. During the transport process:
    ** Please refrain from using the radio while driving. The little life you are transporting is very afraid and the radio will only add to its stress.
    ** Please do not transport in the bed of a pickup truck! Wind, road noise, and extreme temperatures could further compromise the animal.
  8. Meeting the Rehabber:
    When meeting the rehabilitation professional and handing off the animal, please remember to give details of the rescue to the rehabber.
    ** A donation towards the care of the animal would also be deeply appreciated by the rehabber. Rehabilitators do not receive assistance from city or state agencies.

Thank you for being a caring person and for taking the time to save wildlife! [/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Ways to provide heat for orphan or injured wild animal” tab_id=”1536270641860-16c3fadd-e6ff” el_class=”bird-tab”][vc_column_text]Saving a life begins with making sure an orphaned or injured animal has heat. Begin by providing soft bedding for the animal you are rescuing. An old T-shirt or similar fabric is ideal. Avoid fabrics with large loops or an extremely open weave. Towels, terry cloth, and similar fabrics have threads that can get wrapped around little toes and ankles and cut off circulation.

Once you have provided bedding, the next step is to supply warmth. Holding or placing an animal in your pocket is not an adequate or safe way to keep the baby warm.  It is also terrifying for the animal. Remember, to the animal you are rescuing, you are a predator!

Warming techniques:

  • Place 1 cup of uncooked rice in a sock and tie or rubber band the open end. Place in the microwave for 1 minute. If not warm, heat another 30-60 seconds until the sock is warm but NOT HOT. If you don’t have rice, try lentils or similar product.
  • Put hot water in a bottle and place the bottle in a sock. This is a good solution if you are traveling or at the office.
  • If it will be several hours until you can transport the animal to a rehabilitator, use a heating pad set on low.  It is very important to place heating pad under one half of the container only so that the animal can choose the side of the container it prefers.  When checking on the baby, it should be warm but not sweaty or hot.
    • CAUTION: Newer heating pads have automatic shut offs that you may need to monitor if you are keeping the animal overnight.  

The rice sock or hot water bottle will travel with the animal as you are transporting to a wildlife rehabilitator.  Each can be reheated as needed and normally they will each hold the temperature long enough to transport the animal to safety. [/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”How to locate a wildlife rehabber” tab_id=”1536270654188-8c43ca56-5a27″ el_class=”bird-tab”][vc_column_text]There are several options for you as you begin your search for professional help for an animal in need. Remember, the wild animal you have rescued should be respected as such. Please keep children and pets away from wild animals


  • DFW Wildlife Coalition telephone hotline 972-234-WILD or 972-234-9453
    Hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days per year.  Our 100{376de46712742e812dd3d98559fb34c156542d2d9d295b06b04bc04c2527f5a7} volunteer operated hotline will assist in finding a wildlife rehabilitator that specializes in the wildlife or type of injury, orphaned, and or conflict or concern you may have.  
  • Animal Help Now (www.ahnow.org)
    If you have called the DFW Wildlife Coalition and it is after hours, you cannot reach a volunteer, or you live outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas and surrounding counties, you may find a wildlife rehabilitator at Animal Help Now website (www.ahnow.org).  Animal Help Now is a national database of wildlife or veterinarian professionals.


You may download Animal Help Now, free application for either iPhone or Android called “Animal Help Now”.  This app will work on GPS lists wildlife rehabilitators or veterinarians based on hours of operation.  You may need to search in surrounding cities or counties. If you are searching late at night, you may want to check again in the morning in the event there are other options.  

If you cannot locate a rehabilitator or transport the animal immediately, provide heat all night and do not attempt to feed.  Most animals will not eat when in pain and you can do more harm than good by force feeding or providing food. Please refrain from handling needlessly. Remember, you are a predator and may be causing undo stress and fear.  Prey species can die from stress.  

As tempting as it might be to keep the animal and attempt to care for it yourself, please remember that it is illegal to keep a wild animal. Delay in transporting may be the difference in life or death and the animals best chance at survival rests with being placed with a permitted professional.  If you delay, you might compromise the recovery of the animal you have rescued.



  • Be prepared to transport as quickly as possible once you have located a rehabilitation professional.  If you know that you cannot do so, please reach out to neighbors, family and friends for help in transporting the life you have rescued. Wildlife rehabilitators have their hands full providing feedings, medical attention, and husbandry to the animals in their care; they typically do not have the time or volunteers to pick up wildlife.  If you still cannot locate transportation, please reach out to friends in your HOA, neighborhood app, or Facebook. Uber might also be an option for transport.
  • Once you have placed your animal with the rehabber and provided information about its history with you, please donate to the wildlife rehabilitator as they do not receive assistance from city or state agencies.

Thank you for being a caring person and for taking the time to save wildlife![/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Coexisting with Alligators” tab_id=”1536523991207-8fd17884-ec39″ el_class=”bird-tab”][vc_column_text]

The American Alligator is our largest native Texas reptile.

Like other reptiles, i.e. snakes, lizards and turtles, they are cold-blooded and depend upon the air temperature of their surroundings. They become less active and may burrow into the ground when the temperatures are below 60 degrees.

The American alligator was once very common in rivers, creeks, and backwater sloughs of East and South Texas. Unregulated market hunting and habitat alteration resulted in near extinction of the species in Texas by the 1950’s. Legal protection, enhanced habitat conditions, and new water impoundment projects have resulted in a rapid repopulation of Texas by alligators during the past 20 years. To complicate matters, an ever-expanding human population continues to encroach upon the alligator’s domain. These factors contribute to increased encounters between alligators and people.

An alligator is typically not seen when in the water – except for its eyes.

An alligator’s length can be determined by estimating the distance between its eyes. For each inch, calculate one foot. Ten inches between the eyes is approximately a ten foot long alligator. Most Texas alligators are 5-6 feet long and weigh just 25-35 pounds. Alligators can live up to 30 years in the wild. Alligators, like other reptiles, don’t need to eat as much as we do.

Where do alligators live?

Alligators are native to the North Texas area and live in various freshwater lakes and rivers, including Lake Worth, Eagle Mountain Lake and the Trinity River. Alligators are limited by habitat type and temperature requirements, so they are primarily concentrated in southern and eastern portions of Texas – as indicated by the dark green shading on the map below. In the lighter green shaded areas below, the habitat and temperature for alligators is only marginal, so that alligators are more limited and scattered in pockets in these areas which includes the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

What do alligators eat?

Mature alligators typically eat rough fish like carp, small mammals, birds, turtles, snakes and frogs. Their diet changes as they grow larger – preferring larger food items as they age. Small alligators typically eat spiders, insects, crawfish, shrimp, minnows and crabs. As they grow larger (over 3 feet in length) turtles, fish, frogs, snakes, carrion (dead animals) and small birds become part of their diet. Alligators are opportunistic in their feeding habits – meaning they will eat whatever is easiest to come by. Occasionally, an adult alligator will eat wading birds, muskrat, waterfowl, raccoons, nutria, feral hogs, and even white-tailed deer.

What good are alligators?

Alligators play a vital role in the ecology of our Texas wetlands, and are an important part of our Texas heritage.

When do alligators reproduce in Texas?

Females lay their eggs in June and July in an above-ground mounded nest. The nest may contain 15 to 60 eggs (a clutch). The baby alligators (a pod) hatch after 65 days, in late August/early September, and are about 8 inches long when born. Baby alligators will grunt if separated from their mother, or when they’re hungry or afraid. While baby alligators may look cute, NEVER try to remove alligators from their natural habitat or try to keep one as a pet. It is strictly against the law to do so. Alligators do not become tame in captivity and handling even small ones may result in bites. Instead, enjoy watching and photographing alligators from a distance.

Is it okay to feed alligators or other wildlife?

NO! DEFINITELY NOT! NEVER put out food for wild animals, except for birds or squirrels. Deliberate feeding of wildlife puts you, your pets, your neighbors, and even the wildlife at risk. Observing wildlife is a wonderful way to interact with nature; however, the experience can turn unpleasant or dangerous when well-meaning people feed wildlife. Intentional feeding can make wildlife unnaturally bold, and will lead to conflicts. It is necessary for wild animals to remain fearful of humans. Feeding of wildlife may seem like a positive way to interact, but it creates an unnatural situation in which wildlife become less fearful of humans, become habituated to free handouts can cause the spread of disease as animals eat in close contact, can attract other predatory wildlife to the feeding location, and can cause conflict with neighbors who do not appreciate the nightly wildlife buffet line going through their yards. Feeding wild animals does much more harm than good. Do not ever throw food to alligators.

Wild animals, such as alligators, that lose their fear of humans can become dangerous to the feeder, as well as to the surrounding residents, resulting in conflict that ends with the wildlife being trapped and euthanized because of the perceived threat to the community. In addition, feeding wildlife encourages them to reproduce in greater numbers than the habitat can support. For all these reasons, and for the sake of long-term safety to the public and Texas wildlife, no one should intentionally feed alligators. If you observe someone else feeding alligators, please report them for the safety of all. Since October 1, 2003, it has been a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught feeding an alligator.

Why can’t we just trap and move the alligators elsewhere?

For alligators that are not causing any problems, there’s no reason to move them. It’s a huge tax-payer expense to trap and remove wildlife that are not causing harm. Furthermore, removal is only a short-term solution, as any habitat that can support alligators will continue to have more move in. Moving animals always brings with it the risk of transplanting disease, and relocation is not always a viable option, as by nature these animals are territorial and relocated animals may be killed or run out of a new area. What is needed, instead, is an educated public that’s able to recognize the few nuisance alligators and to coexist safely with the majority of alligators that pose no danger to the community.

How can I avoid conflicts with alligators and maintain a healthy mutual respect?

Most of us will never have a confrontation with an alligator. Alligators and people can peacefully coexist together. All it takes is a little understanding and healthy respect for the alligator’s needs and habits. Remember that alligators are cold-blooded and their metabolic rate increases as the weather warms, causing them to be more active. You are much more likely to encounter an alligator during warm weather months, rather than in the winter. If you encounter an alligator and there is no immediate danger, leave it alone. Typically alligators are timid and avoid humans whenever possible. If a human comes too close for comfort, usually an alligator will retreat quickly. However Because they sometimes move great distances to meet their survival needs, they sometimes show up in undesirable locations or even on your private property. Your private property is usually a temporary resting place for the alligator and it will likely leave on its own in search of more suitable habitat.

Alligators naturally shy away from humans. However, problems arise when people feed alligators, because the animals lose their fear of humans and begin to associate people with food. This produces the potentially dangerous situation described above. An alligator that has been frequently hand-fed will often lunge at an outstretched hand. This action is often interpreted as an “alligator attack” when in reality the alligator has been conditioned to respond to an outstretched hand expecting to be fed. For this reason, it is wrong to feed any wild alligator. Although alligators may appear sluggish or lethargic, they can become quite agile if disturbed or annoyed. People and pets should never approach alligators closely. This is particularly true of nesting females. As with all wild animals, people should treat alligators with respect. Alligator-human conflicts are rare in Texas, and no human fatality has ever been attributed to alligators in Texas. Good judgment on the part of humans can keep incidents at a minimum. If an alligator doesn’t retreat when a person approaches, or if an alligator actively threatens humans, it may have lost its natural fear of people.. The practice of feeding alligators is dangerous, unlawful and contributes to attacks on humans or causing them to lose their fear of humans.

Here are a few tips on sharing our cities with alligators:

NEVER feed or entice alligators. Inform others that feeding alligators is against Texas state law. If you observe others feeding alligators, report them for the safety of all. Alligators generally lose their natural fear of people when they associate food with people. By feeding alligators, people create problems for themselves and others.

NEVER feed other wildlife near the water, throw fish scraps into the water or leave them along the shoreline. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators, the alligator doesn’t understand that. Dispose of fish scraps or other potential alligator foodstuffs properly.

DON’T let your pets swim or run along the shoreline of waters known to contain large alligators. Alligators could be attracted to dogs because they are about the same size as a large alligator’s natural prey.

DON’T swim or allow pets to swim in areas with vegetation that is growing up out of the water. Alligators favor this type of habitat. Swim in designated areas only.

DON’T swim, walk dogs or small children, at night or at dusk, along the shoreline of waters that are known to contain large alligators. Large alligators feed most actively during the evening hours. This is one reason Florida has made it illegal to water-ski after dark.

NEVER try to remove alligators from their natural habitat or try to keep one as a pet. It is strictly against the law to do so. Alligators do not become tame in captivity and handling even small ones may result in bites. Instead, enjoy watching and photographing alligators from a distance.

IF you hear an alligator hiss, move away. You are too close.

IF the alligator is not approaching people or otherwise posing an obvious threat, wait a few days if possible – even up to a week – before contacting Texas Parks & Wildlife. In spring and summer, alligators are moving to breed and find new habitat. Most of the alligators moving around are smaller ones that have been pushed out of their normal habitat by larger alligators. Usually, these smaller alligators will move further on in a week or two.

ALLIGATORS have a natural fear of humans, and usually begin a quick retreat when approached by people. If you have a close encounter with an alligator a few yards away, back away slowly. It is extremely rare for wild alligators to chase people. However, never make the mistake of thinking that an alligator is slow and lethargic. Alligators are extremely quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered. A female protecting her nest might charge a person who gets close to the nest, but she would quickly return to the nest after the intruder left.

IT is not uncommon for alligators to bask along the banks of a pond or stream for extended periods of time. These alligators are usually warming their bodies; they are not actively hunting. Often times a basking alligator may be seen with its mouth open; this is a way to cool its body temperature down, since alligators do not pant or sweat. An approaching human should cause these alligators to retreat into the water. (In some cases, the alligator may be protecting a nest). However, an alligator may be considered a nuisance if it leaves the banks of the water body to spend time near homes, livestock pens, or other structures.

IF you walk near the water and an alligator comes straight toward you, especially if it comes out of the water, report it to TPWD. It may be an alligator that has been fed by people.

IF you see an alligator while walking a pet make sure that your pet is on a leash and under your control. Your pet will naturally be curious, and the alligator may see an easy food source. Alligators have a keen sense of smell. In areas near alligator sightings it is wise to keep pets inside a fenced area or in the house for a few days, during which the alligator will move on.

DO NOT attempt to move an alligator in the road! Notify local authorities so the alligator can be handled safely.

IF you see a large alligator in your favorite swimming hole or pond, do not swim with it. Although alligator attacks in Texas are rare, it can happen. The “attack” reports in Texas are usually more accurately described as “encounters.” As with all outdoor activities, realize that wildlife encounters are a possibility.

IT is not uncommon for alligators to pursue top-water fishing lures, and this activity does not constitute a threat to humans. As with fish, alligators are attracted to these lures because they mimic natural food. Most alligators can be easily scared away from boats or fishing lures. However, alligators that repeatedly follow boats, canoes, or other watercraft, and/or maintain a close distance without submersing may be considered nuisance alligators.

If you see a nuisance alligator, consider why it is there. Did someone clean fish and throw the heads into a pond or river? If so, they created a potential alligator problem and could be breaking state regulations. Since October 1, 2003, it has been a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught feeding an alligator.

What are state agencies and wildlife organizations doing about urban alligators?

The DFW Wildlife Coalition has partnered with Texas Parks & Wildlife and city animal control agencies to monitor alligator sightings. Your alligator report is forwarded immediately to your city animal control agency and/or local Dallas-Fort Worth TPWD officials. They will follow-up on all emergency or nuisance reports as soon as possible. Your alligator sighting report helps us track alligator behaviors and locations throughout the DFW Metroplex and provide information for better management of urban alligator populations.

Urban sprawl in the DFW Metroplex continues,

and some of our freshwater lakes and rivers provide appropriate habitat needed for alligators to survive. As when dealing with any other urban wildlife species, we humans must be responsible for our behavior. We’re here to stay, and so are alligators! You can do a lot to reduce conflicts! Changing the behavior of alligators requires changing our own behavior.

Protect Texas Alligators!

Alligators were once an endangered species, but their numbers have recovered due to successful protection programs. In Texas they are now a protected game species. A permit is required to hunt, raise or possess an alligator in Texas. It is illegal to feed, kill, disturb or attempt to move an alligator. Violators should be reported to Texas Parks & Wildlife’s Operation Game Thief at 1-800- 792-4263 (GAME) or TPWD Operation Game Thief.

To discuss coexisting with alligators in Texas, call the Texas Parks & Wildlife Alligator Program at (409) 736-2551.

To report an alligator that poses a threat, please contact Texas Parks & Wildlife at 1-800-792-4263.

Additional Information on Alligators:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Alligator Page
Distribution of American Alligators in Texas
Alligator Facts
Alligator Awareness in Tarrant and Wise Counties[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Turtles” tab_id=”1536525119807-5792c7a7-9cb3″][vc_column_text]Click to learn more about Turtles.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Snakes” tab_id=”1536525227263-c5735a38-cf0f”][vc_column_text]Click to learn more about Snakes.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row]