Flooding brings out bats, other Tampa critters

Posted at 1:32 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 09:55:03-04

Just as thousands around the Tampa Bay area sought shelter from the wrath of Tropical Storm Colin Monday, so did the areas wildlife.

"You can see, pretty docile, he was scared, just wanted to get in out of the rain," explained Chris Wirt, owner of A All Animal Control, as he holds up a possum he captured inside a New Port Richey home.

According to Wirt, since the storm has moved on, he's been receiving calls about bugs, frogs, possums, raccoons and snakes showing up in homes and yards.

Wirt says spotting wildlife during and after storms should be expected.

"When the storm comes through and the floodwaters are there, even if it is not flooding a lot, even when it rains a lot, you will have raccoons, possums, snakes, other animals, they are all looking for dry areas, they are looking for places to shelter," explained Wirt.

This is why he cautions people to keep their windows closed, screens locked and garage doors shut.

"They will hunker down until the storms pass and then they will leave.  The problem is if anyone leaves their garage door open or their back sliding glass door open, these animals are going to slide right into their house," Wirt added.

Steven Adams believes he left his patio door open and that is how the possum got inside his home.

"First spotted in here in the hallway," explained Adams.

The possum then ran into a bedroom, under a bed and then under a dresser.

Other residents across the Bay area shared pictures with ABC Action News of different critters that made it into their homes, including worms.

Wesley Chapel resident Katie Burnett says three bats showed up on her back porch.

According to Wirt, there is not much Burnett can do to rid herself of the creatures.  It is mating season and they are protected.

"Bats are a protected species.  So from April 15 thru August 15 they are not allowed to be excluded or removed.  This is their mating season, this is when they are having their babies," Wirt said.

Wirt warns if you interfere in any way with a bat colony you are committing a crime.


Wirt also urges people who live by lakes or have standing water nearby to not wade or walk through the water.

"There is walking catfish, there are Cottonmouths and other snakes that could be there.  If you are barefoot, you could step on one of those catfish and get one of its spines through your foot, you could get bit by one of the venomous snakes.  So, playing in the water, I know everybody loves to do it, we all did as kids, just be very careful when you are doing that," Wirt said.

Wirt adds you should not try to approach wildlife or try and get rid of it on your own.

In most cases, the critter will wander away.

For example, off Whispering Wind Drive in Land O' Lakes, residents spotted multiple gators in the streets and on their lawns.  While the residents took pictures at a safe distance, those animals left on their own and returned to their natural habitats.

Wirt warns wildlife can carry diseases.

"Any wild animal, the potential to get bit is there and the potential to get some sort of disease is there.  Not every animal carries rabies but they do carry distemper, they do carry roundworm, there are other different diseases they all carry," Wirt added.

According to Wirt, if you run into an issue with wildlife, he highly recommends calling an expert.