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Wild Animals/Animal nest in my Orange County, calif, backyard

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Question
There is an animal that has chewed and gathered plant leaves and mostly plant limbs to make a pretty big den. I have a small slope where I have bushes that have grown about 4 to 5 feet. The plant that attracts butterflies that are orange or other colors. At night he comes out late because evidence almost daily is seen in the morning. Maybe the size of a medium cat because one night I did catch a quick glimpse. Poop is the size of a cat but it is definitely wild scat. What kind of animal do you think it is and what can I do. (Other than the obvious and clear the area...I love the growth because it covers a slope and gives privacy from neighbors when we jacuzzi...yikes at night I am afraid not to mention that into have a small dog!
Thank you,
Kathy

Answer
Dear Kathy

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mammals_in_California gives a list of mammals living in California. It includes 4 members of the cat family: the feral cat (Felis catus), bobcat (Lynx rufus), jaguar (Panthera onca -extirpated in 1826) and the puma (Puma concolor). The scat of a feral cat would be the same as that of a domestic cat, while it is extremely unlikely that you would have a puma in your garden without you realising it. This leaves the bobcat, which agrees with the information you gave me. http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/bobcats.html says that bobcats make dens in caves, rock crevices or hollow logs or trees. It carefully olines the den with dry leaves, moss or grass, which it forms into a shallow depression. The website also says that the droppings resemble those of dogs and cats and includes a photograph.

http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/bobcats.html says that you should feed dogs indoors and clean up after them. If you must feed them outside, you should do this in the morning or at midday and pick up bowls and leftover food as these may othrwise attract small mammals that may attract the bobcat. You should keep your dog indoors, especially at night, otherwise the bobcat may attack it. http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_bobcat.shtml says that bobcats rarely attack people; the website also gives advice on how to repel bobcats.

I hope this helps.

All the best

Jonathan

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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