The Usual Suspects Wildlife Line Up

Misidentification can make distinguishing a public safety issue versus a harmless occurrence a little more difficult. Learning identifying features or characteristics of wildlife may help you determine if you are facing an urgent problem that needs immediate assistance or avoid unnecessary calls and worry.

You can also visit our Animals of Nevada section to learn more about a specific species.

Badger Marmot
Badger Marmot

The harmless marmot and its more aggressive look alike, the badger, are often confused. The greatest threat a marmot poses is digging burrows in the yard or under decks. Skirting around decks can help deter marmots.


Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Gopher Bull Snake
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Gopher / Bull Snake

Snakes are a prime suspect in the case of misidentification. Many people who see a snake assume that it is a rattlesnake, however, due to its similar characteristics, nine times out of ten, according to NDOW biologist Pete Bradley, it often turns out to be a gopher snake. Learn to tell the two apart. Gopher or bull snakes (Texas species) sport similar coloring to rattlesnakes, but have more slender heads and lack a rattle on the end of its tail.

Nonpoisonous gopher snakes can actually become quite an ally on your property. "Gopher snakes are wonderful for reducing the rodent population in the area, and they may even fend off, or even eat, their more dangerous counterpart (rattlesnake)," said Bradley.

However, NEVER handle or approach any snake if you are unsure of its identification.


Residents should also be able to identify raccoons, skunks, coyotes, mountain lions and black bears. The images below can help you to do so.

Often times an animal may be frequenting your neighborhood because it has easy access to food. Always be sure that garbage cans are secured, pet food is not available, and no other foods sources (like fish in ponds or bird feeders) are attracting wildlife.

Raccoon
Raccoon
Skunk
Skunk
Mountain Lion
Mountain Lion
Bobcat
Bobcat
Coyote
Coyote
Black Bear
Black Bear

Whether or not you realize it, we are living with wildlife on a daily basis. Wildlife is all around us, from the microscopic bugs we can't even see, to the birds flying in our backyard. Most likely there are many other critters with whom you share your environment (squirrels,raccoons, rabbits, snakes, bears and many more!). Just like we have adapted to our surrounding, wildlife does the same, whether it is in an city or rural setting.

While the majority of time, humans and wildlife can coexist peacefully, there may be times when you encounter wildlife when their interests conflict with your own or cause a nuisance. Often times, there are a number of different steps you can take to avoid such conflicts.

If you are faced with a public safety issue call NDOW’s Dispatch Center in Reno at (775) 688-1331.

Other Resources

ICWDM Handbook