There are a whole lotta critters out there! And you might encounter one or two while on a hike with your pup! It’s always a good idea to have some basic knowledge of who you might meet on the trail, and who you should avoid. Let’s explore some of the smaller animals found around Central Oregon.
Small Mammals- Chipmunks, squirrels, moles, voles, gophers, and marmots are all very fun things to chase! But if caught & digested they can make your pup very sick. Small mammals can carry parasites, fleas, and a variety of diseases. If ingested your pup could get have a bad reaction. Tapeworms are a very common result to ingesting small animals. Teaching a “leave it” or “drop it” cue can be very beneficial if your pup is into critter chasing. Make sure your pup is up to date on parasite preventatives to keep them protected.
Rattlesnakes- There are two types of rattlesnakes that live in Central Oregon; the Great Basin Rattlesnake and the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. Both of these snakes are hearty in weight, have stubby tails equipped with jointed rattles, and have triangular-shaped heads. The Great Basin Rattlesnake is tan, light green, or grey in color. The Southern Pacific Rattlesnake ranges in color from dark brown to greenish brown to gray. You don’t have to memorize the differences between them, all you have to remember is not to go near one. Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and will only attack if they feel threatened, but if you accidentally step on one they will respond. It is a good idea to do snake training with your pup so that they never go near one while out on the trail. If you or your pup is bit by a rattlesnake, call an ambulance or haul ass to your nearest emergency vet. There is a vaccination that your pup can get, which helps slow the rate at which the venom travels through the blood and your pup will experience less pain. YOU MUST STILL GO TO THE VET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Stock photos Left: Great Basin Rattlesnake Right: Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
Skunks- There are two types of skunks in Oregon, the spotted and the striped. They are both black and white, but the spotted is spotted, and the striped is striped. Imagine that. Both of these skunks will spray a acrid musk when threatened, so keep a safe distance if you see one. If your pup gets sprayed check their eyes and flush them with cool water, then give them an outdoor bath to remove the skunk oil from their coat. If you’ve tried tomato juice before you’ll know it doesn’t work very well. Instead try an off the shelf remedy from your pet store or create a mixture of 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Work into your pups fur and rinse thoroughly. Do not leave the solution on for long because the peroxide could bleach their coat. And do not get it near their eyes. Then shampoo them with their normal shampoo, rinse, and dry.
Stock photos of skunks Left: Spotted Right: Striped
Porcupines- Porcupines are found throughout Oregon, mostly on the east side of the Cascades. They live in dens and spend their days munching on tree tops. They are large with short legs and their bodies are covered in bare-tipped quills. It’s a myth that porcupines can shoot their quills, but if threatened they will protect themselves. If your pup tries to kill one and gets quilled take them to the emergency vet right away. It is very dangerous to remove the quills yourself. They could break and get stuck under the skin. As your pup moves around the quills work their way deeper and deeper into their skin, muscle, and bone. Quills could stay in the skin for weeks, and if left untreated could cause serious infections and could lead to paralyzation or even death.
Badgers- Badgers are unusual to come across because they are mostly nocturnal, but that doesn’t mean you might not run into one. Badgers are large and powerful. They have long bodies that are low to the ground, and long, sharp claws. Perfect for digging and self-defense. They will attack if threatened, and their claws can slice open skin like paper. Do not allow your pup to enter other animals homes uninvited. Keep them from sticking their heads in holes and from digging up burrows.
Wolverine- They are rare, but they do exist in Oregon, and you should be prepared for when you might meet one. Wolverines basically look like small bears, with short legs and a bushy tail. They are normally out and about at nighttime, but will emerge during the day if they feel the need. Like most animals, they will only attack if they feel threatened. They are strong and powerful and have been known to take down deer. Don’t let your pups go sticking their noses in animal dens.
With fires blazing and a lot of new people moving to the state, wildlife has been forced to leave the safety of their homes and move out into new, uncharted territory. That means they are moving into human areas and you will encounter them more frequently. Be vigilant and keep your pups close!