Wildlife Education: Small Stature, Big Punch

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. 

Stock photo of a porcupine

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. 

Stock photo of a badger

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.

Stock photo of a wolverine

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!

Wildlife Education: Creepy Crawlers

When you’re out on the trail with your Pup there are a plethora of animals out there. Some are harmless, some are scared, and some are more than willing to stand their ground and defend their territory. Having some knowledge about the various animals out there will help you be prepared for when you and your Pup meet one on the trail. Let’s explore some Central Oregon wild animals together, starting with the smallest.

Fleas– Have you heard of the Central Oregon flea rumor? Someone is going around telling everyone that fleas don’t exist in Central Oregon! It’s blasphemy! Though fleas are uncommon in Central Oregon, they definitely exist. The High Desert is too cold and dry for fleas to thrive, but they live happily in rodent burrows and deer beds. They are normally only around during the warmer months, from spring through summer. Flea bites can cause a lot of grief, irritation, and pain. Keep your pups up to date on flea meds to keep them (and your entire world) protected. If you find fleas on your pup you’ll have to immediately give them a medicated flea bath and clean everything in your home.

Stock photo of fleas in dog fur

Thatching AntsThatching ants are somethin’ fierce. They have black thoraxes, red heads, and very angry faces. They got their name by creating their home in giant mounds made of mostly pine needles, sticks, and debris. You can see the mounds moving with ants. Each nest could contain literally millions of these ants. The threat of these ants is their bite! Human or dog, these ants will latch on and bite you! And those bites are lasting. They burn and sting and itch for hours after. It’s easy to avoid their mounds, but they have exit holes everywhere so ants swarm in a wide radius of their nests. Wearing high socks will help you, but your Pups are more exposed. If you notice them fussing with their feet or legs give them a once over and remove any ants you see. Tweezers work best, but you can also wrap up your hand in a cloth or poop bag and pluck those suckers out!

Stock photo of thatching ants

Ticks– There are about 20 different species of ticks in Oregon. Four of them are more common than others: the western Black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick), the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the American Dog tick, and the Brown Dog tick. The western black-legged tick is the only species known to carry Lyme disease in Oregon, but there are other diseases that can be transmitted by ticks. Ticks often bite and burrow without the host even knowing. Many people who end up with a tick related disease had no idea they’d even been bit. Some ticks are smaller than a poppy seed, and they hang around in your hair or other areas you wouldn’t think to check after a trip outside. They’re sneaky, and very good at what they do. Ticks love hanging out on the tips of tall grass, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to brush through the grass. They latch onto their host and don’t let go. They have tiny hooks in their mouths that they use to burrow into skin. If you find one on your pup you can remove them with tweezers. Place the tip of the tweezers as close to the skin as possible, do your best to pinch the tick by the head and pull it straight out, slowly. If you are not comfortable or confident removing a tick take them into the vet asap. Check your dogs after every outing, and keep them up to date on tick medication to keep them safe and healthy.

Stock photo of a tick burrowing into skin

Spiders– Spiders are everywhere, and pups are constantly getting into their business. The three types of spiders to look out for are Black Widows, Hobos, and Yellow Sac spiders. The most common, and most dangerous venomous spider is a Black Widow. Females are the ones to look out for, as most males are rarely seen and are often eaten by their mates. They are black and sport a red hourglass on the bottom side of their abdomen. Their bite can cause muscle pain, nausea, and paralysis of the diaphragm, making breathing difficult. Hobo spiders are also something to look out for. They are reddish brown and often have stripes across the tops of their bodies. Their bites can cause necrosis, headaches, and vision impairment. And lastly, Yellow Sac spiders have a bite similar to the Brown Recluse. They are not quite yellow, and are more of a brownish tan color. Their bites are not as serious as the Black Widow or Hobo, but can cause swelling, redness, and a stinging sensation. These three spiders can be found anywhere. In homes, in yards, in the desert, and in the woods. They don’t bite humans very often, but will bite a dog if they are startled or feel threatened. Pups will often show signs of a bite within an hour. Most bites occur on their faces and will begin to swell. You most likely will not know that your pup encountered a spider, but if you see swelling or redness occur take them to the vet right away.

Stock photo of a pup with a swollen face

Stay tuned for our next Wilderness Education post about Small Animals such as squirrels, porcupines, badgers, etc.