Have you ever taken the trash out in the evening and come face-to-face with a fluffy, ring-tailed bandit? Well you've just met a raccoon!
Perhaps you've gone to call in your puppy dog at night, only to find a creature with a long pink tail waddling across your backyard? That clumsy thing is an opossum!
Oh, and I'm sure you've had the unpleasant experience of driving down the road, only for a horrible smell to fill your car. No, it's not dad's lunchtime burrito coming back to haunt you, it's a skunk's spray!
These wild creatures are usually considered pests. They like to get into trashcans, dig around in the yard, or chew up belongings that are left outside. However, they're all very important parts of our ecosystem!
Today we're getting a visit from these three critters; they'll talk about the neat things they do, and teach us why we should treat them with kindness and respect.
Want to make your own trash critter to interview at home? You can reuse old paper lunch bags, shopping bags, or cardboard to create your new friend. Just download our puppet templates, cut out the shapes, and glue or tape them onto your choice of base. You can use all kinds of different materials.
Don't have a printer at home? Draw or paint your own critter -- it'll still be a great friend to have!
Click the image of your favorite critter (or the links below) to download the puppet templates:
Don't forget to sign up for our Tails & Tales Summer with the Library program! You can sign up online or visit any of our branches. Each child who signs up will receive a neat swag bag and a free book! (While supplies last.) It's a great way to track your reading over the summer, and get involved with your local library!
Even though we can't keep these animals as pets, we can still give them love from afar!
Remember, if a critter ever causes too much trouble or seems like it might be sick, let a grown-up know so that they can call a wildlife services employee for help! You can find more information about wildlife services at the UF/IFAS Wildlife Extension website.