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Living With Nature (FAQ)

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the wildlife in our area. If you have a question, or would like to receive more information about local wildlife, please visit our library located in the visitor center, or contact us with your question.

Plants


Birds


Mammals


Invertebrates

Reptiles & Amphibians


General Questions




Plants
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The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Bergen County has a volunteer master gardener program that trains individuals throughout the County. They operate a Garden Helpline April through October and give advice to homeowners on how to solve garden & landscape problems by applying Integrated Pest Management tactics to minimize the use of pesticides. Their is also a horticulture consultant available for questions Monday-Thursday from 10 am - 2 pm at 201-336-6788.


Washing the affected areas with soap and cool water as soon as possible may prevent a rash from developing or minimize the effects of the exposure. To relieve itching, apply cotton cloths soaked in cool water, or see a physician for medication if symptoms worsen.

Poison Ivy is a woody shrub or vine. The vine climbs by aerial rootlets that cling readily to trees. Three leaflets borne on a single petiole make up the leaf. Each leaflet can be up to four inches long and is dark, waxy, and shiny green above and lighter green and fuzzy beneath. The flowers grow like berries on very thin stems. During the summer, the flowers are lost and the leaves turn fire-engine red. All parts of the plant have the oily irritant urushiol which makes it "poisonous" (ex. leaves, stems, branches and roots). This oily substance can be found even on dead or dormant parts of the plant. It affects exposed skin and can contaminate clothing, tools and other objects (including pets). Contact with urushiol can produce a rash in three out of four people. The rash can begin within a few hours or may take three to five days to develop. It starts with an itchy feeling, the formation of red inflammation and tiny pimples, followed by blisters. The fluid in the blisters hardens to a yellow crust. Left untreated, the rash will last from three to five weeks. The determining factors in a person’s response to exposure to poison ivy include the number of times the person has been exposed in the past and the sensitivity of the individual. Minimal or limited exposures to these plants can often be cared for without the need for medical attention. However, some people are highly allergic to urushiol. If a rash develops within four hours of exposure and the eyes swell shut and blisters form, medical assistance should be sought immediately.

Birds
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The Tenafly Nature Center does not take injured or orphaned wildlife! An animal’s best chance of survival is in the care of its own mother. If you have you found a young bird out of the nest follow the Tenafly Nature Center's advice to determine whether it has fallen from the nest prematurely, or if being out of the nest is its intention.


Woodpeckers might be banging on the side of your house if there are insects present inside the exterior walls; eliminating the insect problem should help with the woodpecker issue. Woodpeckers also practice "drumming," to distinguish their territory, often on siding or other materials that; create a loud noise.

Here are several things that you can try:

  • Wait; often the woodpecker will leave after a week or so.
  • Install silver bird flash tape, which can be purchased at gardening stores.
  • Place a plastic owl outside near the area the woodpecker strikes.
  • Put up “scare-eye” balloons in the damaged areas. These are balloons with large eyes painted on; they resemble the face of an owl and frighten the woodpeckers. The balloons can be bought or made.

You might have a male bird that is seeing its reflection in the window and perceives it as another male and is challenging the other male by flying towards the window. This is an instinctual behavior and the bird will hit the window repeatedly. Another reason for this behavior is that sometimes birds do not see your window.

Here are some solutions to this problem:

  • Do something to break or stop the reflection: close your curtains, put up shapes on the window, or hang streamers in the window. In extreme cases the window may need to be covered from the outside for a few days.
  • Put up a silhouette of a hawk in your window.
  • Put a dark see through liner over your window.
  • Here are some more ideas on how you can save birds from flying into windows.

It is against federal law to harm native birds, or disturb relocate or destroy nests or eggs but you can discourage them to nest by taking these preventative measures:

  • Float a number of beach balls in the pool.
  • Purchase Mylar streamers, which are available in the crepe paper section at most party stores. Place three-foot high stakes in the ground at each corner of the pool, then stretch the Mylar from stake to stake across the pool to form an “X.” The flashing, uneven movement of the streamers normally frightens the birds away.
  • Purchase "Scare Eye Balloons" at a wild bird store to float in your pool.
  • Use a pool cover until swim season begins and /or when you are away on vacation. Place a lightweight cover, such as a solar cover, over the pool when it is not being used.

A mother duck will lay an 1-2 eggs every day until up to 15 eggs have been laid. She wants all the eggs to hatch at the same time so the mother duck does not start sitting on the nest and incubating the eggs until all are laid. Eggs hatch about 28 days after incubation begins.

The best course of action for you to take at this point is to:

  • Keep pets inside or on a leash when they are in the yard.
  • Explain to children that the mother duck must not be disturbed.
  • Prepare for the ducklings by building a stairway on your pool steps. Baby ducks have no oils in their “down” when they hatch and they may become water-logged and drown if they cannot escape to dry land. They will enter the pool and not be able to get out unless you give them a ramp (a board covered with a towel or other cloth to provide traction) or provide a stairway.
  • Keep the water level in your pool a little lower than usual. If you leave it low enough so that water just barely enters the skimmer, the float will not block the babies from escaping the skimmer should they enter it. The danger to baby ducks does not come from the pump circulation, but from the flapper that traps debris (and baby ducks) in the skimmer. With the correct water level, you should be able to run your pump as usual without harming or trapping the ducklings. Always leave the brick steps or ramp in place when you lower the water level or the ducklings will not be able to leave the pool. Be sure to check the level often so that the water level does not drop below the bottom of the skimmer opening. Tell the person who cleans your pool to leave the water at the appropriate level when hatching day approaches.

Ducklings easily imprint, meaning they will consider who ever handles it to be its mother. Try your best to leave solitary ducklings alone. If the hen (mother) duck is dead, its ducklings can be fostered with another female duck of the same species.


Canada Geese migrate to New Jersey when it is winter because the quantity and quality of the marsh and grassland plants become reduced due to the extreme cold and blanketing of snow that falls during the winter months.

During the 20th century, migratory geese were captured for use as live decoys. The resident Canada geese in are the descendents of these captive migratory geese. The captured geese, flight feathers clipped, sometimes with light weights on their legs, lured other migratory Canada geese into lakes, wetlands and rivers during the great Canada geese migrations in the spring and fall. These captive geese were also bred in captivity. As a consequence, their descendents do not have biological need to migrate to Canada since geese nest in the area where they were born. GeesePeace is a program that helps resolve conflicts with Canada geese, economically, humanely and without controversy.


Yes! Waterfowl depend on the ability to make use of their food and habitat to maintain healthy populations. In some cases, the food offered is in the form of small grains such as corn and wheat. Most often, it is in the form of “junk food” such as popcorn, potato chips and bread. Unfortunately, these handouts, while filling, do little to satisfy a bird's nutritional needs for survival. Over time, birds come to perceive these handouts as non-threatening, easily attainable food sources. They soon become dependent upon them and stop seeking out natural, more nutritious foods.

Another problem is that food handouts result in large numbers of birds competing for very limited food supplies in small, concentrated areas. Such crowding and competition for food, combined with the stresses of unhealthy food and harsh weather, increase their susceptibility of life-threatening diseases – diseases like avian cholera, duck plaque, and avian botulism, which have the potential to kill off large numbers of waterfowl.

Also of increasing public concern is the damage waterfowl cause to parks, golf courses, and residential lawns where large numbers of birds graze, trample, and defecate on the grass. Excess nutrients in ponds caused by waterfowl droppings may also result in water quality problems such as noxious algal blooms in the summertime.

The end result can be a continuing cycle of the birds becoming nuisances and being subjected to diseases that can spread like the common cold in humans.


If you find a pigeon with a band around its leg, it most likely belongs to a pigeon fancier. Information on to how care for a lost bird and make contact with the owner is at International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers, INC.


Yes! According to the American Bird Conservancy, birds are definitely better off when cats stay indoors. Exact numbers are unknown, but scientists estimate that every year in the United States alone, cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion small mammals, including rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. Feline predators include both domestic cats that spend time outdoors and stray cats that live in the wild, sometimes as part of a colony. The Cats Indoors Program aims to reduce the threat to birds from cat predation.


According to the State of New Jersey Department of Health fact sheet there is no evidence that a person can get West Nile Virus from handling live or dead infected birds. However, it is always best to avoid barehanded contact when handling any dead animal. When handling a dead bird or animal for disposal, use gloves and carefully place the bird in double-plastic bags. Your local health department will assist with specific instructions for storage if the dead bird is suitable for testing. New Jersey Department of Health has more information on West Nile and other mosquito-borne diseases. Bergen County department of health services has general information for Bergen County residents regarding mosquito and West Nile Virus control efforts.


Yes, it is not only illegal to collect feathers but also eggs and nests as well! The Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibits all collection and possession of migratory birds, as well as their parts and products (ex. feathers). If you find a feather, egg, or empty nest the best thing you can do is leave them alone.


Hawks are opportunistic predatory birds. This means that they will take every opportunity given to hunt with little to no effort. If you want to discourage a hawk from using your bird feeder as a buffet, you’ll need to take your bird feeders down and put them away for a few days, so that the smaller birds disperse. In the wild, birds face constantly fluctuating food supplies, so they will know to search for food elsewhere (both large and small). After a week or two, (once both the smaller birds and the hawk have dissapeard for a while) you can try to put your feeders up again. The songbirds and smaller species should quickly return but the hawk will hopefully have found a food source elsewhere. Learn more about bird feeder problems and solutions at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Project FeederWatch.

Mammals
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When animals cause damage indoors, they should be removed before repairs are made. If repairs are not made other animals will find their way back inside.

To get rid of a trapped animal: Use a Havahart® trap (TNC Members may borrow one from TNC) and released back on your own property.

If releasing the animal on your property is impossible then the animal must be released within the township of origin in suitable habitat and with permission from the landowner. If no private land is available for release, the New Jersey Division of Wildlife may approve a release on the closest state Wildlife Management Area on a case by case basis.
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Persons wishing to release a nuisance or rehabilitated adult rabies vector species must first contact the Office of Permit Management at 609-292-2966. For more information on relocating animals in New Jersey please see the State of New Jersey - Policy on the relocation of wildlife.

It is prohibited to release any wildlife on Tenafly Nature Center Property. No releases are allowed on federal, state, county or municipal land. No releases within the township may be greater than a 10-mile distance from the capture site for raccoons and 5 miles for skunks and woodchucks.


Wildlife like raccoons can be are smart and can find ways to get into our garbage. The following are a few things you can do to help keep them from becoming a nuisance:

  • Keep garbage cans in your garage until morning of trash day
  • Use metal cans only and keep them closed with bungee cords
  • Try a spray (brand name “Ro-pel) that tastes bad, to be used on trash cans and bags. You may find it in local hardware stores (ex. Benjamin Brothers).

Woodchucks (also known as groundhogs) are a medium sized rodent that is commonly found throughout NJ. The woodchuck is a compact, short-legged animal weighing from 5-10 lbs. Fur coloration varies from yellowish-brown to blackish-brown. Its feet and short bristly tail are dark brown to black. Known for nesting underground Groundhogs can remove about 700 pounds of soil to create a 25 foot long burrow with multiple chambers. They usually live for 2-3 years, but can live up to six years in the wild. On occasion, the woodchuck’s burrowing and feeding habits conflict with human interests. Damage often occurs in home gardens and around buildings. Therefore many people consider these animals to be a nuisance and try to eliminate them from their property.

Woodchucks are burrowing animals and hibernate during the winter months. They become active in March when the males are seeking mates, high activity, however, does not occur until the young are born and warm weather sets in. Litter size averages four and young are dropped in late April or May. Young are born blind and naked and are weaned in six to eight weeks. Woodchucks have one litter per year and by July, shortly after weaning, the young disperse and frequently take up occupancy in abandoned dens. Woodchucks are strict vegetarians and normally range no more than a half mile from their dens.

To get rid of a woodchuck. We suggest that you use a Havahart® trap (TNC Members may borrow one from TNC), and released on your own property. If releasing the animal on your property is impossible then the animal must be released within the township of origin in suitable habitatand with permission from the landowner. If no private land is available for release, the New Jersey Division of Wildlife may approve a release on the closest state Wildlife Management Area on a case by case basis.

Persons wishing to release a nuisance or rehabilitated adult rabies vector species must first contact the Office of Permit Management at 609-292-2966. For more information on relocating animals in New Jersey please see the State of New Jersey - Policy on the relocation of wildlife.

It is prohibited to release any wildlife on Tenafly Nature Center Property. No releases are allowed on federal, state, county or municipal land. No releases within the township may be greater than a 10-mile distance from the capture site for raccoons and 5 miles for skunks and woodchucks.

Information provided directly above also applies to raccoon and skunk removal.


The best thing to do to keep squirrels and rodents away from bird feeders is to keep birdseed off the ground. Squirrels can jump about 5 feet vertically so you need to place your feeders 5 to 6 feet off the ground. They can also jump about 10 feet horizontally so place your feeders at least 8 feet away from any Trees, bushes, railings, etc. Here at TNC we have our feeders hanging from a wire between two trees. We have placed empty 2 liter bottles along the wire which prevent the squirrels from accessing our feeders. For our pole-mounted feeders we use baffles and place them at least 4 feet from the ground. We also have feeders that close when the weight of a squirrel is applied to the perch.

Other solutions you might try:

  • Set up a squirrel feeding station away from your bird feeders.
  • Use birdseed mixes that contain a spicy pepper-like substance that squirrels supposedly find distasteful.
  • We do not suggest that your attempt to live-trap the squirrels and move them to another locations. Other squirrel populations typically just move in.
  • Use seed trays under your feeders to catch the birdseed that is being discarded and clean up the discarded seed and debris from under your feeders frequently.

Loud music, an ammonia soaked rag in a can or bright lights may all be used to deter the squirrel. After they leave repairs must be made or other animals will find their way inside. To get rid of a trapped squirrel. We suggest that you use a Havahart® trap (TNC Members may borrow one from TNC), baited with seeds and peanut butter, and released on your own property. If releasing the animal on your property is impossible then the animal must be released within the township of origin in suitable habitat and with permission from the landowner. If no private land is available for release, the New Jersey Division of Wildlife may approve a release on the closest state Wildlife Management Area on a case by case basis.

Persons wishing to release a nuisance or rehabilitated adult rabies vector species must first contact the Office of Permit Management at 609-292-2966. For more information on relocating animals in New Jersey please see the State of New Jersey - Policy on the relocation of wildlife.

It is prohibited to release any wildlife on Tenafly Nature Center Property. No releases are allowed on federal, state, county or municipal land. No releases within the township may be greater than a 10-mile distance from the capture site for raccoons and 5 miles for skunks and woodchucks.


Animals that look healthy, are probably healthy. It is normal for most animals including raccoons and skunks to be out and active during some daylight hours, especially during mating season and while feeding their young. Mother raccoons often search for food during the day to help feed her cubs. However if the animal is foaming at the mouth, circling, staggering or showing signs of aggression, then it may have distemper or rabies and you should call an animal control officer.

For more information on rabies and other wildlife transmitted diseases please visit the State of New Jersey Department of Health website.


Less than 1% of bats carry the rabies virus, so chances are that your bat is rabies free. If the bat appears healthy and you have not come in contact with the bat leave the windows open to allow it to escape. If you are concerned about exposure the State of New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has a Guide to proper handling of bat exposure.

According to the State of New Jersey Department of Health the only permanent method to get rid of bats from a home, and keep them out, is to exclude them by bat-proofing. There are no chemicals registered in New Jersey for killing bats, and the use of unregistered pesticides only increases the chances that children and pets will come in contact with bats that are ill from poisoning.

For more information on bats found here in New Jersey please visit the State of New Jersey Department of Health website


Bats are quite agile fliers fully capable of avoiding crashes into objects. By using echolocation, a sonar system for locating objects by listening for the reflection of high-frequency sounds produced by their vocal cords, bats can easily circumvent large obstacles as well as identify, track, and capture very small, moving prey in the dark. Bats "swooping" around people’s heads at night usually happens because humans warm bodies attract insects like mosquitoes.

There are bats in Central America that feed on blood, known as vampire bats. All of the bats found here in New Jersey are insect eaters; a bat can consume hundreds of insects in an hour. Think of the mosquito problems we would have without bats! Bats are actually quite harmless and are important indicators of a healthy environment. Since they are vulnerable to pollution and pesticides, their presence or absence can tell scientists a lot about the overall health of the local environment.


Leave it alone! A doe will leave her fawn for long periods during the day and visit only when nursing. Fawns have little or no scent so they are difficult for predators to find. Please leave the fawn alone; your scent on its fur may attract predators. If you have brought the fawn into your house take it back, immediately, to the spot where you found it, and leave it there. The mother should come back again looking for the fawn. Even one or two days after removal from the wild, fawns have been successfully reunited with their mothers by returning them to the place where they were found. When you picked up the fawn, the mother was probably eating not far away. Usually young fawns are quite safe when left alone because their color pattern and lack of scent help them to remain undetected until their mother returns.


The Tenafly Nature Center does not take injured or orphaned wildlife! An animal’s best chance of survival is in the care of its own mother. If you have you found a young squirrel out of the nest follow the Tenafly Nature Center's advice to determine whether it has fallen from the nest prematurely, or if being out of the nest is its intention.


Leave them alone! Baby raccoons are sometimes seen on the ground near a large hallow tree. These young animals most likely did not fall out of their home up in the tree and the mother has probably not abandoned them. A person usually does not need to "help" them and should not bring them home. Most likely, the young raccoons are merely exploring, and their mother is nearby. They are probably old enough to be fully capable of climbing back up the tree to their den when they are ready to return. If they were too young to climb, the mother would carry them back.


The Tenafly Nature Center does not take injured or orphaned wildlife! An animal’s best chance of survival is in the care of its own mother. If you have you found a young rabbit out of the nest follow the Tenafly Nature Center's advice to determine whether it needs help, or if being out of the nest is its intention.


Coyotes are generally not dangerous to hikers. Humans have had a mostly peaceful relationship with coyotes for the past 100 years in New Jersey. In the past 10 years, there have been very few reported attacks on people in New Jersey. Learn more about coyotes in New Jersey and how to keep your family and pets safe.


In early colonial times, wolves were perceived as a threat to the lives and livelihood of the colonists. In the 1600’s settlers in the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies hunted and trapped the Gray Wolf until they disappeared from most of the United States. Hunting, trapping, and the westward expansion of settlers in the 1800’s and early 1900’s led directly to the near extinction of many large predators such as Lynx, Eastern Cougars, and wolves. Until about the mid-1850’s there were Gray Wolves in New Jersey. Today they are listed as Endangered and wolves no longer live in New Jersey outside of zoos. They are an extirpated species, meaning they are locally extinct and have been for the past 100 years in the Northeast. Coyotes have adapted and are now filling the void wolves left in the food chain.

Only recently have public views changed as people have become increasingly interested in wilderness preservation and the conservation and restoration of wildlife species historically found in these areas. The Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, NJ is one area visitors can see these elusive predators.


Black bears live in New Jersey and are an important native species to our ecosystem. About 100 years ago, black bears were almost gone from the NJ because the forests in which they live were being cut down. Through conservation efforts their population numbers increased and today, there are more black bears than ever before.

While black bears do reside in New Jersey they are not commonly seen in Tenafly and Eastern Bergen County. The most common bear problem New Jersey's residents experience is black bears getting into their garbage. Bears are attracted to neighborhoods by garbage odors, so properly securing your garbage is one of the best ways to prevent bears from becoming a nuisance in your community.

It is important to remember that black bears are large, wild animals. If you see a black bear, you should never go near it. Instead, watch it from far away. Never feed or try to pet a black bear. Black bears learn very quickly and if they learn to associate people with food, they may lose their fear of people, which can be dangerous for both the bear and for peoeple.

Please treat black bears with respect and if you see a bear here are some tips that you should follow:

  • Do not get scared and do not run.
  • Talk to the bear to let it know you are there.
  • Never feed the bear!
  • Do not go near the bear.
  • Do not look directly into the bear's eyes.
  • Make sure the bear can get out of your yard or pathway easily if it wants to. Don't stand in front of the escape route!
  • Make lots of noise. It could scare the bear away.
  • If you are playing with friends, get in a big group. Talk and wave your arms. You will look really big and the bear might leave.
  • Childrend should be reminded to always tell parents if they see a bear.
  • Bears can make a lot of noise, so they may huff, snap their jaws and slap the ground if they think you are too close. Back away slowly.
  • A bear that stands on its back legs is not about to attack you. It just wants to see and smell you better. Let a bear know you are there by waving your arms and talking to it.
  • Bears may pretend to attack by running at you. DO NOT RUN! Back away slowly and get to a safe area.
  • Black bears rarely hurt people. If a black bear attacks, fight back!.

The State of New Jersey has a lot of information on Black Bears in New Jersey and is a good resoure for many quewstions.

Invertebrates
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Ticks are not insects, but are more closely related to spiders and mites. There are four species of ticks that are of medical importance in New Jersey. According to the State of New Jersey Department of Health fact sheet lyme disease can be spread to people by the bite of an infected tick. In New Jersey, the most commonly infected tick is the deer tick (or black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis). Deer ticks can also spread other tick-borne diseases. Humans can be infected with more than one tick-borne disease at the same time. Lyme disease is not spread from person to person. The Centers for Disease Control and the State of New Jersey Department of Health have more information available on their websites.

It generally takes at least 36 hours after attachment for a deer tick to infect its host with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. This and other basic information can be found on a fact sheet for parents was developed by the Hunterdon County Department of Health.


Brown Marmorated Stinkbugs are a fairly new arrival to the United States. Native to Asia, the species is considered an agricultural pest, both at home and abroad. These bugs use the warmth of homes in winter to survive the season. Though they may seem like they are multiplying in your house, they only reproduce outdoors in the summer.


Although their size might frighten most people, eastern cicada killers, a large wasp that is found throughout New Jersey, are typically not aggressive and the male cicada killers cannot sting. Typically emerging in mid-July they are known as a cicada killers because they hunt and paralyze cicadas and place them in their nests. They are also sometimes known as Sand Hornets (however they are not hornets) because they tend to dig their burrows in sandy, well drained soil that is exposed to full sunlight. Considered a beneficial insect for controlling cicada populations, using pesticides as a control method is not recommended. However, if you want to discourage their presence this can be done by reducing or eliminating the breeding area (which consists of exposed, sandy soil) by mulching or covering the area with grass. BugGuide is a good resource for identification pictures.


NO! Tenafly Nature Center and the North American Butterfly Assocication strongy advise against releasing any any into our environment as it may affect our delicate balance. Butterflies raised may spread diseases and parasites to wild populations, with devastating results. Often, butterflies are released great distances from their points of origin, resulting in inappropriate genetic mixing of different populations when the same species is locally present. When it is not, a non-native species is being introduced in the area of release. This may result in unforeseen changes to the local ecology.


Gypsy moths are a very destructive forest insect pest that infest New Jersey's forests. Lear about the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture's approach for reducing the impact of this invasive species.

Reptiles & Amphibians
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NO! Although the Tenafly Nature Center receives hundreds of calls annually from pet parents looking to rehome their unwanted family member, TNC does not have the facilities nor the capability to help everyone.

If you have a pet turtle and you no longer have the ability or desire to care for it do not release it into the wild. It is illegal to release pet turtles into the wild and it is also prohibited to release any animal at the Tenafly Nature Center. This can spread disease and hurt native turtle populations as well as other animals.

Turtles known as Red Eared Sliders (which are the most common unwanted turtle) are not native to New Jersey, originally they are from the Southeastern United States. However, due primarily to the pet trade their distribution has expanded. They are now present in many areas of the world, to the point of being called one of the 100 "World’s Worst" invaders by the Invasive Species Specialist Group. Many people who want a pet turtle find out that the New Jersey Department of Health mandates that turtles and tortoises cannot be sold in New Jersey. Getting a turtle as a pet can be a long term commitment as many species can live for 30-50 years and some are known to live for ~100 years.

So what can you do if you no longer want your turtle?
For most native species of turtles you can contact Turtle Rescue of Long Island or Garden State Tortoise.

For Red Eared Sliders Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary or Jersey Shore Turtle and Toirtoise Rehoming Rescue may have some helpful answers for you and your situation.


Most turtles will cross roads between April and October looking for habitat, nesting sites, or other turtles. Help them to cross the street but do it safely. Put on your hazard lights and pull fully off the road. Make sure other drivers see you, before stepping onto a road.

  • If the turtle is large (with a long tail), it may be a snapping turtle, they can be aggressive so don't attempt picking them up. You can still help it across the road by pushing it from behind with a blunt object or scooping it up with a shovel.
  • When picking up a small turtle, grasp it on either side of its shell behind the front legs. The turtle will still be able to kick at you, but many will choose to stay safely tucked in, during the short time you are moving them.
  • NEVER PICK UP A TURTLE BY THE TAIL. This can injure the animals very badly.
  • Hold them far away from your body and keep the turtle low to the ground when moving them. Even small turtles have surprising strength. If a turtle pushes free of your grip, you do not want it to fall and injure itself.
  • Make sure to put the turtle in the direction it was heading, never turn them around! The turtle knows the direction it wants to go, and if you turn it around, it will simply turn around to its original direction and continue on its path (possibly back across the road when you drive away).
  • NEVER REMOVE A TURTLE FROM THE AREA YOU FOUND IT! Although you may be tempted to relocate a turtle, please don't. Many turtles have "Home Ranges", a territory they call home, and when removed/relocated, they will spend their life trying to find their way back to the range they were removed from. Besides risking many additional road crossings, some turtles, if they cannot find their way back will stop eating and wander listlessly.

Warts on humans are caused by the human papilloma virus. Therefore, touching a human can give you warts. The “warts” and bumps on the skin on a toad are not viral infections at all, but glands that produce a foul-tasting poison excreted through the skin. A toad’s bitter, slimy taste and its ability to inflate its body combine to produce a defensive strategy that makes the toad either too big or too nasty to be swallowed by some of its predators. It is also true that, from time to time, toads will urinate on the humans that pick them up. This release of fluid is another act of self-preservation intended to keep the toad out of the mouths of other animals. But, like the skin secretion, toad urine doesn’t cause warts in humans either. Nevertheless, always wash your hands after holding a toad.


Fish, toads, and frogs are slimy. They need to live in the water for at least part of their lives and dry skin means death for them. Reptiles, snakes included, are truly land animals, covered with scaly skin that keeps them from drying out. The smooth glossy look of some snakes’ scales is enough to fool some people into assuming sliminess. Snake scales, especially on the belly, are both smooth and dry, allowing the snake to slide more easily across the ground as it moves. Sometimes a person’s own fingertips can help it furthering the misperception that snakes are slimy. When a warm-blooded animal, nervous human touches a smooth, cold-blooded snake, the wetness felt by both parties is actually from the person, not the snake.

General Questions
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Bergen County Animal Shelter (100 United Lane, Teterboro, New Jersey 07608)
Phone: 201-229-4600 or 201-752-4260

BCAS is a county operated shelter providing animal control to many communities in Bergen County, including Tenafly. They also respond to calls for sick or injured wildlife to any of their contracted towns and will pick up dead animals on public property during normal business hours. For a fee payable by the resident they will pick up dead animals on private property.

They are not a pest control service and will not remove healthy wildlife from private property. The only exception is that they will remove wildlife from living quarters for a fee payable by the resident at the time of the service. This does not include animals in attics, basements, garages, chimneys, or sheds.

Visit their website to see if your town has an animal control contract with Bergen County Animal Shelter or contact your local municipality for more information.


NO! Although the Tenafly Nature Center receives hundreds of calls annually from pet parents looking to rehome their unwanted family member, TNC does not have the facilities nor the capability to help everyone.

To find out if we have space for you unwanted pet you may email our staff.


Yes. Please visit The nOkill Network or Petfinder to locate a shelter nearest to you.


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