3 Terrifying Local Critters You Might Actually Want In Your Home

Our friends at Critter Ridder lined up some of Austin’s frightening creatures who actually provide some benefits to homeowners. Did you know these scary animals can sometimes help more than they can hurt?

Mexican Free-tailed Bat

The Mexican Free-Tailed Bat is the creature we so proudly house under the Congress Avenue bridge. Up close, they might have frightening faces, but these honorary Austinites are friendly and helpful.

Summertime is their prime season here in Austin, and they’ve got a diet that consists mostly of mosquitoes and other bothersome insects. That means that for every bat in Austin, there are fewer bloodsucking bugs to ruin our fun outdoors.

mexican free-tailed bat up close
The largest concern with bat-to-human contact is the potential of rabies spreading. However, even if a bat is infected with rabies, one of the earliest symptoms is paralysis. This would prevent the bat from attacking you directly. That said, if you find a bat which is lying still, it is probably best to leave it alone, or call an expert to remove it instead of trying to save it yourself.

They’re also a great boost to our tourism economy. Bat Conservation International estimates that over 100,000 visitors come to Austin to see the Congress Avenue bridge bats every year! This brings in somewhere around $10 million annually – a huge number for such little animals.

Texas Rat Snake

texas rat snake

Austin is home to a great number of snake species. Though there are a few species you should definitely avoid, the Texas Rat Snake is actually a somewhat harmless creature.

As opposed to Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Coral snakes, the Rat Snake is not venomous. As its name suggests, its diet mostly consists of rats and other small rodents. It is possible for the Rat Snake to bite humans and pets, but must typically be provoked before deciding to attack.

Rat Snakes play a large part in keeping the annoying rodent population low. In fact, due to their diet and habits, the Texas Rat Snake might be more of a pest controller than a pest!

Palomino Blonde Tarantula

palomino blonde tarantula in enclosure

Spiders might be the most universally feared creature in the United States. Austin’s warm climate provides a good environment for several spider species, including large tarantulas. But most tarantulas, including the Palomino Blonde, are docile, slow-moving, and non-threatening to humans.

This tarantula’s diet is mostly insects that are troublesome to humans, including flies, crickets, and mosquitoes. Try not to kill tarantulas if you can – they might keep your house free of other, more annoying insects!

tarantula in a defensive position and baring fangs
You may have heard about the dangers of tarantula bites. Tarantula venom is designed mostly for use in digestion, similar to human stomach fluids. So, while a tarantula could potentially bite you if provoked, the bite would not kill, even if venom is injected.

Not all Austin wildlife is dangerous, no matter how scary it may appear! Of course, we understand if you don’t actually want these scary-looking critters in your home. That’s why we recommend that any pests in your home or yard are removed in a humane manner.


All images were resized for web use, and cropped so as not to remove any significant content.

Social Media Savvy Austinites Reunite Pet Pig With Owner

Hammy the pig made a big splash on social media this morning as Austin rallied to try to find the piggie’s parent. Hammy was seen wandering around S. 1st this morning and was picked up by animal control officers. The Austin Animal Center made a post about the pig around 11:30 a.m., and within four hours it has been shared nearly 800 times, with over 1,000 reactions.

Thankfully, Hammy has now made it back into the loving arms of his pops, Gregory Alton. Officer Chapa of Austin/Travis County Animal Protection helped facilitate the reunion, along with the good people of the Austin Lost and Found Pets Page on Facebook. As the AAC page says, the pig was spooked in the storms and ran away.

Thanks to the incident, it seems as though Hammy might have some new friends and a play date soon. A Facebook commenter added: “I’m right in your hood too and I got a pot belly, maybe Hammy and Sir Porkington Chops-A-Lot should have a play date.”

Pets running away from home during storms is a very common occurrence, one that lands pets at the doors of Austin’s shelters. If you find yourself with a missing pet (though it’s unlikely yours will make quite the splash that Hammy did), be sure to visit the Austin Animal Center’s Lost & Found page as soon as possible.

If you’re looking for a pig pet of your very own, first do your research and make sure your home and your life are appropriate for a pig, then check out a local rescue organization like Ma’s Mini Pigs’ Farm and Rescue in Kyle or through the Rescue Me! Texas Farm Animal Rescue site.

Featured photo: Alison Alcantara on Facebook