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What to do when you encounter MacDill's wildlife

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Welcome to Tampa, home of MacDill Air Force Base, one of the most beautiful bases in the country.

It is not only the weather, landscape and location that make this such a beautiful base, it is also the abundance of wildlife that call MacDill home. Although the majority of the animals that reside on the base or in the local waterways may appear to be harmless, many have the potential to cause disease or bodily harm.

If you happen to make contact with a critter or two, here is some information on how to protect yourself, avoid further contact, and what to do during an unfriendly encounter.
Florida is hot and wet -- a perfect environment for mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Use insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin. Wear long pants, socks and long-sleeved shirts. Follow the directions on the label, and use caution before using DEET-based products on small children.
  • Drain standing water left outdoors in open containers, such as flower pots, tires, pet dishes and buckets. This will reduce the areas around the home where mosquitoes breed.
  • If bitten and you experience any of the following signs of an allergic reaction call 911 or seek immediate medical care: itching and swelling beyond the bite site, chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, speaking or swallowing, or feeling faint.
  • Alligators and snakes thrive in Florida due to the subtropical environment. While there are few gators on base and the threat is low, there are a variety of snakes. They range from the common garter snake to rattlesnakes. The best practice when dealing with alligators is to steer clear of their habitats, especially adjacent to ponds, rivers and other water habitats. Treat all snakes as poisonous.
  • If you encounter a snake, back away slowly and never touch it; ensure children understand this as well. Do not try to handle the snake.
  • Avoid tall grass, piles of leaves, and climbing on rocks and wood piles whenever possible.
  • If working outdoors, wear boots and leather gloves when handling brush and debris.
  • When swimming or near water, be aware of snakes that may be swimming in the water.
  • If bitten seek immediate medical attention. Keep calm and call 911. Try to remember the color and shape of the snake; this will help with the treatment of the snake bite. Do not attempt to bring the snake in for identification.
  • In addition to insects and snakes, there are also raccoons, opossum, armadillos, rodents, etc. To prevent contact with these animals:
  • Do not feed or try to play with them.
  • Remove food sources, water and items that can provide shelter (especially near entrances).
  • Dispose of garbage and debris as soon as possible. Also, secure the lid on garbage cans if stored outside.
  • If bitten, don't shrug it off. Many cute critters carry diseases. Play it smart and go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Heed these tips and enjoy MacDill's wildlife from afar.
If threatened by any animal, call Pest Management at 828-2991. For additional information contact Public Health at 827-9601.