TODAY

TODAY   |  April 30, 2013

Wildlife you might find in your own backyard

David Mizejewski of the National Wildlife Federation shares some backyard wildlife that might surprise you by showing up in your yard, including a woodchuck, a kingsnake, and an alligator.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> of the wild the national wild life federation is teaching people to create wild life friendly gardens for years.

>> and naturalist david is here with backyard animals. good to see you.

>> most people want birds and butterflies and pretty animals. i'm here to tell you about other animals that may show up and give you tips on how to deal with them. let's bring in our first animal .

>> a groundhog. same as a woodchuck?

>> same animal . we'll get her going. there she goes. this is a common animal in the eastern half of the country. cute but can be a pest in the garden if you do vegetable gardening. it's okay to have them around. if you see them in your neighborhood you may want to put up a fence. there are natural repellant sprays you can mix up with hot peppers and garlic. spray them on vegetable plants to keep them from getting into trouble in the garden.

>> good-looking animal .

>> they hibernate in winter. this guy recently woke up.

>> you will see more of them.

>> exactly. at this time of year you will see babies which is pretty cute.

>> this is an animal people will be shocked when i say can be found in the backyard. it's an american alligator . if you live in florida, the deep south , coastal areas of the carolinas they may show up in the yard. it is formerly an endangered species . we protected it and now they are common enough they wander into suburbia. the key with predators whether it is a black bear , coyote or alligators, never feed it. you don't want them to associate people with food. that's when they become dangerous. let wild life be wild whether it is a bird, a squirrel or alligator we can live with them in harmony.

>> what do you do?

>> call professional wildlife removal company or municipal animal control . don't approach it. don't try to feed it.

>> that was not going to be one of my choices.

>> we have another wetland animal here.

>> do beavers come into backyards?

>> they do. depends where you live. if you live where there is a wetland nearby this is an animal that could show up. they're awesome. another species we almost wiped out. we protected them and they have recovered. they are found around the u.s. the problems with beavers is they create dams and flooding. they like to chop down trees in order to do that. tips for living in harmony with beavers is put wire mesh around the base of your trees. if you see them causing flooding, your municipality can put beaver blockers on stream culverts in your town to prevent them from damming the streams up and causing flooding in the neighborhood.

>> the beaver block.

>> they're cool.

>> let's bring out the snake.

>> king snake .

>> everyone is terrified of snakes. when you talk about gardening for wildlife it's easy to sell people on the idea of birds and butterflies. you want predators in the yard. this is a california king snake . one of the cool things about the species is they eat other snakes including venomous species. if that doesn't sell you on the idea of having them in the garden i don't know what will.

>> i don't know if that's venomous or -- how do i know if it's a king snake ?

>> he has a crown.

>> have a field guide . identify the species in your neighborhood.

>> real wick, bring in the owl.

>> come on in.

>> you will get tips on identifying wildlife and attracting them. this is an eagle owl . not native to north america but similar to the great horned owl . beautiful creature . you may not ever see this animal . if you attract it to the yard with big trees you may hear it at night.

>> david, thanks a lot.

>> this is "today" on nbc.