The unprecedented and unrelenting rains set in motion by Hurricane Harvey are displacing tens of thousands of Texas residents, including the wild animals that call the Lone Star state home. All across social media, reports are popping up about everything from floating carpets of fire ants to swimming snakes, alligators in backyards and plenty of orphaned squirrels.

And some of them are easier to help (or move) than others.

"The advice I would give people now is the same advice I usually give: A little common sense goes a long way," David Steen, a reptile expert and assistant research professor at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, told the Washington Post. "Be conscious of where you put your hands and feet and do not try to mess with animals," he said. "Getting in a fight with you is really low on the list of a snake or alligator's priorities right now. They're trying to get through the storm, too."

Here's a sampling of posts focused on wildlife displaced by Harvey:

Using wily survival skills, fire ants band together to form floating rafts. One not-so-lucky layer of ants forms the base, locking together tightly enough to form a water-tight seal that's amazingly hard to sink. Fire ants can assemble themselves like this in as little as 100 seconds, and if necessary, they can remain in this raft formation for weeks until floodwaters subside.

How bad are those mats of fire ants? Here's another shot of just how many are floating around.

As if you needed another reason not to go into the floodwaters, lots of alligators live in Texas but some of them are now showing up in areas where they don't normally live.

“They got flooded out of their pond, they got flooded out of their river. They had to evacuate, too,” Chris Stephen of the alligator relocation company Gator Squad told The Washington Post.

He's advising people to stay calm, keep their distance and avoid taking selfies with the confused animals.

Because the Houston area is home to more than 20 species of snakes, it's not surprising to see some slithering in the floodwaters. They can swim if they have to, but most would rather not.

“As long as people don’t cut their heads off, they will move about their way and go back to where they came from,” Steen told the Washington Post. He said bites typically occur when people harass, catch or kill snakes. So leave them alone.

Even deer are running out of places to run to. Wildlife experts predict that many deer will not fare well in the surging waters and could drown.

Surprisingly, bats are finding it difficult to escape as well. Colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats live in the Houston area under bridges throughout the city and many have been affected by the storm.

The Houston Chronicle reports that hundreds of bats abandoned their home under the Waugh bridge and have taken refuge in surrounding buildings.

Of course, some species see the wet weather as less of a hinderance than others.


Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.