Having a warm place to sleep and a good roof over our heads to keep the weather out is not something specific to people. Shelter is a basic need for many, if not all species. Our homes make perfect ones for many critters too. Rather than build or find their own, it’s easier to squat in ours. They get the added benefit that sharing our space includes such ‘creature comforts’ as heating, dry nesting materials, and readily available food.
And all they need is a small opening to create serious damage.
This might be OK if the critters weren’t living rent free – or contributed to care and upkeep. It might even be OK if they left the place as they found it when leaving in the Spring. Reality is that they are horrible housemates. They don’t pick up after themselves and trash the place like a celebrity in a hotel room.
The damage critters do is serious:
- Torn up and displaced insulation
- Chewed electrical wires
- Wood damage (especially with rats and mice)
- Damaged plumbing – looking for access to water – especially plastic plumbing
And specific roof damage:
- Rodents from squirrels to rats chewing on shingles, rubber vent boots
- Birds nesting in and blocking gutters – plus damage from acid droppings
- Nesting in soffits
Plus they can get into our food leading to possible illnesses.
Then there is what they leave behind, creating further health risks:
- Fleas and ticks
- Feces and urine – especially bat guano which is considered a hazardous waste material
The best way to prevent damage – keep the critters out
We always recommend homeowners inspect their properties regularly.
This can be something you schedule or randomly checked as you walk around your home. Pay attention. Critters can find the smallest of openings – a window left slightly open, a damaged crawl space door, damaged flashing or fascia boards at the roof line. Chimneys with damaged caps make a great access point for bats (and raccoons).
Look for these access points and have them repaired as soon as possible.
For roofs, A regular inspection helps identify not only roof specific issues like damaged shingles and gutter issues, but also signs of critter activity and possible access points. (Be sure to hire a professional for safety reasons!)
Prevent access to your home
Even the best sealed homes can be enticing targets. A cold, wet, and determined raccoon can easily create his or her way inside. Minimizing access to your home is as critical as sealing entry points.
- Keep shrubs and bushes pruned back from against your walls and foundations – a great tip for keeping bugs out too! (add Lind Pest Control link)
- Keep trees pruned back from the roof line. This makes it harder for squirrels and raccoons, plus the above mentioned bugs, from having an easy path.
- Clean your gutters! Debris in gutters traps seeds and other potential food sources.
- Keep trash cans away from your home and locked (if you have a known issue) – food waste is a big attraction for raccoons
- Add additional barriers like fencing and barrier screens
What can you do if you have critters in your home?
The technique will vary depending on the pest.
In some cases removing food sources will drive them out. Some critters will leave to find food or water then return to nest later. If you can be sure all have left, create a temporary barrier to prevent access when they return. Most will look for another place rather than work to get back in – just be sure not to trap any critters inside!
If they all won’t leave at the same time, you may be able to scare them out. Critters taking up residence in an attic or crawl space can often be chased out by scaring them with loud noises since you have access to the area.
Consider providing a more attractive place for them. Leave a food trail and some nesting material away from your home in a safe space. While not guaranteed, easier access to food and water is appealing to most critters – why they choose our homes in the first place!
If you have bats in your belfry, or more likely, your chimney, one option is to wait until they migrate on their own, then seal openings or add a new chimney cap. If it will be some time before migration occurs, you will need to look at ‘exclusion’ devices which allow the bats to leave to feed but do not allow them to return to roost. Once all are out, you can address preventing future access.
If raccoons are an issue, evicting them can be challenging. One option based on the principle of “eviction, exclusion, removal, and reunion.”
The Bottom Line
“When it comes to critters in attics (usually rats, mice, or squirrels) it is best to look for, and seal obvious entry points before they get in. Once they are in, they can be a challenge to remove. A trained professional can help you out with this, as well as identifying inconspicuous entry points.
Other pests that find harborage, in roofs and eave soffit areas, include spiders, yellow jackets, paper wasps, ants, etc. administering residual sprays, in these areas, greatly reduces populations and nesting. Professional services offer the finest treatment while seeking out, and reaching, the pinpoint locations while using effective knowledge, products, and equipment.” – Randy Lind, Lind Pest Control