We can’t win, can we? In the summer, it’s ants and spiders and other creepy crawlies I prefer not to think about trying to get into the house. In the winter, it’s bigger game: particularly raccoons and squirrels. While you might think squirrels are mighty cute, you’d think differently if you discovered one was crawling up your wall, threatening to spastically fly across the room at any moment. Barf! That’s almost worse than having a cat in the house! Unfortunately, for some people, this is a real threat in the cooler months when these animals take any opportunity they can find to move in where there’s warmth and food. Hopefully with these tips you can avoid giving these pests a home for the holidays.
Besides the “ick” factor of having large rodents in your home, these pests can cause real damage. One of the most common issues is mice and squirrels chewing on wiring. This doesn’t just upset your electrical pathways – it’s a major cause of electrical fires. Fires aren’t just horribly dangerous, they’re extremely costly too, especially if you don’t have proper insurance. Raccoons don’t tend to chew the wiring, but they will eat just about everything else. The problem? What goes in, must come out. I don’t know about you, but animal urine and feces building up in the attic sure ruins the lovely whiffs of Christmas baking.
Have we sufficiently creeped you out? Good! Now let’s talk prevention! The most obvious access points and nesting areas of your home for raccoons and squirrels tend to be foundation areas (including under porches and decks), roofs, chimneys and attics. Inspect (or hire an inspector) to closely look at all these areas, preferably before there’s a snowfall. Look for loose shingles, holes, chewed areas and animal tracks. If you see access points, fix them yourself or have them fixed right away. Often, a fix can be as simple as stapling up some wire mesh.
Consider adding a spark arrestor to your chimney (you should already have one) and dryer exhaust vents that seal to keep anything from crawling in. In addition, be sure to keep gutters clean and check to see if any water settles in them. Should there be a blockage, the weight of frozen ice can create a gap between the fascia on the roof, and bingo bango, Rocky Racoon has found himself a handy way to get into your home.
If you think – or more likely – know that you have a pest issue, it’s best to call your local humane society or hire a reputable pest control company through a resource like Angie’s List. You really, really, really don’t want to DIY an angry raccoon, squirrel or skunk capture. Trust.