During the colder months of winter, most of us like to stay bundled up and warm – with warmer clothes and inside our cozy homes. Unfortunately, many animals also seek this same shelter and warmth in the winter – oftentimes in our homes! Do you know which animals can cause problems for you during these colder months? What can you do to prevent them from seeking shelter in your home? Check out these common winter wildlife pests and 6 ways you can prevent them.
Squirrels can be a problem year round. They don’t hibernate in the winter and stay very active. They like to seek shelter and warmth in attic spaces. They may also seek out your attic as a storage space for their winter stash of nuts, grains, and seeds so they don’t have to search for food in the cold winter months. Squirrel nests are easy to spot in the winter in bare trees. Squirrels are notorious chewers – so if you have them in your attic you can expect your wood, insulation, and electrical wiring to suffer damage.
Skunks live in the same areas during the winter as they do in the summer. They like to burrow under our decks, patios, and stoops. Skunks don’t technically hibernate, but they do lower their body temperature and heart rate in the winter to conserve energy and therefore become less active. They can go up to a week without food and water but will venture out on a semi-regular basis in search of sustenance. They live in larger communities in the wintertime for warmth.
Rats and mice are also year round pests but they can become more of a problem in the winter. These rodents seek out warmth, food, shelter, and water inside our homes during the harsh winter months. They can squeeze into your home through extremely small openings. Like squirrels, they are also notorious for chewing through insulation, wiring, and wood.
There are at least 40 different species of bats in the United States. Bats are mostly active in the summer months and will hibernate in the winter. They will, however, hibernate in your attic! Bats like to roost in attics, belfries, behind shutters, and loose boards. They are carriers of rabies and can spread disease.
Raccoons are nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. Raccoons can cause significant damage to roofs and chimneys in their search for den sites. They will also get into crawlspaces in search of den sites. They are a major carrier of rabies.
Chipmunks are like squirrels in that they gather and store their food in the fall. They are less active in the colder weather, lowering their body temperatures and heart rates to conserve energy. They usually make their nests in underground burrows that can be up to 10 feet long. They will venture out every few days to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom. Oftentimes they will use attics as a storage space for their winter stash.
Opossums are the only marsupial found in North America. They will occasionally make their dens in attics and garages. They are known to make very messy nests. Opossums have very sharp teeth and will show them, as well as hiss, when they feel threatened. They are known to bite in very rare cases.
Winter wildlife can be a problem especially if they build a nest or store food in or near your home in the wintertime. The cold weather also doesn’t eliminate the diseases that they carry and spread. If these pests get into your home they can cause significant damage to your roof, insulation, foundation, wiring, and more. What can you do to prevent winter wildlife from making your home theirs? Check out these 6 tips to prevent winter wildlife.
- Eliminate Entry Points. Winter wildlife can’t get into your home if they don’t have a way in. Carefully inspect your home for any openings that animals can use to get in. Check and proof any weep vents in your bricks. Seal around HVAC and utility lines, in gaps in the foundation and siding, in gaps between your roof and soffits, and gaps between the soffits and fascia. Check your roof vents, as well. Seal gaps around windows and doors, including your garage door. Many rodents can chew through rubber or thin plastic seals so consider using heavy duty metal seals or caulk. Check screens on doors and windows to make sure they are in good repair. Use chimney caps. Consider enclosing your crawlspace to prevent unwanted critters, as well.
- Clean Your Gutters. Clogged gutters can block the drainage of rain and melting snow and ice. This can not only cause damage to your home, but also invites birds and other wildlife to build their nests here. Make sure drains are clean and that your spouts are far enough away from your foundation. Consider installing Leafproof XP Gutter Guards to make gutter cleaning and maintenance easier for you.
- Clear Out The Clutter. Now is the time to reorganize your belongings. This not only lets you get your garage or attic cleaned out, but also allows you to inspect areas of these spaces that you might not normally have access to. If possible, get rid of cardboard storage boxes and use plastic containers with lids instead. Get rid of old newspapers or other paper products as these invite rodents and other pests to make nests.
- Get Rid Of Their Food. Winter wildlife will eat anything they can get their hands on. If you have birdfeeders, take them down in the evenings and put them back out in the mornings. Clean up any spilled birdseed from the ground underneath them. If you do keep your birdfeeders out all the time, consider squirrel proofing them. Use trash and compost bins with locks and store them in the garage if possible. Make sure outdoor composts are well sealed. Store food in airtight containers and refrigerate them if possible. Don’t leave pet food out overnight, especially outdoors. Clean up any spilled food and crumbs daily and sweep and vacuum often.
- Clean Up Your Yard. Clutter and debris in your yard can invite all sorts of pests to invade. Keep your yard clean and free of debris. Trim shrubs and branches away from your home as pests can use these to access your house. Stack firewood at least 2 feet off the ground to keep animals from nesting underneath. Dead trees, brush piles, and tall grasses should be put in yard waste bags and kept in the garage until garbage day.
- Call The Pros. If you suspect you have a wildlife problem, call a professional wildlife control company. They can come out and inspect your home, remove any unwanted critters, and provide you with a prevention and treatment plan to keep them from coming back.