Fall is a busy time for wildlife. As the days get shorter and temperatures drop, animals begin their frantic preparations for winter. Fall is a time to stock up on food and find warm places to shelter over the cold winter months. These preparations often lead wildlife into your homes in search of food, warmth, and shelter. There are several common critters that become more active in the autumn months. Here are some of the most common along with ways to prevent them from taking up residence in your home.
Rodents such as rats and mice will often seek shelter in your home because it provides them with a readily available food supply throughout the winter. You will begin to hear their activity in the walls and attic in the fall as they start storing food in their nests. You can prevent rodents by:
- Sealing up holes inside and outside the home
- Trapping rodents around the home to help reduce the rodent population
- Storing food in plastic or metal containers with tight lids
- Cleaning up spilled food immediately and washing dishes soon after use
- Storing pet food in sealed containers and not leaving them out overnight
- Keeping compost bins as far away from the house as possible
Raccoons are nocturnal creatures that hunt for food at night. They start to “fatten up” in the fall in preparation for the cold winter months with a scarce food supply. This makes them more active and more creative in their search for food – often leading them to your trash cans and home. Raccoons will often enter your home via the roof and are known to seek shelter in attics and crawlspaces. You can prevent raccoons by:
- Installing fences around your yard and garden areas
- Install bright exterior lights to deter them from your yard at night
- Keep trash in cans with secure, locking lids
- Seal any entry points on the exterior of your home
- Rinse out trash cans once a month to help eliminate odors
- Spray down trash bags with ammonia to help cover up the trash smell
Like raccoons, squirrels also like to “fatten up” in the fall as they get ready for the cold months of winter. Squirrels will often seek shelter in attics where they will make their nests and store their food. Squirrels are especially hazardous in homes because of their tendency to chew through wood and wires, creating the potential for significant and costly damage to your house. You can prevent squirrels by:
- Keeping bags of seed sealed and stored high on shelves
- Rake up and dispose of any seeds or leaves that fall from trees
- Take down bird feeders in the fall as squirrels love to scavenge these for seed
- Don’t leave pet food and water out overnight
- Trim back any limbs or branches that extend within 10 feet of your home
- Install chimney caps or screens
Chipmunks behave very similarly to squirrels with one exception – they will burrow in your yard instead of nesting in your home. Chipmunks build burrows in areas where they can easily access food during the winter. Chipmunks eat the same diet as squirrels including seeds, nuts, berries, grubs, and roots. Chipmunk burrows can cause serious damage to your yard. You can prevent chipmunks by:
- Consider installing fencing that is at least 8 inches deep around your yard, garden, or your entire property
- Make sure any exterior holes in your home are sealed
- Cover chimneys, vents, and pipes with mesh covers
- Clean up any leaves, nuts, or fruit that fall from trees as soon as possible
- Take bird feeders down in the fall and clean up any spilled birdseed daily
- Keep landscaping mowed and trimmed back
Bats will roost once temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. While some species will migrate south once the weather cools off, others will hibernate until spring. They will search for warm, dark spaces to roost that are hidden from predators but still easy for them to access. Unfortunately, they will often make their roosts in the attic or chimney of your home. You can prevent bats by:
- Ensuring the attic is well sealed
- Checking insulation to make sure it isn’t worn down
- Installing chimney screens
- Sealing any openings in shingles and weatherstripping
- Use window screens and draft guards on doors and windows that go into the attic
Wildlife removal can be difficult and is oftentimes best left to a professional. If you suspect you have a problem with wildlife, contact a professional wildlife control company who can inspect your home to identify your animal problem, determine where they are getting in, remove them, and prevent the animals from getting into your home in the future.
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Fall approaches, and with it comes crisp air and the hint of colder weather. Our natural response to colder weather is to stay inside more for warmth and shelter. You may not be alone in finding shelter in your home. Animals, specifically rodents, such as rats, mice, squirrels, and chipmunks, among others, often find a way in your house as they come for the food and stay for the warmth.
These rodents represent a significant problem to both your property and your health. They can chew though wallboards, wood, cardboard, and electrical wiring. Chewed up electrical wires, especially, are a big problem due to the potential risk of starting fires.
The diseases rodents can carry are just as big a concern as potential property damage. Diseases ranging from hantavirus to salmonellosis to rat-bite fever can be fatal, especially for children and the elderly.
Hantavirus is transmitted to humans from exposure or inhalation of rodents’ urine or feces. Early symptoms include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches. Infection with hantavirus can lead to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can be fatal.
Salmonellosis is an infection cause by salmonella bacteria. It is spread through rodent feces, most commonly through the consumption of contaminated food. Most people have symptoms like diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.
Rat-bite fever is an infectious disease that is spread from bites or scratches from infected rodents, even simply handling infected rodents without a scratch could lead to the disease. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, and rashes. If not treated, it can be a potentially fatal disease.
Sometimes rodents in your house can feel more like an annoyance or minor inconvenience, but they can pose a serious threat to you, your family, and your property. If you see any signs of rodents in your home, contact a professional pest control company to ensure they don’t multiply and do some serious damage.
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.
Northwest’s Wildlife Services Team specializes in the exclusion, removal, and control of animal nuisances. Among our specialties are squirrels, rodents, raccoons, opossums, bees, armadillos, and chipmunks. An important wildlife service in the coming warm months is our snake removal! Our Wildlife team uses a Green product that is used to deter snakes. We also spend a great deal of time educating the customer on snakes.
Georgia is among the states with the highest biodiversity of snakes in the U.S. with 43 different species. They are located anywhere in Georgia from the mountains in the north to the barrier islands along our eastern coast. Below we have pictures and descriptions of the most common venomous snakes. If you spot one of these, call our Wildlife Services Team at 770.436.3362 to get them off your hands, or better yet, remove them very far away from your hands!
Copperheads are fairly large – anywhere from 2 to over 3 feet long! They have brown, triangular heads and elliptical pupils. You likely won’t want to get close enough to be sure, but they have two tiny dots at the center of the top of the head. More distinguishing features include yellow tails for juvenile snakes, and the brown bands that run along their body are in a distinct hourglass shape. They are found mostly in the forested areas of Georgia and South Carolina.
Just like copperheads, cottonmouths have large, triangular heads with elliptical pupils. They get the name water moccasin from their semi-aquatic nature and are likely to be found by mostly all types of freshwater habitats. These are more difficult to identify by appearance because they have a wide range of colors but tend to feature colors that will camouflage them into their habitats.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern diamondbacks are among the largest of 32 species of rattlesnakes, ranging anywhere from 2.75 feet to 6 feet long. They have large, broad heads with two light lines on their faces. These are easily recognized by their brown diamonds, surrounded by lighter colored brown, tan or yellowish scales. They can be located anywhere from the southern part of North Carolina, but especially in South Georgia and Florida. They like to be in drier, sandy or low cut grass areas and tend to avoid wetter areas, though they are great swimmers and even travel through saltwater!
These snakes tend to range from about 3-5 feet in length and are usually gray with a pink, yellow, orange or brown stripe running along their back. They have solid black tails and black chevrons along the back and sides of their body with the point of the (V) pointing forward. They are found in most of the eastern United States, but are somewhat absent from Florida. They can be found in a wide range of areas, but are least likely to be found in highly urbanized or residential areas.
This rattlesnake is on the smaller side, usually coming in at under 2 feet in length. This snake has 9 large scales on the top of it’s head and a tiny rattle that can rarely be heard. They have a row of mid-dorsal spots and a bar from the eye to their mouth that ranges from black to brownish. The name is deceptive as they can be gray, tan, lavender, orange, red, or even black. These are mostly located from central Georgia up throughout South Carolina. They also like to be near water sources like creeks, marshes, and swamps.
Eastern Coral Snake
“Red on yellow, kills a fellow. Red on black, friend of Jack.” These snakes are sometimes up to 4 feet in length with smooth heads with a bright body pattern of black rings in which the red and yellow rings touch each other. These are sometimes confused with king snakes, but these snakes only have the red touching the black rings and are not venomous. These snakes are found all the way from Louisiana to Florida, where they are most prevalent. They are rarely spotted because they hide under ground and spend only a limited time crawling above ground. Unfortunately, because of these secretive habits, coral snakes tend to persist in suburban areas.
Changing temperatures means changes in the types of pest you may see around your area. One of the reasons you may soon see certain pests less is because of hibernation. Hibernation is a period of inactivity in animals during which they experience lower body temperatures, slower breathing and lower metabolic rates. Most people think that hibernation is just an animal sleeping but it’s more about the animal conserving energy during winter when food supplies are limited.
To prep for hibernation, animals spend the autumn foraging for food, which means they might be around or even inside your home searching for a treat! Animals that spend the autumn prepping for hibernation include bats, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and bears. In addition, cold-blooded critters hibernate too because the cold weather causes their body temperatures to drop. These animals include bees, earthworms, frogs, toads, lizards, turtles, snails and snakes. You won’t have to worry worry about these animals foraging for food as they tend to hide away around the time autumn hits.
Make sure not to tempt these animals on to your property by maintaining a clean home and making sure the trash is not easily accessible. Northwest Exterminating can help guard your home by providing services such as Complete CrawlSpace and TAP Attic Insulation. If you are interested in this service or more, please visit us at www.callnorthwest.com!