Sneaky Wildlife: Possums and Raccoons

Sneaky Wildlife: Possums and Raccoons

When you think of pest control the most common critters that come to mind are roaches, rats, bed bugs, mosquitoes, and other traditional pests. Wildlife may not be at the top of your list but these sneaky pests can wreak havoc on your home and your health. Two wildlife pests that often get into your home are possums and raccoons. While they are noticeably different in appearance, these two animals share many similarities. They are both highly adaptable to their surroundings and can be quite creative in seeking out food sources. They are both also known to carry diseases that can be harmful to humans. Do you know how to identify a possum or a raccoon? What can you do to prevent these pests from damaging your home and property?

POSSUMS

Possum
Possums are North America’s only marsupial species. They can range from 14″ long to over 3 feet long. Their tails make up 50% of their total body length. They can weight up to 13 lbs. Possums are scavengers and will forage in trashcans and dumpsters for food. They are omnivores but prefer insects and carrion over fruits and nuts. Possums are highly nocturnal and are rarely seen by humans. They prefer to live near water. Possums are found throughout eastern North America. Possums are slow movers but are highly skilled climbers. They can get into attics and under houses, especially in crawlspaces. They will play dead as a defensive tactic.

 RACCOONS

Raccoon
Raccoons can range from just under 2 feet long to just over 3 feet long. They can weigh up to 23 lbs. They have a distinctive black mask coloring on their faces. Raccoons are scavengers and will often forage in trashcans and dumpsters for food. They are quite dexterous and can use their paws to open doors and lids. They are omnivores but prefer fruits and nuts over meat. They are nocturnal and are rarely seen by humans. If you spot a raccoon during the day be aware – this is often (but not always) a sign of rabies or other abnormal condition in the raccoon. Raccoons are found throughout most of the United States, southern Canada, and northern South America. Raccoons are creatures of habit. Once they discover a food source at your house they will keep coming back over and over. They often access attics and roofs of homes causing significant damage.

PREVENTION

  • Seal any garbage cans and compost bins at night.
  • Use locking lids on trashcans if possible or place a weight on top to keep the lids closed.
  • Pick up any fruit or other food items from your yard.
  • Make sure to bring your pet’s food and water bowls indoors at night and empty bird feeders.
  • Keep the outside of your home well lit at night – possums and raccoons are nocturnal and shy away from lights.
  • Examine the outside of your home for possible entry points and seal them off. Make sure to check chimneys, attic vents, and seams along roofs and foundations.
  • Keep your yard clear of debris and keep the grass mowed.
  • Spray a mixture of half ammonia and half water on your trashcans or soak rags in the mixture and scatter them around your property. The smell will repel these pests.
  • Consider enclosing your crawlspace to eliminate their ability to get under your home.
  • If you think you have a wildlife issue, contact a licensed pest control expert who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and treatment plan.
Unusual Winter Wildlife

Unusual Winter Wildlife

As the cold winter months descend upon us, our first instinct is to head indoors for warmth and shelter. Animals have this same instinct during winter and will start looking to escape from the elements. They will usually look for holes, tunnels, logs, rock or leaf piles to burrow in but, if they are near neighborhoods, your home might look just as inviting to them.

Did you rake and bag your leaves this fall? Did you repair those holes in your deck, garage, or siding? Did you enclose your crawlspace and cap your chimney? If the answer is no, then you may have left an open invitation for critters to come into your home. Common winter wildlife invaders include squirrels, rats and mice, raccoons, and spiders. But don’t forget some lesser known winter animals, as well. Check out these four unusual winter pests and what you can do to prevent them.

OPOSSUMS:

Opossum

APPEARANCE:

  • About 2 feet long
  • About 10 lbs.
  • Long, light grey hair
  • Hairless round ears
  • Scaly tail
  • Five fingers on their front feet, four fingers and opposable thumbs on their rear feet

HABITAT:

  • Establishes home within existing structures (hollow logs, garages, crawlspaces, under buildings, inside burrows)
  • Lives close to their food sources

DIET:

  • Omnivore
  • Will eat anything it can find
  • Usually eats fruit, grass, insects, mammals, birds, and fish

BEHAVIOR:

  • Marsupial (carries young in a pouch)
  • Sluggish and slow
  • Nocturnal
  • Excellent climbers
  • Produces a repulsive smell
  • Plays dead as a defensive mechanism

THREAT:

  • Not dangerous to humans as long as they aren’t cornered
  • May carry diseases of concern to humans (e.g. rabies) but transmission is extremely rare
  • Always handle (dead or alive) with gloves and wash hands thoroughly afterwards

SIGNS:

  • You see them out, especially at night
  • Usually see or hear around garbage cans or in attics
  • Damage to lawns and gardens from digging for food
  • Eaten pet food or birdseed

PREVENTION:

  • Opossums are protected species in many areas so check local laws and regulations before trapping or relocating
  • Eliminate food sources by keeping pet food inside and removing uneaten birdseed at night
  • Keep garbage cans closed and secure with bungee cords, cinder blocks, or latches
  • Put garbage cans out for pickup in the morning rather than overnight
  • Keep pets inside at night
  • Keep outdoor grills and grease catch cans clean
  • Secure under decks, eaves, and chimneys with wire mesh and use chimney caps
  • Trim tree limbs to prevent roof access
  • Enclose your crawlspace

FOXES:

Fox

APPEARANCE:

  • 3 to 3-1/2 feet in length
  • Reddish brown to grey fur
  • Tails have black or white tips
  • Yellowish eyes

HABITAT:

  • Will make dens under porches, decks or sheds
  • Found in suburban areas and near farms
  • Often seen near wooded areas, open fields and meadows
  • Will dig their own dens or use abandoned burrows and hollow trees

DIET:

  • Prey on small pets and livestock (rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens)
  • Prefer rodents, rabbits, insects, and fruit

BEHAVIOR:

  • Natural fear of humans
  • Like to dig

THREAT:

  • Not dangerous unless rabid (which is very rare)
  • Dangerous if captured or handled (they will bite or attack)

SIGNS:

  • See them (daytime or night)
  • Small animals/pets are carried off
  • Twisted droppings with hair or berries
  • Distinct odor left behind (almost like a skunk)

PREVENTION:

  • Keep pets indoors or in sturdy structures
  • If they have established a den under or near your home:
    • Loosely pack leaves, soil or mulch in the opening
    • Place urine soaked kitty litter, a sweat soaked shirt, smelly socks, or old sneakers in or near the opening
    • Spread capsicum-based repellent around the entry
  • Bury an L-shaped footer around the perimeter of fencing or enclosures to prevent them from digging into them
  • Scare foxes them away by making noise near their dens, shouting, or increasing activity near the den
  • Get rid of food sources like garbage, compost piles, and outdoor pet food

COYOTES:

Coyote

APPEARANCE:

  • 4 to 5 feet in length
  • 15 to 45 lbs
  • Tawny grey fur with dark areas and a black strip along their back
  • Backs of their ears are yellowish
  • Throat and belly are white
  • Tails have a black tip

HABITAT:

  • Prefer forests, grasslands, deserts, and swampy areas (they are very adaptable)
  • Accustomed to humans so they can be found in rural, urban, and suburban areas

DIET:

  • Mainly prefer small animals (rabbits, squirrels, mice)
  • Will also occasionally eat birds and insects

BEHAVIOR:

  • Nocturnal – they usually hunt after dark and in the early morning
  • Will kill house cats, small dogs, and livestock
  • They run with their tails down (this distinguishes them from dogs and wolves)

THREAT:

  • Can carry distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, rabies, mange, and tularemia
  • They have occasionally attacked humans if threatened

SIGNS:

  • Spotting them, especially at night
  • Hearing them (yip, yelp, howl, growl, and bark)
  • Dead or missing animals
  • Damage to gardens
  • Tracks – more elongated than dogs and more uniform in shape
  • Twisted droppings with hair and berries
  • Signs of prey (carcasses or bones that have been eaten clean)

PREVENTION:

  • Remove food sources like garbage cans and dumpsters or secure them with latches or straps
  • Feed pets and birds during the day and clean up stray food
  • Remove bird feeders at night as they will eat both the seeds and the animals who come to feed
  • Keep an eye on pets and young children as coyotes will attack if they are left alone

ARMADILLOS:

Armadillo

APPEARANCE:

  • Anywhere from 6 inches to 5 feet in length
  • 8 to 17 lbs
  • Color ranges from black to red, grey, or yellowish patterns and coloring
  • Tough shell with knobby scales

HABITAT:

  • Live in wooded areas and prefer loose, sandy, or clay soil since it is easier to dig
  • Will dig multiple burrows, some up to 15 feet deep
  • Can burrow under patios and driveways
  • Burrow entrances are usually hidden under brush, stumps, and rock piles

DIET:

  • Insects, insect larvae, earthworms, snails, and scorpions

BEHAVIOR:

  • Nocturnal – feed at night and hide in burrows during the day
  • Excellent diggers
  • Poor eyesight and hearing
  • Move swiftly
  • Good swimmers

THREAT:

  • Not usually dangerous to humans
  • Can carry the bacterium that causes leprosy but can only be transmitted by eating undercooked meat

SIGNS:

  • Seeing them, especially at night
  • Structural damage from burrowing under driveways and patios
  • Damage to flowerbeds, gardens, and landscaping

PREVENTION:

  • Eliminate food sources by decreasing the amount of water and fertilizer used on your lawn; this rich, moist soil brings worms and other insect larvae to the surface which attracts armadillos
  • Install fences around gardens at least 2 feet high and 18 inches into the ground
  • Remove brush, woodpiles, low lying bushes and shrubs as these are used to cover burrows
  • Clean up any fallen berries or fruit
  • Use a castor-oil based repellent around your yard

Fall & Winter Brings Wildlife Into Homes

Cold Weather Has Wildlife Seeking Shelter in Homes

Those furry little creatures are cute outdoors but they somehow turn into scary monsters when they’re scurrying through your attic, basement, or even your walls.  During the fall and winter months different wildlife can make their way into houses seeking warmth from the outside cold.

SquirrelCommon invaders like squirrels, bats, raccoons, and possums can be a threat to your health, property, and even your safety.  These animals can carry diseases and can even get aggressive when they feel threatened.  They can damage your property by gnawing on sheet rock, wood, insulation, storage containers, and wiring (a potential fire hazard).

There are easy steps to take that will help keep animals out of your home for the colder seasons: take trash out regularly and seal tightly and cut back tree limbs from your roof line.  Animals, especially squirrels, use tree limbs as an entry to your home.  Look for gnaw marks and feces and listen for scurrying sounds as indicators that you may have unwanted guests in your home.

Because these animals have a potential to be dangerous, it is best to call a wildlife removal company to properly remove these animals.  Call Northwest Exterminating for animal removal.

Fall & Winter Brings Wildlife Into Homes

Cold Weather Has Wildlife Seeking Shelter in Homes

Those furry little creatures are cute outdoors but they somehow turn into scary monsters when they’re scurrying through your attic, basement, or even your walls.  During the fall and winter months different wildlife can make their way into houses seeking warmth from the outside cold.
SquirrelCommon invaders like squirrels, bats, raccoons, and possums can be a threat to your health, property, and even your safety.  These animals can carry diseases and can even get aggressive when they feel threatened.  They can damage your property by gnawing on sheet rock, wood, insulation, storage containers, and wiring (a potential fire hazard).
There are easy steps to take that will help keep animals out of your home for the colder seasons: take trash out regularly and seal tightly and cut back tree limbs from your roof line.  Animals, especially squirrels, use tree limbs as an entry to your home.  Look for gnaw marks and feces and listen for scurrying sounds as indicators that you may have unwanted guests in your home.
Because these animals have a potential to be dangerous, it is best to call a wildlife removal company to properly remove these animals.  Call Northwest Exterminating for animal removal.

What’s the big deal about wildlife exclusion?

Some people think that when the temperatures drop, they will have less pest issues. For some critters this may be true, as they use the autumn to store up for a cold winter, during which they hide away. However, some of the larger animals such as squirrels, raccoons, possums, etc., might want to use your home for a warm space to hide away from the weather. Northwest Exterminating’s Wildlife Team knows just what to do in order to keep your home a pest-free zone!

Depending on what type of animals may be in your area, they can leave you susceptible to various issues. For instance, some squirrels like to make nests in attics, using your insulation as material! The costs of repair plus the hazards of a potential electrical fire due to damaged wires makes it really necessary to block this area off from potential unwanted guests. Aside from squirrels, other creatures have the potential to do damage in the form of bites or fleas that might affect your children or pets.

To reduce these risks against you, Northwest’s Wildlife Team specializes in wildlife exclusion. One of form of wildlife exclusion involves sealing up any potential openings to secure your home. The Wildlife Team will inspect your home, evaluating potential problem areas and implementing measures to eliminate these issues. However, if by chance your home has already gotten unsolicited attention from these pests, the Wildlife Team knows just what to do to take care of your home and prevent the issue from happening in the future. If you need a Wildlife representative, please contact us at 888-466-7849 or visit our website www.callnorthwest.com

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Importance-of-Wildlife-Exclusion&id=7352650

Melissa Brown
mbrown@callnorthwest.com

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