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  • Writer's pictureBaxter Restoration

Reclaiming Your Personal Space (and your sanity) When Wildlife Moves In

So you have uninvited wildlife guests in your home... Whether you live in a house, apartment, condo, trailer, or treehouse, wildlife can come into your dwelling - and most likely will at some point. Uninvited wildlife visitors can cause damage to your home, contaminate your food, and even make you and your pets sick.

The high season for this is the spring and summer when most animals are searching for safe places to nest and raise their babies. Many of these animals are only active at night, so it’s usually the noise and damage they cause that is the most obvious. They can chew holes in your walls, damage electrical wiring, destroy insulation, cause mold due to urine, carry diseases like rabies, and bring fleas and ticks into your home.

How will I know if I have an unwanted visitor? There are clear signs that an animal is planning on sharing a living space with you or already is. Look for these clues:

  • Holes in the ground and dug up dirt, flowers, or grass (especially near the foundation)

  • Holes in your home’s trim, walls, and/or floors

  • Holes in the air conditioning ducts

  • Scratching, thumping, or chirping sounds coming from your walls, attic, or crawl space

  • Animal droppings, tufts of hair, or shed snake skins

  • Nesting materials such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter

  • Signs of chewing on food packagingStale or unusual smells

  • Feces and urine in strange places

I want to be humane - should I have wildlife relocated? NO. Many people who trap and relocate animals from their property think they have found a humane solution to their problems. Relocating wildlife from their ever shrinking backyard habitat to a beautiful piece of forest may seem like a dream come true for both animal and homeowner; but unfortunately there’s no happy ending there for the animal.

Wildlife relocation is a problem, not a solution. Just imagine… one minute you’re going about your business, trying to survive, and the next minute, without warning, you’re taken away from the only home you’ve ever known and left in a strange place you’ve never been. When you relocate an animal, it’s like taking them to a completely different world. Unfortunately, a relocated animal will most likely die in its new location. Here’s what can happen:

  • Many times, the mama or parents are relocated and their babies are left behind to starve or become prey.

  • Juveniles left behind may survive; but will lack survival skills and may turn to your garbage and home for food and shelter out of desperation - therefore compounding your original problem.

  • Being unfamiliar with the new area, they have no escape routes set up, and can become prey very quickly.

  • They will struggle to find nesting/den sites and store enough food in time for winter.  If they are sick, they can introduce disease to the new environment.

  • Some will die along the way to the new location due to extreme stress.

***If you absolutely need to relocate animals, they should be humanely removed from your home and brought to familiar territory, close by - with their families!

Contact your state wildlife office and speak with someone who can help you come up with a strategy.

Ok, I get it. How do I remove wildlife humanely then? In a perfect universe, you should wait until the animal has moved on. Most likely they are just there to have their young and be on their way. If you can’t wait, encouraging them to leave is your second best option. They will only stay there if they are comfortable and feel safe, so it’s pretty easy to make them uncomfortable and gently harass them right out of your home.

  • Bang on the ceilings, walls, and floors.

  • Play a loud radio near the area.

  • Place bright lights where you think they are nesting or entering.

  • Put rags soaked in apple cider vinegar or predator urine around to try and deter them with smell.

Although these techniques may work, here’s the kicker. Removing wildlife from your home leaves a vacant spot for other animals to move in. Unless you solve the problem of how and why they got in there, your problem will persist.

How can I stop wildlife from moving in, in the first place? In order to stop wildlife from wanting to move into your home, you have to do two things:

1. Seal up your house! 2. Make the environment undesirable for them to stay.

A drafty house with a sink full of dishes and a bowl of dog food on the floor is exactly what these guys are looking for. If this sounds like your house, they may think you’re inviting them in. There is an endless list of things you can do to keep unwanted wildlife out of your home and yard. Here are some of the best ones:

  • Inspect your home and yard multiple times a year and get familiar with it, so you know right away when there’s something out of place.

  • Seal all holes where animals can get in. FYI - a mouse can enter your home through a nickel sized hole. Using materials such as sheet metal, caulk, cement and steel wool to seal holes, will stop them from reopening the entrance. Some good places to look are:

  • Behind cabinets and appliances, inside closets, around the fireplace and doors, under sinks, around floor vents, in the attic, in the basement/crawl space, in the roof, around windows, along the foundation, and around plumbing, electric, and cable lines.Install a new chimney cap or replace your old one if it has been compromised.

  • Seal porches and outdoor sheds.Install temporary or permanent fencing around your home and/or garden.Mow your lawn and remove piles of leaves and mulch.Secure garbage in containers with tight fitting lids.

  • Move your compost heap far away from your home and turn it frequently to cover up newly added food and plant scraps.Keep opened food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight fitting lids.

  • Clean up any spilled food right away and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink.

  • Keep any indoor or outdoor stove, grill, or cooking area clean.

  • Put pet food and water bowls away and lock pet doors at night.

  • Move bird feeders far away from your home and use squirrel guards.

  • Dispose of any old cars, trucks, mowers, tires, etc. around your house that are not being used.

  • Organize your house and garage and get rid of the clutter!

What wildlife will you mostly come in contact with in Florida? We have a lot of wildlife here in Florida and with the large amounts of people moving and building houses here, unwanted guests are becoming more and more common. Some of the most common “nuisance animals” are listed below. Click on each animal to get more details about how to control and remove them, courtesy of Florida Wildlife Control.

Don’t forget that before your house was built, your property was home to many animals. You moved into their territory which is why they have now moved into yours. These animals are not here to invade your home, take over your property, or attack your children. They are trying to feed their babies, avoid danger, and stay warm. Be safe and take the proper, humane steps to keep wildlife out of your home and stay invader free!

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