Wild animals don’t belong in your home, as they can often put your family and property at risk in a number of ways. Unfortunately, a variety of critters are likely to find your home’s secluded crevices attractive places to shelter, nest, and raise families. You can’t blame wild creatures for finding your home as safe and cozy as you do. Fortunately, you can learn how to spot signs of their presence, so you can contact a professional to evict them and make your home less vulnerable to these uninvited guests in the future.
Older homes can be especially vulnerable to critter infestations, including mice and termites. Learn more about maintaining and insuring older homes.
Do you hear unnerving scratching, chewing or scampering coming from your walls, attic, crawlspace or basement? If you can’t attribute these sounds to your pets, then it’s likely less domesticated animals have found their way into your house.
If you have nocturnal animals like mice or rats living in your walls, you’ll hear them scratching and scurrying after sunset. Squirrels (just like the ones in your backyard) are active during the day, so that’s when you’re most likely to hear them if they’ve found a way into your home.
Droppings and Smells
Droppings and smells are among the most unpleasant signs that pests are living inside your home. Like wild animals themselves, their waste can contain diseases and parasites, so take care while cleaning and discarding contaminated items in affected areas.
- You might find mouse and rat droppings near your baseboards or inside cupboards and other places where small animals are likely to hide.
- Unlike mouse and rat droppings, squirrel droppings are typically found in clusters. Squirrel and rat droppings are similar in size, while mouse droppings are only about 3.2 millimetres long.
- Rats are known for their unpleasant habit of leaving behind urine (and it’s unmistakable pungent smell) as they make their way around your home.
- Dead animals in your walls and attic can also be sources of foul odours caused by critters living (and dying) in your home.
Sightings and other physical evidence
Laying eyes on the opossum family living in your attic or a mouse scampering across the living room floor is the best evidence that your home isn’t critter-proof. Unfortunately, if you see one rodent or insect in your home, that usually means there’s more hidden throughout your residence. Keep a lookout for other, less obvious signs that stealthy creatures are living in your home.
- Watch out for signs that an animal has targeted your pantry, such as missing food, crumb trails, or evidence of packaging being broken into.
- Chewing is another telltale sign of rodents living in your home. If you notice bite marks on anything from furniture to kitchen utensils, critters are probably making themselves at home in your space.
- You may also see signs that drywall or insulation in your walls and attic has been disturbed. Mice especially love to tunnel through your insulation as they make their way through your home.
- A critter sharing your food is unhygienic, and installation chewing makes a mess of your walls. However, a rodent’s tendency to chew through your home wiring is very dangerous since it can cause fires.
- If areas like your attic, basement or garage are cluttered, it will be especially difficult to spot signs of a pest invasion. Regularly decluttering will help prevent animals from nesting in your home unnoticed.
Watch out for food and water sources that attract critters.
In addition to safety from predators, shelter from the elements, and free nest-building supplies, free meals will attract animals to your property. Remove access to food and water sources outside and inside your home to discourage hungry, unwanted house guests.
- Water sources on your property like leaky hose faucets can attract animals, as well as natural food sources like fallen acorns and fruit.
- Make sure not to leave your pet’s food and water dishes out overnight. They can also serve as a source of refreshment for animals in your neighbourhood.
- Keep your yard and gutters free of plant debris that animals might see as food sources. Pinecones and plants in your garden are good examples of this.
- Your garbage bins offer another potential food source to scavengers like raccoons. Ensure trash bags are tied tight, and bin-lids are adequately secured. Raccoons are known to be the most crafty garbage infiltrators, so you may need to outsmart them with special lids, garbage bins, or even a secure shed. Regularly cleaning your trash bins will prevent animals from being attracted to the smell of your household waste.
- Keep your kitchen and all areas of your home free of crumbs and spills. Nothing will attract animals to your property like the edible remnants of a backyard party left out overnight.
- Mice can tear into paper and cardboard packaging, so storing items like cereals and pet food inside glass or metal containers can help protect food.
Remove easy outdoor access points.
Wild creatures are like burglars, except the tiniest ones can fit through cracks in your home that are as small as a dime. Inspect your home from the foundation to the roof to see if it has any weak points that could increase the likelihood of a critter invasion.
- Animals looking for shelter may use branches, shrubs, and vines to climb into vulnerable parts of your home. Remove these natural bridges by keeping all of the plants around your home trimmed. Squirrels can jump up to six feet, so it’s a good idea to trim branches within two meters of your roof and windows.
- Larger critters, like raccoons and skunks, who find their way onto your roof might think your chimney is a warm place to rest. Protect your home and wildlife from getting stuck with a chimney cap.
- If you have a chimney and fireplace, you might also have a woodpile somewhere on your property. Woodpiles attract rodents and insects like termites and beetles, so it’s best to store them at least 20 feet from your home.
- Weather damage to your roof can create holes that make it easy for animals to find their way into your attic. You should also check your roof for water accumulation, which could attract animals looking for an untapped water source. Regularly inspect and clean your roof’s drainage systems, including soffit vents and eavestroughs, as they can help animals climb to your roof.
- Inspect your windows and doors for cracks and holes that could be welcoming tiny creatures inside. During warm months, protect doors and windows with fly screens that properly seal around your window frame and are free of tears. Installing window well grates is also an excellent idea to protect your basement windows.
- Ensure your doors (including garage doors) don’t have gaps underneath that an animal could squeeze through.
- Finally, check for cracks and holes in the siding and foundation of your home. A cracked foundation isn’t just a concern for basement flooding; it can also serve as an entryway for mice. Replace loose cement and damaged bricks or have your exterior walls repaired with caulking.
If you suspect that your home isn’t critter-proof, you can hire a professional to inspect it for potential vulnerabilities to wildlife. It’s also best to hire a professional to remove critters safely. Many wildlife control services will also help develop a plan for keeping your home critter-free in the future.
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