With spring finally here, it is time to inspect your home to make sure you have no critters living inside your attic. Animals in your attic can cause major damage to the wiring, the plumbing, and structure of your house.
Additionally many critters (such as squirrels, raccoons and bats) could be carrying rabies, and you certainly do not want to expose your family to anything that could be quite harmful. The first course of action is to make sure there are no animals currently living in your home.
Here are things to look and listen for:
- Don’t ignore noises. Squirrels, raccoons, and yellow jackets make scratching noises – but don’t assume you know what is up there. Look for signs of animal droppings, nests, chewed wires, gnawed boards and holes to the exterior that appear to have been attacked. Check your attic to see what you come up with: my choice is to get an evaluation and recommendation from a professional.
- If you have any suspicions, act immediately to prevent destruction and disease. A creature can get into your house very quickly using a small space. A bat supposedly can enter your house through a hole the size of a half dollar. Rats have no muscles so they can squeeze in very easily.
- Once it is determined what house guests you have, talk to a couple of different pest control companies to hear their advice. Virginia does have guidelines for animal removal, which would be explained to you by talking with a professional.
- The best solution is to get them out of the house and make sure they stay out.
Here are some basic recommendations to avoid uninvited guests from entering your home in the future:
- Trim back tree branches close to your roof so that you are not providing a ladder for squirrels to jump on your roof.
- Do not keep pet food outdoors. That’s just an invitation.
- Bird feeders are notorious for attracting nuisance animals. Food is what it’s all about – critters neither care nor feel guilty – it just doesn’t work that way in animal brains.
- The exterior of your home should be well maintained, and an annual inspection of your roof, chimney and gutters could prevent damage.
- Walk around your house and look for any holes on the roofing or between the roof and siding. It does not matter how small these holes are: bats can get through small cracks, and squirrels can start chewing their way through. Our customers have had squirrels and raccoons eat right through metal and copper. I had a new roof put on my home in July, and by February, squirrels had made progress digging a hole through my new roof and metal work. I was horrified, but fortunately I know some roofers, so they patched it up for me.
- Install vent covers on your soffit vents. Put screens over dryer vents.
- Add heavy duty steel screens over attic vents. Don’t block air flow by using screens that are too small.
- Install a chimney cap to keep critters out.
- My grandmother used to sprinkle flour in front of any holes around the exterior of her house. If she saw footprints, she knew that there were animals leaving her house to gather food for their family.
If I know or suspect there are critters in my attic, I want them out immediately, and not by my hand. I would rather deal with professionals who are aware of creature habits and who know what the ordinances are for removal of the animals. There are many pest control companies in our area – give them a call, seek their advice, and get rid of unwanted guests.