When Pablo Solomon, an artist and sculptor from Austin, Texas, and his wife moved into their 1856 house, they knew they’d have to renovate it. However, they didn’t know how much of their house modifications would be devoted to keeping animals out. They discovered a den of copperhead snakes living under the home soon after moving there in 1988. The copperheads never made it inside, but rat snakes, ribbon snakes, sand snakes, and ringneck snakes — none of which are venomous – have all made their way inside throughout the years.
“We also experienced a scorpion infestation. We averaged around 300 every year for the first three years, “According to Solomon. “They come out immediately after dusk to look for other bugs,” says the narrator.
To top it off, raccoons tried twisting the knobs on their doors to unlock them.
According to David Brugh, co-owner of Meridian Wildlife Services, LLC, located in Christiansburg, Va., but operating in some states, pest issues are not uncommon. The organization specializes in humanely collecting birds and removing them from stores, but Brugh claims that his company also captures a lot of creatures in people’s homes. “I have a narrative to tell the kids every day,” he adds.
Since living in mud huts and caves, humans have tried to keep animals at bay. We may be in the twenty-first century, but bedbugs, termites, mice, rats, voles, chipmunks, and other pests are still in our midst. Try the following ways to keep animals out of your house, but keep in mind that none of them are perfect.
Ways to keep animals out of your house
Examine your surroundings. “Animals need food, water, and shelter to survive and reproduce,” Brugh explains. When he says it like that, you almost want to throw open the windows and doors. (Well, maybe not.) Your objective, according to Brugh, should be to “make the dwelling less appealing for animals to take up residence.”
He recommends examining for flaws and gaps at the foundation of the home. Seal any that are more than one-fourth of an inch in diameter. He adds this covers areas under porches, decks, and barns.
Patricia Sterbenz, who just resigned from the city of Sugar Land, Texas as an animal services officer, can vouch for him. Last year, she was summoned to a rental residence where possums were causing problems.
As she drove over, Sterbenz was doubtful. “People, in general, exaggerate the severity of their condition when it comes to wild animals in the city,” she explains.
In this situation, no. Sterbenz visited with the renter in a tidy, well-organized house and then observed a cat, which she mistook for one. “The renter started screaming and running around excitedly,” adds Sterbenz, who immediately apprehended the possum and put it in a cage in her vehicle. She returned inside, assuming the problem had been addressed, only to hear the tenant cry again. Another possum had made its way into the kitchen. Six possums had taken up home beneath the deck on the opposite side of the kitchen wall, Sterbenz noticed. They chewed their way through the exterior, gaining entrance to the house.
Other potential trouble spots to check include the areas around window air-conditioning units, says Nancy Troyano, an entomologist and training manager for Rentokil North America, a pest control company in Reading, Penn.
“Make sure any gaps between the unit and the window frame are sealed,” Troyano says. “Also, be mindful of items that draw pests to your homes, such as woodpiles stacked against your house, garbage cans without lids, pet food bowls, untrimmed vegetation, and bird feeders with spilled seed on the ground below.”
Look up to the sky. Because you generally don’t spend much time on your roof, it’s easy to forget that here is where a lot of animals may sneak into your home. Mice may scale masonry walls and enter a roof aperture such as a chimney. Brugh says everyone should have appropriately fitted chimney caps – no easy feat, of course, reaching the top of a chimney to make sure there’s a cap and that it’s on tight.
Even if the chimney is in good shape, other roof elements may not be. Brugh says sealing gable vents in the roof is also essential. After all, bats enjoy living in crawl spaces and attics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends bat-proofing your roof by caulking openings more extensive than a quarter-inch by a half-inch. It doesn’t take a big gap for them to get inside.
Examine your yard. Trees with branches touching your house, particularly the roof, can be trouble. “Insects and other pests will essentially use these items as highways to travel directly inside your house,” Troyano says.
You don’t want that. Brugh remembers another time when an angry mother raccoon took over the upper floor of an upscale house. “I could hear the angry raccoon still trying to claw through the door over the police officer’s phone as he was describing the situation,” Troyano says.
Are your garbage cans enclosed securely? A Florida woman recently made news for barely escaping with her life after the ultimate animal home invasion – bears wandering into her open garage to forage for food.
Even your lighting can work against you if it radiates ultraviolet energy, which bugs love. Troyano suggests replacing porch lights with yellow bulbs or high-pressure sodium bulbs to help prevent flying insects from landing on your house at night.
The cost. You can spend a fortune keeping animals out, of course. If you call an animal control agent to come out and address your pest problem, you may not spend anything. Sterbenz says taxpayers paid for the resolution of the possum problem.
You’ll spend considerably north of free if you hire a private service to remove an animal. For instance, Brugh says a typical skunk removal can range from $125 to $250, depending on the number of no-kill traps needed and factors like how often the traps need to be checked. Of course, you might have a bigger problem than a skunk around your house – it might be inside. Brugh has had clients with skunks hiding out in their living room.
If you hire a tree trimming service to cut back branches and remove the highway into your house, the average price nationally ranges from $558 to $796, according to HomeAdvisor.com. This online portal matches homeowners with licensed home contractors for free.
But the cost of keeping animals out usually seems to be far less than what you’ll spend if they get in, given the potential for destruction. Mosquitoes and cockroaches spread disease, Troyano points out, and rats and mice gnaw on just about everything. And nobody wants to wake up with a bat staring you in the face, which makes it all the more important to prevent an animal invasion. If you don’t, it’s a problem that could come back to bite you.