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Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

During the holidays, we welcome friends, relatives, neighbors and even co-workers into our homes. Unintentionally, many people also invite wildlife to take up residence inside their houses this time of year.

As the temperature drops, squirrels, raccoons, skunks and opossums look for warm, dry dens. Here are the top five ways to make your home unwelcoming to furry guests:

1. Don’t provide a midnight buffet. Birdseed, pet food and table scraps attract wildlife from miles away. Only put the amount of birdseed in your feeder in the morning that will be completely consumed by dusk. Don’t leave pet food or unsecured garbage outside overnight. If you have a pet door, close it at night by sliding a template in place to cover the entrance.

2. Don’t put out a welcome mat. Loose shingles are the equivalent of a flashing “Vacancy” sign for wildlife. When you’re up on the ladder hanging Christmas lights, carefully inspect your roof and eaves. Repair deteriorating boards, warped siding and damaged shingles. Trim overhanging branches that provide easy access to your roof for squirrels and other wildlife. Cover attic openings with heavy gauge, rustproof wire mesh (not chicken wire). If you have a chimney, make sure that it has a secure cap. Chimneys without caps are open invitations to raccoons looking for “hollow trees” in which to give birth and raise their young. (Don’t worry, chimney caps only deter wildlife, not Santa.)

3. Don’t forget your friends in low places. Cover crawlspace openings with heavy gauge, rustproof wire mesh. If you have a deck, install an L-shaped barrier around it — dig a trench 12 inches deep and 8 inches wide around the perimeter of the deck, line the bottom of the trench with heavy gauge wire mesh, bend it 90 degrees up, attach the wire mesh to the base of the deck with screws and washers and then backfill. This barrier will permanently prevent animals from digging underneath a deck or shed.

4. That’s not the sound of tiny reindeer hooves on your roof. If you’re hearing strange noises from your attic and you suspect that furry guests already have moved in, contact 911 Wildlife to determine the best way to humanely evict and permanently exclude them. Wildlife can damage electrical wires, cause water damage, stain ceilings, destroy attic insulation and create unpleasant odors. If you hear scratching or gnawing sounds, it’s important to get expert advice and take action immediately. Don’t waste time and money on traps or home remedies that can make the problem worse.

5. While you’re caroling door to door, spread the word. Share this information with your neighbors so they don’t end up with uninvited guests during the holidays.