Got an unexpected animal (or several) living under your deck, or maybe in your attic or chimney? You may be thinking of looking for a live trap so that you can attempt to capture him, her or them and then relocate the animal(s) to a natural area. This may seem like a good idea, but if you want to get them out of the house space they are occupying without causing unintentional harm or making the problem worse, that’s not the best way to go. Situations like this call for a little patience and detective work, followed by preventive steps after the animals are safely out. Read on for your roadmap for an alternative to have a heart traps!
Have a heart and don’t trap… here’s why…
Animals who are using a space in or under your home or shed were attracted to it because it provided a safe, quiet and dark place to raise their young. From March through August you want to be extra careful not to separate a mother animal from her young, because they will perish without her care. Plus, if you separate a mom from her kids, she’ll search desperately for them, placing herself at risk from predators and cars. In fact, all animals who are relocated to an unfamiliar place are at a disadvantage. While trying to learn where to find, food, water, and shelter, they are easy targets for predators and are in direct competition with animals of the same species who already occupy that territory. In spite of the good intentions, trapping and relocating rarely ends well for the animal you’re hoping to save.
Waiting and watching…
Unless there is some reason that it is unsafe for you to temporarily leave the animals where they are, it’s best to wait until they leave on their own. Fortunately, it’s usually not that long before they do. How to know when they leave? Loosely fill the entrance to the space with rags, crumpled newspaper, leaves, or straw. When three or more days pass without the material getting pushed out of the way, you’ll know the animals have moved on—but check carefully to be sure. If extreme weather occurs during that period, wait for better weather to make your assessment, because the animals may just be hunkering down for a few days.
Need them to leave more quickly?
If eviction is urgent, harassment is the way to go. Since safety, quiet, and darkness were the features that made the space attractive to them, change the inviting atmosphere! Shine lights into the area, play a radio loudly nearby, and place some cider vinegar-soaked rags around or within the entrance. In response to this harassment, even a mother with young will gather up her litter and move along to find more peaceful and secure shelter. Once you’re sure they’re gone, seal up the entrance.
When sealing up an entrance to a den in or under your home or shed, be sure to use sturdy materials. Restore deteriorated materials to original condition or cover the opening with metal hardware cloth, anchoring it securely with heavy-duty staples or landscape staples to keep the edges from being peeled open. With these repairs made, your unintentional “welcome” sign will be clearly revised to “no vacancy”—saving both you and the animals another round of negotiations.