Whether you call it “critter control,” “wildlife control,” “animal removal,” or “pest removal,” if you want to get an animal out of a space in or under your home effectively, what you’re really looking for is “humane critter removal.” The great news is that the humane approach to critter control is not only the way to do right by the animals; it will also save you time and money over the long term. Read on for this win-win way of dealing with wildlife removal. Here are some key questions to get you started.
Is there a free buffet in your yard?
Whether you’re dealing with raccoons or squirrels in your chimney or attic, an opossum or skunk under your porch, or any other critter, something attracted them to your yard and home. Look around your yard to see what food may be tempting wildlife. Pet food left outside? Spilled birdseed under your feeders? Open compost pile? Unsecured trash? Unprotected garden? Sorting out how to get the uninvited visitor out of your home may be top of your list at the moment, but you’ll want to do something about any food attractants, too, so animals don’t continue to take you up on that unintended invitation.
Can you see any additional entrances into your home?
Look for smaller entryways that wildlife might notice. Got an uncapped chimney? Gap at your roof edge? Loose siding? Opening at a dormer intersection? Unscreened attic vent? These, and even smaller openings, can provide entrances into your home that may account for the noises you’re hearing inside. Likewise, an open area under back steps or a porch can be a lovely place to den from a skunk, opossum, woodchuck point of view. But don’t go sealing up these entrances until you know what you’re dealing with, or you may trap animals inside and end up with some problems you definitely want to avoid. It’s a step-wise process to do things right.
Who’s using that space in your home?
Maybe you’ve seen the animal and already know. But if you’ve only heard noises and aren’t sure, there’s another equally important question. Is it one adult animal…or a mother with dependent young? Timing is everything, because if it’s between March and August, you likely have a mom and babies dwelling in the space. Never try to evict them before the young are older and ready to follow their mom out. Likewise, if you have a hibernating woodchuck under your deck, or bats hibernating in your attic, wait till spring to evict and make sure to get precise information about these species and their hibernation windows in your local area to avoid exacerbating the situation or breaking the law. They’ll not be disturbing you, so no need to push them out just yet.
How to proceed with critter removal
If you’re dealing with an adult animal who’s not hibernating or a mother with young who are older and able to follow her out, you can begin trying to get the animal(s) out. No need to trap… harassment techniques will encourage them to leave on their own. Animals like a quiet, dark, safe-feeling space, so you need to add noise, lights, and unpleasant smells. Place a radio near the entrance and play it as loudly as you can without disturbing neighbors. Shine light and place vinegar-soaked rags or urine soaked kitty litter in the space.
Make sure they’re out
Animals rarely stick around when a combination of these harassment techniques are used. But how can you be sure the animals are out? Loosely fill the entrance with crumpled up newspaper or paper towels—anything they can easily push aside if they are still inside, but will show evidence of their passing. After four days with no sign that the material has been moved, you can assume that they have moved elsewhere, unless it’s extremely cold. In that case, wait for warmer weather before trying to evict or before checking for activity.
Once you’re sure all animals are out, quickly get to work sealing up the entrance so others don’t move in to take their place. Galvanized hardware cloth, sheet metal, original material, or, for smaller spaces, copper scrub pads can be used to seal up openings. Keep an eye on the exterior of your home, as weather and other things like material expansion and failure can cause new entry points.
What if you can’t wait to get animals out?
If waiting for young animals to mature would truly be a hazard or significant problem for you, contact a professional wildlife removal company for help. Before you commit to working with them, though, be sure you’ve got a company that will do things responsibly and humanely. Check with your local humane society for their recommendations of companies in your area, or read these tips for finding a company you can trust to do the job right—for the animals, and for you.