Wanted for Breaking & Entering

squirrelWhat’s not to like about furry little critters?  Squirrels are impressive, if frantic little athletes and raccoons have a certain mischievous appeal.  If you take the time to observe them, birds are fascinating.  But…when these little charmers invade our homes, they turn into obnoxious, destructive, noisy, fertilizer factories.  They eat our soffits and clog our dryer vents.  They smell bad.  They become vermin that must be ousted or eliminated.  It’s not entirely fair to blame them.  That dryer vent or attic makes a perfect nesting site, sheltered from the elements, inaccessible to most predators with plenty of room for the youngsters to play.

Eviction is tough and extermination is distasteful; so here are some hints to help keep the critters from getting into your home.

  • Inspect the building exterior for loose boards, unsealed openings and unprotected holes in the walls, soffits, etc.
  • Trim any overhanging trees and remove vines and ivy from walls.  These are highways for small animals like squirrels, rats or even snakes.  (On the plus side, if you have snakes, you probably don’t have squirrels or rats!)
  • Where appropriate, install insect and bird/animal screens at vents and openings.  This can be tricky.  Improperly screened dryer vents can result in reduced efficiency or even a fire hazard and screening may be disallowed in some jurisdictions.  It’s also possible to reduce ventilation below acceptable levels in areas like soffit inlet if you install screening that’s too fine.
  • If any new mechanical devices are going to be installed, require that they are appropriately protected with screens, guards, etc.
  • Survey the building exterior and note ledges and outcroppings that are attractive to birds (look for bird droppings) and install bird repellants or guards.
  • Make sure that windowpanes and screens are in good condition.
  • Make sure that all ground level doors have an auto-close feature (springs, pneumatic closures, etc.).  Nothing is more inviting to squirrels and raccoons than an open door.
Make certain that you have no uninvited guests before you seal up all of their possible exits.  Trapped animals will either find another way out (such as chewing through the ceiling over your bed) or die, and both scenarios are unpleasant.  A number of contractors offer humane removal of animals.