Common Wildlife Pests
Mice- Two common mouse species are found in homes in this region. The White Footed Mouse and the House Mouse. White Footed Mice are native to this region. House Mice are native to Europe and were accidentally imported here.
Mice often damage containers holding foodstuffs. Once access is gained to foods, foods must be thrown away due to contamination by feces and urine. Mice are excellent climbers and can enter homes on ground level and second or third stories. Mice live in family groups and sighting a single mouse can mean a larger infestation.
The Wildlife Company does not use poisons to eliminate rodent problems. Using poisons can sometimes mean that mice die inside walls, ceilings, etc. and leave a terrible odor. Once this happens, removing the dead rodent is very difficult to find. Removal and may even require tearing out sections of the wall or ceiling.
Bats – Bats are incredibly beneficial to humans; but can create severe problems inside people’s homes. Bat species are protected so removal of these species from a structure requires a keen understanding of their habits and the law.
In the wild, bats roost in caves and hollow trees, but today they have found structures constructed by humans more desirable in many situations. Bats prefer to enter structures from high points off the ground. This makes bat control dangerous. Bats defecate 20-30 times per day so it’s easy to see why a colony of bats would accumulate large quantities of droppings. In extreme cases structures have been known to collapse under the weight of accumulated droppings. Stains and degradation of structures are also a problem.
In addition to issues with their droppings there is a risk of contracting rabies from bats. Any bat that is found in a room with people who are sleeping should be tested for rabies. Finding a bat inside your home could also indicate that a colony is present somewhere in the house.
Because of their beneficial nature we like to move the bats out of your home or business into a home of their own. This way you get all the benefits of having these little insect eaters around without the problems associated with having them in your house.
Starling – Starlings often create problems with their roosting and nesting activities. Starlings will often nest in cavities that they find or create in houses or other structures. This is a problem because Starlings droppings can carry the potentially fatal disease Histoplasmosis. Starlings have extremely messy “bathroom habits”. The nest are also large, very messy, and littered with droppings. Droppings usually soil the area outside of the nest entrance. Starlings will also enlarge openings in houses for better access. Starlings are not native to the United States and often displace native birds, making nesting success more difficult.
Pigeon – Pigeons are another species that are not native to the Unites States. Brought here by breeders, pigeons now can be seen in cities across the country. As with other species, pigeon droppings can carry disease. Because these birds tend to congregate in large groups in one place over time large quantities of droppings can accumulate. The droppings can be hard to remove and can also damage paint on cars. Metal and wood can be degraded over time.
Squirrel – The most common squirrel species in this area is the Grey Squirrel, but Fox Squirrels and Flying Squirrels are also present. Squirrels love a cozy attic and often enter through hole in the soffit or somewhere near the roof line. Once inside, they stash foods and raise their young. Squirrels have continually growing incisors and are fond of gnawing. They often alter the woodwork and like to chew on electrical wiring which can cause house fires. They use outside electrical wires to travel and sometimes short out transformers. Some building materials can attract squirrels and they will chew on siding or other exterior building coverings.
Squirrels are fond of corn and other crops and sometimes eat newly sprouted seed. They also gnaw the bark and feed on tree buds. In extreme cases, this can interfere with the growth or reproduction of the trees.
Groundhog – Groundhogs, like other species in the rodent class, have the potential to create large numbers of offspring. Generally, females produce four young per year. The young disperse and often show up unexpectedly. They create underground burrows which can be located under sheds, decks, etc.
Ground hogs can create a variety of issues for property owners. As many gardeners know, Woodchucks can do extensive damage to crops. Peas and beans are often favorites. Orchards can also be targeted. Trees can be chewed or clawed and fruit eaten.
Farmers can have issues with burrows which can overturn farm equipment. Burrows can also cause livestock to break a leg. Excavations can become extensive and can unsettle foundations. Sometimes buried electrical wires are chewed by groundhogs. Old tunnels can also be used by other species.
Beavers – Beavers are the largest North American rodent and can reach 70-80 pounds. Individuals around 100 pounds have been recorded. They live in family groups of four to eight individuals. Young beavers disperse at the age of two to start new family groups.
Beavers have continually growing incisors and can cut large trees . Fruit and ornamental trees can be stripped of bark or cut. Additional timber may be killed if flooding covers root systems.
Beavers are excellent dam builders and large areas near running water can be flooded. Culvert pipes can be plugged and the resulting flooding can damage the roadway that overlays the culvert pipe. Once established, it is nearly impossible to convince beavers to leave an area.
Beavers carry a variety of diseases a including nematodes, trematodes, and coccidians
One of these diseases, Giardia, is a concern for anyone utilizing outdoor water sources as drinking water. The Center for Disease Control recorded 41 outbreaks of Giardasis which affected 15,000 people.
Rats – Rats are very intelligent animals that can be challenging to trap. They memorize runways and obstacles and avoid new items in their environment. This means that they may avoid traps that are recently placed in a home. Rats are also very capable of climbing, squeezing through small holes, leaping, etc. Rats can squeeze through a hole as small as 2″. Rat proofing a structure needs to be very thorough.
Rats may be detected through foot tracks, gnawing, and droppings. When present sounds may be heard in walls and ceilings that include a variety of squeaks, scurrying, and fighting. If rats are spotted in daylight hours it may indicate high rat populations.
The Wildlife Company does not use poisons to control rats. Poisons can leave dying rats in walls or ceilings of buildings that rot and create terrible odors. Dead rats inside structures can be very hard to remove.
Rat spread the Black Plague which killed an estimated 25 million people in the 14th century. Sanitation in areas where rats occur is an important priority.
Raccoons – Raccoons are excellent climbers. In the wild, they make dens high in hollow cavities in trees. This means that reaching rooftops of homes and businesses is relatively easy for local raccoons. These animals may enter homes through soffits, vents, chimneys, etc.
Diets of “urban” Raccoons differs greatly from Raccoons living in rural areas and utilizing “wild foodstuffs”. Raccoons enjoy corn and will push the stalk over to feed. Raccoons readily eat pet food and food scraps. They can be found raiding pet food bowls, trash cans, dumpsters, or other areas where scrap food is available. This can create dangerous situations when Raccoons are surprised and feel cornered. Easily obtainable food supplies can help create unusually high raccoon populations in urban areas. Raccoons readily den in attics and may decide to raise their young there if there are sufficient food sources nearby.
Raccoons can carry rabies. So, trapped raccoons should not be relocated to other areas where they may spread the disease. This can potentially devastate Raccoon populations. Other diseases can be spread in Raccoon droppings. Care should be taken not to touch Raccoon droppings.
Skunk – Two species of skunk are native to our region. The Spotted Skunk and the Stryped Skunk. The Spotted Skunk is quicker and is more likely to climb trees. The Striped Skunk is much larger, about 8 pounds, and is the most common skunk. Skunks are primarily nocturnal.
Skunks eat equal amounts of plant and animal foods; but need more animal foods in the Spring and Fall. They eat grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, and invertebrates that they dig from the soil. Holes dug by skunks are conical in shape and less than 3-4 inches in size. They also feed on mice. Skunks will also feed on pet food and food scraps which can place them in close proximity to humans and create “odiferous complications”.
Skunks are often found under homes and outbuildings. They make dens here and are capable of burrowing here. This will create problems for homeowners who have pets that may try to attack the skunk . Skunk spray is not easily removed and the smell may linger for weeks.
Skunks sometimes turn up in traps that are set for other species such as Raccoons, Ferrell Cats, Opossums, etc. This can create problems for anyone who has to remove the skunk from the trap.
Skunks can carry rabies. Skunks showing abnormal behavior should be avoided.
Opossum – Opossums are the only marsupial species that is native to this region. The young ride in the mothers pouch until they are 7-8 weeks old. Opossums are nocturnal and are seen primarily at night.
They prefer to feed on animal matter, mostly insects and carrion. They also feed on vegetable matter and often raid trash cans, compost piles, and pet food dishes.
They den in brush piles, tree cavities, and the burrows of other animals. They often move into attics where their dens can be very messy.
When alarmed, Opossums have a variety of defense mechanisms. They hiss, growl, bite, and emit a greenish smelly fluid from their anus. When extremely alarmed, they also play dead.
House Sparrows – House Sparrows were originally introduced to the United States in Brooklyn, New York in 1850. Since then they have spread throughout the U.S. and are very common in human modified habitats. They are a common sight in parking lots and shopping centers.
House Sparrows are primarily grainivorous with 96% of their diet consisting of seed. Farms are often preferred habitat due to the abundance of seed. Damage often comes from droppings left in feeding and nesting areas. Feeds can become contaminated must be disposed of. Signs and sidewalks can be covered with droppings which creates janitorial problems. Since House Sparrows live in close proximity to humans, their waste can create potential health issues. A variety of diseases can be transmitted through their droppings. Salmonellosis, yersinosis, tuberculosis, erysipeloid, , transmissible gastroenteritis, parathypoid, Newcastle’s, vibriosis, coccidiosis, various encephalitis viruses, and chlamydiosis along with a variety of internal parasites can be transmitted. External parasites such as bed bugs can also be a problem.
House sparrows also compete with native species for nesting habitat and crowd them out of nesting boxes. This results in reduces populations of these species.
Exclusion and trapping are two methods recommended for control of this species.
Wildlife Species carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Fatal or debilitating diseases can be carried by almost any species. If you have made contact with a wildlife species, its feces, any bodily fluid, or think for any reason that you could have contracted a wildlife transmitted disease, please contact your doctor. Bites or contact with saliva from species that carry rabies should be reported to your local health department immediately. This includes, but is not limited to skunks, raccoons, foxes, opossums, bats, etc. Anyone who finds a bat that has been in a room with a sleeping person should also contact their local health department to have the bat tested. Wildlife Company personnel are not experts on wildlife diseases. All questions regarding these matters should be directed to your physician or your local health department.