There are in and outdoor issues associated with this topic and remedies vary by species. As we will not cover them all here, please refer to ww.wildlifehotline.org to find additional information by species.
A few things to keep in mind when you are attempting to remove animals from your environment – is the method you have chosen to use in the eviction process humane or harmful? Could there be babies present? Getting rid of Mama may actually cause more problems for you. And, the tunnels in your yard will continue to exist when the unwanted guest is removed, and another will appear to take advantage of the vacant real estate. For example, folks who have ousted chipmunks, often realize too late, that a new more undesirable resident (a skunk) was ready to inhabit the newly vacated space. The old adage – be careful of what you wish for – certainly applies here!
You should also know that burrowing residents such as chipmunks have many tunnels. In fact, chipmunks often create complex structures with in excess of 30 exits from their nesting chambers and food storage areas – and odds are – although you may be good, you are probably not that good – and if you leave one entrance uncovered, the new resident will explore and find the covered exits. In addition, chipmunks are not usually associated with ruining your foundation, as many are led to believe. Although they can help themselves to buds and plantings – they are often blamed for the behavior of squirrels with regard to vegetation.
What should you know?
Prevention is the best solution. We often scoff at the idea of chimney covers, screens for attic vents, garbage lids that twist to lock, garbage sheds with hinges and fasteners, and window well guards – all of which can deter our wild neighbors. And when your removal efforts regarding an uninvited guest are successful – you should close off access to your home, once you confirm that all the animals have vacated the premises – or the problem will return and you will have to repeat the eviction process!
What should you do when you are sharing space with an uninvited guest?
In spring and summer Mama looks for safe and desirable real estate to nest – so if you can wait until the young are old enough to embark on escapades with Mama – that is the ideal. Once out of the space (attic, chimney) the space can be closed off to potential new residents.
If you absolutely must take action immediately, you can often humanely indicate to the animal that the space is not secure and that the gig is up… successfully persuading a resident to pack up and relocate.
Below are several quick summaries of solutions to common questions about unwanted residents and how to entice them to relocate.
Raccoon in the attic: You are dealing with a nocturnal animal – so at dusk place tennis balls soaked in cider vinegar along with a blaring radio near the nesting site. The Mama can be encouraged to move her cubs during the night. Be patient because it may take her a few days to find a suitable new habitat.
Raccoon in the chimney: Again, know your species – this is a nocturnal animal so apply the deterrents just before dusk. Keep the damper closed and place a blaring radio – rock music or rap works best – and place a bowl of cider vinegar on a footstool near the damper. Again, patience should be rewarded within a few days.
Raccoon eating food left outside for your pets: If you leave food out, you will attract animals, including raccoons. Your best option is to place the food outside
in the morning or midday (raccoons, skunks and opossums are nocturnal) for an
hour or two, and remove any uneaten food. Your pets will adjust to the new schedule and you will eliminate the problem.
Raccoon trapped in the dumpster: Raccoons are attracted to food smells and getting trapped in the dumpster occurs because the raccoon jumps in and is unable to climb out –often due to slippery sides. Simply place large tree branches or planks inside the dumpster so the raccoon can climb out of the dumpster. Be sure to keep everyone (including pets away). In the future, be sure to keep the dumpster lid closed.
Raccoon eating the fish in the Japanese pond: Raccoons will definitely take notice of this delicacy. To alleviate the problem, maintain a higher water level (3 feet or more) and stack bricks, cinderblocks or ceramic pipes in the bottom so the fish can escape.
Squirrel in the attic: February – May and August – October are prime nesting times for squirrels. If a squirrel inhabits your attic for several days during this time, she most likely has babies. If you cannot wait until the babies are old enough to leave on their own, the procedure outlined for raccoons in the attic can be applied here too. To be sure that your house guests have left the premises, stuffing paper towels in the hole presumed to be the entrance is recommended – if the stuffing remains in place for 48 hours, there is no traffic and it should be safe to seal the hole.
Squirrel in the chimney: It is very possible the squirrel is trapped. If the squirrel is on or above the damper, lowering a ¾ inch or thicker rope (during daylight because they are diurnal animals) down the chimney (from the roof) will allow the animal to climb out. If the squirrel is in the fireplace and you can make a noise to get him above the damper, you can proceed with the procedure outlined already. If the squirrel remains trapped in the fireplace, you can bait a trap with peanut butter and slowly place it in the fireplace. The squirrel will most often retreat to a back corner in the fireplace, but just in case, darken the room –
covering windows and closing doors that lead to other rooms in the home. For
the more adventurous, you can leave one window uncovered as an additional
escape route. Open this window (as long as it is not high up or above concrete) providing an additional way out. If the squirrel does escape into the room – it probably wants to get out as much as you want it to leave! The window offers an easy escape. If trapped, you can release the squirrel outside on the premises and then it’s imperative to get a chimney cover installed.
Skunk in the garage: Skunks have very poor eyesight and they can wander into your garage if the door is left open. Simply open the door at dusk and
sprinkle and eight-inch band of flour along the doorway. When you see the exiting footprints, and are sure the skunk is gone, close the garage door!
Skunk in the window well: Skunks do not see well and they are very poor climbers, so a skunk in your window well, is unable to climb out. If the window well is shallow (under 2 feet deep), place a piece of wood, angled less than 45 degrees to serve as a plank. For traction you can tack a towel or chicken wire to the board. If the well is deeper than 2 feet, place smelly cat food or cheese in the far corner of an animal carrier (a plastic rectangular garbage can on its side would work too). Slowly lower the container into the window well. The skunk will be attracted by the smell of the food and wander into the container. Slowly (operative word here), lift the container out of the well – be sure to keep all body parts outside the container and away from the opening to avoid getting bitten. Place the container on the ground and the skunk will amble out. If you act slowly
and speak softly, the skunk will not spray. If you do hear the skunk stomping its feet – back off! That is the skunks warning and if you remain nearby, it will spray!
Skunk in the pool: Once again, poor eyesight usually lands this mammal in your pool. To assist the skunk, simply place a pool skimmer or broom underneath him. Often the skunk will be exhausted from swimming. He may not leave the area for
a couple of hours. If he remains longer than that, contact a wildlife rehabilitator in your area.
Duckling stuck in the pool: Most often, if a duckling is caught in the pool it is because the water level is too low and they are unable to get out. The solution is to raise the water level, fish them out with a net (small holes so the duckling is not strangled or tangled in the net), or create a ramp using a plank and a wet towel for traction at less than a 45 degree angle so the duckling can climb out.
Chipmunk burrowing around foundations, sidewalks, retaining walls: Use an L-shaped footer to prevent the burrowing. Clear away wood and rock piles and trim hedges and plantings that provide shelter for this species. A plant free gravel border would also help to alleviate the problem.
Squirrel and Chipmunk digging around flower bulbs: Protect planted bulbs underneath a wire mesh screen – with 1 inch by 1 inch spacing to allow the bulbs to sprout through the screen, but prevent burrowing in the area.
Woodchuck in the garden: You can easily exclude woodchucks from your garden by putting up a four foot high chicken wire or mesh fence. The fencing should be lax not taught because this will cause the fence to wobble should the woodchuck attempt to climb it. Also, you will need to extend a full 4 inches under the ground with 8-12 inches bent outward (“L” shaped) away from the garden to prevent digging.
There is much more information found at www.wildlifehotline.org, for other uninvited guests – deer, moles, birds, beavers, bats, etc.
If you have a problem that you are unable to handle on your own, and you decide to contact a trapper, please be aware that many trappers use inhumane methods to remove our wildlife neighbors and they will misrepresent this fact to unsuspecting clients. Be sure to inquire about the trapper’s methods, prior to hiring him/her to avoid unnecessary cruelty to animals.
If you have questions, and would like to find a rehabber in your area, visit The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website for a listing of CT state rehabbers.
Special thanks to the Connecticut Wildlife Rehabilitators Association for the information taken from www.wildlifehotline.org for this article. And special thanks to John Hadidian and his book Wild Neighbors – The Humane Approach To Living With Wildlife.