When it's cold outside, you retreat to the warm comfiness of your home. Unfortunately, so do any critters that reside near your house. Besides filling your home's nooks and crannies with poop, animals can also create potential safety hazards. Let's stop them before they take over the guest bedroom.
Rats, raccoons, opossums. Sure, in cartoons these adorable woodland creatures would be happy to serve you a spot of tea or help you defeat an evil wizard. In real life? These vermin can reek havoc on your home. Rats, especially—those little bastards can chew through your wiring, insulation, and walls, which can lead to expensive repairs and, even worse, fire.
Fortunately, the good folks at Santa Barbara Pest Control shared some tips on how to make sure animals don't become uninvited winter guests. So let's head them off at the pass, shall we?
Ounce of Prevention
To keep these monsters our of your home, the best offense is a good defense. Or something like that. I don't know much about sports, but I do know that I don't want a raccoon living under my bedroom scratching the night away.
First off, make sure your home is in good repair. Damage to the roof, sub-area access, or gaps where pipes and wires enter the home are potential targets for animals to enter your home. If your home has recently been wired for cable, this is a good place to start. Some cable installers could care less if they leave a gaping hole in your home. Double-check their work. If you're unsure about your ability to find holes an animal can use to get into your house, have your local pest control company inspect your home.
It's pretty simple: if they can't get in, they won't. If it's easier for them to get into your neighbor's attic (sorry, Ethel!) than yours, they'll go there. And the best way to put on a No Vacancy sign is to make your home a fortress.
If you do find gaps and holes, a good one-two punch is using Stuf-Fit copper mesh wool and an adhesive spray foam. When you encounter a hole, crack, tiny mouse door, cut off an appropriate sized piece of Stuf-Fit and, well, stuff it in the hole. Once you have the mesh in there, spray the adhesive foam in there to give it a good seal. The copper mesh is difficult for rodents to chew through and can be crammed into the tiniest cracks and holes and secured with the foam. Remember, anywhere a rat can fit its head, it can fit its entire body.
You could also just walk around your home with a screw driver, a hammer, and some nails. You'd be amazed how often grates and vents work themselves loose during earthquakes or as the house settles. Loose boards and roof tiles can also be quickly remedied with a few quick swings of a hammer. Just be sure to use the correct nails. If you're unsure, ask the folks at the hardware store.
Once you've gotten your home in order, check out your property. A clean and orderly yard doesn't appeal to rodents and their woodland friends as much as a disheveled mess with overgrown grass and items an animal can hide in. Clean it up.
Inspect wood piles for any sign of animal habitation. For fire safety, wood piles should be at least 30 feet from your home. That extra 30 feet is also a deterrent to animals. The best advice is to actually use the wood in the pile. If the pile is constantly being depleted and restocked, it's less likely that an animal will use it as a jumping off point for your home. If you're not using the wood, get rid of it.
If you suspect that animals are targeting your home for invasion the last thing you should do is put out poison. First off, the animal will probably end up dying a slow death, which is cruel. Secondly, it'll probably decide to make the walls of your home its final resting place. Congratulations, your home now smells like dead opossum. If you already have an infestation, you'll also want to refrain from trying to take the animals on yourself. Raccoons and opossum are particularly vicious. Call your local pest control and leave it to the professionals.
And there you go! No unwanted boarders this holiday season. And who knows? Most of these steps probably work equally well on creepy cousin Ronnie.