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A Warm Welcome Home

You know those terrible things that happen and your friends tell you, “you’ll laugh about this someday”; and you’re always so mad that you don’t believe them but a couple years down the road you find yourself retelling the story and in fact, laughing.  Well here I am, four years after my raccoon problem and I’m finally laughing.  At the time, I was living my worst nightmare.  At parties when people brought it up, I’d go red in the face and freak out; but now, I’m the one telling the story, and since everyone else has gotten to hear it, I thought I’d share it with you today.

It was my junior year in college and some girlfriends and I were renting a house near campus.  To us, it was a much better living situation than a dorm or an apartment, especially because the house backed up to the woods which meant lots of parties and night games that we could host.  What we didn’t count on was the wildlife, it was everywhere!  Eventually, we deemed it the Snow White house because there was always some kind of critter in the backyard.  We also didn’t count on the raccoon problem that we would encounter that spring.

It all started with the New Year’s party we threw; it was off the hook!  Honestly, I look back and I’m surprised none of the neighbors called the cops – but then again it was New Years.  We had the hot tub open, bottles of apple cider and champagne, people were having snowball fights and playing capture the flag, my friend’s brother was playing music, everything was great.  Until someone broke out the ski’s, that’s when I should have realized we were in trouble.  He took to the roof with the ole’ red white and blue flying behind them, he flew into the crowd and took out maybe five people with his skis.  Of course it would have been all good fun, except then several other people climbed to the roof to jump into the snow banks.  Unbeknownst to me, someone’s foot went through the roof, and that was the start of the raccoon problem.

A few months later, its spring break and of course my roomies and I head to Mexico for the week.  What we didn’t know, was that a raccoon had used the hole in the roof to move into the attic and when Emma left the attic hatch open after grabbing her suitcase, that the raccoon would come down to explore.  The good thing was that everyone closed their bedroom doors before they left, that is everyone except me.  For seven days, this raccoon ravaged and searched and tore through anything it could find, including my room.  When we got home, I walked upstairs to find everything ripped apart.  Whatever was in my mini fridge was strewn around the room, my sheets were shredded and covered in raccoon poop, even my backpack was torn and its contents were littered around the house.  I was heartbroken and very, very angry, which is why it has taken me four years (and moving into a new house), to be able to laugh about it.

Overrun

I live in a ranch house in a residential neighborhood and have smelled skunk for some time – about a year off and on. However, it has been really bad this year. I leave my windows open because right now my central a/c needs repaired. The smell was so bad a couple of months ago that it woke me up and I had to leave my bedroom. I do have an old shed at the bottom of my yard and the skunk(s) might be under there. The hole was once occupied by a groundhog this past year, but it is gone. There are numerous ways an animal could take up residency underneath the shed. I also have a pile of tree branches and weeds near the shed as I have been trying to clean up my yard. I threw out some bird feed in the grass to attract some birds to entertain my indoor house cat. Last evening, my cat jumped off my lap and made a beeline to my screen door. When I looked out, I saw a skunk walk by. This evening, I closed the door to the screen. When I turned the back porch light on, there was a skunk – about 3 feet from the door eating the seed that I had thrown out a couple of days ago. I have no decks nor porches around my house – just a small cement stoop outside my back door. I have a mature asparagus bed, a two large maple trees (one in front and one in the back) of my yard. Also, bushes around the house and hydrangeas. And I am trying to start a “lasagna” garden with compost (this is near the front of my shed). I have not checked my lawn for holes. I do have a chipmunk and I know that he has burrowed some holes, but these holes are small. I am very concerned and I know that I cannot take care of this problem. My neighbor behind me has a small deck with a small pond, bamboo and oriental grasses, flowers etc… A row of evergreen bushes (around 20 feet high) separate our yards. The neighbors to my right have a wooden shed too. They also have a small pile of wood/junk in the middle of their yard. Their property is not kept very well. So a skunk would have a heyday in any of these back yards – ! including mine. I fear going in my backyard or even front yard once darkness falls. I was afraid to put out my garbage tonight. I just want to rid my yard of these pests, please help!

One Bump, Two Bump, Three Bump More

There’s some kind of animal in my chimney, I would assume a raccoon or a squirrel but I’m not at all sure.  This morning I woke up fairly early, around five o’clock.  I’m nine months pregnant so when the baby tells you to get out of bed and pee, you just get out of bed and don’t look at the clock.  Anyway, I went downstairs to make some tea and toast when all of a sudden I heard a loud thump in the chimney.  It startled me, but I thought it could have just been my mom brain making things up.  I listened carefully at the mouth of the fireplace for any other sounds, and for a minute there was nothing, until I head it stand up and shuffle around.  I quickly closed the damper but other than that I have no clue what to do!

My husband left two weeks ago for New York (he’s stationed there as a pilot), so I have no back up at home to deal with this.  I know when I was younger, my family had a bird fly into our chimney and my dad told me “Veronica, if there’s ever an animal in your fireplace you get it out as quick as you can so it has no chance to settle down.” Of course, it’s much easier to get a bird out of the chimney than a raccoon or squirrel; and that’s not even mentioning the watermelon on my stomach that would keep me from bending down to look up the fireplace (which I have no desire to do).

So no husband in town, no dad to call for help, I am stranded on this with no clue what to do.  I’m trying not to stress out about this too much because there’s no way I’m going to let this animal in the fireplace send me into labor early.  Now maybe it’s a myth or maybe it isn’t, but I won’t be having this baby until my husband gets home next week so I won’t be living with this animal.  I need someone to come out and take care of this, preferably long before I bring my new daughter home.  Help is much more appreciated than advice since I can’t do a lot of stretching, reaching, or moving really.  Please!

Gopher vs. Terrier

This is kind of unusual, but I have a gopher problem in my front and backyard.  Yes, that seems like a normal sentence, but the gopher isn’t my problem.  We’ve actually been living quite harmoniously with the little creature for a couple of years now with no serious issues.  As long as he stays out of my vegetable gardens, I let him dig around and have the time of his life.  I’m a very strong believer that unless an animal has proved itself a danger to you or your things, there’s no reason to harm it or even bother it for that matter. And that is where my problem comes in: I just adopted a Boston terrier.

Now I’m not looking to get rid of my sweet dog, I rescued him from an abusive home and worked very hard to get him back to health and into a mental state where he was ready to live in a home again.  Unfortunately, he thinks that the gopher problem is something that he needs to address and take care of.  Whenever I let him outside, he instantly sniffs out the gopher and tries to dig the little thing out of the ground.  I let him do his thing for the most part, dogs will be dogs I suppose, but when he comes back into the house with small scratches bleeding on his nose and face I have to intervene.

I don’t want to hurt the little gopher, but I don’t know how to get him to leave naturally to another place, and trapping him is way out of my league as a veterinarian.  Shots I can do, your cat needs surgery? I’m all over it.  I am good at helping animals, but I have no idea how to remove them.  So what I’m saying, is I need help to solve this gopher problem.  I don’t know if there are any companies that have a natural removal process for gophers, but I would be very interested in hearing about it.  Of course, if there isn’t I recognize that my dog’s safety is more important than the gophers.

Straight out of a Horror Movie

It happens every morning without fail, when you get out of bed to get ready for the day you can hear it and every scratch and scrape on the drywall can be felt in your own flesh.  Maybe I’m being overdramatic, or maybe the raccoons in my ceiling are actually tormenting us with their constant, looming presence.  I’m telling you, it’s terrifying.  Imagine you’re brushing your teeth, and all of a sudden you hear a loud thump above your head that slowly drags itself away, and then thumps across to another part of the house.  If I didn’t have tension in my shoulders before, the constant anxiety of wondering where the next sound will come from has made some pretty good knots in my neck.

What’s so crazy about this to me, is we’ve lived here for 8 years and there has never been any problems with wildlife, not even mice.  You would think, or at least I think, that if there was some way for animals to get into the house they would have done it by now.  Especially because the landlord does regular maintenance on the house for just that reason.  If a single shingle were to blow off the roof, he would have it fixed within hours so that there was no chance for leaks or something like raccoons in the ceiling.  I’m just very interested to find out how they got into the house, and I’m very anxious to get them right back out.

As you may (or may not) have guessed, I never watch scary movies so living in a house that likes to play haunted is NOT my cup of tea.  If I wanted another roommate, I would have them turn in applications, do interviews, and select the one I like best (and I am very particular).  Having this family of lunatic raccoons in the ceiling is not my idea of a proper roommate agreement and I can’t keep living every day wondering where they’ll show up next.  Honestly, sometimes it sounds like they’re about to fall right out of the ceiling.  I need help; we need help.  Please get these things out of my house before they scare me to death.

You Shall Not Pass

We have a psycho raccoon on our deck, and I mean absolutely bonkers.  I guess technically it’s not my house, it’s my 90 year old aunts; but I am there at least 3 days a week while her caretaker is at home.  The fact that the home belongs to my sweet, elderly aunt is the reason that I’m so concerned about this raccoon, how do I know it won’t hurt her while I or her caretaker isn’t watching?  This thing is territorial and protective, and I don’t even know what of! All I know, is that if my auntie opens the back door without checking the porch first, it could be a disaster.

So the story of this wild raccoon on the deck goes like this: about 2 weeks ago we started to notice a raccoon lingering around in the backyard.  We really didn’t think much of it at first, living in a slightly more rural area it’s not uncommon for us to see wildlife around when the sun starts to set.  What clued us in to the problem, was when it started to get closer and closer at night, until eventually it was practically at our feet with no fear.  After that it started to live under the deck and would spend the nights lounging outside the door like a cat.  We became alarmed, when we tried to go inside the house one night after a bonfire, and the raccoon hissed and growled and wouldn’t let us in the back door, and when we finally got back inside we couldn’t go out the back door again!

My concern is that my Aunt will open the back door to let some fresh air in when we have our backs turned and will let this crazy thing into the house.  Having a raccoon on the deck is bad enough, I don’t even want to get a taste of having a raccoon in the house.  I don’t know what we could do to make it leave? We walk across the deck, we’re loud, we have music playing – it just stays put!  I’m a little worried because what if it has babies under the deck and that’s why it’s so territorial? What do you do with raccoons, PLURAL? We need some help, and we need it before my aunt makes things worse.

Solar Problems

There are pigeons nesting on my solar panels, and I can’t stop them.  Imagine this: you have spent years working to build a greener lifestyle for yourself, you drive a Prius, you recycle, and you work and save for 3 years to buy yourself a $15,000 Solar Panel system that you’ve been dreaming of since you were 16 when you wrote a report on the development of cleaner energy.  Then, one day, after a trip home to your parent’s house, you come home to find 23 pigeons happily roosting, crapping, and tarnishing your beautiful and expensive solar panels.  Would you be distressed, angry, or sad? OR WOULD YOU BE ALL OF THE ABOVE BECAUSE I AM!

Two weeks ago, these stupid flying rats began to roost on my solar panels, defecating all over them and building their nests underneath them.  I couldn’t believe it!  I trying installing small bird spikes along the edges of the solar panels but that didn’t deter them one bit, and the reflective tape I put up there didn’t do jack-squat either.  I’m not sure that loud music or anything like that will do any permanent damage but that’s my next move.  I know that trapping would be the most obvious solution, but my problem is that I don’t know what to do with them once I’ve got them trapped.  I’m all about the environment, so I don’t think I would be able to shoot them, but I know releasing them would mean they just returned?

The best thing to do is call in a professional, and I know that whatever price there is to pay won’t for pigeon control wouldn’t even compare to the bill I would get if I had to do serious repairs to the solar panels.  The problem is that I’d prefer to solve this on my own and save all my money all together (which is implausible, I know).  But you know what they say, if wishes were horses beggars would ride.  I’ll eventually have to man up and call in the professionals, and probably sooner rather than later; personally I think the world would be better off without pigeons and their pointless pigeon problems.

Bat Season

‘Tis the season for bat problems.  Late spring and early summer are when we as wildlife control specialists see an influx of bat related calls, so we want to give you some important information to help keep your home safe from these intruders.  First of all, bat problems are not something to take lightly, bat guano can contain traces of the virus Histoplasmosis which is an airborne virus which means it mainly affects people through the air they breathe.  While it’s not an all-too-common thing to find in household bats, it is a serious illness that can cause major health problems.  With the risk of illness, it is important that when you are cleaning guano, you have protective gear like masks and gloves.

Sealing entrances can be tricky because bats can fit into a multitude of gaps in your home; as long as a space is larger than ¼ of an inch, bats can squeeze right in.  Common bat entrances include broken tiles/shingles, gaps in soffit, attic vents, gaps between the roof/walls and chimneys, gaps in overhangs, and places where pipe and wiring enter the home.  There are, of course, many other places where a bat could gain entrances, but it is unique to the home making them hard to identify for the untrained eye.  It is important that you don’t seal off your home with the bats inside, and we recommend hiring a professional to assist in the removal process to make sure all the animals have gone before and final sealing is done.

It’s also important to remember that, although they prefer higher places, it is just as common to find bats in basements, cellars, and other rooms in the lower parts of the house – which, again, just makes finding entrances more difficult.  While bats are good for the environment and kill many harmful insects like mosquitos, they can pose health hazards to you and your family’s health if they are in your home.  Above everything, your safety comes first, so if you feel uncomfortable with your bat problem, and you don’t want to take care of the problem yourself, don’t be afraid to call for help.  That’s what people like us are here for, to protect you and your home from wildlife.

Cue Medusa

We have a major snake infestation in our farm house.  We bought it just about a year back, and we haven’t gone more than two days without finding some semblance of a snake somewhere.  There are even a lot of times when we just find plain snakes; whether it’s when they crawl out from under the porch or slither up the stairs from the basement, we’ve found three dead in the attic and two dead behind the cupboards.  Everywhere we turn it seems like there’s a snake just waiting to jump out at us.

We bought the ten-acre lot as a summer cabin that we could go visit, but so far all we’ve been able to do with it is renovate and exterminate.  It was built on a faulty foundation which has resulted in some damage to the outer frame which is how I think the snakes have been getting in.  Roughly a month after we bought it, we transferred the home onto a new foundation. The move shook a couple of snakes loose and we found several more living, dead, and just skins floating around the house.  As we tore out walls and cupboards, we found several more snake skins and one 3-footer curled up into a corner.  I’m amazed at how many have taken up to nest and infest this house.

We left the house sitting over the winter without any appliances in it, and no heating, hoping to freeze the snakes out.  I’ve been over there a few times since it warmed up just to check things out and I haven’t seen anything new (or alive) in the house, and I wanted to know if it was possible that any snakes living inside of the building were frozen? Ideally, we’d like someone to come perform a quick inspection to tell us if we’re still infested by snakes, or if we can finish installing the appliances and finally make good use of our summer home.

Ra, Ra, Rat-sputin

Listen, my sister has a rat running through the walls of her house. It’s invincible; we, can’t, kill it. She actually thinks it’s a squirrel solely based on the fact that she has squirrels in her yard, but I’ve watched it run into the hole behind the refrigerator, I’ve seen the hairless tail whip around as ran for the water heater. I know what it is, but I can’t figure out how to kill it. This thing is attacking her from the walls of her home, and I’m as useless as an ice cube in a snow storm.
This thing has to be monstrous, because it’s causing severe damage. Last week we found one of my nephews onesies pulled behind the couch; anywhere that may have had spit-up, leftover food, or anything other than just fabric was eaten completely through, leaving it in tatters. The bottom inside of the pantry door is covered in claw and teeth marks, woodchips everywhere, and rat droppings hiding in every corner. If you stay through the night, you’ll hear it around 3 in the morning, chewing on anything he can get his grimy little claws on. Not only will you catch snippets of the rat running through the walls, but you can hear it under the floors and in the ceilings. It has a maze of tunnels mapped through every inch of the house, it has chewed holes through the walls to get inside, and it’s not stopping. Just yesterday I heard it behind the fridge, so I pulled it away from the wall and discovered it had chewed through much of the wiring. I can’t believe how much has happened in only 2 weeks of its being here.
I want to help my sister, I’ve tried everything. I’ve set traps and baits only to find the springs released with nothing inside, and boxes of poison emptied to no avail. Every day it comes back and taunts me, daring me to try to kill it another way, but I have nothing left (short of shooting holes in my sisters walls). I know she called me to help, but I think I’m out of my league here, we need some professional help. Before we know it, it will have chewed through the foundation and leave us to watch the house collapse before moving on to torment another family. This rat in the walls, or squirrel, or whatever it is needs to be gone.