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Chim-chiminey

There are raccoons in my chimney – or, at least according to my chimney sweep there are.  I know it seems a little out of date – and very Marry Poppins – to have a chimney sweep, but it’s been very useful for me to have someone maintaining my chimney flus for me.  And not to mention that he’s the reason that I’ve discovered the raccoons in the first place.  It’s a yearly cleaning service, so I know for a fact they weren’t here last year!

We’ve been hearing soft scratching sounds on the side of our house for maybe a month or so, but since we have trees surrounding our house that’s what we credited for the noises.  When the chimney sweep came, he first noticed that there was some kind of animal scat littered across the roof, in quite alarming amounts.  That’s what first clued him in on the raccoons in the chimney, it was too much poop to be a one time thing so he shone a light down the flu before he got started.  I guess, two big shining eyes met him, and he went inside to the fireplace to see if he could get a peek through the damper at what was living inside.  When he cracked it open, he was greeted by soft mews from distressed babies, and the hisses and growls from the mother raccoon.

I’ve been on a work trip while all of this was happening, but he’s been doing our service for years now and I trust him greatly.  Not to mention that I’ve heard sounds on the side of the house and the roof as well before I left.  I’m sure that if I went home and checked everything he said would check out.  That being said, I need to get some help.  Not only do I need the raccoons out of my chimney, but I still need to finish having my chimney cleaned.  Anything would help!

What the Hole?

I discovered rock chucks under my house this morning, so a big happy birthday to me! It has been quite the day, I woke up to a delicious pancake breakfast from my sweet daughters with strawberries and orange juice!  My boss told me I could come in to work later, and my husband had dinner reservations for that evening; it really seemed like my 35th birthday was going to be my best birthday yet.  Except that when I went to get into my car for work, I went out the side door and as I stepped off the concrete pad, my foot went into a hole my very fresh, very hot coffee went all over me.

One trip to the ER later, I’m home with a sprained ankle, first-degree burns on my hand and wrist, and no idea where the hole outside my door came from.  But, since my kids are at school and my husband left for work I’ve had plenty of time to look it up.  I found an article that talked about woodchucks and skunks, but since I’ve never smelled any kind of skunk spray I focused on the woodchucks, which are small gopher-like creatures.  They definitely don’t seem like they could make a hole the size of the one I fell into so I kept digging, and there it was: yellow-bellied marmots, also known as rock chucks, and it looks like one (or possible more) of these rock chucks is under my house.

I’m a lot of things, but a wildlife removal specialist is not one of them, and contrary to what my husband might tell you, he’s not that great of a shot so it seems like I’m going to have to hire someone to come trap this thing.  Having it dig around down there is definitely not a good thing, I read that if their tunnels get extensive enough, they could cause foundational damage or undermine driveways and sidewalks!  How crazy is that!  If falling into a hole was what it had to take to get this rock chuck out from under my house is what it took to stop it before major damage, then I guess it’s not that awful.  Besides, I got the day off, and it’s still my birthday.

Hole-y Mother of Problems

I have a SEVERE woodpecker problem.  I don’t know what it is about my red, cedar house but woodpeckers love it.  About 6 years ago is when my problem hit its peak, I had about 40 holes that had to be filled and repaired and I was able to get a special permit to kill the woodpecker that was doing all the damage because nothing else worked.  Since then, I’ve seen woodpeckers in the trees around town and occasionally on a neighbor or friend’s home, but I have been woodpecker free; until now.

Three weeks ago, I left on a vacation for Hawaii with my daughter and her family.  When I got back, I was mortified at what I found.  My (practically) long-forgotten woodpecker problem had started up again.  I could visibly see 4 new holes just on the front face of my house, and one of them obviously held a nest.  Can you imagine the feeling of seeing thousands of dollars you’d invested into your home, the investment crumbling in front of your eyes as the problem resurfaced? I hope you feel just a percentage of my horror and understand why I am in such a rush to get this taken care of.

I cannot, no, I WILL not let this happen again.  I have already hung up reflectors and streamers as close to the holes as I can get alone, and have a Wildlife Technician that specializes in woodpecker problems coming out later this week to start on more deterrents.  If I have to, I’ll get the Department of Wildlife on the phone and get another permit.  I can’t stand by and watch my beautiful home be destroyed again.  Oh, the image of the last woodpecker ruining my house haunts my dreams!  Whatever it takes, I’m going to get this woodpecker problem resolved, and fast.

Big Black Bird

I need some serious help with a bat problem, and I need it fast.  Early this morning my son woke up screaming bloody murder.  I ran into his room terrified that something was happening to him, when I got into his bedroom I found him sobbing under his covers, cowering away from his closet.  I wasn’t sure what was happening so I asked him what was wrong and he told me a big black bird was flying through his room trying to hurt him.  I honestly had no idea how to react to that, there was no bird in sight and absolutely no sign that there had ever been a bird.  I told him it was just a bad dream but I turned off the lights scooted into bed next to him to help him fall back asleep.

We laid there together for maybe an hour in the dark, the only light came from his small night light next to his bed, when all of a sudden I heard something banging into his window and my son started screaming again.  I opened my eyes and saw what did look like a big, black bird flying wildly around the room. Only it wasn’t a bird, it was definitely a bat.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t scream before I scooped my little boy into my arms and ran him out of the room, shutting the bat inside.  I really couldn’t believe it, we have never had a bat problem in this house before, and now I’m asking myself ‘what if there are more?’  I’m even more concerned about the fact that when I sent my husband into the room to get the bat out later in the morning, he couldn’t find it.

I won’t lie, I’m panicking a little bit about this.  There’s a vent in my sons closet that it could have gone up, I’m not sure if it leads to the attic but it’s definitely a possibility.  And what if this isn’t just one bat? What if it just got separated from a whole bunch of other bats that are living somewhere else in my house!! I know that realistically, it’s probably just one, but it’s one that is missing INSIDE MY HOUSE! I just need help with this as soon as possible, I don’t need a bat problem on my plate right now.

One Sick Puppy

We have voles in our backyard and it’s pretty clear that we’re not going to be able to solve this problem on our own.  This isn’t the first year we’ve had problems with them, either.  Two years ago is when we first discovered them, we searched the internet for at home solutions but it never really got serious enough that we worried about them; it was just a few holes and trails here and there, nothing we couldn’t live with.  We pretty much just ignored them and figured they’d die off once winter hit and we wouldn’t have problems the next spring at all.  Yeah, apparently that’s not how that works.

Last April as the snow melted, we found 10 times as many vole trails cutting through our grass! I was shocked, I couldn’t believe the vole problem could’ve gotten that out of hand, especially when it had been as cold as it was.  That was when we really started looking for a solution to the madness, we wanted to stop the voles in our yard before our yard was destroyed so we took to the internet and tried just about everything we could on our own. You name it, we probably tried it, flooding the tunnels? Yep.  Not watering anything at all and trying to dry them out? That one too.  Electrosonic Yard Spikes? You can bet on it.  Since we had dogs running around, we were doing our best to avoid poisons or sprays that could hurt them, but eventually we tried those too.

All summer we tried whatever we could get our hands on to get rid of the voles in our yard, until eventually my husband came home with a bucket of Lord knows what with the slogan of “Whatever it is, we can kill it”. Why did I think it was a good idea? Probably mad vole disease, but I let him lay it out.  We did our best to keep an eye on the areas we treated and make sure the dogs didn’t go near them, but one afternoon our youngest pup got into a big patch of poisoned grass and (being a dog) she couldn’t resist trying some.  She was so sick for weeks, I was terrified she was going to die, but luckily she pulled through.  All I know is this year, I’m not letting my husband put any kind of poison ANYWHERE in my lawn.  I want a professional, someone that knows what they’re doing and how to do it right.

Going Batty

I have been living with bats in my house for 5 years now, and I am DONE! I guess technically I live in an apartment, or a studio? Whatever you want to call it, it’s part of a beautiful old Victorian home and the landlord rents 6 rooms out; all of us have experienced wild bat problems at least once since we’ve all been here, and one of the renters just moved in two months ago.  We have all approached the landlord about it since he is an exterminator, but he says that it’s illegal to kill bats and basically told us to deal with it – and I have, for a very long time.

I have no problem with bats at all, I understand their importance in the food chain and I appreciate them for eating mosquitos.  Actually now that I think about it, I haven’t had a mosquito bite since I’ve been living here, I only get them on vacations. BUT, ignoring that, I am at my wits end with these things sharing my apartment.  The only time there should be bats in a house is if it’s abandoned or belongs to Van Helsing; bats belong outside, period.  You might be wondering why, after 5 years of this, I am just now getting truly angry about the bat problem; well, I’ll tell you.

Early this morning, in the wee hours of dawn, I was sleeping peacefully dreaming about gumdrops and candy canes when all of a sudden, I’m awoken from my slumber by a BAT LANDING ON MY FACE!! I am not kidding! I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but I do know that I am beyond my limits of what I can take – and I also know that my landlord got an earful at 4 am this morning because of it!  I have done all that I can, but I can’t live with bats in the house any longer.  Either they go, or I do.

Major Reaction

There are raccoons in the cellar of our home, and they are going to kill me.  I know I sound dramatic, but I’m not!  I have never had pets so I’ve never experienced any animal related allergies until now and they are more awful than I ever could have pictured.  It’s a mother and I’m pretty sure she has babies down there, if I can get close enough to listen at the vent I can usually here soft animal sounds coming from inside.  I think she tore the vent cover off and that’s how she got in there because I have looked around for any other entrances to the cellar and they’re all only from the inside of the house; it was completely sealed off from the outside except for that one vent.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with the raccoons in the cellar, I never go down there; truthfully if I wasn’t having major allergies because of them, I’d just let them stay until they were grown and gone before I reinstalled the vent.  The problem is that our air conditioning system is down there along with our water heater and electrical boxes and such.  Basically, these raccoons aren’t just in the cellar, they’re being blown all through my house by way of the vents.  I can’t go anywhere without my eyes puffing up and my nose running uncontrollably!  Not to mention the hives on my skin, it looks like I’ve been stung by hundreds of bees!

I tried scaring them out myself just by making loud noises from upstairs and I turned off the air system so it’s not blowing through the house, but now I’m either sweating or freezing along with slowly dying from these allergies!  I need help getting these raccoons out of the cellar and I need it fast. I’ve practically drained my pharmacy of Benadryl and Claritin D but I just lay awake at night, miserable!  They have got to go, and they have to leave YESTERDAY!  I don’t know how much longer my body can take of this before either I move out or I suffocate! PLEASE HELP!

Suggestions for Rodent and Snake Control

History of Control: While controlling snakes on properties, we also often remove many field mice, and a much greater number of deer mice which are known to carry the Haunta Virus.  These deer mice not only pose a possible threat to people that come into contact with them or their urine and feces (this can happen while sweeping, mowing the lawn, and leaf-blowing), but they, along with the field mice, are also drawing snakes to the property.

 

Snake Prevention – Levels of Control

  • Insects are drawn from the dry, mountainous terrain to lush, moist landscape
  • Spiders are drawn to those insects that are drawn to lush, moist landscape
  • Voles are drawn to lush, green landscapes – drawn out of, or moving from, dry desert environments to feed on insects, spiders, and moist plant roots
  • Field and Deer Mice are drawn to moist landscape to feed on bugs, insects, spiders, moths, etc.
  • Rats are drawn to moist landscapes to feed on bugs, insects, spiders, etc.
  • Snakes are drawn to moist landscapes to feed off of insects, voles, and mice; they are also drawn to shaded areas provided by plants, concrete cavities, and cracks in rock walls
  • Habitat can be controlled by increasing the heights of bushes and trees and decreasing the length of grass and shrubbery
  • Perimeter Control: a barrier can be created around the perimeter of the property and can help to prevent snakes and rodents from entering the property; however, setting traps around the barrier perimeter would also be a more organized, first-level form of control
  • Home Control: includes installing traps and kill-boxes around the home; however, perimeter control would be a more successful and effective form of control.

 

Explanation: As we control insect, rodent, rat, mice, and vole populations and habitats, it will help to prevent snakes from being drawn to the property to feed

 

Rattlesnake Territory

Running into a rattlesnake can be a frightening and dangerous situation.  It’s important that you remember that we are living in rattlesnake territory and with the climbing temperatures, rattlesnakes are found more often in shaded areas.  Rattlesnakes are beneficial to the environment and help to control rodent populations; they also will do their best to avoid any confrontation with larger predators, such as humans.

If you come into contact with a rattlesnake on your property, leave it alone and do NOT try to remove the animal yourself.

Here are a few tips for if you ever encounter a rattlesnake:

  • Always be alert when walking/hiking in snake territory (shrubbery, tall grass, etc.) and keep any pets you have restrained. Avoid using headphones or other distracting materials that could prevent you from hearing a rattlesnake’s warning rattle.
  • If you are unsure of the snake that you have stumbled upon, be cautious; it too could be dangerous.
  • Back away from the snake slowly. Increase the space between you and the animal.
  • Do not attempt to throw things at it, pick it up, or agitate the snake.
  • If you encounter a snake, alert others of its location. Keep people, children, and pets away from that area.
  • If you, a child, or a pet is bitten by the snake, try to remain calm and call 911 immediately. DO NOT try to suck out the poison.
  • Keeping snakes out of your yard:
  • Limit the number of places that could act as a shelter for snakes (brush, rocks, wood piles, junk piles, tall unmanaged grass, etc. Are all examples of common snake habitats).
  • Control rodent populations by reducing the number of bird feeders and other food sources that attract rodents and therefore, snakes.
  • Avoid scaring away harmless snakes such as blow snakes, gopher snakes, garter snakes, etc. The presence of these non-poisonous snakes can help control rodent populations and also deter the presence of rattlesnakes.

A Bear-y Big Problem

Living in the mountains, there are always wild animals running around our yard, and as long as they stayed in their place and we stayed in ours we had no problem with it.  The problem came when we found raccoons in the walls of our house.  We were watching TV in our upstairs bedroom when all of a sudden we heard a soft thud in the wall between where we were and the room adjacent.  I muted the TV and we sat listening to see if anything else would happen; and sure enough about a minute later we started to hear scratching and climbing.  We waited to see if it would be able to get itself out of the wall or if we’d have to cut it free; luckily within 10 minutes it was up and out of the wall.

Considering this happened late at night I waited until the next day to look around outside and see where it might have been able to gain access to the wall.  I walked around the perimeter and looked up into the eaves and along the soffit to see if I could find any significant gaps or evidence of the raccoon from the wall.  As I came around the back of my house I found a fairly large hole tucked up into a tight corner I wouldn’t be able to get to, but I was sure a raccoon could so I called up a professional wildlife removal company in hopes that they’d be able to seal of the entrance and keep raccoons and other unwanted animals out of my walls.  They picked up and we set an appointment for an inspection the next afternoon.

Now keep in mind, this is early spring we’re talking about; a lot of hibernating creatures are waking up and lingering around looking for food.  When the technician came to the house the next day I walked them through the house and showed them where we heard the raccoon in the wall, then I took him to my bedroom to see where the gap was I found outside my bedroom window.  Since you couldn’t see it very well from the window, he wanted to crawl out onto the roof and get a better look. He sat in the window sill, slid his feet out, stood up, and then froze.  I leaned out to ask if he needed any help, and I froze too.  Standing just below us, out of sight from inside the window, was a black bear, staring right back up at us.  Neither of us wanted to spook it even though we were reasonably out of its reach on the second floor of my home, but we stood still.  After about five minutes of anxious silence, the bear ran back up the hill into the woods.  We finished the inspection, but I think my problem could be much bigger than just a raccoon in the wall.