Get Rid of Woodpeckers

get rid of woodpecker    
        It is a beeeeautiful day to be alive – who on earth would want to get rid of woodpeckers?  It’s sunny but not too warm, there are gentle breezes to soar upon, and lots of wonderful bugs flying and crawling everywhere.  The bushes are full of gorgeous bright berries.  Yes, siree, it is a marvelous day.

            I stride to the end of the branch and cock my head.  I’m hungry, and there are so many choices before me.  I glide down to a nearby bush, grab a berry or two to swallow whole, and then get back to my tree to look for the best and most beautiful insects.  My eye spots a bee, zeroing in on a house, and I watch to see where it lands.  My wings spread and I swoop off my branch and onto the breeze, up, up.  My feet grip the side of the house and I grab the bee up in my beak.  Juicy!

            Hmmmm.  I move my feet around on the house and take a tentative peck.  Yes, yes, that gives very nicely.  I cock my head again and assess my find.  First, my pecks are making delightful holes into a wall that gives way, not easily, but well enough.  If I work at it, I might just get through to the other side and find a warm cozy place to nest.  Second, I hear the happy sound of bees.  Obviously, they’ve decided to make this house their home as well.  Oh Ho!  A place to make my own with its own food supply.  Does it get any better than this?

            Over the next few days, I breakfast on bright red berries in the morning and then snack on bees throughout the day as I make several holes in the walls, looking for a way through to the other side.  My droppings are making streaks of bright red and brown down the side of the house.  This is truly going to be my house.

            Unfortunately, there may be other obstacles to overcome.  Not everyone enjoys my percussion as I try to tap my way through to the warm attic.  Somewhere in the house, a dog is barking at me as I proceed.  Every now and then, someone charges out of the house yelling about how to get rid of woodpeckers, but I just fly away until they go back inside, and then I resume my work.  Once I set my mind to something, I just can not let it go!  Besides, with a feast of bees and this glorious wall to tap full of holes, why would I want to go anywhere else?

            Once a mouse climbed up and checked out one of my bigger holes.  I guess I’m not picky about my neighbors.  If a family of mice wants to use a hole to get into the attic, too, I guess that would be okay.  As long as they kept to themselves!  This is going to be a lovely neighborhood.

How to Get Rid of Chipmunks

how to get rid of chipmunks
“Hey, Rookie, how do you get rid of chipmunks?” 

            “What?  Is that a new thing? I don’t remember that being in our reading material.” 

            Allan was still in high school, but was taking some EMT classes and had signed up to do some ride-along shifts with his town’s fire department.  He’d thought he’d get to wear the fire gear, ride the trucks with the other guys, and see a lot of big-time emergencies.  So far, his shifts involved studying a lot, reading through manuals, helping lead school tour groups through the fire station, and being the butt of a lot of jokes.  He liked the guys at the station, but they had waaaay too much time on their hands sometimes. 

            The captain laughed.  “No, chipmunks aren’t covered in the manual, but what would you do about THIS?!”  He opened up a door to one of the sleeping quarters and a little furry body blurred out of the room.  Allan let out a surprised yell and jumped back.  Everyone laughed as Allan realized a chipmunk had somehow gotten into the firehouse and was running around.  The captain threw an empty box at him and told him to catch it.  Allan looked around and realized he wasn’t the only one with an empty box. 

            Some of the guys took a stalking approach, trying to sneak up on the chipmunk anytime it stopped someplace.  A couple of them gave up their pride and leaped and ran after it, laughing and bumping into each other and everything else in their way.  Allan decided on a different approach.  He grabbed a handful of nuts from the kitchen, lay them on the ground in a quiet corner, and waited for the chipmunk to come to him.  Once the other guys realized what he was doing, they stopped running around, quieted down, and waited to see if it would work.  Soon enough, the chipmunk smelled out the food and stopped to investigate just long enough for Allan to drop his empty box over the top of it. 

            He couldn’t hide his grin as he paraded the box outside and let the chipmunk go, to the applause of all the guys on duty at the station.  It was a great moment, even if it wasn’t saving someone from a burning building.  The captain let him have his moment and then ordered, “Okay, everyone, we gotta figure out how it got in the building.  Chipmunks can leave lots of little entry holes so they can get in and out, and other animals like to use those same holes.  I don’t want to step on a snake or mouse in the middle of the night!”

             Allan realized that emergency response teams had to know how to deal with all kinds of emergencies, even if it’s just how to get rid of chipmunks in the firehouse.

How to Get Rid of Gophers

how to get rid of gophers
The laptop is a beautiful invention, because it’s allowed me to work anywhere, and it’s also taught me how to get rid of gophers. 

            I occasionally have to travel across the country for meetings, or run into the office from time to time, but mostly I am able to work right from the comfort of my own home, thanks to the laptop.  I call my corner lot in the outer suburbs My Ranch.  Admittedly, it’s not a catchy name, but it describes my dream.  I’m hoping to retire in a few years and actually buy a ranch property, but until then, I’m enjoying my beautiful wrap-around porch that overlooks my large lot.  I spend a lot of hours and money maintaining my yard, keeping the grass pristine, investing in ornamental landscaping in the hopes that the place will sell quickly when I’m ready to retire.

            It had been a rough month of travelling, client meetings and family emergencies, and I’d been away from home more than I liked.  Finally, though, life was going back to normal for a little bit, and I looked forward to spending the morning working outside.

            I kissed my wife as she went off to work, made sure the kids had done their homework as they headed out to their high school classes, and I went out to work on the porch, laptop and coffee mug in hand.  Breathing in deeply, I looked out over my yard.  And, right in the middle of the lawn was this fan-shaped mound of dirt, ugly as sin.  I walked over to investigate.  Dirt was thrown around, mostly to one side of the hole, but the hole was plugged up with a matt of dirt and dead vegetation.  I kicked the dirt in disgust and looked around the yard.  Sure enough, there were more fan-shaped mounds of dirt scattered throughout the lawn, the fresh mounds smothering the healthy grass.  The thought of some creature munching on tender grass roots below made me sick.  I walked over to my landscaping area in front of the house and knelt down, a knot in my stomach as I surveyed further damage to my more expensive plants.  Some of the small, young trees were girdled, and some of the shrubs had been clipped just above ground.  What a mess.  Obviously a gopher had taken advantage of my lack of yardwork over the last few weeks, and had moved in.

            I decided to put off work for just a while until I got things under control.  Opening up my laptop, I typed in “how to get rid of gophers.”  I got all kinds of advice, ranging from the ridiculous to the dangerous.  Gotta love the web.  The more advice I got, the more I realized I didn’t want to try this myself.  Too much hassle and I was inexperienced.  I didn’t want to waste time with trial and error and hope that I’d be successful.  I decided to get a wildlife removal specialist out to my home.  They could worry about getting that damaging critter off of my property.  My time would be better spent getting my yard back in shape and enjoying the beautiful day while earning a living at the same time.

How to Get Rid of Mice

how to get rid of mice
            My unintentional solution to how to get rid of mice would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so gross. 

            I’m not the kind of person to go squealing away or jumping up in chairs when I see something like a mouse, spider or snake.  But, when I noticed mouse droppings in my pantry, and little chew marks in some cardboard boxes, there was a serious “yuck factor.”  I couldn’t bear the thought of some little wild critter, infested with all kinds of parasites, peeing or pooping all over my counters, pantry and food.  Mice can spread all kinds of diseases, like salmonellosis,  Lyme disease, rickettsialpox, and many others.

            I donned gloves and a mask and attacked the pantry, searching through everything for any traces of mouse activity.  Cans were okay, as long as I washed them before I opened them.  Any boxes or bags that had chew marks were thrown away.  After a lot of work and sorting, I had a couple of garbage bags full of food that was either contaminated or possibly contaminated, and it made me angry to have to throw out that much food.  I knew how I’d get rid of the mice.  I washed my hands and made a phone call to a professional wildlife removal company.  Let them chase down and get rid of every mouse.  I have enough work on my hands with all this cleaning.

            I put on a new pair of gloves and a mask and worked to sanitize the shelves and floor.  Hey, I needed to clean out the pantry anyway, I thought to myself, trying to find the silver lining.  The kitchen countertops were full of the food I figured was okay.  I’d even found an old bottle of honey with just a little bit of honey in the bottom.  I’d put it upside-down in a juice glass to let the honey out. 

            As I finished sanitizing the pantry, I figured I would sweeten some tea with the honey and wait for the wildlife removal expert to arrive.  I turned to reach for the honey and that’s when I saw it.  One of the mice was bold enough to come out in the kitchen while I was working, attracted by the food set out on the counter.  Its tail got stuck in the honey that had leaked out into the juice glass, and it couldn’t run away.  It was the craziest thing!  Of course, its little paws couldn’t get enough purchase on the granite countertop for it to pull itself free, so there it sat.  Its tail looped up into glass, its nose quivering with the scent of all that food, every now and then trying to run, but with no luck. 

            As I said, it would have been hilarious, but I had just spent a long time cleaning up after it and throwing my food out.  My sense of humor was a little frayed, but I did appreciate the irony.  So did the guy who came out to get rid of the mice from my house.

How to Get Rid of Snakes

how to get rid of snakes
“Shhh, shh, sweetheart.  Go back to sleep, honey.”

            “But, Daddy, there’s a snake in my room, I know it.”

            I hated that I couldn’t be sure she was wrong.  My daughter had been terrified for two days ever since my wife saw a snake in our bathroom.  It was gone by the time she’d gotten me, and we didn’t know where it was, or if it was even still in the house. 

            For a while, we’d suspected something like this.  I’d found a shed snake skin in one of the downstairs closets, and we’d been hearing noises in the walls for some time now.   The rustling noise in the wall behind my bed was often loud enough to wake me up, and now we were finding evidence of a snake.  My wife described what she’d seen to me, and we were pretty sure that it wasn’t one of the couple poisonous snake.  But, I wasn’t comfortable with “pretty sure,” and the thought of a snake, even a non-venomous one, biting my wife or my daughter had me pretty upset.  It was keeping my daughter awake at night now, too.

            “Shhh, pumpkin.  Don’t worry, I’m going to get rid of the snake.” 

            “I can’t sleep, Daddy, I’m too scared.”

            “I know, I know, but you don’t need to be scared.  Mommy and Daddy are home and we are protecting you.  The snake is more scared of us and doesn’t want to hurt us.  It’s probably just here to eat mice or rats.”

            I winced.  I could’ve kicked myself.  My daughter didn’t know the rustling sound in the walls was likely a family of mice or rats, or some other creature that first attracted the snake into the house.  I knew snakes couldn’t force their way into a home.  They used holes chewed by other animals, and then just followed their food.  I’d already checked around our foundation and in our basement.  We didn’t have a nest of snakes, so far as I could tell.  It was probably just the one, chasing down a meal.  But my daughter didn’t need to know that.  Fortunately, she hadn’t picked up on my last comment.  She was more focused on staying awake to make sure the snake didn’t get her, and I assumed she had snake nightmares when she did fall asleep, poor little girl. 

            I’d searched around the house and tried to find any openings.  I’d found a few very small holes, probably made by chipmunks or mice, but I was inexperienced at this kind of thing.  It was time to find out how to get rid of snakes, and whatever else had attracted it.  I wanted my daughter to be able to easily fall asleep at night, I didn’t want my wife to be unpleasantly surprised by a live snake on the bathroom floor again, and I wanted to be able to sleep the whole night through with no rustling noises in the walls.  Time to get a professional.  Enough was enough!

How to Get Rid of Armadillos

how to get rid of armadillos
            I consider myself pretty athletic, so I thought I’d have no problems getting rid of the armadillo from my backyard.  I’m on the track team at school and play on a regional basketball team, so I thought I’d have no problem running after the armadillo that’s been digging up our backyard, but I had no idea what I was up against!

            At first, my Mom and I thought the armadillo was pretty cute.  I know, it’s not like it’s a puppy dog or adorable bunny, but it’s still cute.  When we first saw it, it waddled and hopped around in our backyard, snuffling everywhere in the grass.  We took pictures and laughed as our cat chased it around and batted at its hard shell.  Every now and then, when it got scared by the cat, it would jump straight up into the air. 

            We’re not laughing now, though.  There are holes and burrows all over our backyard, it’s scratched up the lawn, the mulch we laid in landscaping areas has been thrown everywhere, and it’s even killed some of our garden plants.  We didn’t make the connection with the armadillo at first.  We thought maybe a dog was digging around in our yard, until we saw the den.  The floorboards in our back patio had started to sag, and when I investigated, I found a pretty big burrow.  When we finally put it all together, we realized we needed to find out how to get rid of armadillos quick, or we’d end up losing the patio, garden, yard, or worse.  What if water got into the den up against our foundation?  Not good, I’m sure!

            So, one evening, I heard the armadillo’s shell rubbing up against the house.  I put on my shoes and headed outside, determined to catch the thing.  I approached it and reached out, and was surprised when it hopped out of my reach and took off scooting/hopping across the yard.  Those suckers can move faster than I thought they could!  But, I was on the run team, so I was sure it wasn’t a problem.  Just as I caught up with it, it threw itself into a ninety degree angle and took off toward the neighbor’s house.  I skidded, slipped, caught my balance and ran off after it again. 

            Soon, it was within my reach again, and I reached out.  My right hand touched its armored back and my left hand just barely got its tail.  I thought the chase was over, but then it bucked and kicked, and I shrieked and let go.  It took off again, but I was done.  Sheepishly, I looked around, hoping no one saw my clownish grabbing, running and yelping.  Fortunatley, I didn’t see anyone, and resolved the best way to get rid of armadillos is to get a professional wildlife removal specialist.  Let THEM run all over like idiots.  Okay, they probably have the right equipment for it.  As long as I don’t ever have to chase one around again!

How to Get Rid of Beavers

how to get rid of beaver        
    I can’t believe my Mom asked me, of all people, how to get rid of beavers living on her cabin property.  I’m an animal rights activist!  Does she not get that?  I’m not the kind of activist that breaks into places and releases zoo animals out onto suburban streets or anything, but I attend rallies and work in the local no-kill shelter and want mankind to preserve the natural habitats of wild animals. 

            So you can understand why I was a little shocked when my Mom called me up and asked me if I knew how to remove the beavers off her property upstate.  She said she figured I knew all about wild animals, or at least knew people who knew about them, that I could help her out.  Fact is, I don’t know anything about how to get rid of beavers, but I helped petition a state park to stop their demonstration on how to skin a beaver once.  I guess my Mom thought I was an expert, then.

            I agreed to meet up with her on the property and take a look at it for myself.  As I drove up there, I thought about how great Mom’s been at taking care of everything herself since Dad passed away several years ago.  She has the house and the large lot upstate with the cabin.  I resolved to help her out more.

            I got there before she did, and let myself in.  The cabin held a lot of memories for me: family trips up in the mountains, cross-country skiing, Dad trying to teach me how to fish in the stream that ran through the property, Mom taking me on long hikes in the fall to watch the leaves change color.  I strolled outside, fondly remembering the time when Mom and Dad let me throw a big party up here in high school.  Somehow we all made it back in one piece!

            And then, something caught my eye.  Several trees that had been here forever lay dead on the ground.  The beavers had gotten to them.  I decided to walk a little further over to the stream and was amazed to see the little stream was now a big pond.  The new pond had eroded away a good portion of the cabin’s backyard.  If it got any bigger, it would flood the cabin, or worse, damage its foundation.  I wondered if it had backed up the septic pipe, or contaminated the water feeding our well. 

No wonder Mom was so upset.  If the cabin flooded or was seriously damaged, if the well water was undrinkable, it would cost her a lot of money, money I didn’t think she had.   Beavers could live anywhere they wanted up here in the mountains, why’d they have to choose my Mom’s property?  As I saw my Mom’s car driving up to the cabin, I whipped out my cell phone and called a friend.  “Hey, Rick, any idea how to get rid of beavers?” I asked him.

Rabbit Removal

rabbit removal  
          Here at Animal Caregivers and Lovers United, we try to get all sides of a story before taking any kind of action, which is why we have stepped in to interview both the homeowner and the rabbits before the homeowner proceeds with rabbit removal.  The following is a transcript of the interview:

Moderator:  Mr. Homeowner, can you explain exactly why you are so anxious for rabbit removal?

Homeowner:  See here, now it’s like this.  I work real hard each day, and then I come home and spend my nights and weekends trying to spruce up the place.  I like a pretty patio and a nice backyard.  Then, I come out one day and these darn rabbits have been eating up my plants!

Moderator:  Mr. Rabbit, do you have a reply?

Rabbit:  Mfff, hungry.  Juicy, green plants just sitting there.  Must eat.

Moderator:  You each seem to have reasonable points.  Mr. Homeowner, what is the extent of the destruction to your property, and what has been the cost to you?

Homeowner:  Hard to say exactly how much it’s cost me.  You gotta consider how much the ornamental plants cost.  Plus, they’ve ransacked my garden – eaten my vegetables up almost overnight.  We were using our garden for fresh food and then we were going to can some of it and keep it for the winter.  Now, we’ve got nuthin.  Plus, you gotta take in how much time I spent planting everything . . .

Rabbit:  Mmmm, spinach and carrots.  You did good job.  Still hungry . . .

Moderator:  Mr. Rabbit, do you have any way to compensate Mr. Homeowner for the damage you’ve done to his yard and garden?

Rabbit:  Compensate? 

Moderator:  Yes, pay him back.

Rabbit:  I’m a rabbit.

Moderator:  Uh, yes, I suppose it wasn’t a fair question . . .

Homeowner:  See here, I’m ready for some serious rabbit removal.  Rabbits live around 8 years, so if I don’t do something with you now, I’m in for a long time of losing MY plants.  Then, you’ll breed, and your babies’ll grow up and be around for a long time . . . I just can’t have it, see?

Moderator:  Mr. Rabbit, any reply?

Rabbit:  Must eat.  Must have babies.  Love to sleep in your yard junk pile or under the big bush.

Homeowner:  That’s it!  I’ll just get rid of the junk pile and the bush.  Then you’ll have to leave, right?  That’ll solve my rabbit removal problem??

Rabbit:  I am too cute to remove.  My babies cute too.  You want to keep me.

Homeowner:  That just ain’t good enough!  I want cute, I can git a puppy.  Any way I look at it, you’ve just gotta go!

Moderator:  I want to thank you both for your time and offering your opinions.  Let us …

Rabbit:  Lettuce???

Moderator:  Um, no, I meant “let us” all work towards a greater understanding.

Rabbit:  Lettuce???

Moderator:  I think we’re done here . . .

Get Rid of Pigeons

get rid of pigeons       
     I’m not sure a certain British-singing-and-umbrella-flying nanny would be very happy with me for wanting to get rid of pigeons from the apartment complex I manage.  But, those little suckers make such a huge mess all over the balconies and walkways.  It definitely takes more than a spoonful of sugar to calm me down after spending a day cleaning up after them.  They get under the eaves to roost, hang out on the roof, the branches overhanging the cars in the parking lot.  Some of the tenants actually throw some bird seed out for them, and then complain to me about the mess they’re making! 

            It wouldn’t be so bad, but that stuff is toxic.  If you just let it sit for a while, it changes from a sticky gooey mess to a concentrated salt that can eat through concrete and make steel rust faster.  I would be so much happier if I could just get rid of pigeons instead of cleaning up after them all the time!

            I go down to the park adjacent to our complex and get so irritated at people tossing bread crumbs to the birds.  They’re just bringing more birds to the neighborhood.  The park is right in front of a beautiful church with gorgeous artwork, and the birds sit on the heads of the statues mocking us and pooping.  The beautiful artwork is ruined with streaks of white and black.  Every few years, the city’s parks manager gets people in there to clean it all up, but wouldn’t it be easier to just get rid of the pigeons?  I’m just saying . . .

            I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I have a totally different version of that fictitious nanny’s song, and it doesn’t make pigeons as charming as she thought they should be.  I’m begging my tenants to please, please stop feeding the birds!

Early each day to the apartment complex

The overworked manager comes

In my own special way to the people I call

Don’t buy that bag full of crumbs

Don’t feed the little birds

Shoo them away

And you’ll be glad if you do

Their young ones are hungry

But they won’t stay

If you don’t give them the food

Feed the birds, and you’ll get a mess

A huge mess, a gross mess, a nasty big mess

Feed the birds, that makes me cry

While overhead, the birds fill the sky

All around the apartment the people are parking

While pigeons are perched overhead.

Although you can’t see it,

You know they are smiling

Dropping the poop that they shed

Though my words are simple and few

Listen, listen, I’m calling to you

Feed the birds, and you’ll get a mess

A huge mess, a gross mess, a nasty big mess.

Get Rid of Raccoons

get rid of raccoons
I’ve been working to come up with the best way to get rid of raccoons so my cat Nikita Kitty can eat her food in peace.  My second-grade teacher says that I’m “spunky” and “extremely creative”, even though I think sometimes she doesn’t mean that in a good way.  So, I’m sure I can come up with some great master plan to keep Nikita safe.

            The first thing I thought of was I’d build a big rocket, and then I’d put the bestest cat food in there.  That greedy raccoon wouldn’t be able to resist, and would come right over to steal the food.  Blast off!  I’d shoot the rocket ship right up into space, all the way to the moon!  That raccoon would be like, “Oh, no!  I don’t have my space helmet!” Then, it’d just steal one from another space ship, because they’re good at stealing stuff, and it would just live the rest of its life on the moon.  And every night, Nikita and I would just look up at the sky and laugh and laugh, thinking of that raccoon stealing food from the space animals that live on the moon.

            But, then I realized I didn’t know how to build a rocket ship, so I thought I’d dig a booby trap in the backyard instead.  That’d be a great way to get rid of raccoons.  I’d dig and dig a huge hole, all the way down to the center of the earth.  And then, I’d take pieces of the cat food and make a trail all the way from our porch to the hole and throw the rest of the food in, so the raccoon could smell it and want to go in the hole.  It’d go in the hole thinking it wasn’t that deep, that it could get back out again, but nope!  It’d just fall right on through to the center of the whole earth, and it wouldn’t be able to climb back out ever again.

            I had to throw that plan away, just because Mom doesn’t even like it when I dig holes to bury my broccoli, so I doubt she’d be okay with a hole that big.

            Guns and super missiles wouldn’t work either.  If I blew up the raccoon, I’d probably end up blowing up the house n’ stuff, and I KNOW Mom would be mad then.

            Do raccoons swim?  Because I could throw a big net down on top of it, and then throw it onto an island in the middle of the ocean.  Course, I’d have to get a helicopter to take me out there, just so I could make sure it landed on the island and didn’t drown.  But, I’m kind of afraid of being up too high, so I don’t think I’d be real happy way up high in a helicopter over the ocean.

            Sigh.  I think I’m going to have to turn this problem over to Mom and Dad.  I’m sure they’ll need me to consult with them, though, on how to get rid of raccoons.  I’m too little to do some of that stuff, but maybe Mom or Dad would be willing to fly on a helicopter, or maybe they could build a rocket ship.