Pigeon Problems

Ugh, it’s hard enough building our first house without having to deal with pigeon problems!  We thought we were doing great, especially for a first home.  We’d saved and saved until we could purchase the property we wanted, we bought the house plans we loved, took out a construction loan and hired a general contractor.  The idea was the general contractor would take care of construction until we could take over.  We’d hang the dry-wall, take care of the finish plumbing and electrical, we’d do the finish carpentry, floors and painting.  We wanted to do a lot of the work ourselves – it would save us money and we’d enjoy the home so much more knowing our blood, sweat and tears went into it.  Of course, we had no idea how much blood, sweat and tears we’d end up shedding, but through it all, we believed it would be worth it.

We still worked at our full-time jobs, so we worked on the house every evening and every minute of every weekend and holiday.  One evening we showed up and noticed bird droppings on the living room sub-floor.  I cleaned it up, and we got to work on the drywall.  But it happened again the next night and the next night, and I found droppings all over the house.

I was sure we had pigeon problems.

Finally, early Saturday morning, we arrived and went looking for the pigeons before working on the drywall again.  Sure enough, we found pigeons building nests in the air-conditioning vent and also the attic.  My husband had done some research and discovered that pigeons can harbor over 40 types of parasites and transmit up to 60 types of infectious diseases through their droppings.  We had a much more serious pigeon problem than we’d first suspected.

I was so frustrated, because we had such limited time to work on the house, and now we’d have to spend time suiting up for biohazard cleanup, just to have pigeons build more nests in our new home!  It was disgusting, and I was sure that if we didn’t handle the pigeon problem right, they would come back, even after the home was built, and crap all over our hard work and dreams.

So, this is where the tears came in.  We’d already put in the blood and sweat, thanks to an improperly held nail gun and countless hours of work.  Building our first home was already stressful, and now we had to deal with pigeons moving in before we even got a chance to sleep there one night.  It was more than I could bear and my husband, too manly to cry, was on the edge, too.

Fortunately, our general contractor just happened to stop by right then to see how we were progressing.  We showed him the disgusting mess, and he said he saw this kind of thing all the time.  He gave us the number of a professional wildlife removal service that specializes in removing birds out of buildings, cleaning and sanitizing the area and would help us keep them out of the home.  We made the call and went back to work, feeling like it was going to be all right after all.

Gopher Problems

Gopher sitting in a yard next to a gopher tunnel.
A gopher ruining your perfect yard.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

We gophers just LOVE when you people try to take care of your gopher problems sometimes.  Gives us such a kick to watch you out there, standing over a hole and debating different ways to get rid of gophers.

Okay, so you wake up one morning to see we’ve had a huge party in your yard.  You had no idea that something so small could cost you so much money or cause such a big problem.  We may be little but we’re fast!  We’ll dig tunnels, burrows and put fan-shaped mounds of dirt all over your property.  Maybe your dog’s paw gets stuck in a hole and trips the big snuffler, or maybe it’s a horse hoof that lands in the hole.  Maybe you try to ignore us and break out the lawn mower.  Our little mounds of dirt can sure destroy those blades!

And, it’s not just our dirt piles that get ya.  How about gobbling up grass roots, uprooting other plants, tasting tree roots, feasting on flower roots and bulbs?!  What makes me laugh is that you wonder why we’ve moved in.  There’s too much food to pass up!!

So then you’re standing there, shaking your head, mad as heck that we’ve taken advantage of your generosity of greenery.  And the best solution you can dream up is to pour water down our tunnels?  Since none of us is named Noah, you think there’s no way we can survive your flood.  News flash – most of our burrows are higher than the tunnels, so we can still stay out of the way of the water.  Even if you get one or two of us, the rest of us can escape into our burrows or out another hole until it’s safe again.  Where does all that water end up?  Your basement, maybe?  Or the neighbor’s yard?  And, here’s the best part . . . you’ve made the dirt more soft and pliable.  Thank you!  It’s even easier to dig more tunnels, burrows and holes.  Hooray!

Some of you think gasoline is a better solution to your gopher problem than water.  Same question – where does all the gasoline end up?  Under your crops?  In a window well?  Your friendly neighbor’s yard?  Ooooh, you light it?  And do even more damage to your yard, huh?  Makes sense, sorta.  How about those who drive their truck onto the front lawn, stick a pipe onto the exhaust and the other end into a hole?  Here’s a thought – we have other holes that allow us to get out or gets more fresh air into the tunnel.  Kind of dangerous for you, not a big deal for us.

And gum.  Ah, gum.  We can’t resist a stick of peppermint, is that it?  We chew it, swallow it and die as it “gums” up our intestinal system?  Hate to break it to ya, but it’s never been proven to work, and you certainly can’t get all of us.

So, yeah, we just don’t take you seriously until we see a real professional walking around, someone who knows how to really get rid of a gopher problem.  Until then, it’s gopher giggles galore!

Woodpecker Problems

Who says woodpeckers are problems?  As a squirrel, I like to think of myself as an opportunist, and following the birds sure makes my life easier.  Look, I’m as happy as any other creature, living in the wild.  I’ve got my trees, my fruits and nuts, plenty of twigs and nesting materials.  I’ve got it good, right?  But, when I follow the birds, life gets even better!

Human nests are the absolute best.  They put out food for the birds and I get to feast to my heart’s content, after figuring out how to get at it, of course.  Oh, and the eggs!  Humans are so funny, cooing over any bird nest they find, feeding the mommy bird with seed and hoping to catch a glimpse of a baby bird hatching.  I just don’t understand the fascination with watching baby birds at the edge of the nest, mouths gaping open begging for mommy’s attention.  Eggs are for eating, not watching.

Every now and then, though, I get to follow a woodpecker.  Those birds will sometimes find a human nest that makes the most wonderful sounds when it pounds on the side.  With its beak, it will chip and tap away until it makes these holes everywhere.  Often it’s just looking for food or a mate, so the holes aren’t that big.  Well, they’re big enough for the humans to get mad.  I suspect the humans get mad at other things the woodpeckers do.  They stain the human nest with their droppings and I don’t think humans like the tapping sound.  So, the humans grumpily walk around the outside of their nest, yelling and upset at the woodpeckers, but the woodpecker usually comes back unless the humans do something drastic.  They think they have a woodpecker problem, but I think the woodpecker is doing me a favor.

Every now and then the woodpecker will make a hole just large enough for me to get inside.  If it’s not large enough to begin with, sometimes I’ll just rip and tear at it to make it slightly larger.  And then, oh, paradise awaits me3!  Those woodpecker holes let me gain access to a huge, warm den filled with nesting materials.  There is plenty of wood and plastic for me to gnaw on to keep my teeth down, sometimes there are boxes with human things inside and I like to explore.  And, it is a safe place to have my babies.  They just curl up in the warmth and quiet.  I can run in and out of the woodpecker holes to forage for food and come back and take care of them.  When they grow up, they’ll possibly end up using the same space for their own nests.

So, no, I don’t think woodpeckers are a problem.  I think they provide all kinds of wonderful opportunities for me!

Skunk Problems

Skunk getting ready to spray.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

She backed into the far corner, shuddering and quivering with fear, eyes wide but never blinking, she and her fellow hens terrified by this problem skunk.  The black and white furry creature started digging around her hen house several nights ago.  When the digging had stopped last night, she thought the nightmare was over.  She knew it was still in the area.  It was impossible to think otherwise after the spraying incident.  The dog had gotten too protective of his territory, barking and going crazy, and she guessed he’d gotten too close.  The smell had been overpowering, and the dog had whimpered all the rest of the night.  But, she and the other hens had kept quiet through it all.  They were just happy the digging had stopped for a while.

During the day, they had inspected the ground around their roost and knew the skunk was getting closer and closer to finding a way inside.  The claw marks were obvious, and its scat lay all around the yard.  They avoided approaching the house, because they knew the space under the wooden steps was a perfect place for a skunk den.  Each day, there was more garbage strewn around, and the man who took care of them seemed distressed over his vegetable garden.  At first, some of the hens had pecked around in the garden, feasting on the grubs and worms that were now closer to the surface, but they were soon chased off and now gathered closer to the hen house, eating the seed that was scattered for them.

And then tonight, the scratching and scraping had started up again, and she had correctly feared tonight would be the night the farmer’s skunk problemwould become their skunk problem.  Their protector, the dog, was locked up inside the house.  It seemed the farmer worried that he would be sprayed again, or worse, bitten.  The farmer didn’t want a chance of rabies or anything else infecting his dog.  So, the hens were locked up tight and then left to fend for themselves.

Sure enough, a loose plank was made looser until a black snout poked through.  The snout retreated and a paw came in, patting about and clawing further.  The hens were shrieking and clucking, but many wouldn’t leave their nests.  She huddled into the far corner with the others, hoping for a miracle, but expecting the worst.  Soon, the skunk worked its whole body into the hen house, and surveyed the space.  She hoped they had just made enough noise to wake the farmer in time.

The skunk walked over to the nests, and several of the more protective hens shrieked and flew off their nests in a flurry of feathers.  It snuffled and chuffed and then, just as it started toward an egg, the door burst open.  Hens, grateful for this unexpected exit, pushed and clucked their way out while the startled skunk ran back and forth, unsure which direction would carry it to safety.  Feeling trapped, it turned and lifted its tail.  All the chickens had fled and the farmer slammed the door shut just in time to barely contain the spray.  It was going to be a long night, but at least the hens were safe.  All she knew was the skunk as alone now in the henhouse, alone with all the eggs.

Bat Problems

“. . . And that, girls, is the problem with bats.”  Mark wrapped up his scary story with the deepest voice he could muster and looked around the room at his daughter and her friends.  No one looked impressed.  One of the ten-year-olds even rolled her eyes, and his daughter looked mortified.  So much for throwing the perfect Halloween sleep over.

His wife, Lindsey, swooped into the room with her impeccable timing.  “Who wants pizza?!”  The girls squealed and ran out of the room.  She smiled at him, hugtged him, and sweetly said, “I told you they would’ve liked a ghost story better than a monster story.”

“Thanks for the moral support,” he said wryly.

“Well, let’s go feed these little monsters.  You can make it up to them by serving up your famous root beer floats.”

“So, I’m good for something, at least.  Scooping ice cream and pouring soda.  Whoopee.”

His wife laughed and they walked downstairs, hand in hand, towards the giggling group.  Soon, the girls were talking and laughing around mouthfuls of pizza and gulps of root beer floats.  His daughter had almost forgiven him the mortal sin of embarrassing her and boring her friends.  Everyone trooped into the media room to start a movie, and they were just beginning to settle down as it started when someone let out an ear-jarring high pitched screech.  “BAAAAAAT!!!”

Screams and squeals and running greeted him as he charged into the room.  Sure enough, amidst the flying ponytails and spilled soda, a bat was flying around the room.  It obviously desperately wanted to leave this gaggle of girls and fly free into the night.  But, the enclosed media room and frantic activity had it scared.

Lindsey shepherded the girls out of the room and up the stairs, calmed them down and began checking for bites or scratches.  Mark was left in the suddenly quiet room and faced the bat, which had now perched on a chair.  “Now what?” he muttered.  He closed the door to the room, shutting the bat up inside, and went to the garage to fish out his work gloves, an empty box and a thin piece of plywood from the garage.  Returning to the media room, he took a breath and closed the door behind him.  He was surprised the bat had not moved, but it was probably having a minor heart attack of its own.  Quickly, he set the box over it, slid the plywood underneath and, rather awkwardly, marched outside to let it free.

“How’d it get in there?” he asked himself, as he headed back into the media room to investigate.  It wasn’t too long before he realized what had probably happened.  When he’d put the media rom together, he’d cut a hole into the ceiling, just wide enough to work the numerous wires up through the attic and down into the room.  Were there more bats up there?  He was going to have to make a phone call to get someone out here to check it out.

He walked out of the room to make the call and was greeted by his daughter and her little girlfriends.  They applauded.  They hugged him.  They cheered.  He grinned and said, “And that, girls, is the problem with bats.”

Raccoon Problems

Raccoons in an attic
Raccoons in an attic.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

Dear Mr. Atwell,

I am very sorry to inform you that I will need to break my lease due to the severe raccoon problem I have been dealing with for the last few weeks.  I know this puts you in a difficult position, since you are out of the country, and it will make it hard for you to find another tenant.  I just can’t deal with this anymore.

We have been hearing bumps, chittering and squeaks coming from the ceiling and our neighbor told me he saw a couple of raccoons on our roof the other night.  The noise is bad enough.  It wakes up the whole family, and my dog just goes crazy, barking at the ceiling and whining.  I’m afraid to put the dog outside at night, because I’ve heard raccoons can attack pets or give them diseases.

But, it’s not just the noise we’re dealing with.  I’ve repaired the rain gutters and fascia a few times now, but they just keep finding other ways inside.  Would you be willing to repay me for the cost of materials and my time for the repairs I’ve made?

I strongly suggest you have a property management company to make further repairs and inspect the attic once we’ve moved out.  They’ve made a hole all the way through the ceiling in the master bedroom.  Last night, I woke up to see a snout and then a paw come through the hole almost right above my head.  I am sure the insulation is soiled.

I’m not allowing the kids or our dog to play in the backyard, because I found a whole bunch of raccoon droppings by the back fence and also under the back stairs.  I understand that my children or our dog could actually get raccoon roundworm if they touch something that had raccoon droppings on it, and I just don’t want to take the risk.

Mr. Rodriguez, I really don’t want to break our lease, but I have to think of our health and our safety first.  I am sure you understand.

Yours sincerely,

John Mackey

Dear Mr. Mackey,

Thank you for informing me of the raccoon problem.  Please allow me time to find a good nuisance wildlife removal company to take care of the issue before breaking your lease.  I will find a company that will remove the raccoons, repair the damage and sanitize the attic.  Please believe me when I say I want this problem taken care of quickly.  You have been an excellent tenant and I am sure you do not want to move.  I assure you this will be taken care of in the next couple of days.

Arturo Rodriguez


By the time I opened your email, the wildlife control company had already called me to set up an appointment for raccoon removal and to assess the damage.  I’m really impressed!  They’re coming this afternoon and I’ll let you know what happens.  Hopefully it’s all taken care of soon, because we really do want to stay.  Thanks!


How To Get Rid Of Rabbits

Rabbit by a tree.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

I’d just enjoyed a weekend camping trip up in the mountains, thoughts of how to get rid of rabbits far from my mind.  Some people hate camping in the snow, but I love the quiet.  I love feeling like I can just get away from it all for a little while and escape from my everyday worries.  Worries like the rabbits.

I love wildlife, at home and in the woods.  At home, we have a bird feeder and my wife and the kids like to keep track of all the different species of birds come by our house.  Of course, the bird seed attracts all kinds of squirrels and chipmunks and we just watch them play outside our window.  Since it’s not as cold in our neighborhood as it is up in the mountains, there’s still a lot of wildlife activity we can enjoy from the warmth and comfort of our home.  I’ve even gotten a couple of great pictures of animals playing just in our backyard.

Last year, my youngest daughter saw a rabbit in our backyard and got really excited.  We got online and figured out it was a cottontail, which is pretty common around here.  The kids named it “CAB” for “cute as a button.”  What can I say?  The kids have their own logic, right?  My wife noticed there were actually a few rabbits that had taken a liking to our yard, and the kids tried to name each one of them.

But, the rabbits stopped being cute as time went on.  I had some young fruit trees I’d planted, and I found gnaw marks on the lower branches and around the trunk.  One of the fruit trees died.  Shrubs, tulip bulbs and my wife’s herb garden were all chewed up and eaten away.  Rabbit droppings were all over the yard, to the point where we couldn’t let the kids just go out and play whenever they wanted.  I wanted to clean it up before they went out there, to prevent them getting sick from touching or playing around the rabbit droppings.  Then, the digging.  Shallow nests were dug up against the back shed and scattered around the yard.  I found a lot of droppings under the stairs leading up to the deck, and wondered where the rabbits were nesting under there.  I stopped enjoying my yard, because all I saw were pests and the damage they were causing.  It was getting to be a real problem, so I needed to figure out how to get rid of rabbits, and fast.  I took the weekend off to camp, and decided to work on the problem when I got home.

I’d unloaded the camping gear from the truck and was inside enjoying dinner with the family when I heard a bump, scrape coming from outside.  Sighing, I knew it had to be the rabbits.  Back to reality, I thought, and decided to call a professional to come out to get rid of the rabbits for me.

How To Get Rid Of Honeybees

“Mommy, why is my wall humming?”  Now, that’s a question you just don’t know how to answer.  Was my child’s head going to spin around next, or was something going to come bursting out of his bedroom closet?  I told myself I’d watched one too many horror movies and approached the wall, putting my ear up against it.  Sure enough, there was a noise in there.  I pulled my son’s bed away from the wall and gasped when I saw dead bees littering the floor.  “How do you get rid of honeybees?” I thought to myself and turned to my son.

“Well, sweetheart, I guess some bees got inside the wall.  Why don’t you go over to Alex’s house to play while I clean this up?”

I hoped I sounded more reassuring than I felt.  My son walked down the street talking about which computer games they were going to play while I called Alex’s mom.

“Ann, would you mind watching Braxton for a little bit?  I think there’s a honeybee hive in his bedroom wall and I’ve got to figure out how to get rid of the bees, and make sure it’s safe for him to sleep in his room tonight.”

“Sure thing, Alex loves playing with Braxton!  But, how on earth did you get bees in your wall?”

“I have no idea!  I didn’t even know we had any around here.  I mean, I’ve seen them around the bushes and backyard, but a hive?  In my house?  That’s just awful.”

“Well, Alex just got here, so he’s okay.  Take as long as you need.  Are you going to do it yourself or . . . “

“Me?  No.  I mean, I don’t even know where to begin.”

“Well, let me give you the number of a company that’s done work for us before.  They’ll look at it for you and see what needs to be done.”

I wrote down the phone number for the company, thanked Ann and hung up the phone.  Out of curiosity, I went outside and walked around the back to look for myself.  There were large shrubs and flowers planted just outside his wall, and I’d assumed the bees I’d previously noticed back there were taking advantage of springtime flowers, not building a hive.  But now, I realized there were definitely more bees back here than anywhere else in the yard.  Carefully, I bent forward to investigate further, hoping I wouldn’t disturb any bees.  Sure enough, as I carefully pulled a branch out of the way, I saw several bees coming in and out of a small crack in the siding.  Something flew against my face and I backed off quickly and retreated into the house.

I made a quick phone call to the number Ann had given me, and then went to get the vacuum cleaner to clean up the bee carcasses left in my son’s room.  I knew it was better to get a professional out here, someone who knew how to get rid of honeybees safely, rather than try to deal with it myself.  Thoughts of bees flying around my son’s head while he was sleeping at night made me shudder.  It really was kind of like a horror movie.

How To Get Rid Of Opossums

“Honey, I’ve got to go.  Cameron’s teacher’s ready for me . . . yes, yes, I called this afternoon to find out how to get rid of opossums and they’re sending someone out first thing in the morning. . .  I honestly don’t know, hon, I haven’t heard any more banging around in the attic, but opossum are usually active only at night, so we won’t know for sure until tonight . . . I hope so, too, because I can’t stand the mess, I can’t stand waking up all night listening to something scrabbling around above our heads , I just can’t! . . . You’re right, I’m calm.  I’ll let you know how the parent/teacher conference goes.  Love you . . .”

“Come on in, Mrs. Seely, thank you for coming to meet with me tonight.”

“Thanks, Miss Jackson.  Cameron talks about you all the time.  He just loves having you as his kindergarten teacher.”

“Oh, I’m happy to hear it!  He’s a really good kid to have in my class.”

“That’s a relief.”

“Cameron is doing very well in the class.  His word recognition skills have really improved.  I think his favorite subject is art.  In fact, this is something he painted today.  I’d like to ask you about it with you, though.  I can’t seem to understand what he painted.”

“Oh?  May I see?  Oh, yes.  Um, well, what did he say it is?”

“Well, he said it was raining in his bathroom.”


“Uh huh.  But then he said it was raining bugs.”

“Oh crap.”

“Excuse me?”

“Sorry.  It’s just . . . we think we have an opossum, maybe more, that got into our attic.  Maybe they’re dead, I don’t know.  I called a wildlife removal company this afternoon and they’re sending someone out in the morning.”

“Oh, I see.  I’m so sorry to hear that.  And the fleas?”

“I don’t know for sure, because I just can’t seem to get up the courage to get into the attic to see for myself, but, oh, it’s just awful.  Fleas, fleas are raining down in our bathroom through the recessed light.  It’s the grossest thing I’ve ever had to deal with!”

“Oh, ew!  That’s just awful!  I’m glad you’re getting someone out to take care of it, for your sake.  I have to say I am happy to know that Cameron’s creativity doesn’t extend to horror.”

“Yes, it is like something out of a horror film.  Poor kid, I hate that it’s worried him so much that it’s coming out in his art, though.  Hopefully we’ll get it all squared away and cleaned up tomorrow morning so he can go back to being the happy budding artist he normally is.”

“Oh, I’m sure he’ll be just fine.  He loved telling the other boys about it.”

“I don’t doubt it!  I’m sure he’ll love telling them all about how we got rid of the opossums in the next couple of days.  So, how are his math skills?”

Feral Cats on Farms

Ah, you humans think you have to go about removing feral cats or saving feral cats.  You assume that we’re miserable, rooting through the garbage behind a hotel, fighting in your backyard, living our life in the great outdoors.  You assume we want to be like you, or worse, your domestic cat.  You think we’d be better off in a warm bed, being hand-fed kitchen scraps or cat food, living a long and boring life.

You have got it all wrong!  We feral cats are wild animals!  We enjoy the hunt, the chase, the free lifestyle.  Sure, if you want to feed us or put a warm bed outside, we’ll take it, but you’re gravely mistaken if you think that means we’re just going to cuddle up to you, purring and grateful you’re “rescuing a feral cat.”  You’re nice and all, but most of us just want to be left alone, free to fend for ourselves and life our life, even if it is a little shorter than your domesticated cats’ lives.

All right, fine, so you don’t want us breeding in your yard, infecting your pets or livestock, fighting all hours of the night, making a latrine out of your garden or throwing your garbage all over the street.  I can accept that, but you’ve got to accept I’m not just some stray, looking for a handout and some love.  I am a feral cat, a wild cat.  I am born to eat rodents, birds, and whatever I can scavenge. I am happy sleeping under a wood pile or finding my way into your shed or garage.

I don’t understand how some people want to force us into an alien environment, taking us in as pets and then expecting us to live up to your happy cat expectations.  Others of you want to get rid of us altogether.  Well, since there are more feral cats in the United States than there are domesticated cats, you’ve got your chore cut out for you if you think you can get rid of us permanently.

So, I think we’ve got to come up with a compromise.  Some of you humans, farmers and ranchers, especially, have lots of property and lots of rodents.  Guess what?  We’re perfectly equipped to handle your problem.  Just relocate us from the city or neighborhood to a nice farm or ranch.  We’ll fend for ourselves, sleep where we want, and keep the rodent population down for you.

And, if we get rid of your rodents, other nasty predators like coyotes, snakes or bobcats go looking for their food elsewhere.  I’m not so naïve as to think we feral cats won’t become part of the food chain ourselves, fighting with other predators for the same food source, but most of us will prevail.  Those who do will help you with your problem and you help us with our problem.  Win-win, right?