Squirrel on the Roof

Squirrel (5)           My father, dressed in his suit, stood on the desk in his home office, barking at the ceiling in the hopes of scaring away a squirrel on the roof.  My father is a tall, stately man, well-traveled, speaks several languages, and easily converses with industry leaders and heads of state.  So, it was surreal to watch this calm, thoughtful, knowledgeable man lose his cool completely and bark at the ceiling.

The squirrel on the roof had become increasingly bold over the previous weeks.  In the beginning, my nature-loving family enjoyed watching the antics of this squirrel jumping onto the roof from the nearby trees, sweetly gnawing on the seed and nuts we left out for it, and grinning up at the ceiling when we’d hear the little pitter patter of its tiny feet.

In the end, that squirrel on the roof drove us all mad.  Around five in the morning, I could hear it running around above my bedroom.  My mother would find squirrel droppings and shell hulls scattered around the front porch, dropped from the roof.  And, my father, who did so much of his work from his office at home, was constantly interrupted by the sound of the squirrel chewing whatever it was chewing in the attic space right over the office.

We finally stopped feeding it, and tried chasing it away when we saw it in the trees or running around the yard.  My parents had me clean out the rain gutters while they searched for holes in the roof or attic.  We would think it was gone, and then it would come back within a day or two, finding some new way into the house.  Mom was afraid it was a female squirrel building a nest for squirrel babies.

We tried everything we could think of, but that squirrel kept coming back.  The squirrel would run around on the roof, the squirrel would chew things in the attic, and we could not get rid of that stupid squirrel!

Which is why, one day when my father was preparing for a very important meeting, he finally snapped when a tiny little squirrel foot broke right through the dry wall on the ceiling.  Little bits of ceiling rained down on his laptop.  And, my stoic father jumped up on his desk and barked at the ceiling.

Mom made a phone call for help.  Not for Dad’s mental state, but help to remove the squirrel from the roof and seal up the attic.  Dad has never barked at the ceiling again.

Mild Winter and Nuisance Animals

Skunk (2)            I recently had an enlightening conversation with the pest control technician who was sent out to my home to help me battle the explosion of insects that are attacking my neighborhood this summer.  He said their company is extremely busy this season, due to the fact that Utah experienced a relatively mild winter during the 2013 to 2014 season.  While skiers and snowboarders lamented, and all of us worried about future water levels, we admittedly enjoyed the fact that we experienced fairly beautiful weather.  But, that has meant an increase in critters like Miller moths, earwigs, carpenter ants, slugs, snails, crickets and grasshoppers.  Frustrated homeowners are keeping these pest control companies busy this year!

A relatively mild winter gave rise to an increase in the insect population.  And, now we are seeing an increase in the bird population.  Utah just approved its first crow hunt because the crow population has tripled over the last twelve years.  New rules now allow Utah homeowners to kill nuisance birds if other efforts of getting rid of them are unsuccessful.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports an 8% increase in the duck population in 2014.   My neighbors have remarked how surprised they are to see more robins and pigeons than we’ve ever seen in this area before.

So, let’s follow the logic.  More prey means more predators.  With a growing bird population, we’re likely to see a growing population of raccoons, snakes, skunks and other animals that feast on both insects and birds.  A growing population of nuisance animals means they will expand their territories.  With such a feast of prey, nuisance animals may not need to root around in garbage cans or steal food from domestic animals, but we are likely to see an increase in animal dens under homes, raccoons nesting in attics or chimneys, and skunk dens under porches or stairs.

The damage these animals can do to property ranges from offensive smells to house fires and everything in between.  Raccoons easily tear through roofing or siding materials.  The smell of skunk spray is notoriously hard to get rid of, and can cost homeowners thousands of dollars to replace items that have been sprayed.  Animals in and around your home, such as raccoons and skunks, are a noise nuisance, cause offensive odors, threaten domestic animals, cause costly property damage, and can harm you and yours.

Let’s follow the logic just a little bit further.  Mild winter equals bigger insect population, which feeds a larger nuisance animal (predator) population.  And, those nuisance animals are in turn preyed upon by a larger tick and mite population.  When raccoons nest in your home or skunks move onto your property, they bring with them the insects and diseases hiding in their fur, on their skin and in their feces, which in turn infest your home or property.

I know, this all seems a little doom and gloom.  It’s just nature.  But, there is help.  Allstate Animal Control is a national network of nuisance animal control technicians.  These people know what they’re doing, they know these animals and the particular places they like to hide.  They are experienced at humanely removing nuisance animals out of your home or other buildings, off your property, and can clean the area and repair the damages the animals caused.

Get proactive and protect your home and property against these nuisance animals before they cause property damage and health issues.

Raccoon Family in the Cabin

Raccoon (2)When we went cheap on our vacation, we did not plan on having to share a summer with a family of raccoons.

The economy might be improving, as reported on the news, but it has yet to get better for most of my friends and me.  So, summer months are filled with inexpensive “stay-cations.”  We avoid the theme parks, the costly water parks, and even long, gas-guzzling drives.  Instead, we do splash pads, camping at free sites, fishing at the local pond, and plenty of hikes in the mountains.  We skip the high priced tickets of the zoo and museums and opt for a day at a friend’s farm or science projects around the house.

So, when an elderly neighbor couple told us we could use their mountain cabin for several weeks, we were elated!  In return, we were going to do some repairs around the place and spruce it up for their trip up there later that summer.  It was a win-win deal for all of us.  We packed up the truck, threw in the kids’ toys and sleeping bags, and off we went!  The four of us chatted and sang and watched the beautiful mountain scenery go by as we drove deeper and deeper up the canyon and into a side canyon where the cabin sat.  This was better than a theme park, because we’d be able to enjoy it for weeks, spend lots of time with each other and fish and hike and swim to our heart’s content.  This was going to be the best family vacation ever.

Following the directions, we finally headed down the dirt and gravel road that led to the cabin.  It wasn’t a mountain resort, by any means, but it was going to be all ours for the next several weeks.  We stopped in front, the kids spilled out of the truck’s cab, and my husband couldn’t stop grinning.  I was ready already planning where we were going to set up the hammock as soon as lunch was ready.

My husband unlocked the front door and we all brought our heavy loads in, arms full of bags of food, coolers, camp chairs and other mountain living necessities.  The cabin had obviously not been occupied in a while, at least not by humans.  The bright windows illuminated the clouds of dust we stirred up, and the place smelled dank and foul.  “Ewwww!” my six year old said, plugging her nose.  I exchanged an uh-oh look with my husband.

My son, oblivious to the possible gross-ness of his surroundings, kicked open a bedroom door and stomped on in, plopping his load down on the nearest cot.  I carefully placed my load on the small table in the tiny kitchen and followed my son, a vague warning dying on my lips.  He was silent and still, staring at a large raccoon baring its teeth at him and standing in between my son and three raccoon babies.  I could tell by the look on my son’s face he thought this was the coolest moment of his nine years on earth.

The frozen moment passed and I blew into action, grabbing my son and backing quickly out of the room, slamming the door as I passed the threshold.  I then picked up my bewildered daughter and charged out the front door of the cabin back into the relative safety of the outdoors.  At least there, we were not confronted with raccoons who might feel cornered or bite or scratch us, necessitating a trip back down the mountain to the nearest hospital.

My husband figured it out quickly enough when he bravely opened up the bedroom door to see what had caused all the fuss.  We shared the cabin with a family of raccoons.  We had to re-think this whole mountain resort situation if we were to deal with raccoons in the cabin.

We discussed all the possible ways of dealing with the situation while our children threw rocks into the nearby creek.  It was imperative to get the family of raccoons out of the cabin before we could even begin to clean up the mess and start on repairs.  We certainly weren’t going to enjoy our mountain retreat until we got those raccoons out of the cabin.

Finally, we realized we should just handle the situation the same way we would handle it at home.  We wouldn’t try to remove the family of raccoons by ourselves like some bad 80’s cartoon.  I would drive back down the mountain to the nearest town with cell reception and contact our neighbors, the cabin’s owners.  I would suggest to them that they call Allstate Animal Control.  Allstate Animal Control could easily remove the family of raccoons out of the cabin, and I knew they’d also take care of some of the cleanup and repair.  Then, my family would finally be able to move into the cabin from the tent we staked, and we could get back to the business of fixing up the cabin and enjoying the heck out of our mountain vacation.  Lucky for us, our neighbors agreed and we were quickly back on track with one of the best family vacations we have ever enjoyed!

Skunk in the Window Well

skunk          Skunks are not good climbers, so when a skunk falls down into a window well, it can get stressed, dehydrated, panicked and then spray.  You may not even be aware you had a skunk in the window well, but when the smell hits you, you’ll figure out soon enough that you have a skunk problem.

A woman I know works at a hospital and often works the night shift.  She came home in the early hours one morning, stepped out of her car, and gagged on the smell of a fresh skunk spray.  Skunks have poor eyesight, which is ironic since they are nocturnal, and one had fallen down into a window well leading to the half-finished basement.  Unfortunately, her teenage son had been painting the walls of his soon-to-be-bedroom the evening before and had left the window slightly ajar.  It wasn’t wide enough to let in the animal, but the sharp, musky, oily scent of the spray got in.

My friend initially thought a skunk had gotten inside the house or was somehow in the basement, so they were afraid to go and investigate.  For hours, they tried to combat the stench, not realizing they had a skunk trapped in the window well.  Finally, the animal was discovered, and they figured out what must have happened.  But, what to do?  They wanted to help the skunk in the window well, but they didn’t want to risk getting hurt or sprayed.  Of course, they were concerned the skunk might have rabies, too, so there was no way they were going to approach it to try to help get it out of there.

My friend lowered a spare piece of wood they had lying around in the garage, hoping the animal would be able to climb out at an angle.  They had a bad moment when they were trying this, because the animal was skittish and panicky and turned around, lifting its tail as if to spray again.  Everyone ran for cover and the plan was abandoned.  After a while the skunk tried to walk up the lumber, but the angle was still too steep and it couldn’t make it out on its own.

Exhausted, after working all night and coming home to a stench and a mess and a wild animal in the window well, my friend finally gave up trying to handle the problem on her own.  She made a call to Allstate Animal Control, and they sent someone out to take a look at the problem and remove the skunk.  They even knew how to get the skunk smell out of the basement.  Of course, my friend got window well covers installed, and now so do I.  I don’t want to ever go through that kind of drama.