Skunk Dens and Winterizing Your Home

skunk          Skunks beef up in the fall, binge eating whatever they can find to build up fat reserves for winter.  That means you’re more likely to deal with skunks in the garbage can, skunks digging up the lawn for grubs, skunks stealing pet food or food meant for other domesticated animals, and skunks in the garden.  Skunks are omnivores, so they’re happy eating your winter vegetables out of the garden or insects or mammals.  If you have a problem with mice, voles or bees, skunks are more likely to be attracted to your property.  They also eat carrion, so if you have dead animals in the walls or under the house or in an outbuilding, that may also attract skunks.

These animals don’t stay in the same den throughout the year.  So, if you haven’t had a skunk problem this spring or summer, you might still encounter one this fall or winter.  They prefer their winter burrows to be in sites that are easily defended and that are warm against ice, snow and wind.  It’s common to find skunk dens under porches, in crawl spaces, garages, even under sidewalks or driveways.  They prepare their winter den by building up leaves or grasses to help keep the cold out, and they may even hunker down with another skunk for extra warmth, adding to your skunk problem.

And, skunks aren’t the only animals using the fall to prepare for winter.  Squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, mice, rats and roosting birds are gearing up for the cold winter.  Homes, office buildings, warehouses, outbuildings, horse stables and other properties provide food sources, water sources and possible winter nesting sites for these animals.

Allstate Animal Control is your resource for protecting your property against the health and safety risks wild animals pose.  Having an experienced wildlife management technician inspect your home or property can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in damages to structures.  They are expert at seeking out and sealing up entrance points, removing any wildlife problem you may currently have, and protecting your property against animals re-entering.  This will save you from such health risks or inconveniences such as bad smells, dead animals in the walls or attic, property destruction, water damage, mite infestation, viruses or bacteria in animal droppings, and threats to pets.  Exclusion materials can be installed to keep skunks or other animals out of window wells or crawlspaces.  Licensed and experienced professionals can also sanitize and deodorize areas that have already been saturated with animal droppings or a decomposing animal.

Winterizing your home or property should include taking care of any animal problems before it becomes a serious and possibly dangerous issue.  Allstate Animal Control can take care of that for you.

Bats at Work


I had to send our office staff home, because we have bats at work.  I run a human resource company, handling human resource needs for small companies in the area that don’t have the staff or experience to handle it themselves. As you can imagine, my staff is extremely busy and I need them at their desks, but I won’t make them work in an environment where bats are hanging out on the ceiling or dive bombing employees.

Several of my staff had noticed the creatures flying around the roof line and entrance way a couple of weeks ago.  Admittedly, I didn’t think much of it.  I just assumed the bats were migrating and searching out insects for food.  Obviously, the problem was much greater than I thought.  I should have contacted Allstate Animal Control as soon as we saw a few bats, just so they could inspect the building and see if they were getting inside and roosting.  Now, they’re definitely inside the roof, the eaves and even inside the office space.

One of my best sales people was on a call this morning when she noticed a bat on the ceiling in her office.  She held it together and finished her phone call, but then ran out of her office and slammed the door behind her.  Thank heavens it didn’t fly around her head, and everyone knew enough to leave it alone and not try to pick it up or anything.  Yes, I have insurance for my staff, but I’d hate to have to send anyone to the hospital because of an unsafe work environment.

I just don’t want to risk having one of our employees being bitten or scratched by a bat, and you can just imagine the kind of chaos several bats cause.  No one can really focus on their work, and some of our employees are genuinely afraid of them.  So, I made the decision to send the staff home, and need to take get rid of the bats as quickly as possible so they can either return later today or tomorrow morning.  My employees who get paid by the hour are concerned, too, because they don’t want to lose out on their paycheck.  They also don’t want a trip to the hospital because of a bat bite.

I have no idea how many we have, but I need the bats removed quickly so my employees can safely go back to work.  I also want any holes or gaps sealed up so I don’t have to deal with this again.  In this economy, well, in any economy really, what business owner can afford to shut down operations for any length of time because of wild animals in the office building?

Coyote in the Neighborhood

A coyote
A coyote causing problems in a neighborhood.

The closest I’d ever been to a coyote was when some friends and I were hiking and camping in the mountains of Northern Utah.  We’d stopped for a break while hiking, when my friend pointed to a cluster of trees about 2 football fields away from us.  An animal bounded out of the cover, moving fairly quickly.  At first, we all assumed it was a deer, because it was about the height of a deer, a brown/tan color, and moved easily through the underbrush.  Then, I noticed the bushy tail and the fact that it wasn’t “bounding” so much as “loping quickly.”  We concluded it must be a coyote and finished our hike, since it didn’t get anywhere near us.

But, then, a few years later, I took up running.  I especially liked running early in the morning, just as the stars start to fade and the day begins and everyone is still sleeping.  It’s a time of day that feels secret, unsullied by life’s daily worries.  Then, I turned a corner and came face to face with it.  A coyote in my neighborhood.  Well, when I say face to face, I really mean it was about four houses away.  Coyotes can run fast, up to forty miles an hour, and I knew I had no chance of outrunning it if it decided to charge.

There was a timeless, breathless moment as I stared at the coyote in the neighborhood, wondering if I was about to be seriously hurt or maimed, and what I could possibly do to stop it.  They say you’re not ever supposed to surprise a wild animal, as if the world was populated by idiots who enjoy sneaking up on natural predatory creatures and yell “Boo!”  If I’d known there was a coyote in the neighborhood, you can bet I wouldn’t have been running alone at that time of day, hoping to surprise it.

That coyote just looked at me and finally simply turned and walked off in the opposite direction, without another glance at me.  I made it safely home and immediately texted the Home Owner’s Association president to let her know we had a coyote in the neighborhood.  And, I think I’ll take up swimming.

Bats In The Attic

bat_wings        As a local handyman for hire, Tyler sees a lot of weird things, and it’s not unusual for him to be called to a customer’s home to take care of some problem or other, and have it turn out to be something completely different.  A “loose roof shingles” call may end up as a raccoon in the attic, accessing the space through a hole the raccoon tore in the soffit.  In another service call, an air conditioner unit that only worked sometimes was actually caused by a squirrel chewing through the wiring.  That one was sobering, because if Tyler hadn’t spotted the problem quickly, it could have resulted in a home fire or it could have electrocuted someone.

Once, Tyler got a call from a guy who didn’t want to tell him any specifics over the phone.  He just insisted on having a handyman come over and investigate the attic.  When Tyler got there, the man offered no further explanation other than he had heard odd noises at night coming from the attic.  He was so hesitant to explain the problem, and he was obviously terrified.

Finally, Tyler put him at ease and the man confessed.  “I think it’s the ghost of my grandmother.”

That was a new one.  And, Tyler wondered, just what was a handyman supposed to do about a ghost in the attic?

The man went on to explain that he had inherited the house from his grandmother, who had passed away two years ago.  He had lived among her things for a time, and finally got up the courage to pack up her keepsakes and stash them in the attic.  He’d done that almost exactly a year ago, and now he was hearing noises above his head each night and sometimes in the early morning.  He’d lost sleep over it, and was too afraid to confront the ghost in his attic.  Apparently, his grandmother had not been a very nice or understanding woman.

Fortunately, Tyler didn’t believe in ghosts and good-naturedly climbed the stairs up into the attic.  In the end, he almost wished it had been a ghost.  He was not prepared to find hundreds of bats in the attic.  His flashlight and movements disturbed the roosting bats in the attic, and they swarmed, hitting his head and face and shoulders in their panic.  He’d never seen so many bats in an attic, and it was all he could do not to scream as he climbed back down the stairs and explained what was really going on to his client.  The man was relieved it wasn’t the specter of an angry grandmother, but it was just bats in his attic.  Tyler felt differently.  He made it out to his truck, where he allowed himself a mild freak-out attack before calling Allstate Animal Control to get the bats out of the attic.

Pigeons in the Carwash

pigeon_crap3          We all thought my sister Marcy was making up the dumbest story. She kept saying that she saw pigeons living in the drive-through car wash, which was totally stupid, because there’s no way  they would survive in there, with all the machinery moving and the soap spray and everything else going on in there.  Of course she said she tried to take pictures of them with her phone, but that’s just when the soap covered her car, or the picture was too blurry with water spray or the big spinning brushes in there.  Convenient.  Pigeons in the car wash, but no way to take a picture of them?!  Yeah, right.

Mom and Dad are letting us share a car, but we have to pay for the gas, change the oil regularly, and make sure it stays clean.  Course, that works in theory for my parents, cuz they don’t have to drive us around all the time, but it means that Marcy and I fight all the time over the car.  When Dad threatened to take the car away if we couldn’t work things out, we decided we’d both contribute to the “Car Jar”, which means a little bit of both of our paychecks goes into the jar to pay for gas, carwashes, stuff like that.  Then, whoever goes to get that done just pulls the money out of the jar for it.  It kind of works.  But, we still fight a lot over who has to do what, and who gets to use the car each day.  We just don’t fight around Mom and Dad anymore.

But, every time it’s Marcy’s turn to get the car washed, she complains.  She doesn’t want to do it herself, so she takes it to the only drive-through car wash.  Fine, whatever.  But, then she complains that the pigeons in the car wash freak her out.  Plus, she says, why should she wash the car there if they’re just going to poop on it as soon as she drives out.  I thought she was just making it up because she hates having to do anything like wash the car or vacuum it or anything else.  She’s pretty lazy.

So I finally said I’d take the car through the drive-through wash, just to shut her up.  When our car was dirty enough to justify the ten bucks, I headed on over with Marcy in the passenger’s seat.

Wouldn’t you know it, even with the spray and soap and brushes everywhere, I could see some pigeons in the car wash.  One of them was sitting on the tiny ledge above a window, and another pigeon actually had a nest on top of the big dryer that moves up and down.  There were eggs up there!  Marcy said that was new, and she finally got her picture of the pigeons in the car wash.  She took the picture just before our car went under the dryer and right before that pigeon pooped on the windshield.  Unbelievable.  Guess my sister’s not as stupid as I thought.  We showed the manager our picture and got another free car wash out of it, but I got the impression they already knew they had pigeons in the car wash and just didn’t want to do anything about it.  Marcy made a deal with me – I always wash the car at home so she doesn’t have to go to the car wash again, and she puts a little extra money in the Car Jar.  Works for me.