Neighbor Vs. Neighbor in Squirrel Issue

Squirrel (9)Recently, neighbors in a Lincoln County, Maine area are suing a woman for feeding wildlife.  They have been trying to get her to stop feeding squirrels and chipmunks, because they say the wild animals she attracts to her home are getting into their homes and yards and causing costly damage.  One neighbor is quoted as saying, “The chipmunks and the red squirrels are getting into my house and destroying my furniture every winter.”  Others claim mice, rats and skunks are also attracted to the area, because of her efforts to feed wildlife.

It’s easy to see both sides of this legal issue.  Feeding birds, squirrels and chipmunks seems a perfectly normal and humane thing to do!  It’s fun to watch squirrels chomping on seeds and nuts, or chipmunks stuffing their cheeks full of food.  People like to watch these animals and don’t see the harm in helping them get through the winter.

On the other hand, deliberately attracting wildlife to your yard affects everyone around you.  It can range from simple annoyance at cleaning up dropped seeds or nut shells to having squirrels nesting in your chimney, wall or attic because your neighbor likes to feed the squirrels.  Squirrels can cause a great deal of costly damage to a home, chewing on electrical wiring, soiling and destroying insulation, infesting the area with mites or other bugs, and attracting further wildlife, like mice, rats, raccoons, skunks or snakes.

Most wildlife protection agencies agree that feeding wild animals can actually end up harming them, by making them less capable or willing to seek out their natural food sources. Their diets change, making them weaker or sick.  And, they become less afraid of humans, which endangers both them and people.

Rats, Disease, and Rat Mites

Rat Mite, courtesy of Biodisc/Visuals Unlimited, Inc.

It’s well-known that rats are responsible for spreading lots of diseases, and recently researchers have discovered 18 more unknown viruses carried by New York City’s rats.  As if they weren’t already bad enough!  But, of course, we know that rats are found all over the United States, not just in the big cities, and we should all be aware that they present a very real and serious health risk.

According to the CDC, the diseases we know of that are transmitted from rodents to humans include: Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome, Lassa Fever, Leptospirosis, Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM), Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever, Plague, Rat-Bite Fever, Salmonellosis, South American Arenaviruses, and Tularemia.  Awful, right?

Now, let’s add to that the fact that rats have tiny parasites called rat mites that live on rats and inside their nests and feed off rat blood.  But, rat mites are capable of living without a rat host, and are perfectly happy to feed off human blood.  If you have rat mites, you have a rat problem, and it’s time to get rid of those rats.  The advantage to having Allstate Animal Control send someone out to take care of your rat problem is you get experts who are experienced at getting rid of the rats that are breeding in your structure, as well as sanitizing and repairing the area they infested so rat mites don’t seek out new hosts (aka you, your family or your pets).  They can also inspect your home or other building to seek out and seal up all entrance points to prevent the rats from returning and keep other wild animals out.

Prince Charles Orders Cull of Grey Squirrels

A man hunting a squirrel before the infestation comes. (Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

In an effort to protect the red squirrel population, Prince Charles has ordered the estate managers of the Duchy of Cornwall estate to cull the grey squirrels.  Grey squirrels carry a poxvirus deadly to red squirrels, and are also extremely destructive in woodlands.  There are 2.5 million grey squirrels estimated to live in Great Britain, compared to an estimated 140,000 red squirrels.

Squirrels in the Fall

Squirrel (9)Squirrels in the fall don’t care if you’ve spent a lot of money buying tulip or crocus bulbs.  They don’t care that you’ve spent most of a weekend planting bulbs around your home in hopes of a gorgeous flower show in the spring.  They see, or rather, smell, the bulbs as a fabulous treat.  As they feast on bulbs in the fall, they are also looking for easy places to hoard food for the winter and safe, warm places to hole up for the winter months.  If the squirrels are attracted to your yard, they’re more likely to investigate your attic, chimney or walls as possible places to store food or as dens for the winter.  An experienced wildlife control technician can inspect your property, sealing up any possible entrance points against curious squirrels, keeping the squirrels out of your home.

Snake Drops Through Light Fixture

snakeA Brisbane/Queensland homeowner walked into the bathroom, flipped on the light switch and saw a very large snake dangling from the light fixture on the ceiling.  This happened only weeks after another homeowner in Morayfield, North of Brisbane, discovered a large 12 foot-long snake resting on a bed in a spare room.  This doesn’t just happen in Australia!  Snakes in America are actually very good climbers, too, slithering up inside walls.  While having one drop out of a light fixture in the ceiling is rare, it does happen.  Finding a snake on an upstairs bathroom floor or bedroom is more common.  Snakes also tend to congregate in basements or inside walls during the cold winter months, alarming homeowners.  Whether you discover a snake hanging from a light fixture, a den of snakes in the basement, or a snake on the floor, garage or driveway, you are safest when you have Allstate Animal Control send a trusted local contractor to your home or business to get rid of the snakes.  Snake bites must always be taken extremely seriously, because most people aren’t aware if they have been bitten by a venomous snake or not.

Porcupine in Playhouse

Porcupine        Our new neighbors are moving in today, finally!  The old neighbors were nice enough, but they moved away over a month ago, and it took a while to get their house under contract.  The new family looks nice enough, two daughters probably between 9 and 11 years old and their parents look a bit frazzled from moving but also a little relieved.  They have movers helping them, so I’m chilling some cold drinks for them all and making cookies.  Nice to have a bit of a warm welcome, right?

I see the girls are exploring around the back yard, and are especially drawn to the playhouse the previous owners included in the sale of the home.  That’s nice.  It makes me happy to know someone will enjoy that home and breathe some new life into this part of the street.

After a couple of hours of work, Mom’s going out back to check on the girls.  She seems like an excellent mother.  I bet they’re a happy family.

What’s that screaming?!  I can’t hardly see much from my back window, but I hope no one’s hurt!  Maybe if I put down this plate of cookies, and go to the upstairs window, I could see better.

A porcupine?!  They have a porcupine in the playhouse!  I see the girls aren’t hurt.  How long were they in the playhouse with the porcupine?  I hope they didn’t get too close to it.  I know that porcupines can’t throw their quills, but they can release them into whatever or whoever is trying to hold them.  I guess the girls weren’t too scared by the porcupine in the playhouse, but their mother is sure upset.  No, it doesn’t look like she was hurt, either.

A porcupine in that wooden playhouse would explain the hole in the door that looks like it’s been chewed up a bit.  I know porcupines like to chew on wood and other things.  I wonder if it destroyed anything inside.  Probably so.  The porcupine probably soiled the playhouse, too.  I’m certainly glad I don’t have to clean that up.

I can see Dad trying to get the movers to help him get the porcupine out of the playhouse, but they don’t look too eager to help out.  I even think they’re moving boxes and furniture in faster than before.  Maybe they want to finish up and get out of here quickly.

Well, the first batch of cookies are cooled.  Maybe I’ll take them over and bring the phone number for Allstate Animal Control.  That company helped me out when I had a raccoon problem, so they’ll be good to get that porcupine out of the playhouse.  Poor dears.  What a terrible shock to move in and find a wild animal problem right away.

Dead Squirrels in Wall

Squirrel (4)     I thought I’d take care of the squirrel in the attic on my own, but I had no idea I’d end up with dead baby squirrels in the wall.

I’d discovered I had a squirrel in the attic one day when I heard some noises, went to investigate, and found the evidence.  Some of the attic insulation had been pushed down to next to nothing, there were droppings everywhere and a nasty smell, and the boxes we used to store our stuff had been chewed through.  The quilt my grandmother made had some of the stuffing pulled out of it, and some of the books and papers we had stored up there were trashed.

My husband’s been stressed out at work, so a squirrel in the attic was the last thing I wanted him to have to deal with.  He’d survived his company’s layoffs, but he now had to work twice as hard without extra pay to cover the work that was normally done by three people.  I decided not to tell him about the squirrel in the attic until I’d solved the problem.

Early in the morning, about the time I usually heard the noises in the attic, I armed myself with a hammer, nails, and chicken wire, and waited quietly outside watching the roof line.  Sure enough, after about 25 minutes of waiting and watching, a squirrel squirmed out of a small gap next to the attic vent and jumped up into a nearby tree branch.  I grabbed the ladder, and spent the next two hours climbing, swearing, sweating and trying not to fall while I hammered ugly chicken wire over the gap.

Problem solved.  Husband none the wiser.

About two months later, I started to smell a nasty smell in my son’s bedroom.  I made him clean it, then I cleaned it properly while he was at school.  I still couldn’t find anything.  I spent the good part of an afternoon sniffing around, and finally determined the smell was coming from inside one of the walls.  Yet another problem I didn’t want to add to my husband’s burdens.

I ended up cutting away a small square of the wall, put the flashlight setting on my cell phone, turned its camera on, and stuck my phone inside the wall so I could figure out what was going on.

Dead baby squirrels were inside the wall.

I must have sealed up mama squirrel’s access to my attic, without knowing there was a nest with baby squirrels in there.  Apparently they squirmed around and fell down inside the wall.  I could only see two of them.  I hoped there weren’t more.

I think it just might be time to involve my husband.  Unless . . . I could get Allstate Animal Control out here in the next day or two and they could get the dead baby squirrels out of the wall.  Maybe, just maybe, my husband doesn’t have to deal with yet another problem.