Roof Rats, Skunks, & Oppossums Oh My!

Jerry T Jitterbug at your service!

This weeks question concerns itself with how to deal with animal control and those wild animals we frequently see here in San Antonio, Texas. This can include trapping and exclusion but we’ll go into detail about how to prevent the problem of invading wild animals in the first place.

Hey Jerry,

Question. I’ve got a ton of possums and raccoons messing up my backyard and I’m worried they’ll give my dog rabies. You’d think living in the San Antonio city limits we wouldn’t have them as often as those in the country surrounding areas and they are freaking me out.  I don’t want to shoot them or deal with trying to trap them. Do you guys trap or exterminate wild animals? – S. Harrison

Dear S. Harrison,
Thanks for the question and thanks for not wanting to shoot them! It’s illegal and there is a much better way. We promise.

WHY DO WILD ANIMALS LIKE MY BACKYARD?

Rodents, raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, and mice are critters that we frequently see in the San Antonio area. But if we live in the city, why do we still see these critters? Even in the heart of a big city with sprawling suburbs, animals still have plenty of places to live. Trees, culverts, ditches, fields, and even empty houses make for perfect spots for animals to live. In fact, with people usually leaving their trash outside in the containers that San Antonio provides, it presents a very fine restaurant for a critter to get a hearty dinner.

San Antonio is still very rural with tons of open spaces, and also has a lot of construction going on. So, when they clear a field to start construction, the critters that lived in that field have to find a new place to live. Frequently, it’s someone’s backyard.

MYTHS & MISCONCEPTIONS

There are lost of myths and misconceptions about critters and why they invade our homes. Rats and mice actually do live outdoors. However, it’s usually more comfortable to live in your home than on the lawn or in a tree. Just because you have a mouse or rat doesn’t mean you have a dirty house. It just means that they managed to get in and we need to seal that off.

WHO ARE THESE CRITTERS

  • Mice & Rats – they are in your house and yard year round. Mice have bad vision so they tend to come out at night when it is safer. They can live in walls, attics, and dark areas under cabinets.
  • Skunks and Armadillos – Luckily, we don’t see too many of them in the urban areas of San Antonio, but they are there. These critters will rarely go in a house but are usually found in fields
  • Raccoons – Raccoons are kinda cute. However, they are dangerous. Their claws are meant to tear and shred things, so human skin is no match. They can also carry rabies, ticks, fleas, and disease like trichinosis, so you have to be very careful with them around your animals and of course children.
  • Opossums – Normally called possums, are scavengers like raccoons. They eat pretty much anything but aren’t fighters so they tend to stay in trees, run away, or “play possum.”
  • Squirrels – Cute little guys that we all love. In reality, they are basically rats with cute tails. The biggest problem we see in San Antonio is squirrels getting into attics and causing damage to wires or insulation that they eat through. They can tear open holes in your attic area causing gaps for weather to get in as well. They really don’t carry disease like other critters, they are more of a nuisance.
  • Skunks – What do we need to say about skunks? Yuck!

DETECTION

Usually, you “know” when you have a critter problem. However, there are some signs to watch for you may not have thought of.

  • Do you hear scratching noise in the ceiling or walls at night? Have your kids ever complained that they heard a monster in the attic? It might be some squirrels or other critters running around.
  • Attic – Are there areas where your insulation had been made into a nest? Are their dished out pockets in your blown insulation? Are their piles of random junk (well, even more random junk than you find in an attic) that would make a nice rat nest?
  • Kitchen – Do you see anything that looks like sawdust under a cabinet? In a new home, it may just be left over dust. However, something may have been digging a hole in your cabinet.
  • Fridge – When was the last time you looked at the vent area under your fridge? It can make a nice home for critters like mice. Also, it’s not a bad idea to dust there anyway.
  • Baseboards – Do you see any rub, claw, gnaw marks or scratches that seem odd? It might indicate pests
  • Pets – Is there a part of a room or the yard that a pet is afraid to go to? Does you dog or cat really seem interested in staring at the wall. Yes, pets sometimes stare at the wall but are they really seriously interested in the wall? It may mean you have some visitors scratching around in the walls that you can’t hear but Fido can.
  • Droppings or Pellets – Most critters have distinctive droppings. If you are cleaning and find a bunch of what looks like tiny chocolate sprinkles or bb’s? You may have a rodent problem.

PREVENTION & EXCLUSION

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is very true when it comes to treating critter infestation. Here are some free (or cheap) things you can do to reduce your problems.

  • Outside Feeding – If you feed your dogs outside or feed feral cats, then you are creating a really nice and nutritious buffet option for critters. Don’t leave out food for long lengths of time since wild critters are attracted to very nutritious food.
  • Trash & Dog Food – If you store your official San Antonio plastic trash can outside like most people, critters can easily get into them. The same is true for most commercial storage bins for dog food. Putting a brick or something heavy on top of the container really helps. Raccoons especially are problem solvers so if you get a clever one, you may be entering a war of the wits until he gets tired and moves to someone else’s trash.
  • Foundation – Check out your foundation. See those tiny weep holes? A mouse can get through a crack or hole the size of a dime. You can find commercially available plugs for vent holes but make sure they don’t block the air flow. Your house needs to breathe.
  • Soffit & Roof Vents – This is the prime way that squirrels, raccoons, and other larger critters get into your attic. Older houses that have screen type vent covers need to be checked frequently since the pest can rip them open. Loose siding or gaps in siding can also be sealed to to prevent a way to get in your house.
  • Bird Feeders – Not just birds and squirrels enjoy a treat of seeds. There are commercially available feeders that prevent squirrels and other critters from getting in to the seeds.
  • Piles of brush / debris – Many of us have that corner in our yard or on the site of the house where we stash the broken tree limbs or leftover project boards that we don’t want in our garage.  The problem here is that you’re building a nice fortress for critters to root in and to move in to. This makes a nice private space for snakes to bed, scorpions to nest and all sorts of Texas wildlife to call home.  Be sure to clean these areas out.

TRAPPING AND TREATMENT

Mice and rats can be treated with baits as well as traps. However, if you use traps, be conscious of the fact that you need to check them frequently. The last thing you need is a dead and rotting rodent in a trap. That is quite unhealthy. Poison baits are very effective however they can be deadly to children and pets. So, follow directions exactly or better yet, give us a call.

There is quite a bit about trapping that we can tell you. However, it is best left to professionals. All the prevention in the world can’t stop critters from time to time. Wild animals can and do carry disease, so please call us right away if you suspect any intruders.

So, what do we do with the animals? We trap and release the critters we catch.

BUDGETS AND COUPONS.

Does it cost an arm and a leg to have a highly trained, fully licensed and insured pest control company come out and get rid of those pesky critters? Nope. In fact, check out the link here for some valuable coupons. Give us a call today and mention that you read our blog and we’ll come get you fixed up right away!

Jerry T. Jitterbug
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210-653-9700

Jitterbug Pest Control

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