Imagine, if you can, that your extended family (ie parents, siblings, grandparents, ants, uncles, cousins, etc.) has lived on the same property for generations. As the family outgrows the existing home, a new room or even a whole wing is simply added on to accommodate the growth. Now imagine an outsider suddenly appears, levels the entire dwelling, and builds a brand new home. Fortunately this outsider was kind enough to include special doors, specific to your needs, enabling you to have access to the new home. Not only are special doors included for you, but meals are actually provided as well. Basically the “welcome mat” has been put out for you, so to speak. Now, the question is, would you take advantage of this outsiders generosity, and avail yourself of the home and food provided for you and your family?
Obviously, this is not typical behavior for us as humans, but when you look at it from the perspective of raccoons, squirrels, opossums, bats etc., is it really any surprise that various wildlife species invade our homes? Of course we didn’t intend to provide “wildlife doors” while drafting the plans for our new home, but intended or not, that is what frequently happens. The exterior siding of our homes can sometimes provide as easy a climbing surface as the trees in which some wildlife originally made their homes. Power lines, phone lines and other utility lines attached to the house double as “sidewalks” for wildlife to access the roof. Trees left close to the house for shade often work great as a springboard in case the “sidewalk” is not an option. Small gaps left around the roof line unintentionally, or intentionally for ventilation, provide easy access for bats, roof rats, squirrels, etc. Chimneys provide a great place out of the wind and weather for chimney swifts or bats to set up housekeeping. And cinder blocks turned sideways in the foundation wall for crawlspace ventilation also provide easy access for snakes, norway rats, opossums, raccoons, mice, etc.
Along with setting out the “welcome mat,” we frequently “ring the dinner bell” for wildlife without any idea that we have done so. What parent can long resist their child’s pleas for a Fido or a Fluffy? We break down and bring home the puppy or kitten which also means a shopping trip for supplies. Along with a collar, leash, bed and toys are, of course, food and water dishes. Fido and Fluffy cannot go hungry or thirsty so their bowls are usually left outside filled with food and water. At night any left over food will gladly be accepted by raccoons, rats, mice, opossums, etc. Many avid bird lovers “ring the dinner bell” for wildlife also by having bird seed in feeders after dark.
By now you are probably thinking you have to live in a glass bubble to keep wildlife out, but fear not, all hope is not lost. Periodically inspect, and replace as needed, the hard ware cloth screening that covers crawl space vents, attic gable vents and chimney caps as well as seal gaps where utility lines enter into the home. Trim back the trees near the home so that no branches are within five feet of the roof. Make sure outside trash cans have tight fitting lids and encourage outdoor pets to finish dinner before dark. Performing regular routine maintenance on your home and yard, such as the ones described above, will go a long way toward discouraging uninvited guests.
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