A recent study found that wild animals cause $3.8 billion in damage every year in the U.S. alone. From bats to woodpeckers, pesky critters damage roofs, chew wiring, make messes and can represent a big headache to homeowners.
Raccoons and squirrels are cute, but they don't belong in your house. If they get into an attic or come down your chimney, you can have real trouble.
Raccoons crawl in openings and vents looking for bugs, and also have been known to tear off roof shingles looking for them. Squirrels sometimes chew holes into an attic, then start on electrical wires. Some bees will tunnel through woodwork, and yellow jackets eat through drywall. Although bats are beneficial because they eat bugs, they are a nuisance in the attic since bat droppings can be toxic.
Homeowners can take simple steps to discourage unwanted pests. First, keep pet food and garbage cans, which attract animals, inside. Secure outside vents and cap chimneys. Trim trees that offer access to the roof. Add ammonia or pepper to garbage cans that must be outdoors, and tightly secure the lids.
If you're already sharing your home with a critter, try spraying ammonia into its entry area after the animal has left, or stuffing ammonia-soaked rags into the hole (make sure you keep the kids away!). Repeat for two or three days, and the animal may move on. Fill opossum or skunk holes with dirt as often as needed. When the animal tires of tunneling, it may look elsewhere for a home.
Wait until bats leave in the evening to cover their entry holes. Be sure to wait until late summer after any babies have left the nest. Hang aluminum foil, cloth strips or paper from the eaves to discourage woodpeckers. Nylon netting or an artificial owl also may do the trick.
Some animals, like coyotes and bees, are best left to professionals. Despite their cuddly appearance, animals can be vicious when trapped. Before you rent a trap, think about what you'll do if you catch something. For many people, the best bet is a wildlife control professional who will trap and remove the animal, then relocate or destroy it.
If a critter has already caused havoc in your home, remember that not all damage caused by animals is covered by insurance. However, it's worth a call to your insurance agent to find out.
You can call Plapp Insurance at 1-800-820-7575 or use our contact form.