Help! There is a Black Rat Snake in My Yard!

Help! There is a Black Rat Snake in My Yard!

Black rat snakes are some of the most common snakes in Maryland, and the type our Maryland snake removal technicians get a lot of calls about every summer. Most people don’t like snakes and feel threatened by a single encounter, which is especially understandable when it comes to black rate snakes. These creatures can reach up to 6-7 feet long, which makes for a rather menacing appearance. And although they don’t technically have a rattle at the tip of their tails, they can still make a rattling sound when they want to defend themselves. If you live in the country, you will likely encounter a black rat snake at least once. Don’t panic and read on to see what you can do to protect yourself.

Rat Snakes are Non-Venomous

It’s good to remember that there are only two venomous snake species in Maryland: copperhead and timber rattlesnake, and none of them are black. Black rat snakes are not only non-venomous, but also non-aggressive unless you pose a direct threat. They prefer to avoid conflict and will escape given a chance. If you encounter a black rat snake outdoors, it may be best to simply let it be and go on with your business. These snakes are beneficial to have around, as they control the population of mice. Black rat snakes are black from head to tail, except for their chin/throat area. However, if you are looking at an angle, in bright sunlight or if you encountered a young hatchling, it’s possible to get an impression that the snake is brown or grayish. If you are not sure whether you are dealing with a black rat snake, it’s worth calling your local Maryland snake removal experts. Don’t attempt to approach, kill or handle the snake. Black rat snakes, although non-venomous, can produce a foul-smelling musk when disturbed.

Good Climbers

Black rat snakes are also good climbers and can easily climb trees and man-made vertical structures, such as homes and garages. Brick, stone and other textured siding materials are especially fit for climbing. Snakes climb to look for food and shelter, and often find both in attics and rafters. They will feed on birds that land on the roof, as well as mice if the home has a mouse problem. Since snakes only feed about once per week and can go several months without food, they often stay in the attic for a long period of time. A local customer has recently sent us this photo of a black rat snake that has climbed up the vinyl siding and hung around the door frame. In a dangerous situation, a black rat snake tends to freeze in a “beefed up” pose, which is what you see in the photo and what gave the homeowner time to snap this picture.

Imagine opening a door to discover this black beast with a corner of your eye! This is indeed a heart-attack inducing spectacle. The homeowner called Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control right away and our trained technicians rushed to pick up and relocate this snake. If you encounter a black rat snake or another snake on your property, contact us ASAP for snake removal in Maryland.

How to Save Your Property From Canada Geese

How to Save Your Property From Canada Geese

People who have to tolerate geese on their property often compare these birds to locusts. When it comes to geese, their strength is in numbers and they rarely travel alone. Each bird consumes about 3 pounds of grass, producing about a pound of feces. Where does this leave your lawn? Bare, muddy and covered in goose poop—not a good look if you are serving customers. At Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control, we get a lot of calls requesting our Maryland goose repellent services to help with nuisance geese. If geese have taken over your property, here is what you need to know.

Resident Geese vs Migratory Geese

There are two types of Canada geese that have a potential to cause issues on private and public properties. Migratory Canada geese live in Canada during summer and then come over to the Mid-Atlantic region for the winter. The Chesapeake Bay offers the perfect habitat for these birds, considering the abundance of water and grass. Resident Canada geese stay here year round and don’t travel to Canada at all. They don’t live in the same area all year long, but they tend to return to places where they previously found good food and suitable conditions. Unfortunately, these areas typically include public parks, cemeteries, golf courses and other large grassy fields with a proximity to water. It’s important to note that both resident and migratory Canada geese are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918, which means you are not allowed to “take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter” them or their eggs and nests without a Federal permit. Even if you find Canada goose nests on your private property, you are not allowed to relocate it without a permit.

What to Do About Canada Geese

There are several lines of defense against Canada geese you could implement, from prevention and habitat modifications to repellents and reactive measures:

  • Don’t feed the geese,” – If your property is accessible by the general public who may think feeding geese is a good idea, post these signs. Geese become dependent on human food rather quickly and will keep hanging around as long as it’s available.
  • Border collies, despite being known for their sheep herding skills, are also great at chasing geese away. And because in most urban environments geese don’t have a natural predator, dogs can pretend to play that role.
  • Habitat modification: Geese don’t like tall grasses. If it’s acceptable to keep the grass on your property tall, it can be one of the ways to discourage geese.
  • Goose Repellents: there are specially formulated goose repellents that can be sprayed on grass and won’t harm geese, pets or humans. They will, however, cause an upset stomach in geese and make them declare your property uninhabitable.

Goose repellents can be used both as a reactive and a proactive measure. If you know your property is a goose magnet, treating it with a repellent on a regular schedule will give you peace of mind. Waking up one morning to your golf course torn up by geese can be devastating, which is what goose repellents aim to prevent. If you have a Canada goose problem, contact us today to discuss how our goose deterrent methods can help.

How to Prepare for a Snake Encounter This Summer

How to Prepare for a Snake Encounter This Summer

The summer is almost here and and we can finally pack away the warm winter clothes and enjoy the shorts and bare feet type of weather. But as you are playing with your dog in your back yard or cleaning out dead brush from your property, keep in mind that you are not the only one enjoying the sun. By now, most Maryland snakes have come out of hibernation to catch some rays and find some prey to hunt. And while they regard humans as more of a threat than a food source, unpleasant encounters with snakes are quite possible. Our Maryland snake removal experts are happy to share a few safety tips for you to keep in mind this summer.

Know Your Venomous Snakes

Of course, getting bitten by a non-venomous snake can be just as painful, but it’s not as dangerous. Thankfully, there are only two venomous snake species in Maryland, so you should be able to easily remember and identify them.

Timber Rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnakes prefer rocky terrain, which is why the are more common in western Maryland counties, such as Frederick County and Garret County. This is a rather low-profile snake in terms of coloration: it’s brownish with uneven, ring-like dark brown or black pattern. You would expect a poisonous snake to be brightly colored, but not this one. However, it’s the only snake in Maryland that has a rattle on its tail—so this is your number one identification tip. If you hear rattling, stay away!

Northern Copperhead

The Northern Copperhead is common throughout the North-Eastern U.S., including Maryland. You can tell it apart by its distinct tannish-copper color and hourglass-like pattern on its skin. Below is a video of how to identify this snake if you happen to encounter it.

Know Where to Expect Snakes

Snakes are cold-blooded creatures, so in summer they regulate their temperature through sun exposure. They may come out and lie in the sun to warm up or hide in the shade to keep cool, depending on the temperature of the surroundings. Many snakes are also nocturnal, so they tend to stay hidden during the day and come out to hunt at night. Here are some of the places around your property where a snake may find a nice spot to build a den or hide:

  • In a pile of wood, brush, rocks or fallen leaves
  • Underneath the deck or porch
  • Underneath steps and landscaping stones
  • In cracks inside concrete patios, porches and sidewalks.
  • In or underneath rarely used storage sheds and other outdoor structures
  • In tall grass
  • On a hiking trail

When you are doing yard work or any other activity around these areas, be careful and watch out for snakes. Some smaller snakes may make it into your home through small gaps and cracks—they often hide in basements and other dark and humid places.

Know How to Deal With a Snake

First of all, see if you can tell for sure whether the snake is poisonous. If it’s not and it’s your first encounter with a snake on your property, slowly back away and let it escape. Snakes are generally not aggressive and won’t attack unless you pose a threat. For this reason, never try to chase the snake away, kill it or handle it, whether it’s poisonous or not. If you step on a snake by accident and get bitten, seek medical help right away. If the snake was poisonous, you may not have much time to take the anti-venom. If you’ve encountered a poisonous snake on your property or inside your home, it’s best to call Maryland snake removal professionals to take care of it. There may be a snake den somewhere in your back yard, which may pose risk to your family and pets. Contact us today if you need help reclaiming your yard from snakes!

How to Remove Raccoons from Your Chimney

How to Remove Raccoons from Your Chimney

As uninhabitable as a chimney may seem to you, it can serve as a home to many critters. Besides birds and squirrels, raccoons are some of the larger animals that tend to nest in chimneys. As Maryland raccoon removal experts, we’ve helped many homeowners in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Columbia and other areas evict these unwelcome guests. Here is everything you need to know about raccoons in the chimney.

Why and How Raccoons Get in the Chimney

A chimney is as good as any other shelter for raccoons, especially for expecting mothers. It’s dry, secluded and warm—everything a mother raccoon would need to give birth to and rear her young. And if you think there isn’t enough room in your chimney for a family of raccoons, think again. Between the smoke shelf and the damper’s surface area, a mother raccoon has enough space to live comfortably. You may notice her presence by scratching and squealing noises behind your mantel. In urban areas where chimneys are more common than trees, raccoons may be more tempted to nest inside the flue. However, not all chimneys are easily accessible for raccoons. Chimneys with properly installed chimney caps are unlikely to get invaded. If your chimney is uncapped, however, raccoons take it as an invitation.

How to Get Raccoons Out of the Chimney

Thankfully, inside a chimney there is very little for raccoons to destroy or damage, unlike in the attic. But keep in mind that a raccoon living in your chimney is probably foraging for food on your property. It may be digging through trash, stealing your pet food and wreaking havoc on your flower beds. This is why many people choose to evict raccoons rather than waiting for them to leave.

Don’t’ Light a Fire

Whatever you do, don’t light a fire if you suspect that raccoons are living in your chimney. “Smoking them out” won’t work, and in the best-case scenario you will end up with a stressed animal running around your house.

Call Raccoon Removal Professional

A mother raccoon will eventually leave your chimney once her young are old enough. If you can wait about 8 weeks and raccoons are not bothering you otherwise, then it’s best to wait it out. But if waiting is not an option or raccoons have become a nuisance, we recommend calling a Maryland wildlife control company to handle the eviction. At Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control, we use special live traps to capture the mother raccoon when she is exiting the chimney. We then carefully extract the babies if they are too young to climb. This approach ensures that all animals are safely removed and remain together. We do our best to remove and rehabilitate nuisance wildlife in the least stressful way possible. The reason we recommend hiring a professional is because raccoon removal from the chimney can be tricky and dangerous. It typically requires setting traps on the roof, which should be left to a professional. Then a chimney cap will need to be installed, and all the debris from the nest will need to be removed before you can resume using your fireplace, which we can also assist you with. Contact us today if you think there is a raccoon or another animal in your chimney.