This time of year, most animals are getting ready for winter, and squirrels are not an exception. However, their idea of “getting ready for winter” may include finding a way to get into your attic. Around September – October, we usually get a lot of calls about squirrel removal in Gaithersburg, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and many other areas throughout Maryland. Here are a few tips on how to prevent squirrel invasion in fall, as well as how to address the problem if they already got in.
Your Squirrel Invader is a Nesting Female
In fall, you are most likely dealing with a female squirrel looking to build a nest to rear her young. Squirrels mate and give birth twice a year to around 2-4 babies. The first time is in late winter and the second time is around June – August. The babies are born in just 45 days after mating, which means a squirrel that mated in August may have her babies as early as September. Males are not really present or active in taking care of their young. A mother-squirrel, however, will make the best use of all available resources, even if it means chewing a hole in your fascia board to build a warm and secure nest for her young.
Signs of Squirrel Activity in Your Attic
If you think you might have a squirrel in your attic, it’s likely there are actually 4-6 of them. Most squirrels already gave birth and are working tirelessly on gathering enough supplies to support their little squirrel family in winter. You may not hear the babies, as they are small and don’t leave the nest yet. However, you should check for the following signs of a mother-squirrel:
- Day-time scampering as the squirrel makes multiple trips to forage for food.
- Scratching noise behind walls if a squirrel has a misfortune to fall.
- Holes along your roof line or sawdust-like debris on the ground.
How to Deal With Nesting Squirrels
Whatever you do, don’t separate the mother squirrel from her young. At this young age, they are not yet ready to fend for themselves, so they will likely die in mother’s absence. You also don’t want them to start looking for their mother, wander off and fall in the gap behind a wall. A dead animal behind your living room wall will cause unbearable stench and you may end up having to cut into the wall to remove it. To avoid all this trouble, it’s best when the babies are removed at the same time as the mother. This can be done by your Maryland squirrel removal professional in a safe and humane manner. A big mistake we see some homeowners make is sealing the squirrel’s entrance hole while the mother squirrel is away. If the babies are still in the attic, the mother could rip off your seal or make a new hole to get to them.
Inspecting Your Roof
If you think your home is so far free of squirrels, you’d probably want to keep it that way. Squirrels and other nuisance wildlife often choose homes with existing damage to roof, flashing or trim boards. Now is a good time to inspect your home’s exterior, specifically roof, to make sure there are no weak spots. Even if squirrels are not an issue, patching holes and replacing rotten boards will help with insulation in winter. And if you ever need assistance of a squirrel removal professional, you can rely on our experienced technicians at Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control. Just call us or contact online today.
While a raccoon or squirrel is considered cute by some people, a bat is regarded more as a creature from one’s nightmares. What do you do if it flies into your home or crawls into your attic and becomes your upstairs neighbor? Do you start swinging a tennis racket or run outside and refuse to come back in? Bats are very common in Maryland, so a close encounter is rather possible. Here are a few tips from our Gaithersburg bat removal specialists to help you make a plan if you ever have to deal with a bat.
Although bats are known to carry rabies, not all bats are rabid. In fact, less than 1% of bats are infected with rabies. Unless you’ve encountered a bat that looks sick or is behaving erratically, you are probably dealing with a healthy bat. Bats, despite their menacing appearance, are extremely beneficial for the environment and don’t generally attack people. Stay calm and keep an eye on the bat to see where it came from and where it went. The bat doesn’t want to be in the same room as you just as much as you want it gone, so your fear is mutual.
Don’t be Violent
Bats are protected by law in most states, including Maryland. Some bats such as the Indiana Bat are endangered. As an average homeowner, you probably don’t know what kind of bat species you are dealing with. Even our Howard County bat removal specialists often need a closer look to correctly identify the species—that’s how similar they can look. Killing a bat, endangered or not, may get you in trouble with the Department of Natural Resources and is in most cases unnecessary.
Don’t Disturb the Bat
The law protects not just bats, but their habitat as well. By modifying or disturbing their habitat, you may kill the bats. For example, bats may choose your attic as a winter hibernation spot. When they hibernate, bats survive by using less energy and sparingly accessing their fat stores. Disturbing a hibernating bat will cause it to use more energy, which means it may not have enough fat left to make it to spring. That’s why it’s generally recommended to perform bat exclusion before the hibernation begins around mid-October. If bats are found in the attic during winter, it’s best to let them stay until spring.
Don’t Assume it’s Just One Bat
Although it’s possible for a single bat to roost on your porch or fly into your home by accident, bats typically live in colonies. If you see one bat coming out of your attic vent, assume there is probably at least 10 more that will follow. If you do encounter a lonely bat outside of your home, it’s probably just in-between places and will leave soon on its own.
Call a Professional
It’s never a good idea to handle bat removal yourself. Besides, the Maryland DNR requires a permit to conduct bat exclusion, and in some cases prior approval is also needed. The reason for this is that there are specific times of the year when bat removal should be done in order to make it the least stressful for bats. As a rule, bats with young that can’t fly, as well as bats mid hibernation shouldn’t be disturbed. Right now, however, is the perfect time to get rid of bats in your home, as the young has grown up and hibernation hasn’t started yet. Call Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control today if you need help with bat removal in Gaithersburg, Bethesda, Silver Spring or any other location in Maryland.
Our wildlife removal technicians have recently performed this job that involved squirrel removal in Howard County. The homeowner didn’t realize he had a squirrel problem until he discovered a puddle of water on his living room floor during one of the recent rain storms. What does a water leak have to do with squirrels, you may ask? Well, in that case it had everything to do with squirrels.
How Squirrels Damage Your Roof
To an average homeowner, squirrels are probably known as cute, furry rodents that gather nuts, steal bird seed and occasionally refuse to move from your lane. But to us, they are known as animals with exceptionally strong teeth that can chew through most materials a typical home is made of. So if a squirrel is determined to get into your attic, there is little that can stop it. In many cases, squirrels chew holes in fascia boards to get inside you home. But sometimes, if they find some weak areas, they may chew through the roof deck, gables and other similar spots. In the situation we described above, a squirrel chewed a hole in a gable next to the chimney. This home has several roofs on different levels, and a chimney is installed in the transition spot against one of the gables. When the squirrel ripped the shingles and made a hole, it allowed for the water to get inside the attic during rain, which led to the ceiling leak. You can see on the photo below the kind of damage the squirrel caused and how our Maryland squirrel removal pros have repaired it.
What Can I Do to Stop Squirrels From Damaging My Roof?
Your best approach is prevention. Make sure your roof is in good shape and doesn’t have any gaps or loose parts that animals can easily pry open. Although this won’t stop some animals from attempting to enter your attic, at least your home won’t be an easy target. In addition to that, try not to attract squirrels to your property. In the fall, squirrels start gathering nuts and seeds to survive in winter. If you have nut-bearing trees or bird feeders in your back yard, you are a squirrel magnet. Squirrels stash their food in several different places, one of which could be your attic. Besides, it’s probably a way nicer and warmer place for spending the winter than a hollow tree. If you see squirrels jumping on your roof, consider it a warning sign. And if you suspect they may already be in your attic, give Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control a call right away to stop any further damage. Call us or contact us online if you need help getting rid of nuisance wild animals.
Fall may be a few weeks away, but animals already sense its imminent arrival. We’ve talked in our previous post about how to protect your attic from unwelcome animal invaders looking to “catch a free ride” at your expense. We gave you some good tips for wildlife-proofing your home, but we haven’t talked much about who you are up against. Our Howard County wildlife removal experts are here today to address this topic. Whether you live in Columbia, Ellicott City, Glenwood, Hanover, Jessup or elsewhere in Maryland, here are some of the opportunistic animals that may try to get into your home this fall.
Not all bats hibernate during winter—some migrate to warmer clients. And of those that do hibernate, most prefer to do so in caves or hollow trees. However, there are two species of bats common in Howard County and throughout Maryland that have adapted to hibernate in buildings. We are talking about the Big Brown Bat and the Little Brown Bat. An entire bat colony may quietly move into your attic or roost inside your walls without you noticing a thing until it’s too late. Bats typically require a hibernation temperature between 40F and 50F, and your attic accommodates them wonderfully in this regard. If it gets too hot, the bats can move closer to the roof. And if it gets too cold, they can flock together against the interior-facing walls. Bats start moving into attics when the temperature drops in late October – early November and they stay until March – April.
Rodents, such as rats and mice, are pretty content with living in the wild during the warmer months. But once the vegetation dies and their sources of food diminish, rodents start looking for a better winter shelter. And what’s better than the warmth and comfort of your home? When it comes to rodents, rats and mice are the ones you should be on the lookout for. They are relatively small and can enter through existing holes around your foundation and even run into the open door as you are airing out the basement. One or two mice or rats in a home may not be a problem, but where there’s one there’s soon going to be a dozen. Rats and mice can chew though almost anything to get to the food they want, so keep an eye on damaged food packaging in your cupboards or pantry.
It’s fun to watch squirrels hopping around your yard and gathering nuts from nearby trees. But it’s only fun until you realize that the squirrel is stashing those nuts in your attic. Despite the fact that we rarely see squirrels in winter, they don’t hibernate. Therefore, they need a warm shelter and food supplies to make it though Howard County’s bitter cold winters. Your attic makes a perfect winter den for both the Eastern Gray Squirrel and the Flying Squirrel. These are some dangerous neighbors despite their small size—their extensive chewing can lead to expensive repairs and even create fire hazards.
A raccoon has adapted to surviving the cold winter weather in numerous ways. It grows thick fur, builds up fat stores and takes every opportunity to secure a warm den. Sometimes, this means breaking into your attic and ripping up your insulation. Instead of hibernating, raccoons enter a state of torpor, which means they sleep for long periods of time, yet they wake up and look for food on warmer days. This makes raccoons living in your attic during winter hard to spot, as they are quiet most of the time and do their business at night when everyone’s asleep. Do you think these or other critters may be looking to move into your Howard County home this fall? Give Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control a call or contact us online today to remove current and prevent future wildlife infestations.
Where did the summer go? It seems like 4th of July was last week and now it’s Labor Day already!? There are no drastic temperature drops yet, but the nights keep getting cooler. You might not feel it, but the animals living in the forest near your home don’t need a calendar to tell that winter is around the corner. And they already have dibs on your attic as the perfect spot to overwinter. Our Maryland wildlife removal specialists typically get a lot of calls in the fall about bats, raccoons, squirrels and other critters invading attics. If you don’t want to deal with wildlife invasion this fall, take these steps to protect your home.
Repair Any Evident Damage
Most animal home invaders are opportunistic creatures. If they see a gaping hole or a loose shingle, they will take the chance. Some animals, such as raccoons and squirrels, can use their hands and teeth respectively to make an existing hole big enough for them. So make sure you don’t have any damage to the outside of your home that screams “Come on in!” Check and repair the following:
As you can see in the photo above, there is a big hole chewed through by a gray squirrel in the roof of this home in Severna Park, Md. Even though the shingles were in a good shape and the drip edge was installed, this didn’t stop a determined squirrel. At least in this case, the homeowner noticed the hole. But if your roof is already shabby, you may not see any squirrel entry signs at all, so get it fixed!
If you have large trees next to your home, they probably have long branches that arch over your roof. This is another way animals, especially raccoons and squirrels, can get onto your roof and into your attic. Don’t make it easy for them! Trim back long branches to make sure that the only way to get on your roof is by climbing, which brings us to the next tip.
Remove Clutter Around the House
Do you have a tower of plastic chairs piled up next to your garage after this year’s family reunion? Or maybe you keep your firewood right against your home? Whatever it is, be sure to clear the space around your house and garage, especially if your garage is attached to the house. This will give wildlife critters fewer opportunities to make it to your roof and attic.
Examine the Gable Vents
A gable vent may be too difficult for a raccoon to reach, depending on its location, but it’s perfect for bats. Gable vents with loose or missing covers or damaged screens can serve as a bat access point, leading to an entire bat colony overwintering in your attic. Make sure your gable vent cover is intact, as well as the screen behind it. Your gable vent may not have a screen at all, in which case small critters like bats, birds and squirrels could be getting in through the gaps in the grille.
Cap Your Chimney
Besides the attic, a chimney is another popular place for wildlife to nest. And if your chimney is missing a cap, animals have no trouble accessing it. As you are getting your chimney inspected before the start of the heating season, have a chimney cap installed if you don’t have one. When you are doing all these home repairs, first ensure that there are no animals already living in your attic or chimney. Avoid sealing them in, as it may lead to even more problems. If you suspect that there could be wildlife invaders in your home, contact Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control today to get them safely removed.