By Angie Hicks
It doesn’t take much time or space for a wild creature to make itself at home in your house. A bat, for instance, can enter a hole the size of a half dollar.
While there are steps you can take to prevent unwelcome intruders, once a raccoon, squirrel or other invader gets inside, consider calling a professional, according to highly rated animal removal and pest control experts.
Here are tips from such experts, gathered by our research team:
Don’t assume or delay: If you hear noises in your attic or walls, don’t postpone action and don’t guess at what pest has infiltrated your home. Squirrels, raccoons and even yellow jackets all make scratching sounds, but treatment options vary for different invaders.
A qualified expert can identify a pest by examining droppings, nesting material, gnaw marks, splinters from chewed siding or roofing, or ceiling stains.
Stay clear of creatures: Another reason to hire a pro is that exposure to wild animals or their waste matter can pose health risks, including rabies and histoplasmosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raccoons, opossums and bats are among animals that can carry rabies.
Histoplasmosis, a lung infection, can be contracted if you breathe air containing spores from fungus growing in animals’ fecal matter.
Ask questions: Take time to find out what an animal removal or pest control expert is likely to do for your situation. Because each state independently regulates wildlife animal control, extraction methods vary greatly.
Also, animal release guidelines vary from state to state. Options may include trapping live animals and installing exclusion doors that let animals leave but not return. However, some service providers are able to release trapped nuisance animals while others are required by law to humanely euthanize them.
Inspection and removal services typically start at $250, but costs vary depending on location and the type of animal removed.
You may have to spend much more, however, if your unwelcome houseguests leave filth and damage. Some service providers estimate cleanup and material-replacement costs at $1,100 to $6,000 for crawl spaces and $3,000 or more for attics. However, they note, each job is unique and requires comprehensive prepricing evaluation.
Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care. www.angieslist.com.
Expert tips for reducing the chances that wild animals will enter your home:
Keep pet food indoors or sealed in a garage.
Trim trees to limit animals’ roof access.
Clean up dropped seed from under bird feeders. Such seed can attract squirrels, raccoons and other nuisance animals.
Keep your home exterior in good shape. Seal and caulk any opening. Each spring and fall, inspect your home, paying close attention to such animal-entry areas as chimneys and gutters.