AUBURN, Ala.–By not doing one minor house repair, you could potentially be offering an open door to unwanted visitors such as squirrels, bats, raccoons, rats and snakes in your home. Many people that have this issue ask the questions — How do these animals get in? Why do they get in? What are the possible threats? How can I tell if I have a problem? How do I get them to stay out? (Photo, left: Google royalty free image)
Dr. Jim Armstrong, an Alabama Extension specialist and professor in Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, said the main reason that animals come into the attic is to find shelter from the cold or to find a nesting area. There are also a variety of ways the animals can get in.
“Generally, it’s because of home repairs that have not been done,” Armstrong said. “One way is where boards of the house start to age and separate and provide an opening. Most of the animals can get in through an incredibly small space. Another thing that a lot of people don’t pay attention to is the bathroom vent that goes up through the ceiling. It doesn’t have cap on it a lot of the time. If it doesn’t, animals can come through it. So, look out for those types of places.”
Once the animals find their way in, it’s not easy to get them out. They can potentially cause serious structural damage to the home, as well as health hazards. According to Armstrong, animals such as bats can deposit droppings that harbor disease and allergens that can cause people to have a reaction. Rabies is also a possible threat. Rodents also can chew through insulation and electrical wires, which could cause a fire. Vents and pipes can also be damaged, resulting in problems with air conditioning and water leaks.
Auburn resident, Laura Mitchell, said she had a serious problem with bats living in her attic for years. She said if she could’ve figured out the problem sooner, she probably wouldn’t have been infested.
“There was a hole in a screen in the attic where the bats got in,” Mitchell said. “By the time we realized we had a problem, the exterminator, who called himself Bat Man, was afraid to block the hole off because he said the bats would die inside the attic and cause an unbearable smell. He also told me that bats were endangered, and it was mating season. Because of this, the problem never ended.”
They found their way into Mitchell’s house multiple times. “It was horrifying,” she said. Once she walked into her laundry room, and one was hanging from the ceiling. They would fly and crawl through the house. “It felt like we were living in a haunted house.”
Mitchell said they had to focus simply on trying to keep them from getting into the house. She said it would be a good idea to let a bat expert look over a house before you move in, especially if it’s an older home.
(Photo, right: Google royalty free image)
According to Professional Wildlife Removal, there are different ways that you can increase the safety of your home from certain animals who can become pests. Most importantly, frequent inspections of the attic need to be done to check for damage, such as wire damage, and the attic should be thoroughly cleaned of droppings and parasites. This can prevent the possible spread of disease and animal scent that might attract other animals. Another method is to use one-way exclusion doors that let animals out of the attic, but not back in. More information can be found at www.wildlife-removal.com/animal-in-attic.html.
“None of these animals are bad in their natural environment,” Armstrong said. “It’s just when they come into our homes that the problems begin. They don’t belong in people’s houses. There are no good or bad animals. These animals are just doing whatever is necessary to survive.”