What are some common wildlife problems in North Carolina?
If you’re having a problem with wildlife in or around your structure, you’re not alone. Raccoons and other wild animals are increasingly invading properties in order to find food, water, and shelter. Opportunity is one reason for activity. Another reason- urban growth. Development associated with growth often pushes animals from their natural environments and forces them to survive in ours. At A-1 Pest Control, we often receive calls about wildlife issues in homes and businesses. The most frequent offenders are highlighted below.
Adult raccoons grow to be about the size of a housecat; they are about two to three feet in length and they weigh between 10 and 30 pounds. Raccoons have a fluffy black and gray ringed tail and their stocky body is covered in salt and pepper colored fur. Raccoons also have a black “mask” of fur that covers their eyes. The raccoon’s hind legs are longer than their front legs which makes them appeared to be hunched when walking. Raccoons are most active in the spring, summer and fall seasons, and they spend the coldest part of the winter tucked away in their dens. Unfortunately, they’ll take shelter in, under, or around man-made structures.
Little brown bats are small in size, adults only grow up to 3 ¾ of an inch in length. Their leathery wings have a wingspan that reaches up to 11 inches in length. The females of the species are generally a bit larger in size than the males. Their fur is dark brown in color with some gray; their ears are black in color and are rounded in shape. Another species that is common in our area is the big brown bat, they are larger in size than little brown bats, they grow to up to five inches in length and their wingspan reaches up to 14 inches in length. Their ears, feet, and face are dark brown in color; their bodies are light brown to dark brown in color.
Adult skunks grow to between 20 and 30 inches in length, their tail adds another 7-15 inches to their total length. Adults weigh between 2.5 and 11.5 pounds. Skunks are easily identified by the white stripe running down the length of their black bodies. Skunk burrows are often found underneath decks, sheds, porches, garages, and foundations.
Eastern gray squirrels are the most common type of squirrel in North Carolina and are found throughout the entire state. They are tree squirrels that spend the majority of their time in trees. That is, unless they find a way into homes and other structures. As their name suggests, these squirrels are gray in coloring with lighter colored underbellies. Not including their long bushy tail, squirrels grow up to 14 inches in length.
Cotton Mouth Snakes
Also known as water moccasins, cotton mouth snakes get their name from the white color found in their mouth. They are a member of the viper family and rank 4th in toxicity levels for venomous snakes in North Carolina. Cotton mouth snakes are a pit vapor and therefore have facial pits to sense heat. They have heads that are wider than their necks and their bodies are patterned with dark crossbands which have light olive or brown colored centers. Older snakes may be completely dark in color and devoid of any pattern. As their nickname suggests, these snakes are almost always found living next to or very near a water source.
Black snakes are also referred to as rat snakes (their diet consists mainly of rodents) and grow up to 70 inches in length. This medium-sized snake is black in color and covered in upturned scales. They are not a venomous snake and aren’t known to be aggressive. They are often found on the ground but can be found in trees and really anywhere you might find mice and rats.
Another venomous snake, Copperheads have stout bodies and typically grow between two and four feet in length. Colorful snakes, they are patterned with dark bands which create an hourglass-like shape. Like cotton mouth snakes, they are pit vipers and have two heat sensing pits located between their eyes and nostrils. These venomous snakes prefer to live in wooded areas and despite their reputation, they would rather retreat than attack a person. Most bites from venomous copperheads come from an accidental meeting or when people attempt to handle them.
Despite their name flying squirrels do not actually fly, instead they jump and glide confidently from tree to tree, tree to home, or home to home using a specialized membrane that is found between their front and back legs. The most common species found in North Carolina is the Southern flying squirrel. These small tree squirrels have grayish-brown fur and a lighter colored underbelly; their bodies grow to between 5 and 6 inches in length. They also have unique large black eye which provide nocturnal flying squirrels with superior night vision.
Are wildlife dangerous?
All wildlife have the potential to be dangerous. They have the ability to carry and transmit bacteria and disease, including rabies, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (a respiratory disease caused by exposure to fresh urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents), and histoplasmosis (a lung infection caused by inhaling fungus spores often found in bat droppings). Venomous snake bites also are a serious health risk and can produce symptoms such as intense pain, swelling, nausea, and damage to muscle and bone tissue. If bit by a venomous snake, medical attention should be sought immediately.
In addition to the health risks, wild animals damage homes and buildings including drywall, insulation, and other building materials. They’ll also destroy belongings.
How do wildlife get in?
Wild animals are opportunistic; they’ll use any opening or make their own to get in. Here are few of the more common entry points for wildlife in our region:
- Through chimneys that are not capped.
- Through gaps and holes found around the roofline.
- Through vents that are not properly covered.
- Through opening in the foundation or crawl spaces found underneath of decks, porches, or steps.
- Through shed, garage, or basement doors that are open for long periods of time.
Also, if a space is not quite big enough for a wild animal to squeeze through they will often use their claws and teeth to open up the space to make a more comfortable entrance and exit.
What to do if you think you have a wildlife problem
If you have reason to think your home or business has been invaded by wildlife, contact a wildlife control expert right away. Do not attempt to resolve the problem on your own. Wild animals are unpredictable and may become aggressive if cornered or threatened. At A-1 Pest Control, we offer comprehensive wildlife control for bats, snakes, raccoons, and other animals common to our area.
How do you get rid of wildlife?
To successfully remove unwanted dangerous and damaging wildlife, A-1 Pest Control provides North Carolina property owners with a comprehensive solution including a consultation, thorough inspection, and treatment. Service is based on the type of wildlife problem and will be explained in depth to ensure you understand the process. Give us a call or simply fill out our form for more information.
How do you prevent wildlife from entering?
To keep wildlife out of your structure, you must make sure they cannot get inside in the first place. You should also correct the conditions that attract them. Sealing openings, repairing holes, and capping chimneys are good prevention measures as are implementing proper sanitation efforts, removing potential food sources, and filling in holes around foundations, sheds, and decks. We also recommend trimming trees back from the side of the house or roofline.