Alternatives for removing animals living in places you don't want them

This little critter may look adorable, but Lake Erie Nature & Science Center receives many calls asking how to remove them from unwanted places. Photo by Tim Jasinski.

Do you have an animal living somewhere that you don’t want? Lake Erie Nature & Science Center receives countless calls every year about raccoons nesting in attics, skunks living under porches and other animals taking up residence in places where people don’t want them – in our own homes.

Recently, the Center received a call from a homeowner who had called a trapper to remove a mother and baby raccoon from their attic. However, two more babies remained in the attic, and rather than have the trapper come back for an additional fee, the couple removed the babies on their own and brought them in to the Center.

Unfortunately in Cuyahoga County, raccoons cannot be rehabilitated by professionals or released by trappers because of rabies laws and therefore must be euthanized. However, in most cases there are alternative options to hiring a trapper that can be more beneficial to homeowners and to the invasive animals in the long run.

“There are often first steps that can be done easier or cheaper than live trapping, especially considering that trapping often legally must result in the death of the animal,” said Dave Wolf, Wildlife Director at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

Wolf recommends that homeowners first check to see if it is the nesting season of the animal living in your home.

“If babies are involved, removal of the animals must be approached with extreme caution. If the mother is taken out but the babies are left inside, the mother will do whatever is necessary to get back into your home and find her babies,” said Wolf.

To remove a family of animals, Wolf suggests moving the babies outside while the mother is away foraging for food, and then making certain to securely board up the area before she returns. 

“As long as she has her babies with her, the mother will not try as hard to get back inside and will likely relocate elsewhere. That being said, the mother’s motivation to get back inside will increase greatly if she is separated from her babies,” said Wolf.

When attempting to remove animals on your own, it is crucial to identify what the animal likes about the area and change it. For example, if an animal is living under a porch where it is dark and dry, try illuminating the area with a floodlight and letting a hose run to see if the animal will leave on their own. If you are able to scare the animal out, be certain to board up where they were living because their old home will be just as attractive to the next animal that comes along unless it is closed up. 

Animals often build nests and live in human houses because it is easy for them. A shelter (your house) is already provided and often, garbage or pet food left outside doubles as the animal’s food source. When confronted with the situation of an animal living or nesting in or around your home, many people think that calling a trapper is their only option, but trapping is usually only a temporary fix. Once the animals are removed, it will likely not be long before another animal finds the same location appealing and moves in.

Remember that not every method of removal works in every situation. Each case is unique and different, and in some circumstances, calling in a trapper may be the best decision for a homeowner. If you are dealing with an animal living in your home and would like more information about your options, please call Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-871-2900.

Joanna Galysh

Joanna Galysh is a Community Relations intern at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

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Volume 3, Issue 13, Posted 6:26 PM, 06.28.2011