Animal-Proof Your Home and Yard

Category: Spring 2019, Wild About Wildlife 154 0

Some squirrels, bats, mice, and other small rodents can fit into openings the size of a dime, so make sure there are no holes in your exterior walls, and cover attic vents with mesh.

“Animals usually come in for shelter, not food or water,” says Carly Padilla, Project Wildlife’s education specialist.

If you have a chimney, keep raccoons out with a chimney cap.

Install bird-deterrent flash tape on the edge of your roof—it catches the light, discouraging perching.

To keep raccoons, opossums and skunks out of your yard, remove potential water and food sources.

Protect your garden, keep the yard free of pet food and fallen fruit, and clean up under bird feeders.

“Remove the attractant and animals will move on,” Padilla says.

I Have Unwanted Guests—What Now?

When you encounter babies or mothers, give them time to raise their young and leave. “You never want to orphan baby animals,” says Padilla. A humane wildlife removal expert can help, too.

DIYers can use humane deterrents to encourage pesky animals to leave. Many animals, including skunks, detest apple cider vinegar, so place soaked rags where they like to hang out. Cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil work well in gopher holes, and Mylar streamers can help birds avoid windows.

Have mice or rats? Whatever you do, steer clear of rodenticide. It’s extremely dangerous to the animals that prey on them in turn, and it poses a risk to curious pets.

“The amount of wildlife we have is one thing that makes San Diego so special,” Padilla says.

Enjoy Them!

Why you should appreciate wild critters
Opossums can eat 5,000 ticks per week!
Skunks eat black widow spiders, scorpions, rats and mice!
Raccoons eat, well, just about everything!

Injured Wildlife

If you suspect a wild animal is hurt but aren’t sure, spend some time observing it. Try to ascertain what species it is—that may help determine whether it’s healthy. In San Diego, for example, people often think that grebes have injured legs or feet. In truth, these very capable swimmers just have a goofy-looking gait.

Cottontail rabbits spend just 10 minutes each morning and evening with their kits. That’s actually a defensive strategy: They’re trying to avoid showing predators the location of the nest. Though people discovering baby rabbits instinctively want to protect them, human intervention is rarely necessary.

When Rescue Is Necessary
When an animal does need rescue, transport it in something warm, dark, and quiet, like a cardboard box lined with a towel. Keep pets away from them, turn your car radio off, and hurry. “Stress is the number-one killer of wildlife in care,” Potter says, “so reducing it and getting the animal to us quickly is best.”



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