As colder temperatures roll in during the early fall months, many homeowners might be scrambling to winter-proof their home. Calling your local HVAC company to do routine maintenance on your furnace, upgrading your attic insulation, and weatherproofing your windows and doors are a few ways that we get ready for the long, cold winters here in New York. However, homeowners aren’t the only ones who are gearing up for the winter during this time of year. Squirrels, possums, mice and other rodents, and non-migratory birds are also all in the process of building their winter nests where they´ll burrow down for the coming months.
For animals that live in urban and suburban areas, a warm, toasty home might seem like a perfect place to overwinter. Having squirrels in the walls, a possum in the attic, or rats in your attic insulation can certainly cause serious problems for homeowners. Below, we take a quick look at some of the potential problems that come with nesting and burrowing critters entering your home. We also explain how you can evict harmful wildlife from your property and keep them out with the most humane animal removal, abatement, and remediation services in Western New York.
The Potential Dangers of Nesting and Burrowing Creatures Overwintering in your Home
What exactly are the risks and hazards that come with having birds in your attic or squirrels in your walls? When animals come into your home, they also bring a part of their outside world with them. From leaves and twigs for a nest, to potentially dangerous unseen pathogens and diseases, having animals in your home can pose some of the following hazards and risks.
Animal Nests Pose a Fire Risk
Animal nests inside your home can pose serious fire risks. For example, if a bird possum decides to build a nest in your chimney, this obviously poses a serious hazard for a chimney fire. Even if the nest does not catch fire, it can obstruct the flow of smoke and thus push carbon monoxide from your fires back into your home.
Furthermore, birds, rodents, and other animals all make their nests from highly flammable materials such as twigs and dried leaves. If these nests are located near your furnace or the ductwork for your home HVAC system, this could lead to a fire.
According to a study conducted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “During the five-year period of 2009-2013, local fire departments responded to an average of 700 home structure fires per year in which animals, including pets and wild animals, contributed to the fire’s start. These fires caused an average of 15 civilian injuries and $13.7 million in direct property damage per year.”
Animals can Bring Zoonotic Diseases into the Home
Furthermore, some animals may also pose a serious health risk for your family by bringing pathogens and zoonotic diseases (diseases that can spread between animals and humans) into your home. To name just one example, possums can carry diseases such as leptospirosis, tuberculosis, relapsing fever, tularemia, spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis, trichomoniasis, and Chagas, none of which you want floating around your attic or wall insulation.
Animals can Also Damage your Home
Lastly, nesting or burrowing animals can also damage your home and potentially reduce the energy efficiency and thermal performance of your home during the long, cold winter months. Rodents, raccoons, possums, and other mammals can ruin the insulation in your walls, attic, and foundation as they build their nests. This can lead to areas of “thermal bridging” in your home where heat can escape. Even one small animal nest in your walls may lead to significantly higher heating bills throughout the winter.
What Can you do to Keep Burrowing and Nesting Animals out of your Home?
Rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes each winter because, just like you, they prefer to spend the cold months indoors. If you don’t want an increased fire risk, potentially dangerous pathogens floating around your home, or ruined attic insulation, what steps can you take to reduce the threat of animals nesting in your home this winter?
- Remove food sources from around home, including pet food and garbage cans.
- Trim the tree limbs that may be close to your roof and gutters.
- Completely seal your home´s building envelope to not allow any entranceways to animals.
- Put screens on all vents, exhausts, and apertures in your home that cannot be sealed.
- Motion-sensor lights and water sprinklers can also scare animals away.
What can I do if I already have Animals Burrowing in my Home?
If you already have mice, raccoons, possums, birds, or other animals building their nests in your home, you might consider calling a professional animal remover who has the experience to safely and effectively trap and remove unwanted visitors. WNY Wildlife & Exclusion has trained professionals who can quickly and humanely find the nest, trap the animal, and remove them before they cause damage to the home. We can also help you identify how the animals found their way into your home in the first place so that you can take steps to avoid future infestations.