Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

Woodpecker-On-Tree

While woodpeckers are beautiful and majestic birds, they cause serious damage to homes. At Backyard Wildlife Solutions, we offer preventative methods to keep woodpeckers from drilling into your home.

What do they look like?

In Pennsylvania, we see seven different species of woodpeckers that range from 6 to 18 inches long. They also have a chiseled-like beak used for drilling into trees and other structures.

Furthermore, most male woodpeckers have red markings on the tops of their heads. A lot of woodpeckers have a mixture of white and brown feathers on their body.

What do they do?

Woodpeckers are most commonly known for drumming and their undulating flight. While woodpeckers drill into trees to find food, “drumming” is a rhythmic pecking where they drill into wood while no insects are present. This process is used to establish territory, nest, and communicate with other members of their species.

Moreover, drumming is performed on wooden components of a home, such as siding, shingles, and trim. They will also go after wooden decks and fences.

Surprisingly, woodpeckers will choose unhealthy trees to drill into. They strip bark from dead or dying trees which prevents pests from spreading to nearby healthy trees. However, if the area has a low amount of unhealthy trees, they have to drill into healthy ones.

What Diseases Do They Carry?

As we have highlighted before, birds make very large messes. They leave nesting debris and their droppings contain many diseases. Histoplasmosis, which is fatal to humans, is found in their droppings. West Nile Virus, E.Coli, and Salmonella is also found in their droppings.

How Do We Deal with Woodpeckers?

Woodpeckers are a protected species. If they are in your home, we can use one-way doors to flush them out when eggs or young aren’t present. Once they have left, we are able to seal the home to prevent reentry. Moreover, we also offer custom solutions to cover wood elements of your home. In some cases, we also use a visual deterrent to discourage them from returning.

If you are hearing a woodpecker drilling on your home or you believe they may be in your home, please call 717-419-0781 or use our contact form. Backyard Wildlife Solutions are your licensed wildlife control technicians for woodpeckers and other animals. We are currently serving all of Central PA: ‎Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, York, and surrounding counties.

Chimney Cap Installation

Chimney Cap on Brick Chimney

You may ask, “What are the benefits of having a chimney cap?” There are multiple benefits of having one installed onto your home. While chimney caps keep animals out of your chimney, they reduce moisture damage, block downdrafts, and prevent sparks from landing onto your roof.

Critter Control

First and foremost, it keeps animals out of your chimney. If you have had experience with a squirrel, bird, or raccoon falling or flying into your home, a chimney cap is a preventative measure our technicians strongly recommend. If you haven’t yet experienced this, the installation would prevent any future animal issues with the chimney.

Moisture Damage

Moreover, it prevents rainwater from entering the chimney and sheds water off the chimney top to prevent mortar damage. Rainwater also damages stainless steel liners, dampers, and mortar joints. Ultimately, built-up moisture from rain creates expensive damage. They also prevent branches, leaves, and other debris from falling into your chimney.

Downdrafts

Has your living room ever filled with smoke while using the fireplace? This is usually caused by a downdraft. Depending which way the wind is blowing, it causes a gust of air that sends the smoke down the chimney and into the fireplace. The design of a chimney cap also blocks wind.

Fire Hazards

Additionally, it stops sparks and embers from landing on the roof. Smoke easily carries these up the chimney; however, a chimney cap is designed to block these. It prevents a fire on your roof.

If these benefits sound appealing, don’t hesitate to give us a call 717-419-0781 or use our contact form! We safely remove any animals and install stainless steel chimney caps with a lifetime warranty. We have access to a full range of standard and custom caps. Backyard Wildlife Solutions has over 15 years of experience in animal removal and installing chimney caps. We currently serve all of Central PA including Lebanon, York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and surrounding counties.

About an Opossum

Opossum on a Fence

A Few Facts About an Opossum

‘Opossum’ not ‘Possum’

Opossums are North America’s only marsupial. When their young are very small, they are carried in the mother’s pouch. Once they are too large for the pouch, they hang onto their mothers back. They are often confused with Australia’s tree climbing marsupial, the possum.

Playing Dead

Opossums are most commonly known for faking their death. It is actually an involuntary response similar to our “fight or flight” response. Because they are slow movers, their bodies become limp and unresponsive when a threat is present. Additionally, they even secrete a foul smelling odor to mislead their predators.

The Good and Bad About Opossums

Opossums will mostly eat anything. This includes ticks, cockroaches, and rats. Even though those meals are beneficial, it also means they raid your trash cans, pet food, and yard. Finding your garbage scattered all over your driveway or lawn is not the most pleasant way to start your day!

Furthermore, they are also excellent climbers. This means they will find a way into your attic, and turn it into their bathroom. This can be a lengthy and expensive cleaning process. Opossums also like to live under your deck, shed, or crawlspace.

While they aren’t known for carrying rabies, they carry a variety of parasites. If you own horses, they can potentially spread EPM which is fatal.

If you believe an opossum is under your deck, shed, or living in your attic, please call 717-419-0781 or use our contact form. Backyard Wildlife Solutions are your licensed wildlife control technicians for opossum removal and other animals. We are currently serving all of Central PA: ‎Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, York, and surrounding counties.

The Rabies Vaccine

Receiving the rabies vaccine is not the most pleasant experience. Len, our owner and operator, has experienced these vaccines.

Rabies is an overwhelming topic, so we’ll start with the basics. Rabies is a disease caused by a virus. Furthermore, it attacks the brain and the central nervous system. We’ll explain how the disease is transmitted, what to do if you’re exposed, symptoms of rabies, and the rabies vaccine.

How is it Transmitted?

Infected saliva must touch a break in the skin. This can occur multiple ways: being bitten by an animal or an animal licking a break in the skin. Additionally, if an animal licks one’s nose, mouth, or eyes it can be transmitted. Extremely common carriers of rabies include groundhogs, skunks, raccoons, bats, dogs, cats, coyotes, and foxes.

Potential Exposure

If you have been bitten, immediately clean the wound with soap and water. If possible, try to observe the animal. Moreover, observation should take place for ten days to see if it exhibits unusual behavior. If the animal does not act strange, you may not need the vaccine. On the other hand, it is always better to be safe.

Additionally, if the animal has been or can be captured, it can be tested. Contact the PA State Game Commission for help when capturing a potentially rabid animal. The Department of Agriculture provides more information about testing.

If no one is familiar with the animal and it can’t be observed, contact your local health department or an infectious disease expert. The disease expert can often be reached at your local hospital. The CDC should also be contacted.

Symptoms of Rabies

After exposure, rabies has a very long incubation period. This period can range anywhere from two weeks to two months. Once the symptoms start, there is no stopping them. Not getting the vaccine isn’t worth the risk. Ultimately, it’s always fatal and non reversible.

Early Signs of Rabies:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore Throat
  • Vomiting
  • Headache

More Advanced Signs:

  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty Swallowing

Final symptoms of rabies consist of paralysis, coma, and death.

The Rabies Vaccine

If you think that you may be exposed, consult with your doctor. Only hospitals carry the two-part vaccine, so an ER visit is necessary.

The exposure vaccine is completed in 4 doses:

First, one dose is given right away which is paired with the immune globulin. The globulin kick-starts the immune system and provides protection before the vaccine works.

Next, another dose is given at the third day. It is followed by a dose the seventh day. Finally, the last dose is given on the fourteenth day.

Comparatively, a preventative vaccine is another option. It’s extremely beneficial for people who work around animals such as a veterinarian or an animal control expert.

Vaccine Symptoms

Furthermore, there is a wide list of side effects and complications that can occur with the vaccine. As with any shot, soreness, redness, swelling or itching is very common near the injection site. In addition, a lower percentage of recipients experience headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, and dizziness.

Keep an eye out for symptoms that indicate an allergic reaction:

  • High Fever
  • Behavior Changes
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the Face and Throat
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Elevated Heart Rate

Mice Removal from Your Home

mouse_on_ground

While the temperature continues to drop, mice find their way into homes. Searching for warmer areas, they create nests in attics, basements, or low-traffic areas. While traps are sold at common stores, mice removal can be tricky.

The Differences in Mice

There are two types of mice; the house mouse and the field mouse.

The house mouse ranges from two to three inches in length. Their triangular noses are complimented with long whiskers and large, floppy ears. Their tails are hairy but also long and thin.

The most noticeable difference from these two are their fur color. House mice have gray fur while field mice are brown with white bellies. The field mouse has similar features to the house mouse, but is slightly larger in size.

Why are they a nuisance?

Mice make nests anywhere they see fit. Contrary to their name, field mice will also live in homes.

They are nocturnal and very social, it’s not uncommon to see them. On the contrary, they are very territorial.

Common signs of mice in a home include scratching within walls or ceilings and rustling noises in living areas. Their nests include any scraps of material or trash that can be dragged with their tiny bodies. Once in your home, they can create structural damage from chewing. In some instances, they generate fires from chewed wiring.

Moreover, a very bad sign is a foul odor, it can indicate dead mice in your walls. Other signs include urine stains on ceilings and droppings on flat surfaces.

Mice Removal and Clean Up

Setting a few traps should get the job done, right? Well, mice can be difficult. Traps must be placed at appropriate locations in order to be successful. House mice are very smart, often they can eat the bait without setting off the traps. If not placed correctly, they will set off the trap while getting away.

As wildlife professionals, we have over 15 years of experience with mice. With proper trapping methods, we remove the mice quickly and efficiently.

Most diseases you could receive from mice are present in their droppings. Additionally, using improper cleanup methods will cause diseases to go airborne. We offer clean-up services to minimize the risk of spreading any diseases.

Backyard Wildlife Solutions are the professionals you need for mice removal in Hershey, York, Lebanon, Lancaster, and other surrounding areas. If you live in or nearby these locations, please call 717-419-0781 or contact us.

Flying Squirrels

Flying Squirrel in Air

The term “flying squirrel” is a misnomer. They don’t fly; they glide from tree to tree or other higher structures. Flying squirrels also create a lot of noise, especially inside attics.

How are they different?

Flying squirrels are very different compared to other squirrels. They have a patagium which is basically a furry-like parachute that allows them to glide. Moreover, the membrane extends from their wrists to their ankles. Their broad, flattened tail provides stability, while the limbs allow them to steer during flight.

They are much smaller than a typical squirrel. Additionally, their fur ranges from a tan to rust color and their bellies feature white fur. Because of their smaller size, their eyes appear to be more prominent.

What Do They Do?

Their diet is very similar to other squirrels. They munch on acorns, seeds, and bird eggs. At only five weeks old, gliding is practiced. By ten weeks, they are ready to explore their surroundings.

Flying squirrels launch themselves from a high branch and spread their limbs to catch air. Furthermore, their slight movements are what allow them to steer. The wide tail is used for braking during landing. Surprisingly, they glide up to 150 feet in a single launch!

As nocturnal rodents, they are also active throughout the year. They prefer to live in colonies, which can contain up to 30 squirrels! Big hollow trees shield their colonies from extreme weather. Furthermore, mature trees that provide nuts and seeds are also ideal.

Common Damage Caused by Flying Squirrels

The smallest entry points are as big as a quarter. Often, entry is found through construction gaps, dormer and louver vents, chimneys, and fascia boards. Like most rodents, they will also chew through electrical wiring and cause fires.

Flying squirrels are some of the messiest rodents. They leave black stains on walls, ceilings, and soffit panels. Moreover, droppings are a noticeable sign of entry. Furthermore, their chewing and rustling creates a lot of noise. Outdoors, they strip bark from trees, dig holes, raid bird feeders and gardens.

Removal and Exclusion

Trapping is the most effective way to get rid of flying squirrels. Due to their communal living habits, it takes time and patience of an experienced wildlife professional. In some instances, we use one-way doors so the squirrels leave, but are unable to return.

After removal is complete, we seal all entry points and offer methods of safe clean up. Droppings can contain a wide variety of bacteria and should be handled by a wildlife technician.

If you believe flying squirrels are living in your attic, feel free to call us at 717-419-0781 or use our contact form.

Moles in Lancaster, PA

Eastern Mole on Molehill

Moles and Your Yard

Although you pay the most attention to lawn damage in the warmer months, moles are active year round. During winter, they burrow further into the soil. Meanwhile, mating season spans from March to June.

We typically see two types of moles in Central Pennsylvania; the star-nosed and the eastern. Star-nosed prefer to live near water and damp areas; they are semi-aquatic. Eastern moles like well-drained soil including your lawn and garden. Moreover, they are categorized as insectivores; mainly eating earth worms, grubs, and other underground arthropods.

Their Appearance

Their cylindrical-shaped bodies are covered by brown or gray fur. They range from four to nine inches including their tail length. The feet, nose, and tail are all pink, flesh-like features. While the eastern has a conventional snout, the star nosed has tentacle-like appendages. In short, they use their noses as a touch organ to identify their dinner and other moles.

front view of star nosed mole
Star Nosed Mole

Lawn and Garden Damage

In ideal conditions, moles can tunnel up to eighteen feet per hour. That’s a lot of tunneling even with a moderately sized yard! When soil is pushed forward ahead of the mole, it creates mounds or mole hills. These mounds are a telltale sign of your new resident. As they create their expansive system of tunneling, they disconnect roots and uproot new plants. They don’t actually eat the roots, but these are often in the way of their dinner!

Common Mole Myths

“Moles are Blind” – Although their eyes aren’t always visible, they are not blind! They do have poorly developed eyesight.

“Poisons are Effective” – We haven’t seen any successful mole poisons. Trapping assures that they stay away.

“Flattening their tunnels will make them leave” – They will keep digging regardless. It’s what they’re born to do!

Mole Removal Process

First, we assess the area using our knowledge and experience. Once we form a plan, we can then begin trapping. All traps we use are approved by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. In order to be effective, traps must be placed in their tunneling systems. Once we have caught the offenders, you may implement repair. Depending on the damage, flattening the tunnels is an ideal solution. If damage is extensive, we will recommend other solutions for lawn aftercare.

If you believe you have unwanted lawn residents, don’t hesitate to call 717-419-0781 or contact us.

Backyard Wildlife Solutions performs mole removal in Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Carlisle, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg, York, Reading, and surrounding areas.

DIY Animal Removal Mistakes

When an unexpected visitor enters your home, there are many ways to react.  Unless you have had professional training, you may make some typical mistakes when removing animals.

Here are some common mistakes many homeowners make while attempting nuisance animal removal.

Infographic of DIY Animal Removal Mistakes

About our professional removal process

At Backyard Wildlife Solutions, we find trapping to be the most effective method of removal for most animals. Furthermore, all of our traps and methods are approved by the Pennsylvania State Game Commission. We also use proper equipment and techniques during clean up to prevent the spread of bacteria and disease. During repair, we use a practical approach which includes matching materials to your home’s aesthetic.

Overall, DIY methods of animal removal can be dangerous. Feel free to call us at 717-419-0781 or use our contact form to receive assistance from a licensed wildlife technician.

 

EPM Threat to Horses from Opossums

Opossums and your horse’s health

Many horse owners have some awareness of diseases that can be contracted by horses and an understanding of steps to take to keep them healthy.  One disease that horse owners in North America (particularly on the east coast) should be aware of is EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis).

EPM is a neurological disease which can be subtle and difficult to diagnose but no less distressing for the horse and its owner.  Moreover, it is important that owners are aware of the disease as it can be fatal, particularly if it goes untreated.

EPM is caused by a parasite called Sarcocystis Neurona. The nasty parasite attacks the brain and spinal cord. In addition, it can cause devastating and long lasting damage to the nervous system.

Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis can be treated and horses can recover well, if diagnosed and treated quickly. Furthermore, horses usually show improvement after a few of weeks of treatment.

How is EPM Contracted?

The primary cause of EPM is from opossum feces.  Consequently, horses contract the disease from eating contaminated feed or grazing.

What are the symptoms?

EPM can present itself subtly and severely.  It can present symptoms similar to several other equine neurological diseases. Symptoms include:

  • Changes in gait, lameness
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Problems balancing with lifted hoof
  • Incoordination (worse going up or down slopes)
  • Muscle atrophy, usually over shoulders
  • Paralysis of muscles of the eyes, face or mouth, evident by drooping eyes, ears or lips.
  • Mild depression
  • Trouble swallowing, dropping feed.
  • Leaning on a wall for balance
  • Loss of sensation along the face, neck or body.
  • A drooping lip or repeated facial twitch
  • Change in vision
  • Dropped feed or trouble swallowing
  • Head tilt
  • Drooping ear
  • Changes in behavior, including throwing the rider

How to prevent EPM?

As there are no preventable vaccines the best defense is to keep opossums away from horses and their feed. Keep exposed feed covered and remove garbage as soon as possible.

If you have a problem with opossums on your property, particularly if they pose a threat to your horse’s safety, don’t hesitate to call us for professional opossum removal, we serve most of central Pennsylvania.

Snake Removal Harrisburg

Snake Removal/Black Rat Snake

Snake Removal in Harrisburg, PA

The most common snakes in our area are black snakes and garter snakes. These snakes primarily feed on rodents and bugs. While those benefits are appealing, snakes living inside your home isn’t ideal.

About Snakes

Snakes are cold blooded meaning they can’t maintain a body temperature higher than the environments temperature. Some snakes prefer to hang out around rocks; they lounge on top of the rock to warm up or slither underneath it for shade. Most prefer environments around 55 degrees. Furthermore, they can survive in a 45-degree environment. Comparatively, at 32 degrees they will freeze to death.

Black Snakes

The average black rat snake ranges from forty to seventy inches. These snakes are the ones responsible for keeping mice and rats away. Moreover, they often hibernate in basements during the winter months. During the spring and summer, they like areas with loose soil, sandy habitats, or decaying leaves.

A large rat snake, around six to seven feet, can actually eat a raccoon or opossum.

Garter Snake

Common garter snakes range from twenty to twenty-eight inches long. They are found in a variety of places; cultivated fields, swamps, lawns, and gardens. Additionally, the eastern garter snake is the most common in Pennsylvania.

Their colors range from green to dark brown with prominent yellow stripes. Contrary to the popular belief, these snakes do have venom. However, it is not toxic to humans; it only slows down their prey.

What do they do?

Snakes enter homes and structures through small gaps around the perimeter. This also includes open basement windows or cracks in the foundation. Moreover, they enter in search of shelter, food, or both.

While entry points near ground level are ideal, black snakes are excellent climbers. They often climb brick, siding, or other rough surfaces to gain access to gaps along the roofline.

Are they dangerous?

Many non-venomous snakes are often mistaken for venomous snakes. The wide range of patterns and colors causes a lot of misidentification. In the Susquehanna Valley, the majority of our snakes are non-venomous.

About the Snake Removal Process

All snakes in PA are protected by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. For more information about local breeds of snakes, click here to be taken to their official website.

First, we fully inspect the perimeter of your home during the initial site visit. From there, we discuss trapping and removal options. We can then place traps and physically remove snakes without harm. Additionally, we relocate them to more suitable locations. Moreover, a range of exclusion techniques are available to prevent future issues.

If you have a snake or another animal in your home, call (717) 419-0781, or use our contact form.

Backyard Wildlife Solutions offers snake removal service in Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Carlisle, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg, York, Reading, and surrounding areas.