COVID-19 Animal Transmission

fruit bat

We have the same questions you do – can animals spread COVID-19 to humans? Here’s what science has told us so far.

Overview

Currently, evidence suggests humans can pass the virus to animals during close contact. However, the likelihood of animals passing it to humans is rare.

To clarify, coronavirus is a family of viruses and has multiple strains, including COVID-19. Some strains of coronavirus can only infect animals.  However, COVID-19 was believed to have mutated into a strain that jumped from a bat to a human.

Current Evidence and Published Studies

According to the CDC, cats and dogs have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Earlier in the pandemic, lions at Barcelona Zoo tested positive in addition to snow leopards. A variety of feline species can and has tested positive for COVID-19.

Another study showed that fruit bats, ferrets, and golden Syrian hamsters can be infected with the virus and spread it to each other in a laboratory setting. However, in the same study, mice, pigs, and poultry did not become infected or spread the infection.

Recently, we have learned that animals around the world have been infected with COVID-19. Other companion animals such as ferrets and hamsters have been infected. A more extensive list of infected animals from the CDC can be found here.

CDC Recommendations

The CDC recommends those who test positive for COVID-19 should avoid close contact with pets, livestock, and wildlife.

For house pets, the CDC recommends isolating your pets as you would another human living in your household. It is proven that house pets can spread it to other house pets. Moreover, humans can spread it to animals. If one pet is sick, the CDC also recommends isolating it from other pets in your home.

As more information becomes available, we continue to research and learn as much about the virus as possible. As we work closely with animals, we take all proper precautions outlined by the CDC and PA Game Commission to keep you, your family, and our team safe.

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

Woodpecker-On-Tree

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

What do woodpeckers 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.

Additionally, most male woodpeckers have red markings on the tops of their heads. Many 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 the wood when no insects are present. They drum to mark territory, nest, and communicate with other species of woodpeckers.

Moreover, drumming is performed on wooden components of a home, like 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, preventing pests from spreading to nearby healthy trees. However, if the area has a low amount of unhealthy trees, they will 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 are 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 ones aren’t present. One-way doors are placed in their common entry points. These doors allow the birds to leave, but not return. Once they have left, we seal the home to prevent birds or other animals from entering. We also offer custom solutions to protect or cover the wood elements of your home. In some cases, we use a visual deterrent to discourage them from returning.

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

Bat Houses

Bat House

Over the years, we’ve received a fair share of questions about bat houses. The most common ones are “Will adding a bat house draw them out of the house?” or “Can you seal the home and install a bat house to keep them around?”

Most of the time, the houses are ineffective. This can be due to a variety of factors from location to temperature. We’ll highlight why bat houses aren’t a solution for bat exclusion.

What are they supposed to do?

The main theory of a bat house is to deter them from entering your home or structure. It’s thought to provide a small space for bats to comfortably reside with nearby food and water source. Bats then take care of insect pests like mosquitos.

Why bats rarely use bat houses

If bats aren’t using the bat house, more than likely it was incorrectly constructed. On the other hand, it could be constructed perfectly and placed in an unfavorable location.

Sugarloaf Bat Tower
Front view of Sugarloaf Bat Tower

A perfect example is Sugarloaf Bat Tower in the Florida Keys. A very large bat house was constructed for mosquito control. Over the course of 80 years, not a single bat lived in the tower.

When given the option, bats will most likely choose an attic over a bat house. They want to live in a home or structure that is warm, dry, and safe. This is why exclusion is the most important part of preventing bats from entering your home. Bats can easily squeeze into any space the size of a quarter, and make your attic their new home. Any potential entry points near a bat house will most likely be exploited.

The downsides of active bat houses

Most recommendations for placing a house state that attaching it to your home is more attractive, rather than mounting it onto a post or in a tree. Home-mounted ones are most successful due to the warmth homes produce. However, this is also attracting them to your home and enticing them to search for entry points.

Moreover, bats are common carriers of rabies. If you have children or live in a neighborhood with children, the risk of someone being bitten is higher. In addition, guano (bat droppings) can contain histoplasmosis which is fatal to humans.

While we don’t recommend placing bat houses on your property unless your home is sealed by a professional, The National Wildlife Federation outlines a step-by-step process for constructing one.

Preventative Measures for Winter

As it gets colder outside, many animals are in search of protection against the elements. We’ll talk about how to secure your home for winter to prevent animals from gaining access to your home. 

Last winter, we wrote a blog about animals and their hibernation habits, but not all animals in Pennsylvania hibernate throughout the entire winter. 

Inspections and Sealing

First and foremost, we recommend a general inspection be performed of the home. This helps us identify any weak spots or openings that would allow an animal to gain access to your home or property. Some animals such as squirrels, mice, and rats can gain access through a hole the size of a quarter, or enlarge the hole to get inside. 

Vent Guards and Custom Screening

Commonly, animals gain access through vents. Most gable end vents have light screening installed but this allows animals to chew through. Moreover, squirrels and raccoons will chew through, gaining access to your attic.

Securing Pet Food and Garbage

Securing any pet food and garbage also prevents animals from being attracted to your home. Opossums are attracted to pet food and are often caught using pet doors.

Additionally, any bird feeders should be emptied as they have migrated. Ultimately, unsecured food will attract other unwanted animals to your property. Making sure that all doors, especially shed and garage doors, are tightly closed also prevents animals from getting into unwanted places. Sometimes, a damaged seal on a garage door or entry door is an easy point of entry to your garage.

Chimney Caps

Chimney caps are another recommended method of protection. Not only do chimney caps prevent animals from entering, but there’s also a variety of benefits achieved from installing a chimney cap. Fire prevention, moisture damage prevention, and downdraft reduction are all additional benefits. 

During a job we completed a few years ago, a family opened the damper to start a fire and the damper had gotten stuck. A squirrel came down their chimney and was unable to climb up.

We recommended a chimney cap, however, we manually shut the damper upon the customer’s request. But later that week, the damper was opened for another fire and became stuck again. Another squirrel ended up in their fireplace. Ultimately, they ended up with a chimney cap installation! 

Your Local Animal Removal Experts

We’re licensed by the PA Game Commission and follow all of their guidelines for trapping and removal. If you experience any of these issues throughout the winter, give us a call or use our contact form.

Types of Bats in Pennsylvania

Bat Hanging From Tree

There are a few different types of bats in Pennsylvania; if you see a bat it is most likely a little brown bat or a big brown bat. Bats are protected and heavily control bug populations near their roosting (nesting) sites.

Bats are also common carriers of rabies, and great care must be taken throughout the removal and repair process.

About Little Brown Bats

Little Brown Bats are the most common bats in PA. Their fur is golden, red, or olive brown featuring a darker face. Their feet and wing membranes are black.

They prefer to create their nests, or roosts, in buildings, trees, woodpiles, caves, or manmade structures.

However, their populations are dwindling due to white-nose syndrome. White-nose syndrome is a fungus that attacks bats during hibernation periods. The disease is fatal for bats but it does not affect humans.

About Big Brown Bats

Big brown bags have brown, glossy fur. Their wing membranes, face, and feet are dark brown to black. They are much larger than little brown bats, their wingspan stretches up to 13 inches!

Big brown bats can migrate hundreds of miles, and their larger size allows them to hibernate in lower temperatures compared to other Northern American bat species.

Big brown bats hibernate in similar conditions as the little brown bats.

Hibernation

Bats enter torpor, or hibernation when their body temperature is able to drop to near freezing. A bat’s heart rate drops from 200-300 beats per minute to 10 beats per minute. Moreover, they can even go for a few minutes without taking a breath.

In torpor, bats’ energy consumption is reduced by 98%; this allows them to remain in torpor for a few hours or even up to a month in winter. If bats wake up or are disturbed often, they burn through the fat they have stored for the winter before springtime.

Bat Removal

With new developments and construction, bats may be forced out of their homes. However, they reintegrate themselves back into the new environment, making your home their new home.

Additionally, the most common signs of bats in your home are chirping or rustling sounds. As nocturnal animals, these noises likely occur in the evening, late at night, or early in the morning. They also leave grease-stained appearances on components near their entry points.

As mentioned before, bats are protected and there are restrictions on the timing of removal. Depending on what season it is, we can place one-way doors along with sealing secondary entry points, which ensures bats can leave, but not return.

During the summer, we cannot place one-way doors until the young are large enough to fly if a maternal colony is present. We can seal secondary entry points, but primary entry points must remain open.

Repair and Remediation

In addition to sealing entry points, we also offer other methods of exclusion. Chimney caps, custom screening, and vent covers are all preventative services we offer for bats and other animals.

We also offer cleanup of bat droppings (guano). Guano is hazardous due to the potential presence of histoplasmosis, we use HEPA-filtered vacuums and PPE to prevent transmission.

Give us a call or use our contact form for the removal and repair of different types of bats in Pennsylvania!

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