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

Because COVID-19 is a newer virus, there is minimal data available. At this time, the transmission is believed to be very low.

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. More recently, lions at Barcelona Zoo tested positive for COVID-19. In another instance, snow leopards tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. While it’s evident that the feline species can contract COVID-19, many other species are still in question.

A recent 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.

These studies were based upon a small number of animals and do not indicate whether animals can spread the infection to people.

House pets can spread it to other house pets. Moreover, humans can spread it to animals.

CDC Recommendations

However, 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.

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 keep 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

More than likely, the house is 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 for 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.

Hibernation Habits

squirrel in snow by tree trunk

As we progress into the colder months, it’s important to be aware of animals to look out for. Some animals will be entering hibernation and searching for warmer spots to migrate to. On the other hand, some animals do not hibernate at all.

We’ll go over common animals we see in the winter, their hibernation habits, and signs to watch out for.

Opossums

To start off, opossums do not hibernate due to their low body fat content, but they do search for warm shelter. This includes venturing indoors into your attic, chimney, or crawlspace.

Opossums move around a lot throughout the winter to avoid predators. A male opossum, fitted with a tracking device, visited over 19 different dens in 5 months according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Bats

Bats such as little brown bats and big brown bats can hibernate for more than 6 months waiting for the return of insects. They prefer caves, mines, rock crevices, attics, and chimneys. However, bats do not stay asleep the whole time. A common sign of bats in your attic includes noise or rustling. If an area gets too cold, they’ll move to a warmer area or vice versa.

Moles

While it may appear that moles have disappeared from your property, they have only burrowed further below the frozen surface. Their molehills may not be present, but as the ground thaws in the spring the mounds will reappear.

Raccoons

Similar to the opossum, raccoons do not hibernate but search for warm dens. However, in extreme temperatures, they can sleep up to a month. Although they are usually solitary creatures, some will den in groups during the coldest days of the winter.

Squirrels

During the warmer months, squirrels gather and stash their food for the winter season because they do not enter hibernation sleep. Throughout the day, they are active outside. However, they do stay in their nests during extreme weather conditions. If you hear rustling coming from your attic during the day, squirrels may be nested in your attic.

Groundhogs

Groundhogs are one of the few critters we deal with that do hibernate from the first frost until April. The first frost usually happens between October and November, they then retreat to their burrows. The colder weather triggers a hormone that helps them sleep for the duration of winter.

Removal and Preventative Services

While winter is a less active season for animals, it is the perfect opportunity to have your home inspected and sealed prior to their reappearance in springtime. Chimney capsvent guards, and custom screening protect their most common entry points.

If you believe animals have made their way into your home for the winter, give us a call or use our contact form for removal and remediation!

7 Signs You Should Call an Animal Removal Professional

We’ll highlight some telltale signs that you might need assistance from an experienced wildlife technician

Seeing an animal in your home, or around your porch, garden, or shed.

If there is a bat present in your home, it may indicate a maternal colony living in your attic! Furthermore, it informs us there are entry points, or weak spots, around the exterior of your home allowing the bats to enter. Additionally, squirrels enter through unprotected chimneys or chew through components of the home. Other common animals lurking around your property include raccoons, opossums, mice, and birds.

Noticing damaged elements around your home.

Fascia, wooden components, gutters, and vents are a few examples that are exploited by a variety of animals.

The presence of animal droppings or nesting materials in the home.

Many animal droppings are highly hazardous, and cleanup should be handled by a professional wildlife technician. Moreover, bat droppings (guano), mice droppings, and opossum droppings are just a few common examples we often observe inside homes.

Burrows or tunneling in your yard or garden.

Moles and voles are usually responsible for tunneling and burrowing. In addition, moles will tear up your yard and create a large mess of molehills throughout your yard, destroying grassroots and plant roots along the way.

Pets sprayed by a skunk multiple times.

This usually indicates a skunk or a family of skunks are living on or near your property. For skunk removal, we only use traps approved by the NWCOA.

Trash dug through on multiple occasions

The culprits behind this are usually raccoons or possums, they will eat anything! Opossums also carry EPM which affects the spinal cords of horses.

Chirping or scratching sounds coming from attics or walls.

Bats, squirrels, and mice are just a few animals that cause noises like this in your home. Mice can get into walls and in some cases, trapped. Bats are often cause scratching and chirping noises.

Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania

Spotted Lanternflies on a Tree Trunk

We’re sure you’ve heard about the spotted lanternfly and the damage they cause. While we don’t handle bug issues, we’ll highlight a few facts about them and what you should be doing to protect your trees and plants!

What does the spotted lanternfly look like?

Spotted lanternflies appear different depending on their stages of growth. There are 3 stages of growth for a spotted lanternfly: early nymphs, late nymphs, and adults.

The early nymphs are very small, they are all black with white spots. A late nymph is slightly larger in size and begins to show the vibrant red color on its body.

Adult spotted lanternflies are the only ones that can fly; they are extremely noticeable due to their colorful wings. These adults emerge in July and stick around until winter.

Where did they come from and what do they do?

The spotted lantern fly is an invasive plant hopper from Asia. They negatively impact crops such as grapes, hopes, and hardwoods. They are technically a plant stressor-they do not kill all plants or trees.

Moreover, their eggs are laid in the fall and hatch in the spring. Egg masses are laid on hard surfaces like trees, decks, houses, et cetera.

Signs of spotted lanternflies include oozing sap from trees, wilting, leaf curling, and tree dieback.

What should I do if I see them?

Penn State University states 5 steps for spotted lanternfly control:

  1. Stop the spread
  2. Scrape egg masses
  3. Use tree traps to catch nymphs
  4. Remove host plants
  5. Apply insecticides

Scraping and destroying their egg masses will prevent 30-50 eggs from being hatched per mass. Furthermore, we highly recommend using bands or traps on trees with a screening system in place to prevent squirrels or other animals from being stuck to the strips.

Look out for their host plants and trees! Their preferred tree is the tree of heaven. They also like pine trees, apple trees, grapevines, and other various fruit-producing trees. A full list can be found here.

Registered insecticides are also available. All insecticides used must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. We do not use pesticides or repellant sprays, so a pest control company would be the best to contact for spotted lanternfly control.

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