Animals in Chimneys

Open Chimney Flues

In a previous blog, we wrote about chimney caps which provide a variety of benefits from keeping unwanted animals out to house fire prevention. We’ll go over different types of chimneys and how animals exploit them. 

About Chimneys

We always recommend open and unused chimneys should be closed with a cap to prevent energy loss and unwanted animal tenants among other benefits. Often, most older homes had water heaters and furnaces, stoves, or fireplaces that were vented through chimneys. Newer homes that include furnaces and water heaters often ventilate through updated methods. With over 15 years of experience in animal removal and repair, we can easily inspect and identify the best solutions.

Animals in Chimneys

Often, animals will enter chimneys and find damage inside due to age or weather issues. Common animals that exploit chimneys include raccoons, squirrels, bats, and birds. From the chimney, they can find a way into walls or attics through missing spots of brick and mortar. Homes and chimneys built with stone are optimal opportunities for critters that love to climb. 

Older chimneys often allow critters to easily crawl in and out, which permits them to make your home, their home! Additionally, we have had a few customers that have had animals climb down their chimneys and enter their living spaces. In these cases, animals are able to crawl down but unable to crawl back up. 

Chimneys with Dampers

In some other cases, chimneys with dampers also provide access. Chimneys with dampers more often than not can get stuck.

A few years ago, a homeowner experienced this issue and ended up with two squirrels in their living room within a week. After we removed the second squirrel, we recommended the installation of a stainless steel chimney cap to prevent any other animals from entering their chimney.

The Bottom Line

Our stainless chimney caps include a lifetime warranty and include a variety of benefits, keeping animals out first and foremost. If there is more serious damage, we can recommend a consultation with a chimney company for repair.

Give us a call or contact us to identify the best solution for your chimney!

Skunks in Central PA

The striped skunk is most commonly found in Pennsylvania and belongs to the mustelid family which also includes weasels, ferrets, martens, fishers, mink, otters, and badgers.

About Skunks

Adult skunks are about 2 feet long including their 7-10 inch tail. They can weigh between 3-12 lbs depending on age, sex, physical condition, and time of the year.

Moreover, males are about 15% heavier than female skunks. They have small heads with small eyes and ears, pointed noses, short legs, and wide rear ends. The claws of the skunk’s forefeet are long and sharp, well-adapted to digging. The striped skunk is most commonly found in Pennsylvania.

What do they do?

Skunks make a variety of sounds including hisses, growls, squeals, cooing, and churring. Skunks are placid and sluggish; they walk in a slow and clumsy gallop, and they can swim but are poor climbers. Their senses of sight, smell, and sound have been judged poor to fair.

Their defense mechanism is their potent scent that sprays from 2 large scent glands. Musk, or their spray, is an oily liquid that is highly repellent to all mammals. Their musk can spray up to 12 feet but is their last resort in the line of defense. They will drum their forefeet on the ground while growling, hissing, arching their back, and filling their tails.

Striped skunks are omnivores! In summer, they feed heavily on insects; grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and wasps. They also dig out bumblebee nests and scratch at the entrance of beehives, catching and eating honeybees that fly out. They often leave remnants of their feeding; small cone-shaped holes in the soil, pine needles, leaf duff, or suburban lawns mark where they’ve dug for grubs. They also eat spiders, toads, frogs, lizards, snakes, mice, chipmunks, turtle eggs, and ground-nesting birds. In fall and winter, skunks eat fruits such as wild grapes, cherries, moles, mice, voles, shrews, grasses, leaves, buds, mast, and carrion.

They are nocturnal animals, they hunt from dusk until dawn. They den in ground burrows, beneath buildings, stumps, wood, rock piles, and overhanging creek banks. Skunks will use abandoned woodchuck burrows. They like sloped spaces for dens, most likely because they drain well. Their breeding season runs from February to March.

Skunks do not hibernate although they might remain dormant underground all winter. Skunks like to live in a variety of habitats. They like mixed woods and brushland, rolling weedy fields, fencerows, wooded ravines, and rocky outcrops in or near agricultural areas. They use hayfields, pastures, fencerows, and brush borders of waterways. Corn fields are ideal feeding habitats.

What Damage Do They Cause?

Skunks are burrowers and diggers, using these skills to find any weak spots in your foundation and crawl spaces they can use to find an entrance to their new home. They can damage electrical wiring and plumbing. Due to skunks preferring to den together, there may be a family living in your home. They also like areas under sheds and decks.

How To Get Rid of Skunks

We offer skunk removal! We start all jobs with an interior and exterior inspection of the home so we can determine where the animals are entering and living. Physical removal is the best approach as we only use traps and methods approved by the PA Game Commission. We also offer exclusion services to prevent skunks from coming back.

We’re your licensed and insured skunk removal experts in Pennsylvania, give us a call or use our contact form if you believe you have skunks living near your home!

Rabbits in Pennsylvania

About Rabbits 

Rabbits are a part of the Leporidae, including all rabbit and hare species. There are 60 different species of mammals in this family! While they look cute and cuddly, they damage your property and carry infectious diseases.

What do they do?

Rabbits are most known for hopping and foraging in gardens. However, they can jump to high heights and long distances! Rabbits can jump up to 3 feet high and 10 feet in distance. Rabbits can almost see 360 degrees due to their eye positioning. Moreover, rabbits spend most of their time grooming, eating, digging, foraging, and playing. Around mid to late morning, they retreat to their dens to relax.

Rabbits in Pennsylvania do not hibernate in the winter; they’re active year-round! They usually spend more time in the winter searching for their food due to greens not being available. They’ll typically eat bark, twigs, and pine needles.

On the contrary, rabbits leave droppings everywhere they go, and can be destructive. During the colder months, rabbits search for shelter from the elements and predators. They prefer to live under decks, in sheds, in crawl spaces, really anywhere accessible, and close to foraging spots!

Preventing Rabbits from making your home their home

Installing fencing that extends below the ground can protect rabbits from gaining entry to your property. It prevents rabbits from digging below the surface as well as other animals like moles and groundhogs.

Performing regular yard clean-up, even in the winter, can make your property less attractive to rabbits. By clearing fallen twigs and branches throughout the winter, rabbits will likely choose a more convenient location for their homes.

Furthermore, having a nuisance wildlife control expert seal any potential entry points prevents rabbits and other animals from entering your home.

What diseases do they carry?

Rabbits carry a variety of viruses including tularemia, salmonella, ringworm, e. cuniculi, tetanus, and sniffles. Most recently in 2020, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD), was detected for the first time in wild hares and rabbits in the United States. In August 2022, RHDV2 was detected for the first time in Pennsylvania in a domestic rabbit facility in Fayette County. 

How does it spread?

It is highly contagious and spreads between hares and rabbits through direct contact with an infected live or dead individual, ingesting contaminated food or water, through infected flies, birds, biting insects, predators, and scavengers, and contact with urine, droppings, and respiratory discharges. This virus can survive on clothing, shoes, plant material, or any other items that come in contact with an infected animal.

How does RHD affect rabbits in Pennsylvania?

RHD is fatal, with between 75%-100% of infected animals resulting in death. Infected animals will present poor appetites, lethargy, and blood emitting from their mouths or noses. RHD is not infectious to other domestic animals or people.

Multiple dead or sick rabbits or hares can signify tularemia or plague; diseases that can cause serious illness in people. It is extremely important that an animal removal professional handle the potentially infected animals. With over 15 years of experience, we follow the safest practices for animal removal outlined by the PA Game Commission. 

What can we do to prevent RHD?

The PA Department of Agriculture believes that early detection of the disease and removal of the suspected animal is the best method to mitigate the RHD outbreak. 

As a home or business owner, avoid touching any dead hares or rabbits. Clean and disinfect all surfaces and equipment that may have contacted RHD-positive animals. We handle many types of animal removal, including dead animals. Call or contact us for safe and effective animal removal! 

Foxes in Pennsylvania

Foxes are very intelligent predators with sharp senses. They can hear a mouse squeal up to 150 feet away! They’re usually known for their nighttime barking in the winter and large bushy tails. Furthermore, males are referred to as “dog” foxes, and females are known as “vixens”. 

What do they look like?

There are two types of foxes found in Pennsylvania; the red and gray fox. Red foxes have a vibrant red coat and a thick bushy tail with a white tip. Gray foxes have a speckled coat and a black tail tip. Both types are typically 2 feet long, with gray foxes being slightly larger than red. 

What do they eat? 

They are carnivores and will essentially eat any game that’s easily obtained. This usually includes field mice, rats, rabbits, groundhogs, opossums, cats, chickens, squirrels, insects, gamebirds, bird eggs, fruits, and grasses. 

They will also scavenge for food including roadkill and winter kills. Additionally, foxes are frequent visitors to the wild game or free-range farm operations. 

What do they do?

Foxes are usually nocturnal animals aside from summertime when they hunt full-time to provide for their young. They’re usually found in open meadows, small woodlots, and around the edges of fences and neighborhoods. 

They make their den sites in abandoned groundhog holes, rock piles, under concrete slabs, sheds, and decks. The entry point for their den is about the size of a basketball and animal bones are usually found nearby. 

Although foxes prey on other animals, they should not be considered a threat as long as they look healthy and usually react to external stimuli like human activity. 

Typical signs of their presence include missing animals, fences, sheds, or decks dug under. 

What diseases do they carry? 

Foxes can be infected and carry rabies so if a fox is not reacting appropriately to human presence, they should be perceived as a threat. Additionally, foxes carry mange, a skin burrowing mite, lose their hair, and exhibit obsessive scratching. Mange can be passed onto other foxes as well as domestic dogs.

Fox Removal

Currently, we do not offer fox removal as one of our services but we may be able to recommend another animal technician that does! Give us a call or contact us for more information about a fox removal referral.

Ticks in Pennsylvania

Checking for ticks is expected during the warmer months in Central PA. Many people know that pets like dogs and animals can carry ticks, but other nuisance animals can too! If these animals gain access to your home, they could also bring ticks inside.

Ticks in Pennsylvania

Ticks are often found in wooded or grassy areas, if your property has or is close to a wooded area your home may be more susceptible to animals with ticks.

Back-Legged Ticks and Lyme Disease

There are various types of ticks in Pennsylvania, but back-legged ticks are the most concerning. They can be infected with Lyme disease and pass it on to their hosts. This typically causes symptoms like fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash in adults. If diagnosed early, Lyme disease is treatable.

Back-legged ticks do not fly or jump, they crawl onto people and animals from the ground or low vegetation.

What nuisance animals carry ticks?

We do not offer pest control for ticks but do offer removal of animals that are potential hosts. Penn State offers great advice for reducing ticks around your home. However, we deal with many animals that can carry ticks.

Ticks live on a variety of animals including deer, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice, and birds. Ticks can also be found on dogs and cats.

Opossums: The Special Exception

Opossums kill about 90% of ticks that try to attach to their bodies. Although they eat most of them, ticks can still attach to them. Luckily, opossums have great immune systems and can easily fight off Lyme disease!

Animals That Can Be Infected by Lyme

Raccoons, chipmunks, rats, mice, birds, and squirrels can all be infected by Lyme disease. Symptoms are rarely noticeable in these animals, so we always recommend that removal is handled by a wildlife professional.

If you believe your pet has contracted Lyme, noticeable symptoms include lameness, fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite. However, many cats do not show symptoms when infected.

Animals in your Home

Aside from the usual damage nuisance animals create, there’s a chance they could bring infected ticks into your home. Physical removal of the animal is our first priority, we can then assess how to seal the home from other animals entering in the future.