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When trying to identify the type of animal that is under your home, you must be observant when the animal is likely to be active. For example, if you are hearing a lot of noise in your attic at night, keep an eye out for animals in your yard in the evening after dark. Most animals that den in our homes are nocturnal and will wait until evening to go out and forage for food, making it more likely you'll see them in the evening.
If you are unable to catch sight of them in person, using trail cameras or security cameras (like nest or ring doorbells) can be very valuable in seeing not only who is visiting but how they are getting in. If you would like a low tech solution, try sprinkling a fair amount of flour outside of the entry point into your home. To do this, lay out about a quarter inch thick layer of flour and even out the surface with a piece of paper. Check the the area frequently for paw prints. If you are unable to identify the paw prints yourself, email a photo of the paw prints to us here.
There are two common reasons an animal may be living on your property:
Food: For general issues with animals around your house, be sure to bring animal (cat food, dog food) in at night.
A warm dry place, often to have babies: Its natural for animals to seek a protected space to den in while raising their young. Please be careful if you are thinking of blocking off entry points, or removing an animal yourself — you could be leaving a litter of babies under your house!
If the animal has had babies in the area you are trying to exclude, under most circumstances you must wait until the young are old enough to walk out on their own before you can safely exclude the animals from the area. Trapping young in a structure will not only make the mother furious and destructive, but they will eventually starve to death and die, becoming an odor problem. There is also the potential problem of parasites such as fleas, mites or ticks that will now be in search of a new host.
The mother will care for and nurse the young for a number of weeks (depending on animal type), until they can walk and venture forth with the mother. SCWR can tell you how long it generally takes for babies to become mobile. Exclusion Technicians can address the situation before babies are able to leave on their own and can often solve the problem within a few weeks, but we do not recommend homeowners to try to exclude them themselves. 9 out of 10 times it is unsuccessful and babies are left orphaned or dead.
Use predator scent to deter animals from the area. This can be purchased at SCWR. Use “Milky Spore” to naturally deter the grubs that wildlife are seeking. This can be purchased online. Take up all fruits and nuts as to make the area less attractive. Hazing may also be effective, click here to learn more.
Remove pet foods left outside in feeding bowls. Cats only need to feed for 10 minutes in the morning and evening and food should be removed promptly after 10 minutes. Elevate woodpiles to discourage nesting, keep garbage can lids on tightly, apply predator scent around where wildlife is coming to help keep wildlife out of your yard. If animals are still visiting your yard after all attractants have been removed, visit out hazing guidelines.
Many of California's native wildlife species have adapted to life in urban and developed habitats. Relocating an animal that has an established territory in a developed habitat is not only inhumane, it is illegal. Wildlife that has adapted to survive in urban areas may struggle to find resources natural habitats, are likely to come into conflict with other animals whose territory they have been relocated to and may contribute to the spread of wildlife diseases.
The state of California only allows animals to be rescued if they are sick, orphaned, or injured. If you are aware of an animal that fits this description, call our help line (707) 526-WILD. If the animal is healthy, and in your home or on your property — trapping and relocating wildlife in the state of California is illegal. Please view our Exclusion vs. Trapping page for more information.
Trapping entails immediately catching the animal and taking it away. Trappers are required by law to kill any animal they remove from your property. Typically, techniques used to kill animals are cheap, and horrific. They can be so dreadful that we will not even mention them here. Also, trapping is not very effective for two reasons:
Exclusion is a humane eviction process. Single animals can be "evicted" without delay. Mothers may need a little more time to leave with the babies in tow. This can require a little more patience, but is more effective and humane. In addition, we close up the access points to greatly reduce the chance of future problems. Exclusion allows the animal to remain in their existing territory, while keeping them out of your home or other buildings.
If your needs go beyond basic advice, a technician needs to perform an inspection and assess the situation, and a service call fee is charged. The exclusion service uses paid technicians, is fully insured and has basic office expenses. SCWR requires the exclusion service to cover its own expenses. However, if you shop around, you will find out that our fees are very reasonable. We are here to help the community and wild animals — so we charge comparatively low fees.
Wildlife generally do not seek out pets as a food source. Most of our pets are around the same size as the wildlife commonly in our yards and wildlife. Wildlife will defend themselves if they feel threatened so caution should be taken if wildlife is present in your yard. Most pets, especially cats, will avoid wildlife at all costs, but dogs usually become aggressive to protect "their" territory or become excited at the site of a new "friend" and often scare wild animals. If you have a yard that wildlife commonly passes through, we recommend creating a smaller fenced in dog run so that wildlife can safely pass through without coming into contact with your dog. Cats should be kept safe outdoors with the use of a catio.
Always feed your pets indoors or fed on a schedule and unfinished food should be immediately brought indoors. When pet food is left out, wildlife will be attracted and greatly increase the chance of conflict.
Pets should always come in at night, or be placed in a predator-proof enclosure if they do have to be left out at night.
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