Raccoons, opossums, skunks, squirrels, coyotes, snakes, pigeons, starlings, beavers, armadillos are all examples of wildlife that may become a problem for humans. Whether they are using our buildings as a source for food, water, or shelter, destroying lawns and shrubs, or attacking our pets, these animals can quickly become an issue that needs swift and immediate attention. The fact that most of the wildlife that come in contact with humans can cause injury or illness (e.g. rabies, histoplasmosis, and salmonella), qualified people should handle these animals. Peachtree Pest Control has an entire division dedicated to controlling wildlife problems.
Wildlife & Birds
Squirrels – Order Rodentia. The gray squirrel is the most common species found in the Southeast United States. It inhabits both rural and urban areas. Some color variations appear but most are very similar in appearance. They can be quite numerous in some areas due to the over abundance of food and shelter. In these cases, they can pose quite a nuisance to people by raiding bird feeders, pet food bowls and gnawing on structures to gain entry to live especially into attics and eaves.
Tree Squirrels – Tree squirrels are common throughout the United States and can be found in both rural and urban areas. Gray squirrels, fox squirrels and red squirrels are the commonest squirrels but the color variations are numerous even within the same species. Squirrels typically feed on nuts and seeds and can be a serious invader of bird feeders where they tend to rake the unwanted seeds onto the ground looking for the desired sunflower seeds. They make nests of leaves in the forks of tree limbs high in trees but may also make nests in attics and crawlspaces of structures. When they invade these areas, trapping is typically needed to remove the squirrels and then exclusion repairs to keep them from returning are necessary.
Flying Squirrels – Flying squirrels are smaller squirrels than tree squirrels and are very seldom found on the ground as are tree squirrels. Flying squirrels are named for their ability to “glide” from tree to tree because of the fold of loose skin that runs from the front legs to the back legs on each side of the body which acts as a “sail” when the feet are spread out as they jump from a tree. They feed on nuts, fungi, fruits and bird eggs. They are nocturnal being only active at night. They will invade structures, usually the attic where they will nest and raise their young. Trapping and exclusion repairs are necessary to remove these animals from structures.
Chipmunks – Order Rodentia. Chipmunk are closely related to squirrels and can be found in the same areas as squirrels. Keeping to the ground instead of the trees, chipmunks feed on a wide range of food materials such as nuts, berries, bird’s eggs, frogs, insects, worms, and occasionally small animals such as young mice. They posses pouches inside their cheeks which they use to stuff and carry food items to their burrows found in the ground.
Opossums – Opossums are common throughout the Southeastern United States. Adapting to any habitat, they can be found in both rural and urban areas. It is the only marsupial in the states. Marsupials are animals that rear their new born young inside a pouch of the females. When the young is old enough to come out of the pouch, they ride on the backs of their mothers until they grow old enough to keep up with her. Most opossums have gray fur and white faces, although the fur color may vary with different shades of gray. They can become invaders of homes looking for suitable food, water or shelter.
Skunks – Skunks vary in size and markings within the same areas. White and black are the colors most closely associated with skunks, but brown and white, gray and white and cream colors can be found. They feed on a wide variety of food items such as worms, insects, lizards, snakes, birds and frogs. They also will feed on human garbage where allowed to do so. They have the ability to “spray” a very foul-smelling liquid from glands in the rear near tail which they use to defend themselves from predators. They will typically “warn” of their being bothered by stamping their front feet on the ground. If this doesn’t work, they will turn around and lift the tail as the last chance to “get away”.
Pigeons – Pigeons, often referred to as “rats with wings”, are much maligned by humans. Colors between pigeons are quite variable. In habitats with plenty of food material, the numbers may rise into the hundreds within a single flock. Large numbers of pigeons roosting in the same place night after night will deposit large amounts of droppings (feces) which can be a source for disease causing organisms that may affect humans. Eliminating food and roosting areas is key to controlling these birds.
Raccoons – Genus: Procyon. Raccoons are very recognizable mammals. They have stocky built bodies and a characteristic “mask” across the front of their faces. The color of the fur can be variable from black to gray with some individuals being a more “tawny” color. They feed on a wide variety of food sources and are found in both rural and urban areas. They will nest in structures that have access into the attics, or crawlspaces or other areas that are not frequented by humans. The can carry diseases such as rabies and the parvovirus. They should not be handled except by qualified people. Exclusion repairs are necessary to prevent raccoons from accessing structures
Rats – Family: Rodentia. There are two rats species that are closely associated with man and his dwellings, the Roof Rat and the Norway Rat. Both rats are considered Commensal rodents in that there are no wild populations of these rats, only populations associated with humans. Roof rats are very good climbers and can be found in the upper portions of structures while the Norway rat is an excellent digger and can be found in burrows around and in the lower parts of structures. They both feed on a wide variety of food items, but poor sanitation around dumpsters is a contributing factor to these rats being found near structures. Good sanitation and exclusion repairs are the key to keeping these rodents from entering structures.
Mice – The house mouse is a Commensal rodent always found associated with humans and their structures. No wild populations of the house mouse exist. Mice live in a very small area within a structure, typically moving less than 20 feet from their nesting site to find food and water and are territorial, keeping other mice out of their home range. These small ranges accounts for why mice can build large numbers in the same structure. They feed on a wide variety of food but grains and seeds are favored. Trapping and baiting is often needed to bring large populations under control. Good sanitation and exclusion is key to keeping mice from entering structures.
Bats – Order: Chiroptera. Bats are winged mammals that are important predators of small animals, mainly insects. Bats can consume their own weight in insects each night. Being active at night, most people do not encounter bats, except when they use buildings to roost in during the day. The feces of bats can cause health concerns in humans, especially when they accumulate in large quantities. Bats can be carriers of rabies so should not be handled except by qualified individuals. Exclusion repairs are necessary to keep bats out of structures.