Tag Archives: squirrels

Tips on Preventing Harm to Wildlife this Winter

Rosalie’s Lilac is a domesticated, spoiled, little baby! The exact opposite of any wild critter! pic:R.T.


There are many ways in which you can be a wildlife lifesaver, especially during winter. Please share these valuable tips with neighbors and friends so that the birds, mice, opossums, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals whose habitats intersect with ours can be protected from harm:

Cap your chimney.
When birds sit on top of a chimney for warmth, they can be overcome by fumes, which can cause them to fall in and die.
Never use smoke or fire to drive animals out of chimneys. This will almost certainly kill young animals who are not physically able to leave on their own. Once animals have left, seal all points of entry with a foam sealant or hardware cloth. This must be done in the fall or winter to keep immobile babies—born in warmer months—from becoming trapped! If you accidentally seal an animal inside, reopen the hole and allow him or her to leave.

Repair and seal attic openings. If raccoons have already taken up residence in unwanted areas, evict them by placing ammonia-soaked rags or mothballs into the affected areas (animals can’t stand the smell and will leave).

Make your property “undesirable.” (Note: Bird feeders and fish ponds are direct invitations.) Put out garbage only on the day that it will be picked up, and keep it in tightly sealed containers. Also, feed companion animals indoors, and if you do place any food outside, be sure to remove it when the animals are finished eating.

Deny mice and rats access to food in your home. This is the best way to discourage them from taking up residence. Seal holes and cracks that are larger than ¼-inch wide, and store all food in airtight, rodent-proof containers. If you think you have a little visitor, immediately place peppermint oil–soaked cotton balls and rags throughout infested areas.

Keep all garbage in tightly sealed, chew-proof containers.
Rinse out tin cans, put the tops inside so that they can’t slice a tongue, and crush the open end of the cans as flat as possible.

Cut open empty cardboard and plastic containers so that squirrels and other small animals can’t get their faces or heads trapped in them. We have seen so many animals with their heads caught in containers—it would break your heart.

Cut apart all sections of plastic six-pack rings, including the inner diamonds.

Place stickers on your windows to prevent birds from flying into them.

Deal kindly with uninvited house-guests!

By Paula Moore

Early this morning, I was awakened by a sound that no homeowner wants to hear: chewing. Something, or rather someone, was in the attic, noisily munching away.

Although it can be unsettling to realize that you’re sharing your home with a family of squirrels or mice, we can’t really blame these animals for seeking shelter when snow and ice (or the dog days of summer) descend. After all, animals want the same things we do: food, a safe place to raise a family and a cozy spot to sleep. We can—and should—deal kindly with such uninvited guests.

The first step is to grab a flashlight and try to determine where and how animals are entering your home. Thoroughly inspect your attic and eaves to find openings where squirrels can enter and exit. Look for cracks in the foundation, gaps around doors left by worn weather stripping or spots where cables run through walls—all of which look like an open door to a rat or mouse. Mice can squeeze through holes as small as a dime!

Next, encourage the animals to move out on their own by making your home inhospitable. Eliminate food sources by keeping counters and floors free of crumbs and storing food in chew-proof containers. Seal trash containers (use bungee cords on lids), pick up your animal companions’ food at night and never feed them outdoors. Eliminate hiding places by keeping grass and vegetation trimmed back and stacking firewood away from buildings. Trim overhanging tree limbs to prevent easy access to your roof.To encourage a speedy evacuation, keep a radio on around the clock, leave on a bright light and/or set out rags or cotton balls soaked in ammonia (which smells as bad to squirrels, mice and rats as it does to us) in areas that animals frequent. Wait until the breeding season has ended before sealing up any holes so that you don’t inadvertently trap baby squirrels inside.

Once the animals have moved on, seal the entry points using foam sealant, steel wool, hardware cloth or metal flashing. If any squirrels remain, you’ll know, because a mother squirrel will frantically attempt to regain entry if her youngsters have been sealed inside. Just reopen the hole to allow them to leave. Mice and rats can be caught in a humane trap during mild weather. Just escort them to a nearby field or wooded area. Don’t take them farther than a block, though, or they’ll have trouble finding food and shelter. If it’s very cold outside or the ground is covered with snow, wait for milder weather.

Whatever you do, don’t resort to cruel glue traps or poisons. Animals caught in glue traps struggle mightily, tearing flesh, breaking bones and becoming more entangled in the adhesive, only to die from shock, dehydration or asphyxiation. Both poisons and glue traps can cause animals to suffer for days before finally dying.

Lethal methods also backfire. When individuals are killed off, the sudden spike in the food supply prompts the remaining animals and any newcomers to breed at an accelerated rate. The only effective solution is to seal entry points and eliminate animals’ food sources.

Several years ago, author Gregg Levoy wrote an essay in The Washington Post explaining his decision to live in harmony with his wild neighbors: “I cannot shake the feeling that somewhere there is a tally being kept of these things—my cruelties, my compassions—and that it will make a difference somewhere down the line when I go to cash in my chips. Besides, there is a slight question, in my mind, of relativity. Who is the pest here, me or the mouse?” We humans encroach upon animals’ homes daily with our housing developments and strip malls. The least we can do is show them a little kindness when they inadvertently encroach upon ours.

Your backyard can become a miniature wildlife sanctuary!

By Deb Young

Your backyard can become a miniature wildlife refuge, attracting many different kinds of wild animals. Songbirds, rabbits, frogs, squirrels, and butterflies are the most common.

To be a haven for wildlife, your yard must provide the basic needs of the animals: cover, water and food.

Cover means more than shelter. It is a place where an animal can escape from enemies, find refuge from the weather, and feel secure while it rests. It also means a safe place for raising young.
The amount of cover you can provide will depend on the size of your yard. Even the smallest yard can hold a bird box and a few bushes that provide shelter for smaller species of wildlife.

Water is critical if you want to attract wildlife to your yard.
Birds often seek water not only for drinking but also because it attracts the insects they eat.

Water can be provided in a number of ways. A suspended birdbath will protect birds from cats and other predators. A dripping hose or shallow dish placed near bushy cover can supply water for small mammals.

The best way to ensure that you will meet a wide range of needs is to plant and encourage a wide variety of plant species. A flower garden will provide food for butterflies, honeybees, and hummingbirds. Hummingbirds will also use special feeders filled with sugar water or commercial hummingbird nectar. Grasses that are not mowed will provide seeds for many species of small mammals and birds. Plant a combination of plants that will provide nuts, seeds, mast, fruits, berries, and flower nectar to meet the needs of a wide variety of wildlife. Plants also attract insects, worms, and spiders which, in turn, act as food for other wildlife.

Wildlife must have enough space to feed, breed, raise young, and take cover. When considering the essential items (cover, food, water) in your backyard wildlife refuge, you also need to think about their arrangement. Plan carefully so that you use the space you have in the most effective manner.
While you are planning your yard, don’t forget to plan places for yourself. For instance, place the watering or feeding device within view of a window. Put a bench in a quiet, bushy section of the yard.

Even a tiny yard is big enough to attract some animals. Although a larger area can include a greater variety of food and cover types, the smallest balcony has potential for attracting some type of wildlife. A nest box, potted plants, water dish, and bird feeder will fit in a large window box and attract birds and butterflies. No matter what kind of yard you have, you have room for wildlife.

Remember, the end product will take time. You can expect wildlife as soon as you have provided all the basic needs, but the amount and type will depend on the variety of food and cover you have. It will also depend on where your house is located. Homes closer to the edges of town or in the country can expect more types of wildlife than those bordered by clipped lawns and concrete. However, even in the center of a city you will get results.