There are lots of outside animals that love to make their home in yours. And they will absolutely destroy your house if given the opportunity. But it often comes as a surprise to people that a property policy doesn’t offer coverage should an animal get inside your house and wreak havoc.
Here are some common examples of animals that cause significant damage:
Squirrels and Chipmunks
Squirrels and chipmunks love to live in attics. They also love to chew, and will chew on houses or wires, ducts, pipes once inside an attic. People don’t like the noises of squirrels running about above the ceiling or in the eaves, but it’s really the chewing that’s a problem. If squirrels chew on electrical wires in an attic, it can create a real fire hazard. Squirrels also bring in nesting material and leave urine and feces in an attic. They also commonly nest in a chimney, where they can sometimes get stuck and frantically scratch, or sometimes even get into the fireplace and inside the house. And if they get into the house, all bets are off. If you have lovely woodwork, they will go crazy chewing on it!
Groundhogs (also called woodchucks) are excellent diggers. When a groundhog digs under a house or deck, the removal of soil can undermine the foundation. Also, it just so happens that what we plant in our vegetable gardens is their favorite meal preference!
A large colony is not only noisy and unsettling at dusk and dawn as swarms of bats fly in and out, but the main problem is that they leave their droppings and urine behind. With a large colony of bats, this really adds up. After a while large piles of droppings form. Not only do the droppings and urine corrode wood/metal, but the weight of them can collapse the ceiling below the attic. The waste has a foul odor, but it can also grow fungal spores that people can breathe in, leading to the lung disease Histoplasmosis.
Raccoons have certainly earned their mischievous reputation! The damage they can inflict is unreal. Some examples:
- Rip apart ductwork. Perhaps for fun, maybe in search of bedding material, or perhaps just curious.
- Tear up insulation on pipes and rip the insulating paper off the wall
- Chew on wires
- Trample down insulation or stuff it in areas it doesn’t necessarily belong.
- Rip a hole directly in a wall or roof or ceiling to gain entrance to a house. They are surprisingly strong animals, and often very determined.
Suggestions to help prevent animal damage
- At least once a year (preferably twice), go into your attic and do an inspection. Look for droppings- that’s your first clue of any animal activity. Check electrical wires, ductwork, insulation. Any evidence of chewing or destruction should be pretty obvious. If you do an inspection twice a year, tie it in to another event, like changing the clocks in spring and fall. Plus, the temperature won’t be nearly as extreme as in the middle of summer.
- Check around your foundation for any signs of digging. If you have basement windows, make sure they are sealed against entry.
- Seal as many points of entry as possible- attic windows and vents are favorites! Make sure there are sturdy screens or wire mesh on the window opening.
- Underneath open porches are decks are another favorite- install lattice work (tight design so they can’t get through) or a wire mesh behind a less tight lattice design to keep the critters from crawling underneath.
- Trim trees close to the house. Squirrels are good jumpers and will jump from the tree onto the roof.
- If you have a chimney- install a chimney cover. It keeps the critters from crawling into the chimney and then unable to get out, they starve and die. And rotting animal smell is not an odor you want in your house.
If you do end up with unwanted critters in your house, my advice is to call a pest removal service. They have the expertise and equipment to get the animals out. Pluse, some of these critters carry diseases- you don’t want to risk getting bitten or infected!