Green Hotels Association
    March 2013  

Critter Counteroffensive

Tactics to Manage Outdoor Critters That Happen To Get Indoors!

skunk The wooded area surrounding Cheryl Giudicessi’s vacation home in Galena, IL, offers beautiful views, privacy and winged invaders. Ms. Giudicessi heard scratching and squeaking from the rafters of her living room’s vaulted ceiling. Suspecting bats, the retired preschool teacher spent two nearly sleepless nights with her bedroom ceiling fan on full speed, a light on, towels stuffed under the door and her dog at her side, hoping to keep the nocturnal bats away until she could get an exterminator to visit. The bats are now gone, but Ms. Giudicessi still has the seven-year-old house regularly inspected for mice and insects.

As both wildlife—and people—have found the perfect habitat in upscale suburbs, often new developments in former woodlands, homeowners are turning to new ways to evict their unwanted guests. Deer in the garden seem easy compared with bats in the new cathedral ceiling or raccoons in the garage.

"Animals are just like people—they need food, water and shelter,” says Gary Bauhof, owner of Austin’s Wildlife Removal Services in Austin, TX. “If they can make a steady living in your home, they will stick around—you would, too.”

Take Back Tactics

• Bats: Close the room and open a window. The bat will feel air currents and fly away. Stay in room to confirm it leaves.

raccoon • Mice: Sprinkle baby powder or flour near suspected openings to detect tracks. Use wire mesh, screening or quick drying cement (not caulk or rubber fillers) to plug holes.

• Raccoons: Dissuade them by keeping pet food indoors, securing trash cans and emptying bird feeders at night.

opossum • Squirrels: Turn off lights, close curtains, then open a door or window. He’ll run for the light.

• Skunks: Turn on lights and block dark hiding places. Then grab a box: The skunk, seeking darkness, likely will crawl in. Release outdoors.

Building To Dos

Install an animal-proof chimney cap. Keep gutters clear. Keep vines and other plants off the building. Keep branches away from building. Monitor where different building materials join, including window wells. Check attic for droppings and signs of chewing. Repair roof holes, loose screens, warped siding and trim board. To find possible animal entryways, check dark garage for outside light leaking in. Watch foundation for cracks, especially openings for pipes and cables. Cover compost piles. Stack firewood away from building. Tie down garbage cans, and wait until morning to put out trash for collection.

Byron, Ellen (, “Critter Counteroffensive,”
The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2013

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