Blog | Critter Control Tampa

Everything You Need to Know About Raccoon Hibernation

Everything You Need to Know About Raccoon HibernationRaccoons do not hibernate like bears. Instead, they enter a semi-hibernating state called torpor that lets them remain in a lengthy sleep state. While in this condition, a raccoon’s body temperature lowers enough to cause a substantial increase in insulin production. Excess insulin reduces raccoon metabolism and energy usage, so raccoons don’t have to leave their dens to forage every day.

Raccoon Activity Before Torpor

Before semi-hibernating, raccoons are constantly on the prowl for food. During this “fattening up” period, raccoons are more likely to cause damage inside and outside of Florida homes. They have a keen sense of smell that can detect food odors dozens of yards away. Like mice and rats, they can squeeze through openings much smaller than the size of their bodies.

A raccoon preparing to curl up in their den and enter torpor may cause significant roof and attic damage to residential Florida homes:

  • Powerful, sharp raccoon claws easily rip away shingles and underlying roof materials to enter attics
  • A single raccoon can destroy an attic or other upper area of a home by tearing apart drywall and pipe insulation
  • Raccoons create holes in air ducts through which they enter and take up residence in your HVAC system
  • Raccoons chew on wires, wood, and other materials with which to make nests

Health Dangers of Raccoons

While in hyperactive mode before torpor, raccoons not only damage property but can also present a serious health risk to humans. Rabies is the top health danger raccoons pose to humans. Unpredictable and aggressive, a rabid raccoon can suddenly lunge and bite a person who is trying to capture it or lure it out of their home.

That’s why homeowners with a raccoon infestation are strongly urged to call professional wildlife control specialists to handle the immediate removal of raccoons. Never try to trap or chase a raccoon off your property. In addition to rabies, raccoons are also known to carry bacterial infections like giardia and leptospirosis, two serious diseases causing fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

Expert Raccoon Removal

Raccoons in Florida are on the move right now, scavenging day and night for food before the colder weather moves in. If you suspect you have been invaded by raccoons, contact Critter Control® of Tampa for quick, effective, and humane raccoon removal. Call us today at 813-948-0870 to schedule your free home inspection.

Are Rodents More Active in the Winter?

Are Rodents More Active in the Winter?Rats, mice, and other rodents do not hibernate during winter, so how do they avoid freezing and starving to death? When it is warm outside, rodents stay hidden during the day and venture out at night. Darkness gives them protection against predator birds and other enemies that can’t see them scurrying around at night. In addition, crickets, mosquitoes, cicadas, and various insects emerge at dusk, providing rodents with a veritable smorgasbord for eight hours.

However, as soon as rodents sense winter is coming, they shift into hyperactive mode and start searching for warm shelter harboring a good supply of food and water. And that shelter could be your home.

Just One Rodent Inside Your Home Can Do Significant Damage

Rodents live to do two things: eat and reproduce. In between eating and reproducing, they like to chew on just about anything, and urinate and defecate everywhere to mark pathways. Rodents living inside your home during colder months will occasionally go outside, roam around, get into people’s garbage, investigate dead animals, and return happily to your nice, warm home. That’s how they bring in disease-causing bacteria that could sicken you and your family.

You might be surprised at the level of damage a small number of rodents can do to the interior of your home:

  • Chew through wires of all thicknesses. What’s worse is that rodents may only chew off insulation covering wires, which presents a dangerous fire hazard
  • Burrow and nest in upholstered furniture
  • Make tunnels in attic and wall insulation/destroy insulation by using pieces of it to make nests
  • Urinate and defecate on valuable items, important documents, and clothing stored in dark rooms that are rarely visited
  • Chew holes in bags of pet food
  • Chew holes in packages of human food. If the package or box is big enough, a rodent will chew a hole, squeeze through the hole, and remain inside the package until it can’t eat anymore. That means you could have rodent urine and droppings in a box of food and not even know it
  • Gnaw on wooden and plastic items
  • Dig up flower bulbs
  • Damage vehicle wiring and interiors

Professional Rodent Removal

To stay proactive ahead of winter infestations, rely on the wildlife control experts at Critter Control® of Tampa. We can inspect your home to ensure it is rodent-free and eliminate existing rodents and other pests. To schedule your free home inspection, please call us today at 813-948-0870.

4 Household Nuisances Caused by Squirrels

4 Household Nuisances Caused by SquirrelsWhen wildlife doesn’t stay in the wild, these animals can become troublesome nuisances around your residence. This is often the case when squirrels create nests in your attic or crawl space, get into your walls, or move into other areas of your residential property. Squirrels can cause extensive damage to your home due to the frequency of activities like chewing, mating, nesting, and traveling in and out of your house. Here are a few examples of the damage squirrels can cause to your home and why our humane trapping services are your best solutions.

  1. Gnawing

Like many other rodents, squirrels have large front teeth that continue growing throughout their lifetimes. This causes avid chewing. From your fascia and insulation to wood and electrical wires, a squirrel’s incessant gnawing behavior can destroy large swaths of material in your home and cause potential fire hazards.

  1. Nesting

Female squirrels deliver two litters each year. They’ll build a nest in your home—dragging leaves, twigs, and other debris into your attic—and chew up your insulation to use as nesting material. Unchecked, these animals will continue procreating in your home, returning again and again to the nest they’re familiar with to deliver more litters.

  1. Droppings and Urine

These “cute” little rodents don’t care where they relieve themselves. So, when they set up house in your attic, you can expect them to leave droppings and urine everywhere they go. It’s unsanitary, unwelcome, and unpleasant. The odor of urine can become quite strong, and you may see visible stains on your ceiling.

  1. Hard to Catch

Poisons, repellents, sprays, and over-the-counter “rodent-removal” gimmicks and products generally don’t work well for squirrel removal. Squirrels typically just ignore them; they’re too smart to get trapped in a snare inside your attic, and traps outside the area won’t effectively catch all your rodent tenants. Even when you do trap or scare some of them away, they’ll return next mating season if you don’t take the necessary precautions to seal-up their entry points.

Licensed and Insured Professionals

For skilled squirrel removal and exclusion services, you need wildlife removal experts. At Critter Control® of Tampa, our technicians are trained to deal with these animals safely and humanely. And once we’ve eliminated your wildlife pest problem, we also offer cleaning services to remove their urine and feces. If insulation replacement is necessary, we’re equipped to perform that remediation service, as well. To remove squirrels from your attic for good, with effective, humane methods, turn to Critter Control® of Tampa by calling 813-948-0870 today.

Is DIY Rat Removal Cheaper for Your Commercial Building?

Is DIY Rat Removal Cheaper for Your Commercial Building?Some business owners will do just about anything to stay in the green. But when cutting costs cuts into productivity, you have to prioritize what’s best for your business overall. If you’re thinking about tackling a rat infestation by using the “cheapest” method, take a look at the real cost of using DIY rat removal for your commercial building. 

Health Hazards 

If you leave bait traps with chemical components lying around, your employees, customers, or office pets could easily come in contact with them, which can cause severe reactions, illness, and potential lawsuits. A trained and licensed professional will not only use less harmful treatment solutions, but they’ll also understand the best way to implement a safe strategy. This will keep everyone in your commercial building safe while helping to alleviate the problem as quickly as possible.

Safety Risks 

Rats don’t have bad intentions, but they can cause massive damage. Because their teeth are constantly growing, rats have to chew on tough objects to keep their bite at bay. Depending on where they are inside your business, these rodents might chew on anything from wires to insulation. Therefore, when you try to DIY your way through rat removal, you might come face-to-face with some serious safety risks that can turn into even more trouble without careful, professional handling.  

Environmental Harm 

Chemical contamination is a serious threat to the environment. Whether you use sprays inside or around your business, you chance the risk of contaminating water or soil and causing major harm to local animals and plants. Because certain animal species are protected by law, your business could be hit with huge fines if you bring harm to any endangered ones in your area. Instead of dousing your building with toxic chemicals and sprays, consult a wildlife management provider that can create a long-term plan to keep rats out after a legal, humane removal. 

Unsolved Issue 

DIY rat removal usually focuses on treating the culprit rather than the cause. Even if you manage to successfully and safely exclude rats from your commercial building, you won’t have completely treated the infestation without locating the source. As your untreated issue grows bigger over time, so do your repair and restoration fees. Rather than putting yourself and your building at risk, partner with animal removal specialists that can identify the root of your rat problem. 

Repeat Procedure 

If you remove rats but fail to find the entry point or area of interest, you’ll have to repeat the entire process over again when they return. By repurchasing treatments, sprays, traps, and other materials, your DIY rat removal strategy becomes a serious expense. To save money with effective results that last, call a local, experienced wildlife management team that can deliver professional results with services that fit your budget.  

Effective and Affordable Rat Removal 

Of course, the cheapest wildlife management option is prevention. Fortunately, the wildlife management staff at Critter Control® of Tampa can not only prevent future rat entry, but also solve your current problem with safe, humane, and lasting techniques. If you’re interested in protecting your business without breaking your budget, call us at 813-948-0870 for a complimentary consultation.

3 Signs Your Office Building Needs a Raccoon Exterminator

3 Signs Your Office Building Needs a Raccoon ExterminatorRaccoons have such cute masked faces that when they stop by, it’s hard to feel bothered. Despite their cuteness, their cunning skill gets them past doors and into places, they don’t belong in. Since fall is raccoon breeding season, raccoons are more likely to be near your property. If you think raccoons might be roaming your office building, check for these three signs:

Raccoon Urine and Feces

If you have an unusual smell near your property, it might not be your garbage. Check for a particular urine odor. If that’s what you smell, assume a rodent is getting comfortable around your building. How do you know if it’s a raccoon? Check for feces. Raccoon droppings are the size of a small dog’s excrement. Unlike other rodents, raccoons set aside part of their nesting area for “business.” Finding their droppings means their nest isn’t far off.

Raccoon Property Damage 

Damaged property is the next telltale sign of raccoon problems. Check for damaged shutters, shingles, vents, or scratches on the outside of your office building. If you notice tree branches near the roof, raccoons might have been running rampant for quite some time. Even if you don’t have connecting trees, raccoons are natural climbers. Their agile hands allow them to travel up walls and leave damage behind in their wake.

Constant Raccoon Sounds

Raccoons are most active at night, so you’ll have to be at your office building late to notice this sign. You won’t hear much during the day, but at night raccoons might hiss or purr as they scurry around. You might even hear scratching sounds in the attic or walls if they get access to those spaces. Once you know raccoons are in your building then it’s best to call a professional to help eliminate the issue before it gets out of hand. 

Permanently End Your Office Raccoon Problem

At Critter Control® of Tampa, we understand that raccoons are only displaced wild animals trying to survive. If you suspect a raccoon infestation near your office building, our expert technicians use humane practices to eliminate any raccoon problem. To get a free estimate, or for more information about our CritterSafe® services, please call today at 813-948-0870.

What Types of Animals Chew on Wires?

What Types of Animals Chew on Wires?While you might not find it all that tempting to chomp down on electrical wires, a number of wild animals do enjoy gnawing on them. The most common culprits are rodents—particularly squirrels, mice, and rats when it comes to damage in the home. When you discover chewed wires in your attic or anywhere else in your home, it’s important to act quickly to address the situation.

Dangers of Chewed Wires

Obviously, damaged wires pose serious risks. The casing around the copper wiring prevents the heated conductor from coming into contact with flammable surfaces. Exposed wiring can cause fires when it rests against wood, insulation, carpeting, or other flammable materials in your home. In fact, chewed wires are responsible for many thousands of house fires every year in the US. Electrical shorts and power outages are of concern as well.

This type of damage also probably means other things in your home are being chewed on. Squirrels, for example, also really like to gnaw on wood beams, PVC water pipes, and more. Wire damage may also indicate risks of structural damage, leaks, and other issues.

Rodents and Wire Chewing

More often than not, rodents are responsible for chewed wires in and around the home. One of the defining characteristics of rodents is that their upper and lower incisors grow continuously, like our fingernails. They have to regularly chew on surfaces that are hard—but not so hard that they might cause cracks or chips—to file down their teeth and prevent them from becoming overgrown, like how cats scratch to file their claws.

Common wire-chewing rodents in Florida include:

  • Squirrels

    are very often to blame for chewed wires, especially in the attic. They are some of the most prolific chewers, and they’re not too picky about what they’ll chew on.

  • Rats

    gnaw on wires in the attic and elsewhere, too. In addition to filing their teeth, they also chew wires that are in their way when they make holes for passageways and nesting areas.

  • Mice

    also take up residence and chew in attics and walls. They may also use bits of chewed-up wire casing as décor for their nesting area.

  • Pocket gophers

    are burrowing rodents that don’t generally end up inside a home, but they may be responsible for chewed wires outside your home or underground around it.

Other Florida Animals That Could Cause Wire Damage

Raccoons—which are not rodents—don’t often chew on wires, but it’s been known to happen. If it’s not a rodent causing your wire damage, raccoons would be the next most-likely possibility.

People are sometimes inclined to blame bats or opossums for wire chewing. But these critters aren’t known to exhibit this behavior. Incidentally, lots of people also mistakenly believe that these animals are rodents (bats are often called “flying rats” of “flying mice”). Armadillos and skunks don’t chew wires, either.

Finding Chewed Wires in or Around Your Home?

At Critter Control® of Tampa, we understand that squirrels, rats, and mice are just displaced wild animals trying to survive. Our expert technicians are committed to using humane measures to address wildlife infestations. If you find chewed wires inside or outside your home, bring in professional help right away to ensure your safety and protect your property. Get a free estimate or more information regarding our CritterSafe® services by calling us today at 813-948-0870.

What Equipment Is Needed to Trap a Squirrel?

What Equipment Is Needed to Trap a Squirrel?If squirrels have taken up residence in your attic, garage, walls, or other spot in your home, you’ll need professional equipment to deal with it. However, trapping squirrels isn’t as simple as you might think. Here are a few common types of traps that work well for catching squirrels.

Humane Squirrel-Trapping Equipment

Lethal equipment including poisons and steel traps that clamp down on the animal, like classic mousetraps, are for the most part illegal to use on squirrels in Florida. The following types of squirrel traps capture the animals alive:

  • Live traps

    include various types of cages you use with or without bait depending on how they’re placed. Repeater traps catch multiple animals. Generally, when the squirrel enters and walks in far enough, it steps on a trigger that closes the door. These come in many different styles and sizes, so check the packaging to be sure it’s a model recommended for squirrels.

  • Sherman traps

    are solid rectangular boxes that come in folding (collapsible) and non-folding variations. You place bait at the back, and the squirrel walks over a trigger mechanism that closes the door. Look for a model with small holes in it to reduce the risk of the animal overheating.

  • Tube traps

    are similar to Sherman traps. But, as you might have guessed, they’re tube shaped.

Equipment to Protect Your Safety

  • Gloves

    Wearing thick work gloves while handling a trap and releasing squirrels can protect you from infectious diseases.

  • Goggles

    Squirrels are fast and unpredictable, so protecting your eyes should not be overlooked.

  • Thick clothing

    Long-sleeved clothes is an important precaution against bites and scratches, which don’t just hurt, but can spread disease.

The risks posed by squirrels should only be undertaken by trained professionals. So, before attempting to snag a nuisance squirrel on your own, it’s best to contact the wildlife removal experts at Critter Control® of Tampa.

Have Squirrels in Your Home?

If you suspect you have squirrels in your home, let our expert technicians humanely deal with it. They’ll ensure all points of entry are sealed off and that all damage is discovered. Get a free estimate or more information regarding our CritterSafe® services, by calling us today at 813-948-0870.

Most Common Types of Rodents in Florida

Most Common Types of Rodents in FloridaThere are 23 living rodent species in Florida. Not all are common, and some only live in specific areas. However, whether native or not, no rodent is welcome to infest your home or dig up your yard. If you’re experiencing such rodent-related issues, it’s important to have a professional deal with the problem promptly to be sure it’s fully addressed, that all damage is found, and that all points of entry into your home are identified and closed off.

Distressing Rodent Behavior at Your Florida Property

When they invade your property inside or out, rodents are just looking for a safe place to live. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK. They can cause considerable damage to your property, create unpleasant odors, transmit serious health risks with their urine and droppings, get in your food, make frequent annoying noises, and more.

Chewing is a particular problem with rodents. A defining characteristic of rodents is that their teeth are always growing. To prevent overgrowth, they have to continually file them down by gnawing on things, often including wires, wood beams, PVC pipes, and other materials. Exposed wires are a fire hazard and can cause electrical shortages, chewed wood can mean structural concerns, and chewed pipes can lead to leaks and water damage.

Rodents Commonly Found in Florida

These common Florida rodents can cause problems in your home or on your property:

  • Eastern gray squirrels

    are most-often seen scampering around everywhere outdoors; however, the rodents are well known for moving into attics. They have large teeth and chew often, so they can quickly cause significant damage. They’re also big enough to make a good deal of noise on your ceiling.

  • Southern flying squirrels

    are smaller than their Eastern gray cousins, but they can get into your attic and cause similar damage and problems.

  • Many types of mice

    live in Florida, and they like to nest in walls. They’re smaller, quieter, and more cautious about being seen than squirrels, but you might spot one running along a wall or counter. They have a habit of getting into your cabinets and food, and also of leaving droppings all over (a common signs of a mouse infestation). Mouse droppings are a sanitation concern, and are associated with the spread of hantavirus.

  • A few types of rats

    are also common in the state and may take up residence in the attic or walls of your house or apartment. They’re bigger than mice, a little more likely to be heard in the walls, and they can cause plenty of damage pretty quickly with their gnawing. Rat droppings are a health concern for spreading hantavirus, as well.

  • Southeastern pocket gophers

    are most common in the upper half of Florida. They dwell in underground burrows, so are mostly a concern for outdoor property damage. This can include holes and tunnels in your yard, as well as chewed underground or exterior utility wires.

Animals in Florida that Aren’t Rodents

There are a few mammals frequently seen in the state that lots of people believe are rodents, but are not. The most common of these include:

Have a Problem with Rodents in Your Home?

At Critter Control® of Tampa, we understand that squirrels, mice, and rats are just displaced wild animals trying to survive. If you suspect you have an infestation in your home or around your property, our expert technicians are committed to using humane measures to permanently address it. Get a free estimate or more information about our CritterSafe® services by calling us today at 813-948-0870.

How to Fix Insulation Damaged from Rats

How to Fix Insulation Damaged from RatsWhen they move in, rats and other rodents invariably mess with the insulation in your attic and walls. Rats gather up insulation to use as a nesting material, they urinate and defecate on it, and they chew through it in the course of making their tunnels.

Of course, damaged insulation takes a toll on the energy efficiency of your home. And that means higher energy bills and a bigger carbon footprint. Rat-damaged insulation fails to effectively maintain a consistent indoor temperature, letting your heated or cooled indoor air escape more easily.

Health Concerns of Dealing with Rat-Damaged Insulation

If you’re attempting to deal with a rat infestation and damaged insulation on your own, it’s important to be aware of and take precautions against a serious threat to your health and the health of your family and pets: diseases spread by rat urine and feces. Whether it’s in areas near damaged insulation in your walls or attic, or it’s directly on the insulation on your attic floor, rat waste can be toxic to humans and animals.

Rat urine and feces can harbor and spread all kinds of dangerous infections such as:

  • The bacterial infection leptospirosis
  • The fungal infection histoplasmosis
  • The viral infection hantavirus

Replacing Insulation Damaged by Rats

Whether you have spray foam or injected foam insulation, fiberglass insulation, or cellulose insulation, all soiled and damaged materials need to be removed and replaced. Sometimes, this only means small or isolated sections, but sometimes the problem is widespread.

How you replace insulation damaged by rats depends on which type you have. Foams are sprayed or injected using an applicator designed for this purpose. Fiberglass insulation is rolled and fitted between beams, studs, an joists. Cellulose insulation can be blown in (as a loose-fill or dense-pack) or applied by spraying with added moisture.

Protective Measures Against Rats

A face mask and gloves are essential when entering and working in an area contaminated with rat waste. You must also be very careful not to track rat droppings through your home. If unavoidable, a disinfectant application should be used to thoroughly cleanse your home. Masks and gloves should also be worn when cleaning with harsh chemicals.

For this reason alone, it’s strongly advisable to hire a professional to deal with a rat infestation. Typically, a professional moistens the feces and insulation with a disinfectant spray to prevent the release of harmful pathogens into the air and carefully clean up the mess. That’s why the cleanup and removal of soiled and damaged materials, and the repairs to damaged insulation and other materials requires professional equipment and experience.

Have Rats Damaged Your Home’s Insulation?

At Critter Control® of Tampa, we don’t just deal with your rat infestation and safely clean up afterwards, we also provide residential insulation restoration services. To get a free estimate, or for more information regarding our CritterSafe® services, please call us today at 813-948-0870.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Poison on Your Commercial Pest Problem

Why You Shouldn’t Use Poison on Your Commercial Pest ProblemWildlife infestations are an undeniable inconvenience to commercial buildings. They can result in huge setbacks from repair costs and even cause profit pitfalls that send businesses into the red. Because the likelihood of loss might tempt you to find the quickest fix for your company, we’ve laid out the long-term implications of toxically treating your pest problem.

Hurting the Environment

Pest control shortcuts can leave lasting scars on your company and your local environment. For example, if you spread a poisonous solution in troubled areas of your building, a smaller rodent, like a rat or mouse, could ingest it. If that rat or mouse manages to make it out of your building and is eaten by a predator species, like a hawk or owl, the initial poison treatment will end up bringing harm to wildlife that hasn’t even bothered your building.

Attracting Other Pests

When you use poison to treat your pest problem, you’re left with the remains of dead rats, mice, or squirrels that can stir up an entirely different infestation. Because some pests, like ants, maggots, and flies, feed or lay eggs on larger pests that have passed. These insects are often attracted to dead animals, as they produce a foul stench that flows throughout the nearby area. So, the larger your initial pest problem, the larger your secondary one will be.

Ignoring the Problem

Even if you manage to fatally injure every wild animal causing a commotion inside your business, you won’t have treated the source of your issue. And, the simple use of a toxic treatment won’t prevent other animals from entering. To truly keep pests out, seal each point of entry and uncover the food, water, or other substance attracting them to your commercial building.

Commercial Pest Professionals of Tampa

You can’t fight fire with fire, and you shouldn’t fight a pest problem with poison. Because, there are countless ways to effectively treat a commercial pest problem without turning to toxins. At Critter Control® of Tampa, we offer a range of humane wildlife solutions to safely secure your building and preserve the local environment. Our team of wildlife professionals can remove any unwanted animals with natural tactics and survey your space to understand how to keep them from returning. To schedule a free consultation for your business, call us today at 813-948-0870.

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