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Problem Wildlife in the House

Wild animals need food and shelter just like people. Animals may move into basements, attics, or garages in search of a place to live. They may also be attracted to food such as garbage, pet food, or birdseed. When this happens, it's not safe for the people or pets in the home or the wildlife. Wild animals can damage electrical wiring and destroy insulation. They can also carry diseases like rabies, or parasites such as fleas and ticks into your home. Never approach a wild animal and keep children and pets away from all wildlife. Contact your local animal control officer if you suspect a wild animal is sick.

Prevention Tips:

  • Know your pest! Its habits, preferences and needs will determine your control strategy. Your local Cooperative Extension Service or state wildlife agency can help.
  • Periodically check for openings in the roof, under the porch, or to the basement. Cover or seal openings to prevent wildlife problems.
  • Keep your garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids. A metal container may be needed to keep out persistent wildlife.
  • If pets are fed outside, empty their bowls after they are finished eating. Store pet food indoors or in heavy-duty containers.

Control Tips:

  • Find out how the animals are getting into your home. Block entrances with durable materials like wire mesh or sheet metal.
  • Seal all cracks and openings, including holes for wiring. A persistent animal can widen almost any crevice or opening.
  • Birds or other animals may get trapped in chimneys or use them to enter your home. Special caps or dampers are available to block chimneys.
  • Many animals enter homes by way of the roof. Trim overhanging branches at least 8 to 10 feet away from the home.
  • State and federal laws protect many animals, including most birds and their nests. Always check with your state wildlife agency before disturbing, trapping or poisoning a wild animal.
  • If you are concerned about disease or the risk of being bitten, consider seeking professional help. Many counties provide 'animal control' services.
  • Mothballs are not animal repellents. If you choose to use a pesticide, always follow the label. Try a lower toxicity product first. Only use products designed for use in your home and for the type of wildlife you want to control.

Information on Specific Types of Wildlife

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Last updated January 27, 2017

Wildlife in the House

  • Identify your pest. This will help you learn about its habits and needs for the best control strategy.
  • Chimneys can be capped with special covers or dampers. Do not cover chimneys until all animals are gone.
  • Some animals can reach the attic from the roof. Trim overhanging branches at least 8 to 10 feet away from the home.
  • Use a tight-fitting lid on all garbage bins. Metal trashcans may be required to keep out determined wildlife.
  • If pets are fed outside, empty their bowls after they are finished eating. Store pet food indoors or in heavy-duty containers.
  • Outdoor pets can attract predators. Be sure pets have sturdy shelters, especially if left out overnight.
  • Many animals, like most birds and their nests, are protected by law. Check with your state wildlife agency before you remove an animal.
  • Never corner a wild animal. Contact a professional if an animal seems sick or scared.
  • Mothballs are not animal repellents.

If you choose to use a pesticide, read the label before you buy. Try a lower toxicity product first.

If you have a pesticide product in mind, have your label handy and click here for information about that product.

County Extension Offices

Through its county agents, the Cooperative Extension Service gives individuals access to the resources at land-grant universities across the nation. These universities are centers for research in many subjects, including entomology (the study of insects) and agriculture. Each county within the United States has an Extension office, which is staffed with agents who work closely with university-based Extension specialists to deliver answers to your questions about gardening, agriculture, and pest control. You can find the phone number for your local county extension office in the local government section (often marked with blue pages) of your telephone directory or by clicking on the map below.

Alaska Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Hawaii Arizona Colorado New Mexico Texas Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Puerto Rico Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Mississippi Tennessee North Carolina Alabama Georgia South Carolina Florida American Samoa Guam N. Mariana Islands US Virgin Islands Wisconsin Illinois Michigan Indiana Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Pennsylvania Virginia Washington D.C. Maryland Delaware New Jersey Conneticut Rhode Island Massechusetts Massachusetts Connecticut New York New Jersey Maryland Washington DC Delaware Vermont New Hampshire Maine Vermont New Hampshire
Small Map of US States

U.S. States:

AK | AL | AR | AZ | CA | CO | CT | DE | FL | GA | HI | IA | ID | IL | IN | KS | KY | LA | MA | MD | ME | MI | MN | MO | MS | MT | NC | ND | NE | NH | NJ | NM | NV | NY | OH | OK | OR | PA | RI | SC | SD | TN | TX | UT | VA | VT | WA | WI | WV | WY | Washington D.C. |

U.S. Territories:

Puerto Rico | American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands | Virgin Islands

Information on Specific Types of Wildlife

Additional Resources:


Bats

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Birds

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Raccoons

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Skunks

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Tree Squirrels

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Related Topics:

What are pests?

Learn about a pest

Identify a pest

Control a pest

Integrated Pest Management

What are pesticides?

Herbicides

Disinfectants

Fungicides

Insecticides

Natural and Biological Pesticides

Repellents

Rodenticides

Other types of pesticides

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