ALBANY, GA (WALB) - As people across our area are settling in to brave the cold months ahead, there are also many unwanted guests eager to enjoy the cozy comforts of home.
Wildlife such as squirrels, roof rats and even raccoons are seeking food and shelter to survive the winter and it's important for homeowners to know the telltale signs of these pesky and persistent intruders.
Chilly temperature s and cool breezes forces many of us to rush inside our homes, including rodents. "Cause of the cold weather they're wanting to go inside where it's warm," said Service manager Ben Tallent of Arrow Exterminators.
A recent survey shows that small animals such as squirrels, roof rats and raccoons are some of the top concerns for homeowners. It only takes one weak spot for your house to become infested with bacteria, nests and diseases. Or cause other issues, like property damage.
"They're all the time gnawing, they're going to gnaw on something . they can cause electrical problems in the home, cause fires," Tallent said.
Costing you hundreds in repairs.
The best defense is preparation. That means sealing up cracks and locating any entry points of the home.
"You might have a termite issue right here, a bat issue around on the other side. And of course in south Georgia in our area it's not if you get the termites it's when you'll get the termites."
Experts recommend leaving food bowls inside and keeping grilling areas clean. Also it pays to keep a clean yard.
"Maybe if they have shrubbery or trees that are touching in the home. This customer here has their trees cut back, their shrubs are cut away from the side of the home."
Making sure potential hiding places are visible to deter the critters from taking over.
Roof Rats: Roof rats were not even found in many southern states 20 years ago, but they are now one of the most frequent home invaders. Typically tree dwellers, roof rats look for high places to nest inside structures including soffits and attics to survive the winter. Like all rodents, they reproduce very quickly, making them nearly impossible to control without the help of a professional.
Squirrels: Both gray and flying squirrels are known to seek shelter in attics, exterior walls and even between floors using insulation as nesting material. In addition to the damage their chewing and nesting can cause, squirrels can be carriers of fleas and other unwanted organisms that can infest the entire home once brought inside.
Raccoons: These masked bandits live in a constant search for food and shelter. They use their very adept hands to open garbage cans, remove siding and even tear off shingles. Categorized as an extremely dangerous and destructive pest, raccoons can cause structural damage to a home and infest living spaces with fleas and parasites. They are also known to carry rabies.
"We see an increase in calls related to wildlife infestations every fall," said Arrow Pest Expert Charlie Jones. "Much like humans, these pests crave food, warmth and shelter which drives them into homes when the temperature drops."
To help prevent furry intruders from entering homes, Arrow Exterminators recommends the following tips:
• Seal all exterior cracks and holes, including along the roofline, around the chimney and areas where utilities and pipes enter the home;
• Use plastic boxes and containers with seal-tight lids for storage, keep them off the floor and organize items to prevent wildlife from residing in undisturbed areas of the house, garage, basement and attic;
• Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean;
• Keep bird feeders away from the house and use squirrel guards to limit access to the feeder;
• Do not leave pet food or water bowls out overnight; and
• Use a thick plastic or metal garbage can with a tight lid - and keep it sealed at all times.