As a homeowner, you’ve probably entertained guests who overstayed their welcome. But unlike your in-laws or a former college roommate… an animal that’s made itself at home on your property has no intention of leaving.
Some of the usual suspects include raccoons, opossums, woodchucks, skunks or the occasional stray cat. And while they’re just looking for a safe place to call home, you’d probably prefer it wasn’t under your porch or shed.
How can I tell if an animal is living under my porch?
Wondering if an animal has decided to move in? Here are some things you should look for:
- Animal sightings: This one’s obvious. But if you see an animal entering and exiting the space below your porch multiple times, there’s a high likelihood it’s not just visiting. Of course, many nuisance animals are nocturnal. So if you want to catch them in the act, think about investing in a motion-sensor trail camera – many models can be found for less than $50 online.
- Damage: One of the reasons animals are worth evicting from around your home is the damage they can do to your home and property. Look for burrow holes, gnawed wood and eaten vegetation around the area.
- Paw prints: Spread a light dusting of sand or flour around your porch at night, then check for prints in the morning.
- Droppings: We know – ewww. But animal droppings, or scat, can help you confirm the identity of your newest neighbor.
How can I get the animal to leave?
When evicting an animal near a house, many well-meaning homeowners turn to live traps as a humane solution for removal. But according to experts, the trap-and-release method rarely ends well for captured animals. You could separate a mother from its young, or the animal could have difficulty thriving in the area you choose to release it.
So instead of setting a trap, try to convince the animal to move out on its own. Here are some ways to persuade an animal into finding a new home:
- Noise: Chances are, the animal you’re trying to evict decided to move in because it found a safe, quiet space under your porch. Leaving a radio playing under your porch for a few days can send it searching for a more tranquil home.
- Light: Animals like raccoons, possums, groundhogs and skunks like dark, quiet spaces. Plugging in a strobe light or some flashing Christmas lights near the problem area can serve as another good deterrent.
- Scents: If you’ve pinpointed the type of animal living under your porch, try buying some granular repellent to spread around the area. You could also try a rag soaked in a strong-smelling (but non-toxic) solution, like apple cider vinegar.
- Call a professional: If you’re not having any luck evicting an animal on your own, consider calling a professional pest removal company. They’ll make sure the animal is removed safely and humanely.
How do I keep an animal from returning?
Once you’re sure the animal has moved out, it’s time to keep it out for good. Similar to preventing smaller creatures like bats and squirrels from entering your home, you should start by sealing off the area. For decks and porches, you can use decorative lattice with some wire mesh behind it. Just be sure to bury the bottom of the barrier so animals are unable to sneak underneath it. For sheds and other buildings, fill in any burrow holes with dirt. Then, spread animal repellent in the area a few times each year.
Does my homeowners insurance cover animal damage?
Generally speaking, damage from animals is not covered by your homeowners insurance. That’s because it’s considered a home maintenance issue, since the damage is gradual – as opposed to a sudden event, like your neighbor’s tree falling on your roof. We can help you understand what your insurance does (and doesn’t) cover.
By Justin Metz