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Those footsteps up on your roof may not necessarily be reindeer this time of year. With cold weather come our furry friends looking for a warm place to nest.
A local specialist in finding and removing such visitors says January, February and March are busy months for everything from squirrels and raccoons to mice and roof rats.
"This is a time of year when critters come in," said Kevin Cornwell, owner of Cornwell's Wildlife Control in Carrollton.
"Raccoons and squirrels are looking for places to live for the winter. Houses are warmer and they can sniff out the warmth."
Animals tend to move into attics and chimneys, he said.
Making sure chimneys are clean before starting up fireplaces is important, and putting caps on top of furnace exhausts as well as chimneys is also key, Cornwell said.
"I have pulled raccoons out of those before," he said. "They can die in there, and clog it up."
Squirrels will chew on insulated wires in attics, causing a shock hazard for anybody going up there. Nesting material can also create the potential for a fire.
If your home is on a crawl space, foundation vents need to be secured. Raccoons like to move in under houses, sometimes tearing open ductwork to make nests.
January through March were Cornwell's banner months last winter. The colder it is, the more animals move inside, he said.
"A milder winter, it may not be so bad," Cornwell said. "But during a cold one, you start getting a lot more calls."
He started getting a lot of rat and mouse calls for attic areas early this month. The first cold snap usually brings those small animals inside, looking to spend the winter in a warm house.
Lucky Striech, operator of Critter Control's Virginia Beach franchise, said it's best to walk around your house once a month to check for damage.
Cold weather coming in late and the economic downturn have affected business this month, according to Dan Wauhop, a co-owner who runs the Peninsula office of Zoopro Inc.
"But it's funny because people will pay you to get an animal out of their house before they buy food," he said.
Winter-proofing your home from animals
• Check high and low.
Pay particular attention to attics, chimneys and crawl spaces.
• Caps should be on top of chimneys and furnace exhausts.
• Make sure all vents are secured around the edges.
• If animals get inside, you can always call a professional to remove them.
Source: Local wildlife control services Cornwell's, Critter Control and Zoopro
Credits: By Jennifer L. Williams - Dailypress.com