Pennsylvania’s capital, Harrisburg, is the hub of a broader urban area that includes many suburban towns as well as Hershey, best known for its chocolate factory and amusement park. The Susquehanna River serves as the city’s western border. Despite the hustle and bustle of city life, many species of wildlife call the river and the woodlands of the Susquehanna Valley home, including raccoons, rodents, and other small mammals.
Riverside cities and towns typically have recreational areas for residents and tourists to go on hikes and unwind, taking in the scenery. What many don’t realize is how quickly wildlife moves into neighboring residential and business areas looking for food, water, and shelter. While paved city streets, roadways, and highways like Interstate 81 and Interstate 83 do limit the access wildlife have to neighborhoods, they also make it difficult for these animals to make it back to their natural habitats, forcing them to settle where they are — like a home’s basement or attic.
A growing and vibrant urban area, Harrisburg has ranked among the best places to live and retire in Pennsylvania. It has a young, active urban population that supports amenities such as river cruises, music festivals, and more. City Island, in the middle of the river, is a large tourist attraction, including both a baseball and football stadium, a beach club, miniature golf, and playgrounds. These attractions, though, provide wildlife with easy and continuous access to food.
In their natural habitat, raccoons are excellent climbers and use the cover of trees to protect themselves from predators. They tend to make their homes up high, which is why they usually take up residence in attics and chimneys. These areas of a house are ideal spots when winter sets in, especially in an urban environment that offers little to no trees. Raccoons may seem cute, but many people don’t realize that they’re also quite destructive.
These critters are strong and will use their hands to tear a hole in the roof of a house to gain entry. Once inside, they usually tear through the home’s insulation and gnaw on wood and wires. Raccoons aren’t very small, so you’ll likely hear them banging around if one moves into your attic. They can become fierce when confronted, especially if there are kits (or baby raccoons) with them. Trapping to relocate raccoons is not allowed in Pennsylv
Like raccoons, rats, mice, and bats, squirrels also like to live in attics and chimneys. There are five squirrel species living in Pennsylvania, but the gray squirrel is, by far, the most populous. It’s also the one that most often lives in urban and suburban areas.
Squirrels in attics are a common animal nuisance problem in Harrisburg. These rodents are amusing to watch at a park, but they are not fun to find in your attic or crawl space, where they have been known to make a mess and cause electrical fires. Because a squirrel’s teeth continue to grow, it needs to gnaw to keep them at a manageable length.
Carriers parasites such as ticks, mange mites, fleas, and internal parasites, squirrels leave feces and urine behind that can transmit leptospirosis, salmonellosis, and tularemia. Trying to capture these agile creatures is difficult and can be dangerous if they become aggressive. Critter Control has the experience and equipment to rid your premises of squirrels effectively and humanely.
Although small, rats and mice will cause significant damage to your home or business. Rodents are also responsible for the spread of disease, which tends to happen when their urine or feces contaminate food. This is especially dangerous in homes with children or in restaurants and athletic facilities where cleanliness and diligence are a necessity.
Rodents can squeeze through the tiniest of gaps in doors and windows and the space around your gas pipes or vents. Once they make themselves at home, they will gnaw on wood and wires, creating a risk of electrical fires. They also reproduce all year round, so they can quickly create a large infestation.
Because rodents are mostly nocturnal, you might not realize there’s a problem until an infestation occurs. That’s why it’s important to watch for signs of rats and mice, like rodent feces on kitchen counters and in pantries, greasy smudge marks along walls where they travel, and scampering noises at night in walls and the attic. To get rid of rodents completely, it’s best to let a wildlife specialist develop a custom plan that not only includes rat and mouse removal but exclusion techniques to keep them from returning.
Nine species of bats live in Pennsylvania, two of which are on the federal endangered species list: the northern long-eared bat and the Indiana bat. In addition, more than 90% of Pennsylvania’s little brown bats and northern long-eared bats have succumbed to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease.
All Pennsylvania bats are insect-eating and serve a beneficial purpose. Under normal conditions, they can eat 600 to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects per hour! While they are great at ridding our yards of unwanted insects, they’re not welcome guests when roosting in an attic, chimney, or behind shutters. Despite their benefits, the feces (or guano) that bats leave behind is a potential danger for diseases such as Histoplasma fungus.
Bats give birth each spring to a single pup. Pups remain helpless during the spring and summer months and are weaned by fall. It is at this time that bats can be removed from an attic without harming the young. Critter Control does this by installing a bat valve or one-way door that lets the bats fly out at dusk but doesn’t allow them to re-enter. Once gone, Critter Control can begin to clean up the guano and urine and sanitize your space.
The Harrisburg area is purportedly a great area for birdwatching, including on City Island. There are even peregrine falcons nesting on the 15th floor of the Rachel Carson building downtown! Some bird species have become nuisances around Harrisburg, though, including pigeons, starlings, blackbirds, geese, and even bluejays.
Nuisance birds overrunning your building or property is not a situation you want to find yourself in. Their droppings and loose feathers can clog pipes and vents. Nests in chimneys become fire hazards. They can also transmit diseases and parasites, make lots of noise when roosting in flocks, and damage your property with their feces and urine.
Birds are nearly impossible to catch and remove effectively, and even if they’re caught and released, there’s always a chance they’ll fly right back inside. In addition, many are protected by the Migratory Bird Act, so removal by excluding them is the only effective method for getting rid of birds. There are many DIY products on the market designed to scare them off, but those only work for a short time. Critter Control specialists are experts in effective bird exclusions.
Professional Bird Control
The three birds that most often become pests in the U.S. in urban areas are pigeons, house sparrows, and starlings. Hundreds of bird species exist in Pennsylvania, both native and non-native. Pennsyvalnia's most common backyard birds include sparrows, starlings, bluebirds, bluejays, woodpeckers, and blackbirds. Birds seem harmless until you start paying for repairs like removing stains from bird droppings, fixing broken roof ledges, unclogging gutters that led to water damage, or cleaning out nests in chimneys that are fire hazards.
In particular, Critter Control’s Philadelphia-based specialists often receive calls to remove woodpeckers, which may peck holes into house siding looking for insects to make nest cavities, or to communicate with other woodpeckers.
Birds, especially in swarms, do more damage than you may think. These "pest" birds tend to roost in large numbers, putting too much weight on parts of your home's structure. They also breed in large numbers. Colonies can mean large amounts of waste and a lot of noise.
Most birds are protected under the 1918 Migratory Bird Act, making exclusions the only way to get rid of nuisance birds. Wildlife technicians are experts in exclusions.