Dedicated to animal pest control excellence, our staff of professionals at Critter Control includes biologists, zoologists, animal control officers, and anti-cruelty employees. Our highly qualified animal control teams can handle nearly any wildlife control issue in the Harrisburg and Lancaster area, with the help of our unique accumulation of expert knowledge. From risky raccoon removal to basic bird control, we conduct each job under the highest of humane animal-handling standards. Also serving New Castle.
Local Franchisee: Kevin Kaclik
Address: 290 Blackswoods Rd Freedom, PA 15042 (724) 775-5444
Q&A with Local Franchisee Kevin Kaclik
What are some of the most common wildlife issues that homeowners face in your area?
We often find raccoons in attics and chimneys -- also under decks and in crawl spaces -- as well as squirrels and bats in attics. Moles are becoming more common. We see starlings and sparrows in vents and woodpecker holes in cedar siding.
How do the seasons affect wildlife activity in your area?
Winter is typically slower when animal populations are at their lowest levels. Certain animals hibernate and some just curtail activity during the coldest, harshest periods.
Any prevention tips for residents in your area?
Keep the area around the home tidy, lawn mowed, bushes trimmed, tree branches away from the roof, garbage disposed of properly, structural vents screened, chimneys capped, soffits and fascia sound, and gaps along roof line caulked. All penetrations should be secured including electric, water, and a/c lines.
When should homeowners call Critter Control?
Call anytime they have a question about wildlife or when they notice activity that they think is wildlife related. This includes unusual noises, visible damage to lawn or structures, or telltale signs like droppings or sightings.
Nuisance Wildlife in the NW Pittsburgh Area
The local rivers and booming steel industry of Pittsburgh, PA, create a unique environment that draws unique pests to the area. Rats, mice, and various types of birds congregate in both operational and abandoned factories as well as in residential neighborhoods. All three of these pests are known for spreading diseases like food poisoning, salmonellosis, and histoplasmosis. Mammalian pests common in the city include raccoons, opossums, skunks, and beavers. These pests spread diseases, dig holes in lawns, and disturb both pets and house residents with their presence.
Bat Benefits and Issues
Western Pennsylvania is home to eight species of bats. Though they are beneficial because they eat insects, bats become pests when they roost indoors. Typically these flying mammals nest in caves or tree cavities, but when an opportunity presents itself, they will just as readily roost in attics. Aside from making constant squeaking and rustling noises, bats in Pittsburgh also stain and damage buildings with their droppings. Bat feces may contain bacteria that can spread histoplasmosis, a fungal infection harmful to humans and pets.
Every bat species in NW Pittsburgh feeds on insects. Since this cuts down on mosquitoes, some residents see their presence as a good thing. However, bats also move into people's attics. While inside, they make rustling noises at night and can spread diseases like rabies and histoplasmosis.
Tree Squirrel Problems
Abundant throughout Pennsylvania, many squirrel species thrive in the suburban landscape of NW Pittsburgh and New Castle. These rodents are especially attracted to homes and yards that provide food sources such as bird feeders and nut-bearing trees. Though there are many types of squirrels in Western Pennsylvania, flying squirrels are the most likely to nest inside local attics. Their presence can be detected by hearing scratching sounds coming from the walls or finding damage caused by their constant gnawing on siding, wires, and insulation.
Many tree squirrels use attics as nesting sites, so Pennsylvania residents often come in conflict with these pests. The eastern gray squirrel is the biggest culprit locally. During cold weather, the animals sneak into homes through vents and gaps in roofing. Indoors, squirrels damage insulation and homeowner belongings.
The raccoon is becoming a danger in and around NW Pittsburgh, PA. These pests, easily recognizable due to their masked faces and ringed tails, are known to knock over trash cans in search of easy meals. Raccoons will also roll up fresh sod in search of grubs and worms. While both activities are typically just a nuisance, these pests also present a real danger to local residents. Raccoons in Western PA are known carriers of rabies and can pass along the virus to people and their pets through scratches and bites. They also cause problems in homes by nesting in chimneys and attics, making chittering noises and scratching sounds throughout the night.
Skunks in Northwest Pittsburgh
Due to the mountainous and wooded topography of Western Pennsylvania, residents sometimes share their backyards with skunk infestations. Although they move slowly and are only about the size of a housecat, skunks have few predators because of their pungent musk. Actually being sprayed is rare, but when skunks do spray, the nauseating smell can linger for days and is difficult to remove. They are also known to leave a faint, unpleasant odor when they den under porches or sheds. In addition, skunks in Pittsburgh or New Castle may cause property damage by digging for insects in yards and rooting through trash cans.
Just one skunk can riddle a yard with dozens of holes. The pests dig deep into turf to find grubs and insects to eat. These animals also make dens under homes that result in structural damage as well as a foul, lingering odor. Like raccoons, skunks in Pennsylvania can transmit rabies to both people and pets.
Opossums in NW Pittsburgh, PA, thrive thanks to their intelligence and adaptive nature. Often, these pests build dens under decks and in garages or attics to escape the cold weather and raise their young. Pennsylvania homeowners may hear strange hissing, clicking, or scratching sounds coming from the walls or ceiling as opossums go about their nightly business. Not only do the pests leave behind droppings, but they sift through garbage cans while searching for food, making a mess in the process. Opossums are resilient and eat nearly anything plant- or animal-based, so they can be difficult to deter raccoons and skunks. They cause trouble in yards and seek refuge in homes during harsh winter weather.
Western Pennsylvania is home to the state's most widely distributed wildlife pest, the woodchuck. Although they prefer farmland, big fields, and wooded or brushy areas, woodchucks are not opposed to living in suburban neighborhoods where food is plentiful. Stonewall fences are the perfect cover for burrows, but buildings and tree bases also provide woodchucks in Pittsburgh with ample concealment. Crops and gardens are frequently destroyed by their diverse vegetarian diets. Likewise, their burrowing tears up lawns and causes structural damage to porches and sheds.
While many people associate snakes with rural areas, plenty of these slithering pests live in Pittsburgh and New Castle yards. Typically found outdoors searching for rodents and other prey, they sometimes sneak into homes through small cracks in walls, torn screens, and open windows. The state is home to twenty-one snake species, but only three are venomous: northern copperheads, eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, and timber rattlesnakes. Finding these snakes in residential areas is particularly concerning because their venomous bites cause painful and dangerous reactions that require medical attention.
As one of 27 cities to sign up for the Urban Bird Treaty program, Pittsburgh, PA, maintains a city- wide conservation effort and hosts a sanctuary for wild birds. Nevertheless, for every joyful songbird, residents will still find plenty of problematic species in the city. Some of the most challenging birds to deal with are pigeons. These pests congregate in large numbers and roost on tall buildings, which rapidly leads to the accumulation of bacteria-laden feces. Other unruly birds in Western Pennsylvania include various species of woodpeckers. Known for drumming on trees as they search for insects, these pests can cause noise disturbances when they move to pecking on wooden siding and outbuildings.
The urban landscape of NW Pittsburgh, PA, is the perfect breeding ground for Norway rats and roof rats. These rodents live on leftovers and trash left behind by humans and, in return, spread diseases such as leptospirosis and Hantavirus. Rats in the Pittsburgh-New Castle region find ideal hiding places in the city's extensive sewer systems, which allow them to breed undisturbed. Once inside homes, they gnaw on wooden beams and wiring, causing structural damage and the risk of electrical fires. Rats can be heard at night making scratching sounds in walls and attics. In such a populated space, cleanliness is the best means of prevention.