According to the University of Rhode Island, the state is home to over 800 native and non-native wildlife species. Rhode Island wildlife habitats will likely be impacted due to residential and commercial developments, drought, invasive species, pests, diseases, and climate change. Issues like these force wildlife to search for food, water, and shelter beyond their natural habitats in other parts of the state. Many find new homes and dens in your neighborhood or on your property.
Common Newport, RI wildlife includes squirrels, raccoons, rats, mice, bats, skunks, snakes, toads, opossums, and groundhogs. Wildlife can quickly become a nuisance if it damages your property, poses a health risk to you and others, or interferes with your ability to enjoy your property.
The Department of Environmental Management recommends hiring a wildlife control operator to remove nuisance wildlife. These professionals have specialized training, safe and humane equipment, and knowledge on preventing wildlife from returning to your home. Below are examples of common nuisance wildlife scenarios the experts deal with in Newport.
Raccoon Removal in Newport
Raccoons in Newport have black masks, bushy striped tails, and nimble hands. They earn the nickname “masked bandit” when they sneak into human areas, create a mess, and steal food. Raccoons are typically nocturnal, but they won’t miss out on an opportunity for food or water just because it’s daytime.
If you find a raccoon in your attic or elsewhere, you have a food source attracting it. Raccoons are omnivores, so their range of food preferences is extensive. They raid birdfeeders, bird nests, livestock and pet feed, chickens, eggs, small rodents, garden and field crops, fruits, insects, and human food. They adapt well to living around humans and feast on table scraps thrown out or left in a garbage can.
Raccoons will open garbage bags, grab fish from ponds, and enter your home through a pet door if they smell food. Their human-like hands make them expert climbers. They can weigh up to 35 pounds, making it easy to force their way into a good nesting spot, like your attic.
Signs of raccoon activity include greasy smudge marks on the side of your home, broken roof shingles, missing bark from trees, scattered garbage, stolen garden vegetables, and holes throughout your lawn. Raccoons leave piles of feces and urine inside your home, usually in one spot. They shred insulation, drywall, and any materials they find lying around to build a nest. They chew on electrical wires and plug vents and ducts, creating fire hazards.
Raccoons can carry diseases, including rabies and roundworm. To get rid of a raccoon, you must follow state regulations. Raccoons are protected furbearers in Rhode Island and may require special permits for hunting and trapping. Homeowners are not permitted to relocate a raccoon except elsewhere on their property to prevent the spread of diseases.
Brown rats, also known as Norway rats, outnumber all other rats in Newport, so they are usually the ones you will find burrowing under your home, shed, driveway, or other structures. Burrows are underground tunnels the brown rat uses to travel from one spot to another. Because the dirt is disturbed, the burrows make the ground above them unstable. Signs of rat burrows may include cracked roads and driveways, noticeable holes, or your house settling and shifting. Brown rats can climb but prefer to stay lower, like in your walls, basement, and crawlspace. Because they can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, accessing these locations is not a problem.
The house mouse is often found in Newport homes, usually in attics, walls, and ceilings. They are much smaller than rats and can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime. Rats and mice are active when it’s dark and quiet in your home, which usually coincides with when you are asleep. Signs of rats and mice include trails of urine and droppings. The trails run from their nest to their food sources, generally no more than 300 feet apart.
Rats and mice chew electrical wires, carpets, furniture, cabinets, baseboards, and pipes. They build nests in and with insulation, contaminate pet and human foods, and keep you up at night with the various sounds they make.
When you see signs of rats or mice, contact a professional rodent removal for help. Rodents reproduce at alarming rates and can quickly become an infestation. An expert can correctly estimate the number of rodents living in your home and choose the right bait and traps to eliminate rats and mice.
Squirrels are members of the rodent family. In Newport, the Eastern gray squirrel is the one you see daily foraging for food and nesting materials to store for winter months. Squirrels prefer nuts, bird seeds, grains, fruits, and berries.
Where they store food makes squirrels both geniuses and nuisances. These tree squirrels may pretend to bury food underground but take it somewhere else, like your attic, chimney, crawlspace, or other dry space they use for a nest. If the food is essential, they will store it in the open even though it puts them at risk of predators. They do this to deter other squirrels from stealing their food.
Eastern gray squirrels gnaw on hard and soft surfaces. Squirrels gnaw through siding, drywall, shingles, plastic vent caps, and wood.
If they chew their way into your attic, expect to find shredded insulation, chewed boards and beams, feces and urine, and damage to anything you were storing, including sentimental items. Squirrels are known to chew through electrical and utility wires.
Squirrels build nests in spots they find warm, dry, and safe. This may be in your attic’s HVAC ducts, wall cavities, chimneys, vents, or insulation. Outdoors you may find nests in gutters, soffits, eaves, and trees. Squirrels carry parasites, like fleas and ticks, that carry infectious bacteria, which can pose a health risk to humans.
Before trapping a squirrel from your home, you must find out if you need a permit or license. Other regulations may include immediately reuniting a squirrel with its young, releasing it somewhere else on your property, and testing for diseases.
Multiple bat species exist in Newport, but the big and little brown bats are the ones you may find living in your attic. Bats are amazing and nothing like the reputation they’ve been given in movies and stories. They are crucial to our ecosystem because they consume thousands of insects nightly. Without them, we and our crop fields would be overwhelmed by insects.
Bats are the only mammal that can actually fly. Their eyesight is not great, so they use echolocation, or the process of sounds bouncing off things, which creates an echo and guides them. They are nocturnal and begin flying in and out of their roost to feed as soon as dusk arrives. If you have bats on your property, you also have a great food resource for them.
Anything that attracts bugs is a food resource, including pole lights, stagnant water, open feed bags, and manure piles. The only nuisance a bat causes is due to its guano or feces. Bats eat many insects and expel a lot of guano, even while sleeping. Guano contains acids that can erode wood and metals. It stains wood flooring and walls, and it grows mold spores. If humans inhale the spores, they risk contracting respiratory issues. A bat living in your attic means the mold spores may travel through your ducts and vents into your living space.
Getting rid of bats is challenging, primarily due to the laws you must follow. Most bats are protected wildlife because their species is threatened with extinction. The most significant threats are wind turbines, climate change, and white-nose syndrome. Therefore, removing them requires you to avoid doing so during their maternity season, from late Spring to early Fall. Their pups must be able to fly out independently.
Bats can carry rabies and other diseases, making it dangerous to try and remove a bat without the help of an expert.
Skunks in Newport are about the size of a house cat. The striped skunk is the species you will likely encounter around your home. They are like raccoons; they are nocturnal and will raid trash cans, steal pet food, and raid gardens. Skunks are omnivores and opportunistic eaters. They take advantage of any available food source, including worms, rodents, insects, mushrooms, fruits, nuts, and human food.
Skunks will break into your home if they see holes or cracks leading into a crawlspace or basement. They have a terrific sense of smell and can sense bugs underground. They will dig holes in your lawn to get the bugs.
Anyone trying to remove a skunk risks being sprayed with the famous musky chemical they produce. The odor is foul and can linger for weeks. Skunks will typically leave an area after a short time without prompting. However, if it is in your crawlspace or basement nesting with its newborns, you may be waiting awhile. Never approach a skunk protecting her babies. She will become aggressive and may bite.
Skunks carry diseases like rabies. If a skunk is acting strangely, like staggering towards you in the middle of the day, you must contact the Department of Environmental Management so the professionals there can extract it and test it for diseases. Also, skunks are protected furbearers, and anyone removing them must follow local and state guidelines.
Rhode Island Bird Control
There are over 400 bird species in Rhode Island. Some are year-round residents; some arrive only in the Fall and Winter, and others are present in Spring and Summer.
Birds can be a nuisance when they inhabit the trees, roof ledges, eaves, chimneys, and soffits of your home and property. Their feces can stain sidewalks, siding, and vehicles because they contain corrosive acids. It also creates an ugly aesthetic. Birds like to hang out on utility wires, making them sag and not work correctly.
If birds enter your attic or walls, they will destroy insulation, keepsakes, and anything else in their way. Sparrows, starlings, and pigeons cause the most damage. They are three species that do not have protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which means they can be trapped. However, trapping them is often useless since they can fly right back in.
Some birds, like woodpeckers, are strictly protected by laws. Other birds are protected by hunting regulations, like pheasants. If you don’t know the laws or need help keeping birds away, call an expert for help in removing birds from your property.