Charlottesville, Virginia, is centrally located in the Piedmont ecoregion. Piedmont is a term for “foot of the mountain.” In Charlottesville, we call it Southern Appalachia or the Appalachian foothills. Among the10,000 species of wildlife in this area are raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, groundhogs, birds, bats, beavers, deer, snakes, rats, mice, and rabbits.
According to reports, Charlottesville is one of the fastest-growing cities in Virginia. To accommodate the number of people eager to move to the area, developers are replacing forests with subdivisions. Doing so displaces wildlife due to a lack of food, water, and shelter. Some wildlife migrates to other areas, and some remain. They survive by adapting to living among humans.
Wildlife and humans do not always get along. Wildlife does not have boundaries or manners when invading your home or property. Many become nuisance wildlife, defined as those so annoying you struggle to enjoy your living space. They may also pose a threat or injury to humans and damage your home or property.
Getting rid of nuisance wildlife requires knowing and following the laws for each species on your property. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources recommends hiring a wildlife control specialist for help. They know the regulations for removing native and non-native species, including ones listed as endangered or threatened.
The raccoon population in central Virginia is on the rise. They are well-adapted to urban and rural living and have no problem making themselves a home in your attic, basement, or crawlspace. Raccoons have a mask around their eyes and stripes on their tail. Their appearance matches their misbehaviors. These night bandits can cause a lot of damage to your home and yard.
Raccoons are around the size of a big cat, making it easy for them to break open doors and vents that may not be sturdy. Once inside your home, they will create a den. Females will create a place to give birth to babies. Raccoons will shred insulation and destroy structural boards, insulation, and drywall. They will also leave their feces and urine in one specific spot.
Raccoons are not averse to daylight. You can sometimes see them lying on a tree branch or rooftop, sunning themselves. It is at night they hunt for food, which can be anything. Raccoons will eat whatever is available. They do not hibernate in the winter, so they do not store food for later. They search day-to-day for nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, rodents, insects, reptiles, junk food, and table scraps.
Avoid getting rid of a raccoon on your own. Last year, the Blue Ridge Health District issued a report on a raccoon found along the Rivanna River in Charlottesville that tested positive for rabies. There may be more in that area. Call a wildlife control specialist for help.
Rat and Mice Pest Control
House mice and Norway rats
are overpopulating the Charlottesville area and Virginia. Some families are being displaced. Family Dollar and Dollar Tree face hundreds of lawsuits due to infestations. The population is out of hand and continues to grow. The reason is that rats and mice reproduce six or more times yearly, giving birth to six or more babies each time.
One pair of rodents can produce thousands upon thousands
of descendants in the few years they are alive. Rats and mice that get into your home put you at risk for contaminated food, house fires due to chewed wires, and allergic reactions from mold spores on rodent feces. Rats and mice can carry hundreds of germs and transmit them through saliva, feces, and urine.
Signs of rats or mice infestations include trails of feces and urine, chew marks on corners, trash cans, cupboards, and food containers. You may find burrows outside your home. Rats burrow, and if they do so under your home, your foundation may become unstable.
A wildlife control expert can help you eliminate the things that attract rats and mice to your home, including pet food, garden and bird seeds, pet waste, compost piles, and access to trash cans.
Squirrels in Virginia
include the Northern and Southern flying squirrels and fox, gray, and red squirrels. Each species has sub-species you may see roaming Charlottesville neighborhoods. Squirrels become nuisance wildlife
when they invade your personal living space, like building nests in your chimney, attic, walls, crawlspace, or basement.
Squirrels are collectors. They scavenge for treasures and store them in their den. As a nuisance, squirrels will keep items in your ductwork and vents, creating fire hazards for you and your family. They also shred soil insulation, drywall, and any sentimental items they find lying around. Squirrels must constantly chew and gnaw on things to keep their ever-growing teeth filed down to a pain-free length.
Squirrels can chew through most materials, including vinyl siding, plastic, aluminum, wood, paper, and fabrics. Some squirrels like to dig burrows underground, creating foundation problems for your home, driveway, or other structures. They will also dig for vegetable and plant bulbs. Foods they like include nuts, birdseed, grass seeds, garden crops, bird eggs, insects, and occasionally, bark.
give birth once or twice a year to a small litter. If the mother is separated from her babies, she will create extreme damage to get back to them. A wildlife expert can help you get rid of nuisance squirrels and know the many regulations required for the process. For example, permits are required during non-trapping season, relocating the animal is not allowed, and contacting the Commonwealth’s attorney for potential Charlottesville ordinances is a mandatory step.
All 17 species
of bats in Virginia are classified as endangered or threatened; therefore, you must follow specific regulations when removing a nuisance bat from your home. Diseases like white-nose syndrome cause bats to become dehydrated, leading to changes in the bat’s metabolism. In some fatal cases, bats experience an early depletion of fat that leads to hibernation disruptions.
Bats are highly beneficial to the ecosystem, consuming half their body weight in insects every night. If they are on your property, you have a plentiful supply of bugs nearby. Insects are attracted to lights, especially night lights. Bugs like manure, stagnant water, open trash cans, and open feed bags.
Bats in Charlottesville that become a nuisance are the little brown bat. When their guano, or feces, piles up in their roost, they get heavy and can damage structural boards. It grows mold spores that can lead to respiratory illnesses like histoplasmosis. It contains uric acid that corrodes wood and metals and leaves permanent stains on walls, floors, and siding.
Maternity season is in the spring; during this time, you cannot harass, threaten, or remove bats from your structure. Hiring an expert to remove bats is recommended, especially when dealing with bat colonies.
Skunks and opossums
are different species, but their nuisance behaviors are identical and eerily like raccoons. One difference is that skunks and opossums typically change living habitats after a few weeks. Both animals use vacant dens in your yard, the attic, crawlspace, basement, or area under a porch or deck for shelter. They are very messy and will destroy everything in their space.
A recent report
about a family in Albemarle County educated many on the dangers of an opossum dying in your water well. It can contaminate it, causing high levels of E.coli and coliform. Drinking it will lead to severe health issues.
Skunks and opossums crawl through insulation, ductwork, vents, and pet doors, searching for food. If they need to make an entry bigger, they will. Both eat insects, small rodents, fish, garden crops, eggs, and human and pet food. They raid compost piles and trash cans. After all that eating, they will leave piles of feces and urine in their dens.
When skunks and opossums feel threatened, they will hiss, growl, and screech, and both release a musky-smelling fluid that can take days or weeks to fade. One difference is that opossums play dead when frightened. Wildlife control specialists are extensively trained to get rid of skunks and opossums, and they understand the local, state, and federal regulations for nuisance wildlife removal.
There are 13 species
of snakes classified as needing conservation in Virginia,
including some king, rattle, pine, earth, and crayfish snakes. For the most part, snakes are harmless. Virginia has only three venomous snakes, with the copperhead being the most common in Charlottesville
. Timber rattlesnakes and canebrake rattlesnakes are prevalent in other areas of Virginia.
If you have snakes in your home or property, you also likely have a rodent problem. Snakes preferred food includes rats and mice. Eliminating rats and mice from the property will also get rid of snakes. Because snakes often create fear in humans, call an expert for help in removing it.
Armadillo Removal & Control
In 2019, the first armadillo
was captured in Russell County in Southwest Virginia. It now sits in the Virginia Museum of Natural History. They will begin spreading into other Virginia regions, including Central or Piedmont.
Armadillos are easily identifiable by their armor-looking shell with nine distinctive bands. They have the shape of a football. They have claws that help them dig massive holes in your yard to search for insects.
Armadillos like to burrow and will do so under your home, pool, driveway, shed, and other structures. They can destroy your landscaping. If you hear grunting noises at night, it could be an armadillo. They will jump straight into the air three feet or more when frightened.
Armadillos are carriers of leprosy
, now called Hansen’s disease, and can spread it to humans. Some reports claim humans can contract it by eating armadillo meat and others report inhaling fecal spores can transmit the disease. You must hire an expert for removal.
How Professional Wildlife Services Can Help You
Hiring a professional to get rid of nuisance wildlife keeps you, the expert, and the animal safe. The job gets done quickly and effectively, including taking steps to prevent future visits. Wildlife specialists have the following:
- Numerous hours of education and training on wildlife habits and habitats.
- Licensure, certification, and permitting to complete the job.
- Safety methods to protect you from COVID-19 and other viruses.
- Schedules that allow prioritizing serious wildlife concerns.
- Safety gear and equipment for trapping and removal.