According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, higher temperatures are affecting the habitats of wildlife, forcing them to shift to new areas and environments. In addition, climate change affects food resources, reproduction, and diseases. Pathogens have become more prevalent and affect every species, from oysters to bats, birds, deer, and more.

Habitat loss is a massive problem in the Chesapeake region. It occurs in three ways. One is destruction, like when humans remove areas for building projects. Fragmentation occurs when roads, dams, and interstates are developed between bodies of water or connecting forests. Degradation results from pollution, climate change, and environmental factors that reduce viability.

What Are the Major Wildlife Concerns in Chesapeake, Virginia?

These are the primary reasons Chesapeake residents report wildlife as a nuisance on their properties or homes. Virginia defines nuisance wildlife as any non-domesticated animal that poses a threat to you or the public, causes annoyances that make you uncomfortable, or destroys or threatens to destroy property.

It’s crucial to note that the Department of Wildlife Resources recommends you not try to get rid of nuisance wildlife on your own. They suggest hiring a wildlife control operator with expertise and tools for removing animals.

They even provide a list of local professionals on their website. Below, we explore how the most common nuisance wildlife in Chesapeake.

Raccoon Removal

Raccoons are often described as cute, masked animals that wash their food in water before eating. The truth is, researchers have found that the black under a raccoon’s eyes is for anti-glare purposes. Also, raccoons are not washing their food but inspect it with their nimble hands. Raccoons do not care if the food they eat is filthy.

They will eat anything as omnivorous animals, including scraps from a trash can, seeds, and nuts out of the feces of other animals, fish, rodents, garden crops, birdseed, insects, pet feed, chickens, and bird eggs. Raccoons are very clever and, with their nimble hands, can get into many places and things. They can open latches, jars, lids, and doorknobs. They push through pet doors, vents, and screens and can reach through fencing to grab the desired object.

Raccoons destroy property by breaking vents or creating holes that lead into your attic. Once inside, they shred insulation, break beams and structural components, scratch floors, and chew wires. Outside they dig holes in yards, raid gardens, swim in ponds and swimming pools, and defecate everywhere they go. They tip over trash cans, raid birdfeeders, kill chickens, and steal animal feed. Raccoons are annoying, making chirping, hissing, growling, screeching, and purring sounds.

They pose a threat to you and the public because they are known to carry diseases. Last year, a raccoon found in a resident’s backyard in the Chesapeake neighborhood of Woodard’s Mills tested positive for rabies. Recently, on August 19, 2022, a raccoon found in the backyard of a Chesapeake Valley Stream homeowner tested positive for rabies. You must have the correct permits and licenses when getting rid of raccoons and other small game fur-bearers in Virginia. Also, you must follow local ordinances on trapping, releasing, testing, etc. One good thing about raccoons is that they love to eat small rodents, like rats and mice. However, if raccoons are on your property, you may have a rat or mouse problem.

Rats and Mice Control

The rats and mice you find in your homes in Chesapeake include the Norway rat, roof rat, and house mouse. The population of rats and mice is growing, creating health concerns for Chesapeake residents. If you see a rat or mouse on your property, call for help from an expert immediately. There is never just one rat or mouse. Most reports say that for every rodent, there are ten more nearby.

Rodents multiply often, and one pair of rats or mice can lead to close to 300 rodents in a year since female rats and mice can have six or more litters each year, giving birth to six or more babies with each delivery.

Infestations can occur rapidly if not dealt with right away. Rodents destroy property by chewing electrical wires and plugging vents, creating fire hazards. They also chew wood, drywall, plastic, mesh screens, carpets, furniture, and other materials they cross in their paths. They typically travel less than 100 feet from their food supply, which makes it easier to locate their nests when you find feces and urine trails in your home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that rats and mice contaminate enough food every year to feed 200 million people worldwide. They spread most bacteria and pathogens through their feces, leaving it everywhere they go, even in your pantries. Never sweep rodent feces since this process sends mold spores and bacteria into the air where you can inhale them, posing a threat to your health.

Getting rid of rodents yourself means knowing the right size trap, bait, location, and number needed to do the job right the first time. Professional wildlife controllers know how to estimate the size of an infestation to determine the number of traps and how many days or weeks it will take to eliminate them. They also know each rodent’s bait preference. If you make mistakes while baiting and trapping, your infestation will grow. The same is true for other rodents, like squirrels.

Squirrel Removal

Flying, gray, and fox squirrels are prevalent in Chesapeake neighborhoods. Southern flying squirrels are primarily nocturnal, so the ones you see dashing in front of your car or scavenging in your yard are the gray and fox squirrels. Many people refer to them as tree or ground squirrels. Squirrels spend most of their time collecting nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, berries, vegetables, twigs, leaves, flowers, and bark to store for later use, like during the winter months when food and supplies are not as readily available.

Squirrels are collectors that hoard their treasures. If they can find a way into your attic or basement, that space will become a storage locker. This can cause fire hazards when squirrels choose air vents and ducts for storage space. Squirrels are known to clog gutters and drainage pipes, creating the perfect scenario for water damage to your home.

Signs of squirrel activity inside your home include chewed wires, wood, drywall, pipes, and personal items. They constantly chew on things to keep their teeth filed. Because their teeth continuously grow, it can be painful if they grow too big. If a squirrel builds a nest in your home, babies are likely in it, especially in the spring or fall seasons. Outdoors squirrels raid birdfeeders and gardens and strip bark from trees. They break shingles, gutters, soffits, and screens.

Getting rid of squirrels is much like getting rid of raccoons. It requires permits, licenses, and following local ordinances due to their classification as small game animals.

Bat Removal

Out of the seventeen bat species in Virginia, three are federally protected, three are state protected, and the rest are listed as threatened species. These classifications mean you cannot hunt, trap, kill, or even try to remove a bat from your property, especially during the maternity season, which can last from late spring to early fall. Bats are essential for our ecosystem, consuming thousands of insects every night.

Because diseases like the white-nose syndrome are killing many, they must be protected. Bats become nuisances because they carry diseases, and their bat guano can permanently stain walls, floors, and ceilings. Bats can become aggressive when they feel threatened, so you should never try to remove it alone.

Many bats roost in colonies, putting you in more danger if you try to remove them yourself. Bats don’t usually carry rabies, but they can. In December 2021, a bat found in the 2400 block of Smith Avenue in the neighborhood of Valley Stream tested positive for rabies, just days after a raccoon tested positive in the same area. Not only do you want to prevent being bitten by a bat, but also your pets.

Don’t try to clean bat guano yourself, either. It grows fungi that, if you inhale the spores, can lead to histoplasmosis and other respiratory problems.

Skunks and Opossums

Special permits are required to take care of nuisance skunks and opossums on your property. You must also follow all local ordinances. Skunks and opossums in Norfolk are like raccoons in behavior and mannerisms. If they are on your property, they have found a good source of food, which can include garbage, small rodents, fish, insects, garden crops, beehives, and pet feed. They will root through anything left out in the open.

Skunks and opossums are likelier to create a den in a crawlspace, basement, or underneath a deck or porch. Skunks and opossums destroy gardens, lawns, siding, and other exterior home materials. Inside they will damage walls, flooring, and any items stored in the area. Like raccoons, seeing them in the daytime is not a sign of rabies, but it is still a good idea to call an expert to determine if it is dangerous and for removal.


Nutria is becoming more prevalent in Chesapeake as they migrate to our area. Invasive species like nutria bring several problems, like new diseases affecting native and non-native wildlife. Nutria eat entire plants, roots, and all, leaving very little for other wildlife.

Nutria has two to three litters annually and can give birth to up to thirteen babies with each litter. Female nutria is ready to reproduce just two days after giving birth. If not controlled, a pair of nutria can lead to tens of thousands of nutria in just a few years. Nutria burrows underground, compromising flood barriers and foundations of dams, buildings, interstates, highways, homes, and barns. This will, in turn, erode banks, ditches, and other environmental protection. Nutria also eats plants that hold marshes together, eliminating habitats for much local wildlife.

Nutria can spread diseases like tuberculosis and septicemia, infecting people, wildlife, and domesticated animals. If they leave feces and urine in areas where you swim, fish, or supply drinking water, you are exposed to parasites that cause rashes referred to as the “nutria itch.” If you see a nutria, notify an expert.


Like bats, the mere thought of having a snake in your home or property makes many people fearful. Snakes and bats are, for the most part, harmless and essential for the balance of the ecosystem. They will only become aggressive when they feel threatened.   However, no one should have to live in fear on their property. Calling an expert to remove a snake is a good idea, especially if you do not know the difference between non-venomous and the three types of Virginia venomous snakes. Another reason is that if you have snakes near your house, you likely also have a rat and mouse problem, the preferred food of snakes.   Wildlife experts have tools to corral and store a captured snake, like snake poles and traps. They can also locate the food sources attracting snakes to your home, including small rodents such as rats, mice, voles, and moles. They can simultaneously eliminate multiple nuisance wildlife issues.  

Lizards, Frogs, and Toads

In Virginia, you can capture a lizard, frog, or toad but cannot sell it. You cannot catch it for any reason if it is listed as a protected species. If you see reptiles and amphibians in your yard, you likely have a great source of insects, their preferred food.

The best way to control these creatures is to hire a professional who knows how to reduce the number of insects in your yard. None of this wildlife is venomous or dangerous. Some have a toxin on their skin for protection, but it usually leaves you with a bad taste. Some animals may foam at the mouth, but it is not known to be life-threatening.

In the Chesapeake area, you can expect to see 28 or more species of true frogs, tree frogs, toads, and other types of frogs. There are nine lizard species in Virginia, with the five-lined skink found most in your home. Although not harmful, they can be annoying. Calling for help with removal will help you enjoy your space without the thought of a reptile or amphibian hanging out nearby.  

How Hiring Professional Wildlife Control Services Can Help You

You don’t have to get dirty, worry about inhaling mold spores, or touch feces and urine. Professionals are trained to do the dirty work. They also have:

  • Licenses and certifications.
  • Safe and humane equipment.
  • Extensive training and experience.