The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports the climate is changing Virginia's habitats. Sea levels are rising, eliminating tidal marshes that birds and fish depend on for food and shelter. Other reports state climate change will reduce the number of forests we have. If we continue to develop the land into subdivisions, shopping centers, recreational sites, roads, and interstates, habitats will further be reduced and eventually eliminated.
What are the wildlife concerns in Williamsburg?
What will the raccoons, birds, bats, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, skunks, deer, foxes, snakes, and hundreds of other species do? Some will adapt to their changing landscape and learn to live among humans. This is already happening in many Hampton Roads neighborhoods. Deer in your backyard, squirrels in your bird feeders, raccoons scavenging in your trash, rabbits raiding your garden, and woodchucks burrowing holes under your house are all signs that wildlife habitats are fading.
Some animals adapt to living near humans so well that they think they own the place. If they appear to threaten you or your family, damage your property, or annoy you to the point you no longer enjoy being home, they are nuisance wildlife. Below are examples of everyday nuisance wildlife encounters in Williamsburg.
It wasn't that long ago that a raccoon found on private property in the Palisades area tested positive for rabies. It's important to note that seeing a raccoon during the day does not mean it is rabid, but you must be careful if you encounter one on your property.
Raccoons have bushy striped tails and black masks around their eyes. They are mischievous. Raccoons like to get inside your home where it is warm, especially when they give birth early to mid-spring. If they can access your attic, chimney, crawlspace, or basement, they will. Trapping and removing them requires permits and a license during furbearer season.
Raccoons use their nimble hands to dig, rip, tear, shred, tip, scatter, climb, and break anything in their path. For example, you can expect shredded insulation, torn drywall, and chewed wires in your attic. Their hands help them find the foods they love — almost anything edible since they are omnivorous.
Raccoons will open and tip over garbage cans. They grab fish right out of a pond or stream. They steal fruits and vegetables from gardens, dig holes in your lawn for insects, and will enter your home through the pet door if it is left unlocked. They like eating frogs, mice, snakes, rodents, chickens, injured animals, junk food, seeds, nuts, and much more.
Raccoons are filthy. They will pick through feces from other animals for something to eat. They create latrines or toilets so they can use the bathroom in one area. Cleaning their mess puts you at risk of inhaling mold spores that grow on their fecal matter. For your protection, call a wildlife expert.
Rats and Mice Control
The Norway rat, roof rat, and house mouse are rodents found in many homes and in all neighborhoods around Williamsburg. Rats and mice can enter a home through a hole the size of a quarter, and because they reproduce often, an infestation can become a problem in less than six months.
If you see a mouse or rat, call an expert wildlife control operator immediately because there is always more than one. Look for feces and urine droppings that form a trail. Rodents typically only travel a few hundred feet from their nests, ever.
Like squirrels, they have teeth that never stop growing. To keep them filed, they chew on every material, including soft concrete, thin metals, plastic, wood, vinyl siding, and more.
Mice live in walls, ceilings, baseboards, ducts, pipes, attics, and even under appliances. They chew every kind of material, including electrical wires. Mice are also known to contaminate groceries, costing you a lot of money.
Trapping a rat or mouse requires understanding each species and its preferences. Wildlife control specialists know how to trap rats and mice quickly and effectively, getting rid of the entire herd.
The flying, gray, and fox squirrels have daily encounters with humans in Williamsburg. Many watch them collecting food and materials, stuffing them in their cheeks, and then hurrying off to hide them. It's where they hide their treasures that could be a problem.
Some squirrels choose holes in trees or underground. They have excellent memories that help them find their goodies all year. The Southern flying squirrel is the one you may find in your attic, chimney, vents, walls, and anywhere with enough space to build a nest. While inside your home, squirrels will chew and gnaw on wires, shred insulation, scratch wood floors, and plug ducts and vents, causing a fire hazard.
Squirrels also have teeth that never stop growing, and as it ages, their bite strengthens. They can chew through siding, soffits, gutters, wood, and drywall until they are inside your home. Or they will locate a small hole or crack and make it bigger.
Squirrels spend most of their time finding foods like nuts, fruits, grains, bird eggs, bark, fungi, and flowers. They collect leaves, twigs, flowers, and grasses to pad their nests. They will also use items you have stored in your attic or basement, including sentimental items if they are accessible.
Squirrels breed during the winter and give birth in late spring. Permits and licenses may be required to remove a squirrel from your property, depending on the season. If babies are in the nest, they must be kept with the mama. Hiring an expert for removal can be helpful, especially when stubborn squirrels refuse to leave. Experts have safe and humane traps, so you don't have to risk getting bitten and contracting a disease like tularemia.
Seventeen species of bats exist throughout Virginia. The Brazilian free-tailed, evening, little brown, and big brown bats frequently roost in attics, chimneys, eaves, and other open spaces of Williamsburg homes.
Bats have a bad reputation and, for many, elicit a fearful reaction. But the truth is that bats are relatively harmless. When they feel threatened, they may act aggressively. Most of the time, bats look for a place to roost until maternity season ends in the fall. That's when they typically migrate to other areas. When possible, it's best to let bats roost and leave on their own unless they are being a nuisance.
Their guano, another name for feces, is the primary reason they are nuisances. Bat guano contains acid, grows mold spores, stains floors and walls, erodes metals and wood, and smells awful. It makes great fertilizer, though.
Another reason is that bats occasionally roost in colonies, meaning many bats inhabit your space. Guano from one bat is much different than guano from twenty or thirty bats. If you have one or multiple bats, you have a great source of insects. Stagnant water, outdoor lighting that comes on at night, and animal manure are examples of things that attract insects.
Bats eat thousands of insects every night. For the most part, we need bats. Many bat species are on the endangered or threatened list at either the state or federal level due to diseases like white-nose syndrome. Laws state bats cannot be harassed, captured, or forced out of their roost during the maternity season, from April to October.
Lizards, Frogs, and Toads
Virginia has an abundance of amphibians and reptiles. It has 28 species of frogs and toads, 59 species of salamanders, and nine native lizards. The common, broad-headed, and southeastern five-lined skinks are common around Williamsburg. Males have red heads and large jaws. Females are dark brown with faint lines from head to toe. Salamanders hide outdoors in moist areas since they need to stay wet.
While you can see lizards anytime, day or night, frogs and toads are usually more active in the evenings and nighttime. All three amphibians are harmless and are searching for insects to eat. They have a toxin on their skin that can cause discomfort to pets trying to eat them. As soon as they let go of the animal, the discomfort ends.
There is no one-size-fits-all way to eliminate lizards, frogs, and toads from your property. A wildlife expert can recommend treatments that reduce the number of insects on your property. If you don't have insects, you won't have many other nuisance wildlife.
The most recent reports claim there are 487 species and 30 subspecies of birds in Virginia. This includes native and non-native birds and is one reason bird watching is an enjoyable hobby.
Ravens and crows are two species that can quickly become nuisances. Knowing which bird you see can be tricky since they have many similarities. Knowing the difference will help you determine how to handle their nuisance behaviors.
Ravens are larger than crows and can soar for lengthier periods. Crows have smaller bodies and thinner legs. Calls of the crow and raven are deep and throaty. The fish crow is the one you find rummaging through garbage dumpsters. Ravens have glossy neck feathers, and crows have shorter wings and tails.
If they are lingering around your home or office, you will know it by their droppings and where they build nests. They are very clever, especially when harassing humans and other animals. Reports claim they steal food, tip trash cans, and raid other birds' nests.
Crows are federally regulated migratory birds and, when studied, demonstrated they can recognize human faces and taunt someone or something that makes them feel threatened. Other devious behaviors of crows and ravens include mobbing and pulling tails, in which flocks work together to steal food using clever tricks.
To outsmart crows and ravens, call a wildlife expert with tricks for removing and excluding them.
How Professional Wildlife Control Services Can Help You
When you hire a wildlife control expert, you are hiring technicians with the following:
- Extensive training on the habits and habitats of local wildlife.
- Licenses, certifications, permits, and insurance necessary to perform the job.
- Quick and efficient response and completion times.
- Safety measures that protect you, the animal, and themselves.
- Understanding of all local, state, and federal laws.