It’s spring and backyard animals are on the move again. Now all they have to do is find a place to live, breed and raise their young. Guess what? There’s a good chance it will be under your deck, patio or sidewalk. You can call an exterminator or without a lot of effort, do it yourself. Here are some tactics to try before you call in the experts.
To begin with, remember that most animals like raccoons, skunks, groundhogs and possums are nocturnal animals. That means they only go out at night. If you want to discourage them from returning to their den under your deck or patio, wait until dark and consider the following:
That’s right. Good, old-fashioned mothballs. They’re cheap and you can get a pretty big box of them for the money. My approach is to dump some in their burrow (the hole under your patio or sidewalk), or to toss them at random under the deck. One problem with burrows is getting them deep inside. Try shoving them deeper with a broom handle, or blow them into the far recesses with a leaf blower. They’re round so a high setting on the leaf blower should roll them quite a ways. Don’t get too close though. If the critter is still in the den they might come out pretty quick. Get the mothballs in there and get out of the way. Especially if it happens to be a skunk.
There is some controversy about mothballs. After all, it is a pesticide. My question is if they’re so dangerous why does the FDA and EPA allow us to put them into our garment bags, hope-chests and closets. Personally I don’t. I can’t stand the smell of the things and always wear rubber gloves when I’m using them outside for rodent and animal control. I also get them deep into the burrow or way under the deck so their out of reach of children and pets.
2. Human Hair.
Yup. Human hair. It’s an old farmer trick. Wild animals hate it for some reason. It’s a temporary repellent, but it’ll motivate them to dig their den somewhere else. You can collect it after your next home haircut or ask the barber to give you a bag of the stuff. They might surprise you and tell you that people have asked for it before for the same reason. Wear rubber gloves when you handle this stuff too. You don’t know if someone had lice and you sure don’t want it on your own scalp. I’d use the leaf blower to blow that into the den or under the deck as well. In fact, sometimes I’ve combined both the hair and the mothballs for a double whammy.
You could always stick a hose down the burrow and flood them out. Once again, remember to get out of the way. It may seems cruel, but they’ll abandon the burrow pretty quick and water from a hose usually isn’t enough to overwhelm them before they escape. This won’t keep them out, but they’ll abandon the nest at least for the night. That’s your chance to toss the moth balls in and discourage their return.
4. Fill the hole with stone.
Here again, I’d make sure the animal is out of the den first. You don’t want to bury them alive, but most will not want to dib through stones to reclaim their den. A few mothballs mixed in might not be a bad idea either.
5. Smoke bombs.
Hardware stores sell large, rodent smoke bombs just for this purpose. In my book this is genuinely cruel and most animals will fight through the smoke and escape the den quickly if they’re still in there. Just as often they’ll die in the den. Not something I like to think about. If they do emerge, they’ll emerge quite mad. Once again, they will return unless you discourage them. I guess it’s time to get those mothballs back down the hole.
If all fails or they continue to return either to the same location or close to it, you can either scatter some hair and mothballs around or call in a pro to capture the animal and release it far from your home. That should do the trick. At least until another critter decides to live next to the comfortable warmth of your house. Hmmmm… maybe you should buy two boxes of mothballs.