A homeowner in Holmdel, NJ recently contacted Cowleys to resolve a wildlife infestation along the roofline. Most commonly, when we get a call for a wildlife problem in the attic or roofline area it is either squirrels, raccoons, or mice. Raccoons are, by far, the largest nuisance wildlife we regularly deal with, and they can make a lot of noise and cause a lot of damage. Here, the homeowner was complaining of disturbing wildlife noises at night, such as dropping sounds and thuds. Because mice are so small, you may hear light scampering sounds from up above but you won’t hear dropping sounds or large thuds. Also, since these noises were happening at night, the animals were not likely to be squirrels. As a general rule, since squirrels are diurnal, active primarily during the daytime, if you hear noises during the day, it’s like a squirrel infestation. However, if you hear noises at night, you are dealing with some nocturnal animal like a raccoon, flying squirrel, or a rat or mouse. Based on the type of noises and when they were being heard, I suspected that this was a raccoon problem.
My suspicions were confirmed during my inspection of the home’s exterior. I observed paw prints on the foundation that were from a raccoon. Raccoon prints are eerily similar to the print of a baby human hand. Raccoons have five toes on both their front and back feet. The only difference is that instead of fingernails, they have razor-sharp claws at the end of each finer. Raccoons, just like people, have “thumbs,” which gives them amazing manual dexterity when compared to most other animals. Raccoons have been known to open latches, turn doorknobs, and open jars. Following their prints, I saw that they went straight up toward the fascia along the roofline.
Some wily raccoon actually grabbed onto the corner siding of this home and shimmied its way up, reaching an opening of missing flashing over the fascia. This opening was not made by a raccoon. Raccoons will chew and claw out an opening and their “construction work” is messy. Here, a blocked segment of material was missing as though it were cut out. This opening was caused by some pre-existing damage, likely by some severe winds that blew off a piece of the roofline. Roof damage is an open invitation for wildlife. Unfortunately, it’s quite common for homeowners to find themselves with a wildlife infestation following some roof damage after a storm or some severe weather. A good lesson here is that after heavy winds, it is always a good idea to do a visual check your facia, soffits, and shingles for missing building materials.
With the wildlife travel route and entry point identified, it was time to get rid of the trespassing animal with a temporary one-way device installed over the opening and some baited traps. I put in some temporary flashing in place so that the raccoon could not rip off any more soffit, and then installed a one-way device that allows animals to exit the home, but prevent their return. I put a piece of tape on the one-way so I would know whether an animal has exited the home. Finally, I secured a couple of baited traps on the roof nearby the pathway being used to go to and from the roofline opening, If history is any indication, I would not be at all surprised if, by tomorrow, I have one or more trapped raccoons ready to be relocated to a safe location.