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Fischer: We all love our homes … and unwanted animals do too

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Sep 15, 2023

Photo supplied

Jen Fischer

Last week, my husband and I came home from a much-dreaded trip (dreaded for me, delightful for him) to Costco, to find a 120-pound black lab spread out on our sofa taking a nap. In all fairness, we do have dogs, a white, 45-pound husky and a brown, 22-pound cocker spaniel. We do not have a 120-pound black lab. We do, however, have two doggy doors in the back of our home, which any neighborhood animal can apparently access. We allowed him to finish his nap and then we returned him to his home where our neighbors had no idea he was missing.

While we would likely welcome any dog into our home with open arms, some other critters have not been given such a warm welcome. The occasional mouse, for example, that tends to belly up to the bar in our basement kitchen, will soon find his little cheese-filled belly stuck in a plastic trap with no way out but by the grace of the humane homeowner releasing it. I’m not as nice with spiders, insects and flies.

The problem is our location. We live at the base of a mountain. Our backyard is filled with scrub oak, rocks, wildflowers and trees, all free fodder for almost any critter. We have squirrels, rats, bats, birds (we do provide housing and food for these feathered flyers), raccoons and snakes, both the good ones (garter) and the bad (rattler). Frankly, we asked for it. The dogs tend to take care of the squirrels, rats and raccoons, but the rest have free rein. We even had a hummingbird fly inside one day and try to make its way out through the skylight. After much ado, he landed on the tip of a long broom handle and we were able to gently carry him outside to safely release him.

Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games when it comes to outside critters getting comfortable around homesteads. According to the National Pest Management Association, pests and critters cause over $5 billion in damage to homes throughout the United States every year. Squirrels, rats and raccoons, for instance, can wreak havoc on electrical wires in homes and garages. They also tend to find siding to be a delicious addition to their meal of drywall and insulation. They like to enter through crawl spaces, vents, pipes, gaps under doors or even through open doors. They can also creep in through any spaces in the foundation or through vegetation planted too close to the home. Once settled, they do what critters do … they reproduce and create more critters. To prevent this from happening, it is good practice to go around the home once or twice a year, check for any potential openings and clear the vegetation close to the home. Ivy is so pretty, but it is also pretty invasive and the way it climbs up the side or front of a home can be damaging. These critters look for warmth, food and shelter. It is shocking how small a mouse can become to squeeze through a crack (as little as a quarter-inch) and gain access to your veritable smorgasbord of treats awaiting them inside.

If a pest or two does find its way in, it is important to remove it before sealing off any spaces. Trust me on this one. The odor is revolting, and you will find yourself in a futile search through territories better left uncharted. Eventually, you will reign triumphant as you will be unable to symbiotically dwell in such a place until you locate the culprit. It took us several hours one day to find the lifeless offender. The offending stench was so atrocious that day, we could smell it from a football field away.

Fortunately, we have a pest control guy on our speed dial. He frequents our house at our request quite regularly. I’m not afraid to smash a spider or a fly, and I don’t mind setting a mouse or two free, but I’ve seen angry raccoons in action (remember, I spent a summer in the Ozarks as a child), and it’s not pretty. These tiny animals can leave a serious mark on a much larger human. In fact, I can kind of relate to these little guys. I’m small too, but I’ve spent many hours at the gym practicing my street brawl with my invisible attacker. I would like to think I can bite hard too. Steer clear and let the professionals do their work.

Either way, once a home has been invaded, even if cleared, it must be disclosed if the home goes on the market. If the problem has been mitigated, it should be fine. If it hasn’t, it will likely be noted upon a buyer’s due diligence through inspections. The neighbor’s dog entering our home, however, is not considered a pest. No disclosure about good old Jax, the overweight black lab, will be necessary.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.


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