Living in cities and towns, it’s easy to forget that we live in a world full of non-human animals. But of course, nature doesn’t begin and end at the park fence. Even in our most urban environments, we’re sharing space.
Ironically, many of the few animal species that are able to thrive in our urban settings are often considered by us to be pests. Raccoons, mice, crows, pigeons, and even deer sometimes don’t get a whole lot of respect — and that’s really too bad. We should honor these wonderful creatures that can tolerate the conditions we create with our urban density.
The best way to honor them would to be tolerate their presence in return. There are certain things we can all do to make life a little easier for our critter neighbors.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Even if we have nothing but love for our furry and feathered friends, it can be a problem if they decide to move in to your crawlspace or are making nests in your roof. The best strategy for dealing with unwanted roommates is to avoid having them move in in the first place.
We don’t want to cause these creatures any undo harm, but it can be pretty difficult on both parties if you have to remove any animals that have set up comfortably in or around your home. It’s much easier to take steps to ensure you aren’t enticing them with the shelter they’re looking for.
- Seal up any cracks or holes that a rodent might want to squeeze into, especially around the base of your home.
- Make sure windows accessible to raccoons are kept closed at night.
- If you have doors for you dogs or cats, make sure those stay closed at night, too.
- If you’re a gardener, keep an eye on your compost. Mice and rats love compost! Make sure that you’ve got it in a container or that you’re turning it regularly enough to discourage any rodent squatterrs.
Don’t Feed the Wildlife
Sometimes we feel we are doing the compassionate thing by leaving food out for neighborhood raccoons or squirrels. But this can have unintended consequences.
For one, it is an invitation for the animal. They are more likely to hang around, and to become habituated to being fed. And once word gets out, you might find that you have a whole troop paying you nightly visits, looking for handouts.
This can lead to problems both for you and for the animals. They can become too habituated to human contact, which can be dangerous for them. They might become more bold around people, which could lead to them becoming a nuisance or to them being harmed by less compassionate humans.
Wild animals aren’t our pets. We can’t adopt them all, so it is important that they stay able to take care of themselves.
How to Remove Unwanted Guests
If you’ve already got some animals living in or around your home and you need to get them gone, try to do it without causing any undo harm.
Animals choose to stay places that are comfortable. The easiest way to exclude them is to have them leave on their on accord. Some ways to make the area less inviting:
- Place bright bright lights out and leave them on all night.
- Leave music or a radio playing. The sound is likely to bother them.
- You can also leave mothballs or ammonia soaked rags.
These sorts of deterrents work best if employed as soon as you discover the unwanted presence.
You can also block off the entrance to their shelter when they aren’t there. Be very careful when doing this that there are no young ones still inside. If you have a mother and babies living on your property, it is best to wait until the young ones have grown up a bit, and they will leave on their own. Never separate a mother from her young!
Many of these same guidelines apply for birds. Birds often like to nest in nooks and crannies along the edge of your roof. If they have built a nest with chicks, don’t disturb them! Wait until the chicks have grown and they leave on their own before trying to shoo them away.
If you use bird-feeders, make sure you aren’t actually feeding raccoons, skunks and squirrels. You don’t want them to become dependent.
And also make sure that cats aren’t using your bird-feeders as bait. Domestic cats kill an incredible number of birds, so you don’t need to make it any easier for them!
We are all part of nature. The world is full of life, even in our cities. It is important that we respect these other creatures, with our diet, our consumer choices, and in our everyday interactions with them.
To get help for orphaned, sick or injured wildlife, contact a wildlife rehabber to ensure you can get it the assistance you need and/or determine how to safely the situation. Visit this page to locate a rehabber in your area.