It can feel almost eerie how quickly and completely animals seem to disappear in winter. They’ll be all over the place in summer and fall, and suddenly when frost hits they’re gone. At least, it usually seems that way. As anyone who has dealt with a winter wildlife infestation will tell, it’s not quite that simple.
It turns out, animals don’t disappear in winter. Instead, they do the same thing we tend to: they hunker down and wait out the cold. The problem is, sometimes they won’t just do what we do; they’ll do it the way we do it. As in, in the same place. When animals spend winter on your property, they can be disruptive, destructive, or even dangerous. You don’t want that. Here’s how you can tell if wildlife has decided to make your home their winter getaway this year:
This probably seems obvious to you, but we’re not necessarily talking about all tracks. In fact, some of the most noticeable tracks may not be a sign of wildlife infestation at all. If you see singular, very clear tracks in fresh snow, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infestation. Chances are, an animal like a deer simply ran across your yard. They didn’t necessarily decide to bed down or take up permanent residence.
If, on the other hand, you notice a lot of tracks crisscrossing your yard, there could be a problem. Pay attention to the types of tracks you see. Do they move in one direction, or do they double back and forth? Did they clearly originate off of your property? Where do they lead? If it seems like the tracks started on your property or head to part of your property, they’re a problem. Try to follow the tracks to their source, but be careful not to startle whatever that source is!
Aah, another wonderful “gift” of winter: it makes certain… signs… of animal life easier to make out. Signs like animal droppings, specifically. Rabbit pellets, mouse droppings, and other animal waste are easy to see against pure white snow. Everyone’s been grossed out by the apparently sudden abundance of rabbit droppings in their yard at least once. Like animal tracks, droppings are not necessarily a sign of infestation all on their own. You have to pay attention to where they are.
The animals that infest your yard over the winter usually end up in one of a couple places. They’re under your porch, dug in beneath an outstanding structure, or nestled in amongst trees and vegetation. Naturally, their droppings will mostly accumulate around the areas where they spend the most time. Look for collections of animal droppings near your plants, porch, deck, trees, fences, and shed. If you find them, chances are you’ve found your infestation.
The animals that end up hunkering down near your home all need to stay warm. To do that, they need to find or build shelters for themselves. One of the most common ways they’ll build those shelters is by digging. Either they’ll dig into the ground itself, or they’ll push snow away to dive under structures. Either way, they’ll have to make mounds of dirt and snow to get what they want.
Look for signs of digging or digging-based damage around the perimeter of your home. Check especially carefully around out-buildings, decks and porches, trees and stumps, and other low cover. Animals like skunks love to dig under existing shelter to use it as a sturdy roof. Often, you’ll be able to see new burrow entrances after snow falls and covers the old one. If you see a burrow on your property this winter, there’s probably an animal living inside it.
If you think winter is rough on you, imagine what it’s like for animals that can’t hibernate. Suddenly, it’s cold out all the time. Their natural habitats no longer shelter them from predators or competition. Worst of all: their food is all gone. Most wild animal food sources become very scarce over the winter. Plants wither and die. Trees go bare. Snow covers grass and other low vegetation. To survive in such a challenging environment, animals can’t be picky.
Whatever plant life is left on your property, animals are going to want to eat. Whether it’s pine needles, nuts, seeds, or berries, leaves, plant bulbs, or even twigs and bark, animals need it. Often, in fact, animals will go to great lengths to get their food. They’ll strip bark off trees, dig through snow, or even fight each other. If you notice that your yard’s plants are looking a little too barren this winter, wildlife may be why.
Wildlife can and will bother you all year long if you give it the opportunity. Luckily, you can also stop it all year long without too much trouble.
If you figure out you have a wildlife infestation on your property give Varment Guard a call anytime. We’ll happily brave the snow to safely remove your wild animal problem.BACK TO BLOG