Over my 35 years as a wildlife professional I have seen all kinds of DIY attempts by homeowners to drive animals out of their attic. Our customers have placed everything from mothballs, lights, blaring radios, ultrasonic sound devices, ammonia soaked rags and even coyote urine in their attic. After unsuccessfully trying one or a few of these methods, we get the call.
Mothballs: Wildlife do not vacate an attic that has mothballs in it. Once they are dispersed in the attic it is virtually impossible to remove them. The vapours often permeate into the rooms below. Our customers have developed headaches, nausea, dizziness, and/or vomiting after being exposed to mothball (naphthalene) vapours. Animal studies have suggested that naphthalene can cause cancer.
Lights: Lights do not deter wildlife from living in the attic. Animals are attracted to attics because they provide a warm, safe location which is protected from predators and the elements. There has been documented cases where a light placed in an attic was either knocked over by the animals or the electrical wire were chewed on, which resulted in a house fire.
Radios: Placing a radio in the attic with the volume turned up seems to have little effect on the animals living there, in fact they might enjoy the noise. I once removed a family of raccoons nesting directly beside the radio. Using a extension cord to power the radio can be chewed on by wildlife and potentially cause a fire.
Ultrasonic Devices: The frequency emitted by these devices has no affect on raccoons or squirrels but they can harm humans. I was called out to a rental property to remove squirrels from the attic. The tenant was unaware that the landlord had placed an ultrasonic device in the attic a week prior, which coincided exactly with when she started to experience severe migraine headaches. Her headaches stopped after I unplugged the device.
Ammonia Soaked Rags: Animals do not seem to be bothered by the smell of ammonia. I have witnessed situations where ammonia soaked rags were placed in a fireplace, directly below a mother raccoon and her babies. The smell was very strong but it did not cause the mother raccoon to leave.
Coyote Urine: I am amazed at how many of my customers have purchased coyote urine in an attempt to solve their wildlife problem. It is, in my opinion, the modern day “snake oil”, a product that is sold by seedy profiteers trying to exploit an unsuspecting public. First off, how do you think someone would successfully extract urine from a coyote, they would have to be pretty “Wiley”. Secondly, most wildlife living in a city would not know what a coyote looks like, let alone what it smelled like. Animals cannot learn to be afraid of a coyote by smell alone, they must have a negative experience with that animal. Even if they were to have a run in with a coyote how does that make them afraid of the smell of their urine. It just doesn’t make any sense at all.
In my professional opinion the only tested and proven means of solving wildlife problems is to have them humanely removed using hands-on removal / one way doors and by installing animal-proofing to the building structure.
By Brad Gates, B.Sc.
Brad Gates is the owner and president of AAA Gates Wildlife Control, our franchisor. He has over 35 years experience in the humane wildlife removal and prevention industry.