Thursday, February 20. 2020
Wildlife never ceases to amaze me! During my 35 years in the wildlife industry I have come across a hand full of raccoons that had certain disabilities. I have seen a few three-legged raccoons, some with only one eye and even a completely blind mother raccoon with babies.
This raccoon was found on a porch last week. As our technician got closer to investigate, he noticed that this raccoon had only one eye! The raccoon did not appear to be injured in any other way, he was in great physical shape and had chosen to sleep in a safe location. This is something we see quite often at this time of year as male raccoons are constantly searching for females to mate with.
So how do these raccoons adapt so quickly with a disability and not only survive but also thrive?
Blind / One Eye:
When a raccoon looses a sense such as their sight or a portion of it, their animal instinct kicks in and they immediately know what to do. They start relying on their other senses to survive. For example, raccoons have very sensitive hands with long fingers, toes and nails. Only humans and other primates have similar numbers of receptor cells found in their hands. Suzanne MacDonald from York University stated “they can get an image of what an object is without even looking at it, so the raccoons actually see with their hands.”
I researched and found a National Geographic article on the topic. The article stated, “It turns out that quadrupeds, the scientific term for four-legged animals, are far more resilient than humans when it comes to losing a limb. In some cases, the lack of a leg amounts to little more than a mild inconvenience. Why? Because animals have a variety of coping mechanisms that allow them to thrive on three legs” (Annie Roth, 2018).
When a quadruped loses a leg, the animal can keep its balance by taking a tripod stance and still distribute their weight evenly. Animals will bounce back surprisingly quickly, especially when compared to the recovery time a human would take from loosing a limb.
Raccoons are great problem solvers that adapt easily to new environments and objectives. A change to their physical being such as loosing a limb or loosing their sight, may not be as big of a challenge to a raccoon as we may think.
Wednesday, February 19. 2020
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.
Tuesday, February 4. 2020
We were performing a routine check of a customers attic when we came across this rather large, dormant Paper Wasp Nest. Paper Wasps will build their nests in meadows or fields but prefer to nest under an overhang such as the eaves of a roof. These wasps must have found an entry into the attic and preferred to be more protected from the elements.
Paper Wasps gather fibres from dead wood and plant stems, which they mix with saliva and use to construct water-resistant nests made of grey or brown papery material. Their nests generally do not cause any structural damage to buildings.
It is best to leave these wasps alone if they are present in an area where they will not come in contact with people. Paper wasps do not present a danger unless the nest is disturbed, but if provoked they are aggressive and will defend their nest. The best time to remove a Paper Wasp Nest is during the winter because these wasps will not return to the same nesting site the following year and leave the nest after the first frost of the year.
One benefit to having a Paper Wasp Nest near your home presents itself if you have a garden nearby. They are predators of residential and agricultural pests, making them especially valuable near vegetable gardens, where they provide natural and free control of herbivorous caterpillars.
(Page 1 of 1, totaling 3 entries)