Mess Under House


06.30.2005 - My job as a wildlife removal specialist requires that I go where the animals go - in order to trap them, to find out how they are entering a house and repair those holes, and to remove dead animals where they lie.  Oftentimes, I work underneath homes.  Here in Florida, many buildings are elevated due to the high water table and the chance for flooding and water damage.  Thus, many buildings have crawl spaces underneath, and these areas are very attractive to wandering critters in search of a home.

I often set traps underneath homes.  I often perform repairs underneath homes.  Repairing holes under houses is challenging, because I have to crawl in the dirt, with limited space and no light, and perform repairs while lying on my back.  I often wear a Tyvek suit in order to keep clean, and a headlamp so that I can see, and always a dust mask so that I don't breathe in too much dirt, and eyewear to stop debris from falling in my eyes as I lie on my back and work above me.

In the above photo, I am under a law office building, an old converted house.  It's a real mess under this place.  This is just one photo of a huge area that was an absolute pigsty of clutter.  I was called because there was a horrible odor in the building, and thus likely a dead animal under the house.  I sniffed around, and got under the house, and had to sort through this mess as I searched in putrid conditions.  Sure enough, after a while I found a stinking maggoty opossum carcass.  I removed it, and then I fixed the holes that led under the house in the first place. 

Remember, the most important step in a total wildlife control solution is to stop the source of the problem - if you have wild critters in your attic or home, the only way to permanently solve the problem is to close all the entry points! This is a special skill, and it requires extensive knowledge of both architecture and animal behavior. Being a skilled repairman also helps. All repairs should be done in such a way that keeps animals out for good - this often means sealing with steel, and sealing openings so that they are airtight, with no trace of airflow for animals to detect. Remember, rodents can gnaw through almost anything, and raccoons can tear through almost anything. While it's important to trap and remove animals, and clean up the waste they leave behind, the most important step in solving the critter problem and in keeping animals out forever is to identify and repair every last critter access point into the building. Without this crucial step, the job isn't complete.

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We've all had to deal with friends or family members who've overstayed their welcome. But unlike them, an unwanted animal is prepared to reside in your home without seeking your consent.

In certain areas, like Florida, buildings are elevated due to the high water levels to prevent flooding or water-related damage. And when there's an entry hole, many wild critters are quick to reside in it, from small animals like rats and squirrels to larger ones like skunks, raccoons, and opossums.

Their presence in crawl spaces is associated with pollution. They will bring in rubbish underneath your house and also defecate all around. This, in turn, attracts cockroaches, ants, and flies, serving as a breeding ground for disease. The rate of pollution is compounded if they have babies they're rearing underneath your house.

Because most of these creatures are nocturnal, they are hardly identified on time. For some homeowners, it is until they smell the odor of a dead animal before they realize an animal was living there all along. But how can you know if there are animals underneath your house and how can you get rid of them?

Signs of Animals Under Your House

Animal sighting: If you see an animal entering your porch or shed, it's not just visiting. It's most likely living there. And if this trend continues, then you can be certain of that.

Damage: Animals underneath your house will cause damage, especially near the entry holes, and vegetation around.

Paw prints: Scatter flour around suspected entry holes around your porch or shed. If you see paw prints the next day, you know you have an unwanted guest.

Droppings: The presence of animal poop can help you identify their presence.

How to Remove Them

Several factors affect how difficult this will be, like the size of crawl space, type of animal, and if the critter is alive or dead. Here's a general guide:


For Living Animals:

Small Animals.
Small animals like rats or mice can be trapped with glue or snap trap. These traps should be placed near the entry hole.

Large Animals
For animals like raccoons or skunks, you can make use of a live trap to capture them. The trap should be set around the entry hole and baited accordingly. But before trapping any animal, you have to make sure that it doesn't have its babies underneath your house. Therefore, a thorough inspection of your crawl space is required. If there are babies there, you should capture them and use them as bait to lure the mother into a live cage.

For Dead Animals:

You have to get underneath your house to remove the carcass. Make sure you wear protective clothing to protect yourself.

After the animal has been removed, all mess underneath the house has to be cleared. The crawl space should also be decontaminated to kill all germs and bacteria.

This is the most important thing to do if you do not want the same problem recurring. Repair all damages done by the animal and close off all entry holes with a hard material like steel so they won't be able to chew their way back in.

Dealing with animals under houses can be challenging because, in most cases, you have to get underneath the cramped space to figure out what's going on and deal with the mess. If you're not cut out for such work, you can get a wildlife removal expert to help deal with that.

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