Animal Removal Tips, Raccoon, Squirrel Traps

Animal Removal Tips, Raccoon, Squirrel Traps

Whether they slither, creep, crawl or fly, uninvited members of the animal kingdom aren’t just annoying, they can cause a lot of damage to your home. Squirrels, rats and mice will chew through wires, causing electrical issues. Raccoons and opossums can tear holes in the roof and chimney caps. Snakes are just icky.

Some wild animals will attack if you try to scoot them back into the wild on your own, and their droppings can worsen or cause serious illnesses.  But overreacting and dialing for help in a blind panic could hurt you, too.

Angie's List is the nation's premier provider of consumer reviews on local service companies including animal removal.

What to know before you hire an animal removal company:

  • Full service vs. basics: Some companies focus only on the animal and provide no repair work to keep future critters out of your home. Know what you want before you call so you don’t waste your time. Regardless of whether your critter catcher does the repair work, you do need to close up the entry points and repair any damage the animal caused during its stay with you.
  • Methodology: Some companies offer humane trapping and relocation vs. more lethal means of ridding your home of the unwanted animal. Some offer alternatives to poisons, as well. Know what you want beforehand, so you don’t have to bear witness to an execution if you’d rather set the critter free somewhere far away from your home.
  • Size matters: Some companies focus on small animals while others will handle only with those squirrel-sized or larger. Companies focusing on bugs and rodents might not deal with wild animals at all.  Know the service offered by your prospective critter catcher before you go to the trouble of a house call.
  • Pricing: Often consumers call thinking they have one wild beast to deal with only to find out whole families or a few species have moved in. Most companies charge by the number of large animals, although some will count babies as one adult rather than charge you individually for their removal.
  • Dead or alive: Animal removal companies will often step in to remove carcasses that local governmental agencies (usually called Animal Control) will not. This may involve having to get into crawl spaces, attics, or break through walls, so be prepared for additional costs depending on how difficult it is to reach the critter. It’s a good idea to get the carcass removed because the decaying process isn’t just smelly, it creates a big mess that can cause health hazards.
  • Stay or go: While you may want to live and let live, having a wild animal – or a flock of them – live in your home is a bad idea. Chewed wires can lead to electrical fires or damage, droppings can cause serious health issues and infestations can result in roof damage and leaks that can lead to more serious damage.

How do you know if a pest if living rent-free in your home? Angie's List suggests checking these areas:

  • Attic: Check the attic floor and insulation for animal feces. Look for any outside light leaking in, which will indicate holes. You can test if a hole is being used by an animal placing flour in front of any holes and checking for footprints or stuff the hole loosely with a paper towel. If it gets pushed in or out, assume an animal is present. Even if the paper stays in place or you have no flour footprints – close the hole up.
  • Pipes: Look inside your home behind appliances and anywhere else pipes enter. These are common entry points for mice.
  • Decking: The area under the deck is a popular hangout for raccoons.

Follow these Angie’s List tips for keeping animals out.

  • Roof & siding: Look for loose vent screens, warped siding or holes. Make repairs once you have checked the attic and cleared out any critters.
  • Chimney: An easy way to keep animals out is to install a chimney cap. Keep your flue closed when not in use.
  • Pet doors: While these can be a great convenience for you and your pet; they can also be an entryway for unwanted wildlife. Consider electronic pet doors instead of the traditional flaps.
  • Trash: Just like people, animals are drawn to the smell of food. Always secure trash containers. Put out trash the morning of collection instead of the night before.
  • Trees & landscape: Keep trim limbs trimmed and away from your house. Accessible branches give animals a gateway to your roof. Cover and secure compost piles.  
  • Fill gaps and cracks: Mice can get through a crack as small as a quarter of an inch big. Check the perimeter outside your home for holes, gaps and deteriorated weather

Leave a Comment - 2


Helen Feddema


I hired an animal control service to remove a raccoon that had been getting in through the cat door. I was distressed to learn that after the raccoon was caught (in a HavaHart trap), it was euthanized. When I had the same problem later with another raccoon, I bought my own HavaHart trap, and transported the raccoon way out on a country road and released it into the woods.



Please take the time to find a live trapper, with a proven record of relocating the animals in a safer environment. A neighbor would not listen when I urged this, and then was horrified as he listened to the animal dying, screaming in agony and terror. It's not a kind choice to kill these animals and torture them and the people who witness the horror.

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