Critters driving you batty? Call an Indianapolis animal removal expert
With a Washington-apple-red brick exterior and intricate wood carving details framing the peak of exquisitely pitched gables, Rita Fiorentino’s home looks like it leapt from the pages of a children’s book before coming to rest on Center Street in Plainfield.
But inside the attic of the 164-year-old home was a scene Stephen King could have crafted for one of his best late-night fright stories — bats.
Dozens and dozens of bats moved in, nesting and defecating just a few feet above the living quarters Fiorentino operates as The Gathering Together, a nonprofit hospice for those in need of a place to spend their final days.
Bat droppings, known as guano, found outside the home in the early spring alerted residents to the animals’ presence, so Fiorentino wasted no time calling Cory McClung, owner of highly rated Animal Management Systems in Noblesville.
McClung installed one-way doors on the attic’s entry points, so the bats could escape but not re-enter. Ridding her home of the non-sanctioned visitors and cleaning up the mess took several months, she says, and cost some $9,000.
Fiorentino’s homeowners insurance covered the expense, which included replacing all the insulation in the attic compromised by the bats’ feces.
McClung’s experts offer one-stop shopping for clients like Fiorentino by checking that all animals are gone, then removing and replacing destroyed insulation and other materials, in addition to fixing holes the animals used to access the home originally.
“It was a long process,” Fiorentino says. “But Cory is a very nice guy and very easy to talk to. They did a great job.”
Fuzzy, furry, winged or shelled — pests come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s no place in the country immune from the potentially devastating effects of creepy crawly critters on homes and even a family’s health.
Experts say that though there are a few things you can do to keep the great outdoors, well, outdoors, if an animal is intent on making its home inside yours, call an animal removal or pest control company for backup and specialized assistance to avoid making a problem worse.
Don’t ignore noises
First, start by not assuming. “What triggers a call to us is that someone in the middle of the night, when they are trying to sleep, hears something moving around,” says Robin Wilkes, co-owner of highly rated Critter Control, located on the city’s Northwestside.
Once one of Wilkes’ crew arrives on the scene, she says, a whole-house inspection gets underway.
“That inspection tells us the kind of species we are after,” she says. “We’re looking for gutters pulled away from fascia boards, ripped shingles, holes in dormer corners, gable vents that have been ripped apart… with bats we look for smudge marks on the siding and droppings on the ground. Basically, we start out as detectives.”
Once the animal removal specialist properly identifies the culprit, Wilkes says, they put a solution in motion.
It’s important for homeowners to know what type of animal they’re dealing with and call for help when unsure, because while it’s rare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are health risks posed by exposure to wild animals or to the animals’ fecal matter.
Animals including raccoons, opossums and bats can carry rabies, and breathing in air contaminated with spores grown from fungus in animals’ fecal matter can lead to histoplasmosis, a lung infection.
The CDC doesn’t collect national statistics on histoplasmosis infections, and according to the American Lung Association, most people have few or no symptoms. However, the elderly or those with a compromised immune system can develop a serious illness.
Annually, the CDC estimates between 16,000 and 39,000 people in the country come in contact with a potentially rabid animal and receive rabies shots.
According to the agency’s records, the last recorded human fatality caused by a non-domesticated species occurred in 2011 in Wisconsin — the result of contact with a bat. The last death in Indiana due to a rabid animal occurred in 2009 and was also caused by a bat, according to CDC records.
Mitigate the problem
Indiana wildlife removal experts are required to be licensed annually through the state Department of Natural Resources, McClung says.
Raccoons, which are state property, and other fur-bearing animals must often must be euthanized once trapped, unless another property owner in the same county gives the wildlife professional permission to release the critter on their land. When at all possible, animal experts prefer to utilize one-way doors, which allow animals to leave a space but not re-enter.
Traders Point member Anne Wilmes got a serious case of the willies when she spotted bat droppings in her home’s attic. Wilmes says she knocked the animal down from its roost and trapped it under a bucket, but only temporarily.
“He crawled out and flew somewhere, and we couldn’t find him until later that night,” she says.
Wilmes called Animal Management Systems the next day. “The recommendations [McClung] made to mitigate the problems made a lot of sense,” she says.
McClung not only removed the bat from her house, she says, but showed her all the places animals could get in. She says she’s not had issues with other pests since McClung’s work.
“I think I spent about $8,000 repairing and replacing things, but it’s worth it,” Wilmes says. “It just gives you peace of mind.”
McClung’s team sealed her soffits and the brick edges near her home’s fascia, animal-proofed her crawl space, installed pest guards on vents, and removed and replaced soiled insulation.
When Terry Nicodemus began hearing scratching and scurrying noises in his attic, the Meridian Hills member knew he wasn’t dealing with bats — but he was no less motivated to get rid of whatever lived up there. As it turned out, two squirrels had claimed the attic of Nicodemus’ Near Northwestside home as their own.
“I’m aware of the damage they can do,” he says. “I knew I didn’t want whatever was up there to stay too long.”
Nicodemus sought help from Critter Control and says he willingly paid $800 for simple traps and repairs, like sealing a few exterior holes, to take care of the problem. “There’s still plenty of squirrels in my neighborhood,” he says. “But they aren’t coming inside.”