AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT THEM!
There are so many great things about a garden. Not only is a garden a way to relieve stress, but they make your property prettier, which drives up property value, you can grow fruits and vegetables for sustenance and it adds value your neighbor’s property which makes the whole neighborhood more valuable.
But, when you add pesky animals to the mix, you can pretty much say goodbye to anything mentioned above, plus your property will look worse due to the destruction these animals bring. Not too mention that your stress level has gone up and your fruits and vegetables have been consumed by other creatures – a garden can truly be a hassle…
Though, with a few bits of information and some “how-to’s” we know that we can help make your garden pest-free.
Armadillo: An armadillo is an expert digger. They can cause serious damage to a lawn or a nicely landscaped area. They often dig holes in undesirable places such as underneath a concrete porch, the foundation of a house or near water/gas lines. If they remove too much dirt from under a concrete foundation, the foundation faces the danger of cracking and crumbling – you could easily kiss your house goodbye. Their burrows may also attract other animals such as the opossum (see below). If you see a large hole in your lawn or property with a lot of dirt thrown around it, then you have an armadillo.
Chipmunks: Don’t be fooled, chipmunks are rodents and are best described as small ground dwelling squirrels. While these little guys may be a favorite of children everywhere, they are not so much in favor with gardeners. Chipmunks are omnivores. Their primary diet consists of grains, nuts, berries, seeds and insects. They are also burrowing animals. They also like to eat flower bulbs, fruits, and seedlings – all conveniently found in your garden. If they are around in large numbers they can cause structural damage by burrowing under patios, stairs, retention walls or foundations.
Deer: We all loved Bambi and hated to see her mother get killed in the famous story, but this is real life and while we would prefer not to shoot the deer roaming through our neighborhood, darting across the street and eating all our plants – we must find a way to stop them…humanely. The primary concern with deer is their appetite. They will eat a large array of plants and vegetation. They will eat your crops, damage your trees and can ruin your nice landscaping. Deer are also responsible for the spread of Lyme Disease because they are carriers of Deer Ticks.
Fox: The fox is a medium sized canine with a large bushy tail, often tipped in white. The fox ranges in color from flame red to rust red to a grayish color, but is usually reddish-brown. The fox uses a variety of different habitats for dens including abandoned holes dug by other animals. Their diet varies and often includes small animals and birds. These guys a mostly a hazard for poultry producers. Turkeys, chickens, ducks, and geese are all susceptible to an opportunistic fox. Young pigs, lamb and small pets are also considered tasty morsels. They will also steal food left for outdoor pets. Foxes may carry rabies.
Mole: Moles live underground and occasionally come to the surface. Their cylindrical bodies and powerful front claws are ideal for digging. Moles create a complex labyrinth of interconnected chambers by burrowing both deep and close to the surface. Though your primary concern is the tunnels. They can leave ridged tunnels all over a lawn. While they are not necessarily harmful, they can ruin your nice landscaping and leave holes all over the place. Though, if you see a large hole with dirt all around, it probably is an armadillo, but a smaller hole might mean a mole.
Opossum: Opossums are unique for several reasons: They are the only North American marsupials (meaning that females have a pouch on the belly where the young – up to 13 – are carried and nourished), they have a prehensile tail from which they can hang, and are also known for “playing dead” as a defense tactic. The main issues with an opossum are that they are known to find shelter underneath a porch or a shed. They steal garbage, pet food and harass pets. They will build a home in your attic and have their babies there. They will invade a home under the floorboards and in the walls. And if they die in your home they will cause a horrible odor (like anything else that dies in your home). The main problem with opossum in your attic, walls, basement, etc is that they leave a large amount of droppings which can carry several different parasites and diseases. They are not the cleanest of animals, and carry a strong odor that is unbearable.
Rabbits: The Cottontail Rabbit is not part of the rodent family. It is classified in Lagomorphs. Litter sizes up to 10 have been reported, but typical litters have 3 to 5 young, born after a gestation period of about 28 days. Eastern Cottontails are herbivorous, eating a wide variety of plant materials. They are cute to look at, both adults and children marvel at and are infatuated with them. While they may be part of some religious holidays, they also a known for creating a large amount of crop damage. In high numbers, they can decimate your garden. They will eat all the plants, flowers, flower bulbs and vegetables that you grow in your garden. Additionally, rabbits can infect humans through openings in the skin with Tularemia, a bacterial disease, which is also known as rabbit fever or deer-fly fever.
Raccoons: Raccoons are easy to recognize with their distinctive black mask and ringed tail. They are common in practically every neighborhood in every city and are well adapted to survival in cities. They are known as excellent climbers and have very nimble hands, are strong and are adventurous – with no problem tearing open new areas in search of food and shelter. They like to den in trees, but also find attics as a great alternative. They have learned that garbage cans and dumpsters are excellent sources of food and that houses are an excellent habitat. A mother raccoon will tear a hole in a roof to access an attic where they will make quite a mess and a lot of noise. They can cause quite a substantial amount of damage to your home by both contaminations from their waste or by structural damage to insulation, beams or even by chewing on wires. They will even break into a screened porch in search of food. If there’s food or shelter to be had, raccoons will break into your house, crawl under your house and climb through the walls. They carry a large number of parasites and diseases that can affect people and pets alike. They are the #1 carrier for rabies, a potentially fatal disease and they also carry canine distemper which can kill your dog. Their feces may contain raccoon roundworm, the spores of which can infect humans when breathed in.
Skunks: Skunks are easy to recognize with their bold black and white coloring. Using special glands below the tail, skunks can spray their powerful scent up to 15 feet. The scent burns the attacker’s eyes and causes temporary blindness. Of course, the stench is too much for most animals to bear, and serves as a strong warning against future attacks. Most skunk problems involve skunks that have chosen to take up residence under your house or in a crawlspace, under a porch, deck or shed. They often dig to gain access to these are. No homeowner appreciates this scent under their deck. And, a skunk in the area poses a constant threat to nosey pets that are not aware of a skunk’s defense mechanism. Skunks are omnivorous animals that eat both plants and animals and will change their diet as the seasons change. They will topple garbage to gain access to food and will often eat pet food or the carcasses of rodents left behind by cats.
Squirrels: Squirrels are members of the rodent family and are very active year-round. A mother squirrel bears young twice a year, usually in February and August. They are arboreal, which means they live in trees, but they also seem to love attics. They are active most in the mornings and evenings and eat all kinds of food, but prefer nuts and seeds. They especially like the seed found in your bird feeder and their amazing acrobatic moves allow them to reach almost anywhere they want to go. To gain access to your attic or soffit, they will chew a hole in your house, often times near wires for phone, electricity or cable/satellite television entering your home. The attic provides shelter and warmth which is ideal for baby squirrels but not ideal for a homeowner who has to contend with chewed wood, beams and power lines which can create a fire hazard. They also bring nesting material and biohazardous waste into an attic.