Varmint and rodent control

Garage Door

Varmint and rodent control

As human civilization encroaches on the natural habitats of wild animals, homeowners may experience an increase in the number of pests that invade their homes. When this happens, it might be tempting to deal with the problem yourself. After all, dealing with a pest problem yourself can be cheaper than hiring a professional, and the problem might seem minor as varmints, such as squirrels, raccoons, or skunks are not very big.

However, pest control involves many hazards you have to consider. After all, these pests are wild animals. From safety concerns to health hazards, interacting with a wild animal introduces a lot of variables–many of which cannot be foreseen by the amateur pest remover. That said, if you are intent on dealing with a rodent or larger varmint without calling an exterminator, evidence exists supporting the opinion you might be making a mistake.


Prior to attempting to remove a varmint, you should understand the many hazards that accompany DIY pest removal.


The first problem a skunk poses is obvious: its tail. However, most skunks are naturally wary of humans and will avoid them. If you have a skunk on your property and it does not seem afraid of human interactions, you might have a problem far worse than the possibility of being sprayed.

Rabies is not uncommon among skunks. Additionally, it is carried by raccoons and bats. If you discover any of these types of animals on your property, in your garage or crawl space, or attic, it is not the most prudent step to attempt to capture these animals by yourself. If you attempt to kill or trap an animal, most will attack when they feel threatened. Additionally, a raccoon is much faster than a human and can strike and bite before you even understand what happened.


Even if an animal does not carry rabies, many have filthy claws. A scratch from an animal claw can cut deep. Introducing bacteria into a deep cut can result in the need for a tetanus shot or round of antibiotics.

Respiratory problems

In terms of mice or bats, it is important to know that although some bat species carry rabies, all bat and mice droppings can create respiratory problems if inhaled. Additionally, fleas on mice can carry disease. In either case, exposing yourself to this type of hazard is unwise as removing a rodent can take much longer for someone not used to doing so.

Preventing future incidences

Fencing or lattice work

For many larger animals, such as skunks, fencing will serve as a future solution for pest control. However, for ground hogs, you will need to flood their burrows, fill up the holes, and surround any crawlspaces beneath your deck or home with lattice work.


In terms of raccoons, you cannot keep them off your property, but you can keep them out of your attic. To do so, you must place grating on the inside of any louvers or vents. Additionally, you must patch any holes in your siding or gaps near your soffit boards.

Raccoons can flatten their bodies more than you might imagine, and they can squeeze into very small holes. The general wisdom is if a raccoon can get its head into a hole, it can get its entire body through that hole–as remarkable as this might sound. To protect your home, you need to patch all entries and exits such that nothing can get in.

Problems that accompany different species


Skunks stink. There are no other ways to describe them. If you startle them, you are in a uniquely horrible situation that will cause trouble for weeks until the odor from their scent glands fades from your skin, your clothes, or house. Additionally, they can pose serious problems to children or pets.


Raccoons are intelligent, and an adult raccoon is fierce enough to fend off just about any dog. If it is rabid, it cannot be chased away. A raccoon in your attic can also lead to feces, which can then lead to respiratory problems that endure long after the animal has been removed. Finally, they can destroy insulation or electrical wiring.

Squirrels and other rodents

More annoying than they are dangerous, squirrels can cause problems in your electrical system as they are known to chew through wires. Mice, especially, can cause problems in your walls if they chew through wires and leave the inner copper wire exposed. Once a wire is exposed, it is now a fire hazard.


Shooting an animal can pose hazards to people and property, so it is not the recommended means to get rid of an animal. Often, live traps are the only way to contain an animal. That said, a non-professional with little experience handling a trap containing a skunk or raccoon can find him or herself in serious trouble.

A raccoon, for instance, if trapped in the wrong type of trap, may very well be able to squeeze through the bars enough to bite or scratch a nearby hand. A skunk in a trap is a nightmare waiting to happen. In terms of removal, you might be able to handle a trap with a raccoon, provided you wear the right type of gloves and cover the cage with some sort of leather sheathing when you pick it up.

However, there are few people who can successfully handle a skunk. If you have trapped a skunk and are not familiar with dealing with these animals, the only thing anyone can say to you is that you should not have done that. Someone is soon going to be sprayed, and that someone is likely to be you. The thing is, a frightened skunk will continue spraying–over and over again–until their scent glands are exhausted. You do not want to be at the receiving end of this chemical assault.

Last resort should often be the first resort

You might find that your attempts to safely and successfully deal with a rodent or varmint problem end with more problems than you originally started with. Often, the last resort of calling an exterminator should actually be the initial strategy. When this time comes, you will find there are two important reasons that you should have simply hired a professional.


The time and money it costs you to buy a trap, stock it with food, and finally attempt to dispose of a very angry animal might save you only about $18 or $20. You might think that you will be able to save more, but often, things go wrong. First, you might have to buy multiple traps. If you end up going to the doctor, you will have a copay. If you miss work or if the problem drags on too long and damage occurs to your home–well, the problems simply become more and more expensive.


In terms of pest control, killing the animal is sometimes the only way to solve the problem, and an exterminator is often the only person legally and professionally capable of doing so. Finally, many family members are going to be emotionally against harming any animal–pest or not. If an animal needs to be killed, you might not want your loved ones looking at you as someone who killed a cute little animal doing cute little things. Leaving the bad-guy work up to professionals is one sure-fire way to keep your home peaceful and quiet.