Critters living in the backyard

As spring approaches and we venture out of our homes to finally enjoy the sun and warm weather, critters are doing the same. Whether its moles, voles, raccoons, or skunks,  our backyards are about to be invaded. For some of us we pride ourselves in having a perfectly manicured yard, prize winning vegetable patch or hearty flower garden. In order to keep this up, we have to know who the enemy is and when its time to call in for back up.
 
Here is a list of common backyard critters in the Des Moines area and ways to identify them:
 
Voles- Also sometimes called field mice, voles are small and dark brown or gray.  Vole runways can be described as paths of grass that look as if a garden hose has been left out too long. Their burrow entrances are between the size of a quarter and half dollar. The main damage voles’ cause is to ornamental plants such as hostas or  tulips, and many plants in vegetable gardens.
 
Moles- Not typically seen above ground, moles create tunnels through yards looking for earthworms, grubs and other insects. Moles can average 12 to 15 feet of tunneling per hour or up to 300 yards in a day, when they have the right conditions.  The tunnels are raised and will also sometimes have mounds of dirt along the way.
 
Rabbits- Damage done by rabbits can range from consuming plants in vegetable gardens and flower gardens, especially tulips, to girdling small trees and shrubs. Cottontails don’t dig their own burrows; instead they take up residency in holes made by other animals such as woodchucks.
 
Skunks- Most people recognize skunks as black animals about the size of a cat with a white stripe down their back.  When digging for grubs and other invertebrates, which usually happens in the late summer or early fall months, skunks leave cone shaped holes in lawns. They often build their dens under decks, sheds and along buildings. The entry way to the den tends to be between 8-10 inches in diameter.
 
Woodchucks (Groundhogs)- Woodchucks are often mistaken for badgers or beavers.They are usually brown or gray with furry tails, large incisors and long curved claws used for digging. Like skunks, woodchucks like to build their dens under decks, sheds and along buildings, but the opening to their dens is usually 12-14 inches in diameter (the size of a volleyball or bigger).
 
Squirrels- The Fox Squirrel can cause quite a bit of damage to our home, often the culprit of chewing holes into our roofs and sometimes chewing the electrical wire in attics. Squirrels also like to use attics and eaves to nest in.
 
Raccoons- These masked animals are notorious for getting into trash cans and camping out in attics. Raccoons also use chimneys and spaces under decks to live. Although often portrayed as cute and cuddly animals, do not approach or corner raccoons, especially if it is a female with young.
 
So when you venture outside and come face to face with two little eyes staring back at you, remember this, no one will look down on you for calling in back up. By turning to the professionals here at Critter Control we will help you take care of the problem critter so that no harm comes to you, the critter or any other bystanders.  If you are seeing any of the damage described above, or hearing strange noises coming from your attic, call us at 515-287-0419!