Animal Proofing Your Home

Whether you live in a busy city or a sleepy countryside, you're likely to be surrounded by wildlife of some kind. This could be bats, mice, rats, rabbits, foxes, birds, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, or even wasps and bees. Some creatures can be a pleasure to observe, whether scurrying past you on a balcony or snuffling about in your garden, while others can unfortunately be nothing but a nuisance.

Once unwanted guests have moved into your home or property, they can become very troublesome and difficult to remove. The best way to ensure this doesn't happen is to take preventative action.

Take a walk around the outside of your house and check all levels for signs of weakness. If you've just moved into a new home, it's a good idea to make this job one of your priorities.

1. Trim Your Trees

Large trees with overhanging branches leading to the roof can allow animals such as squirrels or raccoons to reach attics and chimneys.

tree branches growing over a building

2. Check Windows, Doors, and Vents

Check for gaps around doors, windows and any other vents—even dryer vents can pose a problem. You can purchase or build protective covers for these, which are easy to install.

3. Remove Sources of Food

Collect fruits and nuts that have fallen from trees, as these can make tempting meals for some species. If you have pets, don't leave food bowls containing uneaten food lying around the yard. Think carefully about what food you put out for the birds too, as uneaten food left on the ground could also be an attraction for certain larger animals.

4. Check Your Perimeter

Double fencing and garden sheds can be a problem. Spaces underneath or in between can make ideal hiding places or homes for rats, mice, etc.

5. Seal Compost and Trash

Make sure compost heaps are covered and protected and that all trash is sealed and protected in secure bins with lids—easy to reach trash is one of the main attractions for certain creatures. If possible, keep it shut away in an outbuilding until garbage collection day.

6. Inspect Roof Spaces

Check any chimneys, attic vents and eaves of the roof. Cap chimneys and seal other areas with suitable preventative building materials, which will resist gnawing. Remember, some small animals can even squeeze into very tight cracks and gaps. Use concrete to fill gaps in concrete and masonry.

7. Clean Up Debris

Trim back or remove ivy and keep grass near your house regularly cut, as these areas can make excellent hiding places for small animals. Keep any piled up wood or rocks away from your buildings. They're nice to have around for birds and healthy bug life, but if they're too close, they'll be an invitation to infiltration.

hands removing ivy from an outside wall

8. Screen Beneath Porches

Some animals can obviously dig, so this is another issue to think about. Porches and decking areas need to be screened underneath—always check for any loose or rotten wood too.

9. Lock Your Pet Door

If you have a cat flap, or any other type of pet flap in a door, once your pet is in for the night make sure that you fasten it up securely.

10. Secure Your Roof

Make sure there are no obvious cracked or broken tiles on the roof, as even small cracks can be an easy entry point for wasps or bees.