Unwanted Guest Prevention
Inside the Outdoors, July 18
, 2014

As seems to be the custom anymore, I have a little story to share at the beginning of this column. This involved an incident concerning a little girl who was riding a bicycle along the parade route on July 4.

I had been sitting next to my table of merchandise outside my residence where I exhibited a number of my products including peacock feathers. She stopped and looked me squarely in my eyes and stated, “Do you have girl feathers?” That made me chuckle to the point that led me to pass this along.

She later informed me that “There is a difference, you know…” That may be a future story, but not today.


Back in the early 70’s, I came to live with my parents who had a house buried in the Laurel Mountains in Laughlintown. I loved living there in as much as I was immersed in nature beyond my wildest dreams. I became familiar with the great outdoors and learned to respect it for what it was.

One day while doing some garden work in the front of the residence, I happened to look over to the front door only to see a long black snake slither straight up the stone work on the facade of the house and into a hole that led to the attic.

To begin with, I did not know snakes had the ability to maneuver straight up a wall, such as I saw, and second, and foremost, I didn’t realize there were visitors living with us in our attic.

That may have given some people the willies, but I really didn’t mind it as long as they stayed up there and didn’t come down to visit us in our quarters. I really never asked what my parents thought as I’m sure their opinions might have been in opposition to mine.

One day, I decided to venture up to the enclosed structure to see what I could find. Walking on two boards and holding onto the ceiling, I ventured over to one side of the dwelling. There to my unbelief were snake skins galore. After surveying the situation carefully, I picked one up and took it downstairs to show the folks. My father then went into action. From my sighting of the snake, he surveyed the premises, and most important, secured the premises.

Many years back, a fishing buddy came to me with a request. “That squirrel trap that you have, may I borrow it?” he began. “Squirrels have been getting into my attic and chewing my wires. I’m afraid they will cause a fire,” he said.

And so I lent it to him. He found that he needed it more than he thought and ended up buying it from me.

But, there are so many other animals that can be nuisances. According to www.redbeacon.com,
“Raccoons are expert climbers and rip open shingles and screens to obtain entry. They can also squeeze through gaps in eaves. They are large animals and leave large paths full of debris behind them.”

Once there, females may bear young. Instead of having one visitor, there may be a whole family!

Rats, bats and possums also may find shelter in one’s attic.

According to this website, “Because they need a large opening to get in, opossums are not that common, but if there is an opening large enough for them, such as open ducts or vents, they will be happy to make a home in one’s attic,” it stated. It went on to say that one can tell by its size and how it smells.

Hedgehogs are also visitors to attics. They need large holes as well. They may be identified by their droppings and quills.

Smaller creatures such as termites, cockroaches and birds have also found ‘free’ lodging in attics.

Most everyone knows how to spot termite infestation. There is a powdery wood residue that is left wherever they feed. “Cockroaches are among the hardiest of all creatures and can enter a home through seemingly impossible gaps or through drains. They love attics because they can breed undisturbed there,” it said. Of the three, birds are well-known for finding areas to nest. If they can find shelter, they will leave a ton of feathers and nests behind.

Here are some steps to ward off unwanted guests as recommended by www.wikihow.com:

  • Contact the local exterminator
  • Check to see if no animals live in the attic
  • Have the exterior of the home inspected
  • Patch any holes with hardware cloth
  • Patch any holes near or on the roof
  • Install vent covers
  • Add heavy duty screens over attic vents.

How ‘bout charging them extra rent. That would drive them away!.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.