Wildlife

Raccoons

Facts about Raccoons

Males can reach weights of 30 pounds or more, while females tend to be smaller at 10 to 17 pounds.

Reproduction:

The raccoon breeding season occurs between January and February, though it is not unusual to be a bit earlier or later. The Raccoon gestation period is approximately 60 days. Typically most raccoon litters are born in April thru May, however it is not unusual for early or late litters depending on when breeding took place. There is only one litter consisting of 1 to 6 kittens. The average is usually 3 to 4 raccoon young. Raccoon mothers will nurse their young for about 2 months. The young raccoons will then be taught by the mother how to hunt and forage. By the time fall arrives, the young raccoons will typically leave the mother and set off on their own. It is not unusual for young raccoons to spend the winter with the mother raccoon.

Raccoon damage to buildings:

Raccoons will get on homes & buildings by climbing trees that are too close or overhanging the roof line. Raccoons are also capable of climbing gutter down spouts or climbing up masonry. It’s not unusual for raccoons to climb up corners of homes or buildings depending on the type of siding on the structure.Raccoons will enter the attic spaces by tearing or pulling soffit panels down, raccoons will tear open static roof vents or enter through a powered attic fan .They do this by crawling under the mushroom shaped cap and bending the blades of the fan, often times completely disabling it. Raccoons will also tear up shingles and make holes in the plywood decking of roofs which can lead to expensive water and roof damage. If there is a masonry fireplace, raccoons will crawl down the chimney to the smoke shelf and make it their home. Many young raccoons and mothers have been safely and efficiently removed by Bethell's Wildlife Control through chimneys and fireplaces.

Raccoon damage to attics:

An attic is like a big warm hollow tree to a raccoon and a favorite spot for a mother raccoon to raise her kittens. Raccoons are capable of extensive damage in the attic space. They will pull and tear at just about everything including wires, pvc piping and destroy insulation. Once inside an attic, raccoons both young and old will urinate and defecate. This not only poses a significant health risk to humans and pets, but also destroys insulation and drywall in ceilings and walls.

Raccoon Damage to Lawns:

Typically in late summer and early fall, raccoons will pull sod back and dig for Japanese beetle grubs causing extensive damage to lawns.

Diseases & Parasites Related to Raccoons

Rabies, raccoon round worm, Histoplasmosis, Leptospirosis, Salmonella, Giardia lamblia, Trypanosomacruziand Rickettssiarickettsii, Fleas-Lice-Mites-Ticks (Lyme Disease).


Bats

Facts About Bats

Little Brown Bat

The little brown bat is one of the most common of the 12 bat species that are found in Illinois. It lives throughout the state during the summer and is the most abundant bat found hibernating In Illinois caves and mines during the winter. Little brown bats have glossy brown fur and wingspans of 9 to 11 inches. These bats may live as long as 30 years. Little brown bats are strictly insectivorous and consume large amounts of flying insects. They hunt these animals on the wing by echolocation. (Little brown bats use sound waves to perceive their prey) During the summer female little brown bats form maternity colonies. A colony typically consists of a few hundred female bats, but may include several thousand individuals. Maternity bat colonies roost in the attics of buildings. Each female bat gives birth to a single pup, usually in June. Young brown bats can fly as early as 3 weeks of age. While female little brown bats gather in maternity colonies, male little brown bats roost separately, either singly or in small bachelor colonies.

Big Brown Bat

Big brown bats are another commonly found bat in Illinois. Big brown bats are considered large for a bat. Their average weight is 0.5 to 1.2 oz. The wing span of a big brown bat is 12 to 16 inches.

Bat Related Diseases

Perhaps the greatest health risk from bats is rabies. Rabies is a viral disease causing encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and animals. Humans can become infected when bitten by a rabid bat. Transmission also can occur when an infected bat’s saliva comes in contact with a person’s eye, nose,mouth, a scratch or wound. Rabid bats may exhibit no obvious abnormalities, so all contact with bats should be avoided. People should not be allowed to occupy a room in which bats are found, until it is certain that no bats remain in the room. Histoplasmosis is a disease associated with bat guano and bird droppings. When droppings accumulate, a fungus can grow and produce spores that can cause histoplamosis when inhaled. Where bat droppings accumulate in attics, care should be taken to avoid contracting the disease.


Squirrels

Facts About Squirrels

Three species of tree squirrels are common the the Northeast Illinois region. The Eastern Gray Squirrel, the Red Squirrel and the Fox Squirrel. All are small mammals characterized by a long, bushy tail, prominent ears, and long hind feet. None of the tree squirrels hibernate, but they do have periods of reduced activity during severe cold weather.
All of the tree squirrel species are found in wooded areas. Fox squirrels inhabit the forest edge or wooded areas with little understory. Gray squirrels inhabit mature forests with understory. Fox and gray squirrels are common in towns and cities, especially in parks and residential neighborhoods. Red squirrels prefer dense stands of pine trees but also inhabit mixed forests or oak, maple, hickory hardwood forests with dense understory.
Fox squirrels are common throughout Illinois, even in urban areas. Loss of mature, wooded habitat has decreased the population of gray squirrel in Illinois, although they remain common throughout the state and are locally abundant in urban areas. Red squirrels are found only in the northeastern part of the state, particularly along the Kankakee and Iroquois Rivers.
Each squirrel species has two breeding seasons, one in winter and the other in late spring or early summer. Female fox and gray squirrels that are at least two years old have two litters per year, younger females have only one litter per year. Average litter size is two to four, with young weaned around eight weeks of age.
Fox and gray squirrels have similar food requirements. In fall and winter, acorns, hickory nuts, osage orange fruit and walnuts are important food sources. In winter and early spring, squirrels may eat tree buds or bark if other food is scarce. Both fox and gray squirrels cache (store) food for later use by burying it. Fruits, berries, and corn are important summer food sources. Squirrels will also eat insects and other animal matter. Flying squirrels will eat bird eggs or nestlings, and scavenge for other animal matter when it is available. Red squirrels depend heavily on coniferous trees for buds and seeds from cones, but otherwise eat a diet similar to that of the other tree squirrels. They cache their food in small holes or cracks in the bark of trees.
Fox, gray, and red squirrels are diurnal meaning that they are active during the day. All tree squirrels are active year round, although they will take shelter in their nests during extreme cold weather. Fox and red squirrels spend more time on the ground than gray squirrels. All tree squirrels are solitary; however, since they are not territorial many may be seen in close proximity to each other, particularly if there is a good supply of food. The young often stay near the female until the next litter is born. Nests in tree cavities are preferred, but when cavities are not available squirrels will build nests of leaves in trees.
Like most rodents, tree squirrels have a relatively short lifespan. Most live only a year or two. Hawks, owls, foxes and coyotes all depend on squirrels as a food source.

Squirrel Related Diseases

Tree squirrels in Illinois are not considered to be a public health concern. They can be carriers of various parasites, but none have serious public health implications. It is common to see squirrels with patches of fur missing. Hair loss in squirrels can be caused by mange or fungal disease. Mange is a disease caused by microscopic mites that burrow under the skin. The squirrel mange mite (Notoedres sp.) has been reported in both fox and gray squirrels. There have been no reports of this type of mange being transmitted to humans or domestic pets. Loss of hair, and dark, thickened skin are symptoms of mange in squirrels. Mange can be spread by direct contact between squirrels. Adult squirrels in good condition typically survive mild infestations, but severe infestations can be fatal. Additionally, infected squirrels with a lot of hair loss may die of exposure during the winter. Another possible cause of hair loss in squirrels is fungal disease. A variety of fungal diseases affect squirrels. The fur of infected squirrels will break off at the skin leaving patches of skin that appear to be bare. Otherwise healthy squirrels will recover from fungal infections.

Squirrel exclusion

Squirrels are excellent climbers and jumpers. They are well known as unwelcome guests at birdfeeders. Besides consuming seed, they may damage bird and wildlife feeders by chewing on them. They may also occasionally damage lawns when caching food for the winter. They will also sometimes damage garden plants, particularly corn. While inconvenient, these behaviors can usually be handled by modifying the habitat or excluding the squirrels. In urban areas, squirrels may cause substantial property damage when they chew through siding or enlarge openings to gain access to attics. Once inside a building they may do further damage if they chew on insulation or electric wiring. Squirrels may also cause power outages when they short out transformers. It will likely be necessary to use several techniques to control property damage by squirrels. Exclusion is typically the most effective method when dealing with squirrels.


Opossum

Facts About Opossum

The Opossum is the only marsupial (carries its’ young in a pouch) in North America. Opossums have white fur tipped with gray or black and white guard hairs. They have a long, narrow snout, pink nose, and bare ears. The inner side of the ear is black. Their tails are nearly as long as their body and are almost hairless.

Weight:

6 to 15 pounds

Length:

24 to 33 inches

Reproduction:

Opossums breed in late January and early February with some animals breeding again in May. Females have 1 to 2 liters per year. The average size liter size is 7 to 8 young. The female gives birth to underdeveloped young about 13 days after mating. At this stage, the young are about the size of a bumblebee and must crawl to their mothers’ pouch where they continue to develop. Young opossums leave the pouch when they are 2 to 3 months old but remain near the female so they can return to the pouch and nurse. During this stage of their life, they can be seen riding around on the females back. By the time they are 3 months old they will be weaned and on their own.

Habitat:

Opossums live near wooded areas and have adapted to urban areas. Opossums do not build their own dens. They take cover in abandoned dens of other animals, in and under sheds, decks, concrete porches and brush piles. Opossums are common throughout Illinois. A study of opossums in central Illinois estimated there were 300 opossums per square mile during mid-summer. Opossums are nocturnal (active at night). They are solitary except while females are raising their young. Opossums are generally shy and passive. When a opossum is threatened, it will stand still, bare its’ teeth, and hiss or growl. If this fails, it may pretend to be dead (playing possum).

Food:

Like raccoons and skunks, opossums are omnivorous and will eat carrion as well. They are scavengers and will help in removing carcasses in their home range.

Diseases:

Opossums can carry and transmit the same diseases as similar animals such as the raccoon and skunk.

Trapping and Removing Opossums:

We are very effective at trapping and removing these nuisance, garbage and pet food eating animals.

Prevention:

Discard all food waste in a properly sealed garbage container. Don’t leave pet food outside .


Skunk

Facts About Skunks

A striped skunk is about the size of a domestic cat, but its legs are much shorter.

Weight

Males range from 3 to 11 pounds, while females tend to be smaller at 2 to 6 pounds.

Length:

20 to 30 inches

Reproduction:

Breeding begins in February and lasts through March. The pregnancy ranges from 62 to 72 days. Litter sizes range from a litter of 4 to 10 kits born from early May to June. Young skunks begin to leave the den and take short trips with their mother by late June or July.

Habitat:

Striped skunks are common throughout Illinois. Striped skunks are digging machines and will dig dens to live in and raise their young. Striped skunks are abundant in urban areas, especially those located along railroads or high tension power lines because these features provide travel corridors and denning sites. In addition to these areas, skunks very often will dig dens under concrete porches, stoops and sidewalks. It is also common for skunks to dig dens under sheds and decks. Striped skunks are active at night (nocturnal) and occasionally during early morning or late evenings. Skunks are slow moving. Their senses of sight, hearing and smell are poor. When cornered or pursued, they usually face the intruder, arch their backs, raise their tails, and stamp the ground with their front feet. If a skunks warning is ignored, it turns around with its tail raised, ready to spray its foe. Skunks are not true hibernators and will venture outside in winter. As many as 10 skunks (usually all females) have been found together in winter dens, but many live alone.

Food:

Skunks are omnivorous (eating equal amounts of plant , animal and insects). Insects are the preferred food. Skunks will eat mice, eggs, birds, and berries. Skunks will often dig for grubs leaving conical holes in lawns and yards. This activity usually begins late summer/early fall causing extensive damage to lawns.

Diseases related to Skunks

There is cause for concern when skunks take up residence in urban areas because they are carriers of rabies. It is because of this fact alone that all striped skunks trapped in Illinois must be euthanized. Other diseases include leptospirosis, listeriosis, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, tularemia and trypanosome.

Trapping and Removing Skunks:

We have years of experience with trapping and removing skunks. We trap skunks using specially made traps that are fully enclosed to prevent your house from being sprayed directly. Because of the nature of skunks we cannot guarantee a skunk will not spray once inside the trap, if the skunk should spray the odor will be minimal outside the trap and dissipate quickly. We also use a very effective deodorizer that can eliminate the smell.

Prevention:

Once we have trapped and removed your skunks, we are able to seal off that area, preventing any skunk intrusion and we will guarantee it in writing.


Beaver

Facts About the Beaver

Weight:

Adults typically 40 to 50 pounds. Some may weigh as much as 90 pounds or better.

Length:

Typically from 3 to 4 foot long.

Reproduction:

Breeding starts in January or February. Males and females are monogamous. A single annual litter of 3 to 4 kits is born in April, May or June. Some females can have up to 6 kits. When the kits are born, they are completely furred, with their eyes open and front (incisor teeth) visible. Although they are able to swim at birth, they seldom come out of the den until they are about 1 month old. The kits are weaned around 6 weeks of age but will remain with the parents until 1 to 2 years old.

Habitat:

The beaver is the largest member of the rodent family in Illinois. Like other rodents, it has 2 upper and two lower teeth located at the front of the jaws that are called incisors. Used chiefly for gnawing, a beaver’s incisors are long, massive and sharp. These specialized teeth allow a beaver to cut through a willow tree 5 inches in diameter in about 1 minute. Beavers are common in every county in Illinois. Beavers live in streams, rivers, marshes and lakes. Every area in the state that has suitable food sources (primarily tree species like willow and maple) located near permanent water is potential beaver habitat.Beavers are well known for their engineering skills, especially building dams across streams and small rivers. The dams hold back water, increasing its depth and surface area. Dams 4 to 7 feet high are common. A flurry of beaver activity occurs in September and October as beavers prepare for winter. Dams are built up and kept in good repair. Most of the beaver family’s time is spent above a main dam, but they sometimes add 1 or more smaller dams downstream to back water up against the base of the main dam. This relieves pressure on the main dam and allows better access to food located downstream. Beavers construct bank dens and lodges for shelter and raising their young. They prefer bank dens if the stream or small lake banks are suitable for construction. Beavers confine their activities to within a half a mile of their lodge or den. They are most active at night, dusk and dawn.

Food:

Beavers eat the bark of tender twigs and the new growth between the outer bark and the wood of branches and tree trunks. Preferred tree species include willow, river birch, and maple. It is also common to see damage to fruit trees. Roots of aquatic plants, marsh grasses, clover and certain berries are spring and summer fare.

Damage caused by Beavers:

Extensive flooding can occur once a beaver colony dams up a stream, river or lake. Retention ponds and yards with planted trees are vulnerable and can be wiped out fairly quickly. Replacement can be extremely expensive.

Trapping and Removing Beavers:

Beaver trapping can be a little tricky at times. We use a variety of legal trapping methods to remove beavers from your watersheds. Beaver trapping is more expensive than say, trapping a raccoon because of the habitat and the nature of the animal. We are very successful at trapping and removing beavers.

Prevention:

There are several techniques to preventing beavers from taking down your trees. We would be happy to consult with you and are fully capable of beaver proofing your trees.


Snakes

Types of Snakes in Illinois:

Thirty-nine species of snakes inhabit Illinois, dwelling in forests, grasslands, marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and sloughs. Some species are quite common, while others are very rare. These reptiles are solitary predators that eat a variety of prey. Snakes have interesting structural features including the Jacobon's organ, which is used to detect odors. They lack legs, ear opening, and eyelids. Four species of Ililnois snakes, the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), the cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), and the eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus), are venomous. The chief conservation concerns for Illinois snakes are habitat alteration and loss, and over-exploitation for the pet trade. Misinformation, lack of information, and irrational fears have also affected snake populations.


Pigeons/ Birds

Bird Facts

The common pigeon was introduced into the United States as a domesticated bird, but many escaped and formed feral populations. The pigeon is now the most common bird pest associated with people. Pigeons inhabit lofts, steeples, attics, caves, and ornate architectural features of buildings where openings allow for roosting, loafing, and nest building. Nests consist of sticks, twigs, and grasses clumped together to form a crude platform.
Pigeons typically have a gray body with a whitish rump, two black bars on the secondary wing feathers, a broad black band on the tail, and red feet. Body color can vary from gray to white, tan, and black. When pigeons take off, their wing tips touch, making a characteristic clicking sound. When they glide, their wings are raised at an angle.
Pigeons are highly dependent on humans to provide them with food and sites for roosting, loafing, and nesting. They are commonly found around farm yards, grain elevators, feed mills, parks, city buildings, bridges, and other structures. Pigeons are primarily grain and seed eaters and will subsist on spilled or improperly stored grain. They also will feed on garbage, livestock manure, insects, or other food materials provided for them intentionally or unintentionally by people. In fact, in some urban areas the feeding of pigeons is considered a form of recreation.
Pigeon droppings deface and accelerate the deterioration of buildings and increase the cost of maintenance. Large amounts of droppings may kill vegetation and produce an objectionable odor. Pigeon manure deposited on park benches, statues, cars, and unwary pedestrians is aesthetically displeasing. Around grain handling facilities, pigeons consume and contaminate large quantities of food destined for human or livestock consumption.

Pigeon Related Diseases

Pigeons may carry and spread diseases to people and livestock through their droppings. They are known to carry or transmit pigeon ornithosis, encephalitis, Newcastle disease, cryptococcosis, toxoplasmosis, salmonella food poisoning, and several other diseases. Additionally, under the right conditions pigeon manure may harbor airborne spores of the causal agent of histoplasmosis, a systemic fungus disease that can infect humans. The ectoparasites of pigeons include various species of fleas, lice, mites, ticks, and other biting insects, some of which readily bite people.

Remedies for removing Pigeons

Bethell's Wildlife Control can effectively control pigeons by capturing them in traps placed near their roosting, loafing, or feeding sites. Some traps are over six feet tall, while low-profile traps measure only 9 inches high. Generally, the larger the population of birds to be trapped, the larger the trap should be. Although larger traps hold many birds, they can be cumbersome in situations such as rooftop trapping programs. In these instances, it may be more convenient to use several low-profile traps that are more portable and easier to deploy.

Pigeon Exclusion

Bethell's Wildlife Control can assist you in excluding pigeons from buildings by blocking access to indoor roosts and masonry, rustproofed wire mesh, or bird netting.
Elimination of feeding, watering, roosting, and nesting sites is also important in long-term pigeon control.
Roosting on ledges can be discouraged by changing the ledge angle to 45 degrees or more. Bethell's Wildlife Control can recommend solutions using sheet metal, wood, styrofoam blocks, stone, and other materials which can be formed and fastened to ledges to accomplish the desired angle.