Animals Under the Deck – Now What?
If you're hearing strange noises under your deck, an animal may have moved in under there. Handling it is a simple matter once you know what to do.
The types of animals that may be living under your deck
The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of animal is living under your deck - the possibilities largely depend on where you live because different locales are vulnerable to different kinds of wildlife. Here are a few that are worth looking into:
- Stray cats
- Rodents (such as mice, rats) and
- Voles and groundhogs/woodchucks
How to confirm what animal is under the deck
If you spend a lot of time outside on your deck, you may have noticed patterns in terms of when you're most likely to hear the animal scurrying around. If so, make a point of being outside when it's most likely to be active and try to catch a glimpse of whatever is down there. Often, skunks and raccoons are the culprits you'll need to get rid of.
Animals such as skunks are often easily identified even without visual confirmation due to the stench they sometimes give off.
If you have no luck with seeing the animal for yourself, look for other clues as to its identity.
Start by making an assessment of the size of any holes it's dug in the ground. It's common to find openings in the dirt (or whatever's covering it) that appear to be burrows of some sort, or paths that were dug beneath the trim surrounding your deck to enable a creature to squeeze between the trim and the ground to gain access.
Mice tend to make the smallest holes (as little as 2.5 cm in diameter), followed by rats (holes of up to7.5 cm in diameter), followed by even larger ones due to animals such as raccoons, groundhogs, cats, foxes, and skunks.
Other clues to the creature's identity may include stool, or paw prints left behind.
Decide whether or not you really need to get rid of it
If a squirrel or chipmunk is living under there and not bothering anyone or causing damage, you may want to leave it alone. For some people, it gives them the pleasure of having a "pet" without the responsibility!
At the other extreme, if you have a skunk under there, since you don't want to be jumpy and on edge due to the risk of being sprayed every time you go out there, it's probably best that you serve it an eviction notice. Foxes may pose a risk to your pets or small children. Stray cats may carry rabies.
Getting rid of unwanted wildlife
Before you take measures to get rid of any unwanted animals living beneath your deck, be sure to familiarize yourself with local wildlife protection laws. For example, poisoning wildlife is often illegal.
Figure out how the animal got under your deck in the first place. The solution to getting rid of them could be as simple as adding wire mesh beneath your deck to block access. Many animals will give up and find a new home that's easier to get to if you do this. Before you block their access, however, make sure the animals have vacated the premises first - you don't want to trap baby animals under there without their mother, or even a fully grown animal for that matter. Instead, block off all of the potential entry points except for one. This will allow the animal(s) to leave safely - after they've gone, you can finish sealing everything else off.
Other animals may require persuasion in the form of 24/7 loud music and flashing lights - many animals don't like this and will find a new home with no other action required on your part.
Finally, traps may be required to catch the invader.
You can win the battle with animals under your deck
Animals living under your deck can either be cute buddies that come and visit you when you're enjoying the great outdoors, or a nuisance that drives you crazy. If they're the latter, don't despair because there's always a way to get rid of them safely and humanely. And if you don't want to take care of the matter yourself, be sure to reach out to a wildlife removal expert for help!