Coexisting With Wildlife

We share this planet with an astounding array of other animal species, and there’s no doubt that some of them live in and around your home—putting the intersection of their habitat and yours on a collision course. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to be a good neighbor to our fellow animals. Here are nine ways to start:

  • If a bird accidentally ventures inside your house, close all the curtains, blinds, and shutters. Turn off all indoor lights and open a door to the outside. The bird should fly toward the light. If they don’t leave, wait until dark, reopen the door, and put a light outside.  
  • Cap your chimney. When birds sit on top of it for warmth, fumes can overcome them. As a result, they could fall into the chimney and die.
  • Never use smoke or fire to drive animals from chimneys, as it would likely kill young animals who can’t leave on their own. Once you’ve double-checked that all the animals have left, seal all points of entry with a foam sealant or hardware cloth. This step is particularly important during the fall or winter, when chicks born in warmer months can become trapped.
  • Repair and seal attic openings. If raccoons have taken up residence in your home, kindly invite them to exit by placing mothballs or ammonia-soaked rags where they’re staying. (Animals can’t stand the smell.)
  • Put out garbage only on the day workers come to collect it—and keep it in chew-proof, tightly sealed containers.
  • Deny mice and rats access to food in your home—this is the best way to discourage them from moving in. Seal holes and cracks larger than a quarter-inch wide, and store all food in airtight, rodent-proof containers. If you think you have a little visitor, immediately place peppermint oil–soaked cotton balls and rags throughout affected areas. If you must trap a rodent, use a cruelty-free live trap made for this purpose. Make sure it has air holes, and check it hourly.
  • Rinse out tin cans. Put the tops inside the cans so they won’t slice curious animals, and crush the open end of the cans as flat as you can.

  • Cut open empty cardboard and plastic containers so that squirrels and other small animals don’t get caught in them. Cut apart all sections of plastic six-pack rings, including the inner diamonds.
  • Place stickers on windows to help prevent birds from flying into them.

Please share these tips with neighbors and friends to protect the birds, mice, opossums, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals whose worlds overlap with ours from harm.