Frequently Asked Questions
General trapping questions:
Q. What Kinds of Traps and Poisons do you use?
A. We use traps that have a spring-loaded door mechanism that closes once the animal has entered - preventing escape. We do use snap-traps for most rat/mouse jobs but will use live traps on request. We do NOT use any poisons or pesticides.
Q. Do Animals Suffer in live traps?
A. They do get upset. They sometimes growl and hiss, but usually they fall asleep and I wake them up to move them.
Q. Will my dog get sprayed?
A. Possibly, if left in the yard while trapping is being done.
Q. What Animals do you Trap?
A. Skunk, opossum, raccoon, feral cats, squirrels, pigeons, mice and rats. (We also eliminate bats without trapping.)
Q. What kind of license do you have?
A. California State Trapping License #7781
Q. Are you insured?
A. Yes. By Lloyds of London.
Q. What laws do I need to know before hiring a trapper?
A. Currently, the laws ONLY protect trappers. If you tamper with a legal trap or release an animal caught in a trap, you are subject to a fine.
Q. Do we need a trapper?
A. When it comes to wildlife? Every time! Do not attempt to trap wildlife yourself. "Wildlife" are all considered fur baring animals by the state of California.
Q. What do I do if I find an abandoned or injured animal?
A. If you're in El Dorado County call Sierra Wildlife Rescue (530) 621-4661. If you're in Placer County call Gold Country Wildlife Rescue (530) 885-0862. If you're in Sacramento County call Sacramento Wildlife Care Assoc. (916) 965-9453
Q. Why are outdoor cats considered problems?
A. Nuisance behaviors, such as urinating and defecating in someone's yard or garden, digging in someone's yard or garden, jumping on someone's car, and upsetting an owned cat, are the greatest concerns that the general public has about outdoor cats.
Overpopulation is a serious concern, as well. In the United States, approximately 2 percent of the 30 to 40 million community (feral and stray) cats have been spayed or neutered. These cats produce around 80 percent of the kittens born in the U.S. each year. Although 85 percent of the estimated 75 to 80 million pet cats in the U.S. are already spayed or neutered, many have kittens before they are spayed or neutered. Those kittens, especially if they are allowed outdoors, add to the number of outdoor cats and the problems associated with them.
Shelters in a community with a large population of outdoor cats who aren't spayed or neutered may experience these problems:
- More cats entering shelters as a result of trapping feral kittens young enough to be socialized (tamed) and feral adults
- A rise in euthanasia rates for all cats because adult feral cats can't be adopted
- Euthanasia of adoptable cats when cage space runs out
Costs associated with trapping and/or caring for and euthanizing feral cats In addition, shelters receive many nuisance complaints about outdoor cats, including:
- Frequent, loud noises that are part of the fighting and mating behavior of unneutered/unspayed cats
- Strong, foul odors left by unneutered male cats spraying urine to mark their territory
- Flea infestations
- Visible suffering from dying kittens and injured adults
- The death of wild animals who are cats' prey
Q. Do people take care of stray/feral cats in the community?
A. Many people see a cat who seems homeless and start feeding the cat. Ideally, the person quickly does more to help the cat: · If the cat is tame, the first step is to try to find the cat's owner. If the owner can't be found, step two is to try to find a permanent home for the cat through a shelter, rescue, or other means. · If the cat is feral, unapproachable, and wary after several days of feeding, it's best to find out if there are any groups doing TNR in the community so at least the cat will be spayed or neutered. The HSUS's map of feral cat organizations is a good place to start looking. If there are no local groups, step two is to consult one of the many resources that provide information about TNR. Once a cat or colony of cats has been TNR-ed, it's ideal if a dedicated caretaker provides food, water and shelter; monitors the cats for sickness or injury; and TNRs new feral cats who arrive. Ideally, kittens young enough to be socialized (tamed) and new tame cats who arrive are removed from the colony for possible adoption.
Many dedicated caretakers pay for TNR themselves to help improve the lives of cats and reduce their numbers. Without TNR and a dedicated caretaker trapping new cats who show up, the population of the colony could increase.
Q. What is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)?
A. TNR is a nonlethal strategy for reducing the number of community cats (feral and stray) and improving the quality of life for cats, wildlife, and people. At its most basic, TNR involves
- Humanely trapping community cats
- Spaying or neutering them
- Vaccinating them against rabies
- Surgically removing the tip of one ear (a "tipped" ear is the universally-recognized sign of a cat who has been spayed or neutered)
- Returning the cats to their home
Q. When do skunks come into houses?
A. Skunks don't regularly seek to enter houses, but do occasionally end up inside homes through pet doors. This is alarming and obviously dangerous. Contact us immediately! More often, skunks end up under houses in crawl spaces or under porches or in outbuildings. They seek shelter when mating, raising babies, and for wintertime. Again, call us. We can help.
Q. When is the best time to get rid of skunks?
A. As soon as you suspect you have a skunk it is time to act. Delay allows the skunk smell to permeate your home, becoming very hard to remove. Delay also increases the chances of a direct encounter with the animal or the outbreak of disease or illness.
Q. Where do skunks live?
A. Skunks are found throughout North America and in a variety of natural habitats-river bottoms, under rocks and logs, anywhere there is food, water and shelter. Skunks live in the human world very successfully and in some areas their population has actually increased through human contact due to increased food sources. Skunks like to live in holes and will use existing ones, like space under decks, or create their own by digging and burrowing. Their digging can undermine foundations. Skunks are nocturnal and are often not noticed in an area until their smell gives them away.
Q. Where do skunks usually enter a building?
A. Skunks are burrowers and diggers. They search out weak points and enter through gaps in the foundation or by creating a hole themselves to access crawl spaces or under sheds, porches and decks. Woodpiles, automobiles or scrap piles also make good skunk homes.
Q. How do I know if I have skunks on my property?
A. Skunks are not subtle and leave a trail that your nose will not miss. Scent is usually the first thing people notice. But, there are other signs. If you see 3-4 inch cone shaped holes in your lawn or golf course, it is probably from skunks. Garden damage, especially low down, like the lower ears of corn stalks, is another good indicator. Lawn damage might mean a skunk is just passing through, so you must also listen and look for signs around your home. There will be access holes with trails or paths leading to them. Skunks also make night noises under buildings or porches and decks.
Q. Where can I get help with my skunk problem?
A. Call us. We can help you get rid of the skunks, keep them out, and clean up the mess.
Q. What are the health risks of having skunks in my residential or commercial building?
A. Skunks are primary carriers of rabies, and in some areas are the leading carriers. You should be especially cautious around any skunk you see active during the day. Skunks also carry distemper, which can be deadly to dogs. Skunks carry many other pests including ticks, fleas and mites, which themselves carry a number of diseases.
Q. Will the skunks attack me?
A. While skunks are generally passive, they will attack if they feel sufficiently threatened. They have been known to bite curious dogs or cats. The biggest threat from skunks is their smell. It is absolutely overwhelming, long lasting and extremely difficult to get rid of. You do not want to make a skunk angry; if you do, it is an experience you will not forget. In nature, even bears will give skunks a wide path. They know these animals demand respect.
Q. Who is responsible for this skunk problem?
A. You, the property owner, are responsible, but that doesn't mean you have to take care of it yourself. Government agencies are helpful for problem domestic animals (like dogs) or big game (like deer, elk or cougars), but not for skunks. Skunks are considered nuisance wild animals and are best removed by trained professionals like us who specialize in skunk removal. We are ready and able to help you with your animal problems. Skunks are confident of their ability to defend themselves and will not hesitate to bite, scratch and spray humans. We will remove skunks, and share our expert skunk-prevention ideas and methods with you. You will be glad you hired a professional and relieved to have your property skunk free.
Q. What do bats eat?
A. Bats eat a wide variety of things. Most eat some kind of insect or other invertebrate. Some eat larger prey such as small mice, lizards and even other bats. Some eat only fruit and pollen. A few species have become very specialized such as the fish-eating bat and the frog-eating bat. Probably the most specialized of all are the three species of true vampire bats that eat only blood. All the bats of Washington and the Pacific Northwest eat invertebrates, mostly insects. They consume huge amounts, many of which we consider pest species because of the damage they do to our gardens, crops, and forests. A couple of our bats can eat larger prey. Pallid bats are known to eat scorpions and hoary bats are reported to eat small rodents or even other bats.
Q. Do bats get tangled in your hair?
A. No. Bats navigate by echolocation or biosonar which is so sensitive they are capable of tracking the tiniest insect in total darkness. They can "see" a human with no problem at all. But bats do occasionally fly close to people while they are hunting. A possible reason is that the carbon dioxide that people exhale attracts mosquitoes, and the bats may be chasing them.
Q. How and why do bats roost upside down?
A. Bats have toes that lock in place when supporting their weight. They also have adaptations in their circulatory system that make the "upside-down" position possible. We can only guess at why. It does seem to give them access to very safe roosts such as the roofs of caves. It is also much easier to land under something than on top of something, which requires balance. And it is easy to take off from under a perch. All the bat needs to do is spread its wings and let go.
Q. How do bats catch insects in the dark?
A. Most bats have the ability to echolocate. They do this by emitting high frequency sounds and then using the echoes to determine what is in front of them, a sort of biological sonar. This ability is found in the Microchiroptera, (the small bats that inhabit most of the world), and in a rudimentary way in three species of the Megachiroptera, (the large fruit bats of Africa, Asia and the South Pacific). Bat echolocation can be extremely refined. Bats can vary their calls to determine size, distance, direction of movement, etc. of the insects they hunt. Some bats are able to distinguish the "Doppler Effect" from the wingbeats of a moth or detect something as fine as a human hair. Part of this ability is the acute hearing of these bats and some bats use only this sense -- listening for the footsteps of an insect in foliage or for the sound of a fish's fin breaking the surface, to find their prey. Echolocation calls vary by the species of bat and where it hunts. Most calls are well above our range of hearing, but a few are audible to us.
Q. What threat do bats have?
A. The biggest threat is now humans who either destroy bat habitat or, through ignorance, kill them outright. Bat predators include snakes, birds of prey, and small mammals, but historically, these animals probably affected bat populations less than weather. Storms can kill numbers of bats during migrations and long winters can kill even more. Currently humans are considered the biggest threat to bat populations because we can affect huge numbers by altering or destroying cave systems or cutting down old growth forests. Unfortunately our customs and folklore often depict bats as evil creatures, giving some people the excuse to go out of their way to kill them in creative ways.
Q: Last night there were raccoons screaming outside my house. Were they fighting or mating?
A: Depending on where you live, it was most likely mating. Their mating season in most of the United States is January through March.
Q: How do I know if a raccoon is sick?
A: Raccoons are nocturnal animals, so if you see one during the day that may be an indication. Also, if you observe their eating habits changing drastically; this could be another sign that they are not feeling well.
Q: Will a raccoon hurt or chase my pet?
A: More than likely your pet would chase the raccoon before the opposite would happen. There is always the chance that an interaction could happen. It would probably be wise to keep your dog or cat away from the raccoon. You may want to trap the raccoons and move them from the area to keep your pets safe.
Q: What time of year do raccoons have babies?
A: Raccoons are typically mating during the winter, preparing to produce litters of 3 to 5 babies in April. The offspring typically stay with their mother for about a year.
Q: How are raccoons getting in?
A: Raccoons can squeeze through any opening that they can get their head through. Often times, common points of entry are through attic vent louvers and attic fans. You should try to make sure that these openings are either closed (if not in use) or properly guarded by using sturdy metal screen.
Q. There is an opossum in my yard. What do I do?
A. Nothing. Leave it alone. If it is injured or orphaned then read the "Found an Orphaned or Injured Opossum?" section. Otherwise, enjoy watching wildlife in your own backyard! Opossums are beneficial: eating the harmful, unwanted pests around your home such as snails, slugs, spiders, cockroaches, rats, mice and snakes. Think of the opossum as your free gardener. The opossum is known as "Nature's Little Sanitation Engineer" for a good reason!
Q. How do I keep the opossums out of my home and garage?
A. Close all doors, pet doors and unscreened windows from dusk to dawn. Put food away so that the opossum will not be tempted to enter.
Q. I see an opossum sharing a food dish with my cat. Is this normal?
A. Opossums are very opportunistic animals. If food is available, they will eat. We receive numerous pictures of opossums sharing a bowl of cat food with an outdoor cat. Adult cats and opossums seem to tolerate each other. Feeding wildlife is not recommended.
Q. Will an opossum attack my pets?
A. It is more likely that a dog will injure or kill an opossum. A cat may attack and kill young rat-sized opossums. Adult opossums and cats seem to have a mutual respect and leave each other alone. In general, opossums are docile, non-aggressive animals and will not attack your pets. They prefer to escape and avoid confrontations, if possible. If not, the threatened opossum may "play 'possum", show its teeth, or bite in self-defense, as any animal would.
Q. Opossums eat the fruit off my trees. How can I stop them?
A. Opossums prefer to eat the rotting fruit that has fallen to the ground. Keep opossums out of fruit trees by cutting branches away from the ground, fences and roof. Cover the trunk with heavy plastic sheets or thin metal sheets obtained at hardware stores and secure with duct tape. This will prevent the opossum from climbing. A cut-up plastic trash can will work.
Q. If opossums are nocturnal then why do I see one in the day?
A.There are a number of reasons for opossum sightings during the day. If it is winter in an extremely cold area, usually covered with snow, then the opossum may be hungry. It is often difficult for an opossum to find food in extremely cold, snowy areas. During sever weather the opossum may stay in a den a few days until hunger drives it out of hiding. The opossum may have to forage for food during the day, often while it is warmer. During the spring or summer months a female opossum laden with young must spend more time foraging for food and may be seen during the day. Also, an opossum's daytime hiding area may be disturbed, often by the presence of a dog or children throwing a ball into a bush. The frightened animal will run out and search for a new hiding place. Other possibilities include a blind opossum or a sick or injured opossum. If you suspect the opossum is not healthy then contact a local wildlife rehabilitator.
El Dorado County
and sometimes Nevada State
- Property owners
- Property Management Companies
- Exterminating Companies
- Real Estate Companies
- Home Owners' Associations
- and the municipalities at large