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What Animal is Living in My Basement?

Think there’s an animal in your basement, but not sure what it might be? Here are some clues that can help you distinguish one invader from another.

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Working to protect your basement means doing more than just ensuring your home is watertight. It’s not just moisture, after all, that can get into your home and start causing problems. Between one blink and the next, you may find yourself contending with unwanted guests, from rats to snakes to bats.

Sometimes, you may know something has taken up roost in your basement without understanding just what kind of unwanted visitor you’re dealing with. While the removal of these critters is best left to the professionals, you can still do a bit of investigative work to determine what kind of animal you’re dealing with.

snake in home

Some of the most common household invaders include but are not limited to:

Rodents

The category of “rodents” covers everything from rats to chipmunks. These critters, alongside squirrels and mice, can easily make their way into an unprotected basement, whether or not you’re contending with pre-existing damage. No matter what, these critters make a point of making themselves comfortable—which means your basement is going to suffer from damage. Squirrels and chipmunks will make nests up toward your ceiling joints, while mice and rats will settle near the floor and chip away at your drywall and your electrical cords.

That’s not the end of it, either. Mice can carry diseases into your home, as can rats. If you’re not careful, you and your family may find yourselves contending with unexpected illnesses.

Determining what kind of rodent you’re dealing with in your home can be tricky. After all, rodent droppings—the usual sign that you have an unwanted visitor—tend to look the same. When in doubt, take a look at the location of the damage you’ve found in your basement. If it’s higher up on your wall or settled in a joint, you’re likely dealing with a squirrel or a chipmunk. If it’s lower to the ground, you may have a mouse or rat problem.

Raccoons

Raccoons are too clever for their own good. These critters, gifted with opposable thumbs, can get in and out of your home with stunning ease if you haven’t made a point of protecting it. Like smaller rodents, raccoons can cause an unprecedented amount of destruction in an open basement. These critters like to play with your insulation, eat your wiring, and nest wherever they deem to be most convenient.

Determining whether you’re dealing with a raccoon or a smaller rodent can be a challenge. When in doubt, trust your ears. Raccoons are large, and they only grow larger once they’ve settled somewhere they feel safe. These critters will make a lot of noise once they’ve settled in your home, giving themselves away as they make a mess of your basement.

Snakes

Snakes do not pose an immediate structural threat to your home. Instead, snakes are a health hazard once they make their way into your basement.

Snakes love nothing more than the opportunity to warm themselves up, especially during the coldest months of the year. If they can get into your basement—most often through wall and floor cracks—then they’ll settle themselves in behind your heater, your sump pump battery, and so on. Again, these critters don’t tend to make nests for themselves, but should a child or a pet stumble onto them, you could be in big trouble. Snakes will not hesitate to defend themselves, meaning someone in your home may stumble away from an encounter with a serious injury.

It’s not easy to tell whether or not you have a snake in your home. If you’re finding odd, scaly clusters, however, you likely have a dangerous visitor setting up somewhere in your basement. Be sure to check your pipes, as well, or have them inspected by a professional. Wayward snakes can sometimes get stuck, clogging your pipes and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

Groundhogs and Rabbits

Groundhogs and rabbits are a little larger than your average vermin. Their size makes it difficult for them to make their way into your home. This doesn’t mean, however, that a rabbit or groundhog infestation is impossible.

Rabbits and groundhogs are burrowers. This means they can carve out hollows beneath your basement. Over time, your basement can sink into these hollows, causing the floor to buckle and your structural supports to fall out of alignment. As your basement develops this kind of damage, rabbits and groundhogs looking to give birth can wiggle their way into your home and settle in.

Like most rodents, these critters tend to leave behind piles of droppings once they’ve moved indoors. As mentioned, their damage is fairly substantial. If you notice you’re having trouble leveling your basement floor and that you haven’t had problems with flooding in the past, you may be able to trace the source of your problem back to an unwanted visitor.

Reclaiming Your Home

Whatever you do, do not try and remove a dangerous invader from your home on your own. Instead, if you think you have some kind of animal in your basement, reach out to animal control or a local exterminator. While these parties won’t be able to help you repair your home—and contractors cannot remove animals from your property—they can help you take back your basement. Afterward, you can reach out to the contractors serving Columbus, OH, for a free quote on the services you need to maintain a healthy basement that is more difficult for pests and animals to enter.

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