University of Illinois Extension

How to Prevent Problems with Wildlife

Exclude Wildlife from Your Home

It is easier to keep animals out of your home than to deal with an animal that has decided to den inside or underneath your home. Regularly inspect the exterior of your home. Siding or roofing materials that have suffered weather damage or deterioration make it easier for animals to gain access. The following list provides tips on how to prevent animals from getting into your home.

Fireplace or Furnace Chimney

The best way to keep animals out of the chimney is to install a commercial chimney cap. These caps are secured to the chimney with bolts or screws. A less expensive alternative is to use 1/2" × 1/2" mesh hardware cloth. Leave a peak over the flue to prevent leaves and sticks from accumulating. To exclude wildlife, the hardware cloth must be secured tightly. Do not use window-screening material as it will clog with soot and other debris causing a fire hazard.

Attic Exhaust Fan Opening

From inside the attic, cover the attic exhaust fan opening with 1/2" × 1/2" mesh hardware cloth and staple into place. To make the exclosure more secure, overlap the edges of the hardware cloth with 1" × 2" pieces of lumber and nail or screw the lumber into the attic rafters.

Attic End Louvers (Vents) and Soffit Vents

Cover the inside of the vent with 1/2" × 1/2" mesh hardware cloth.

Roof, Soffit and Fascia
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Inspect twice a year for signs of damage, paying close attention to areas where gables or dormers meet the roof line. Water damage can soften wood making it easy for animals to create holes or enlarge existing holes. Repair damage promptly after making sure the animal is not inside.

Porches and Decks
Metal flashing installed to keep animals from getting underneath a trailer. Notice that the flashing is buried about 6 inches below ground.
Photo courtesy of the Unites States Department of Agriculture.

For porches or decks built within 2 feet of the ground, dig a trench at least 10" deep around the deck’s perimeter. Attach 1/2" × 1/2" mesh hardware cloth or 1" × 1" welded wire from the top of the outside joists to the bottom of the trench. Leave 6 to 8" of wire at the bottom and bend it out at a 90o angle. Fill the trench with soil or rocks. Add lattice or other cover for aesthetics.

Window Wells

Cover the window well with a commercial grate or plastic cover.