Critters to Watch for This Winter

Sometimes just thinking about how cold it is outside gives us shivers. Even if the furnace is working properly and the indoor temperature is to our liking.

Just think how animals that live outside feel when temperatures plummet into the teens, single digits or even lower.

Most animals are much better suited to living outdoors than we are. But like us, they have survival instincts.

If they can squeeze their way into a shelter – such as your home – until the cold air warms up, they’ll do it. I’m talking about mice, rats, raccoons and squirrels. Not to mention spiders, cockroaches and others. 

Put out the “no vacancy” sign

Now, we can’t blame these critters for trying to survive. But we don’t want them doing it at our expense.

Especially considering that some can destroy woodwork and electrical wiring. As well as dig into our survival food stashes. Some can even sting and bite and spread disease.

So, the key is to keep all these critters out. Don’t worry, they’ll find another shelter. Just make sure it isn’t yours.

Today I want to talk about how you can be proactive about this. And become aware of signs that some critters might already be inside your home.   


Some folks who are convinced their home has no entry point for mice wonder how those little guys get into the basement or garage.

Here’s the answer. They can fit into a hole the size of a dime. They love warm, dark places. Such as attics, storage areas and basements.

Mice are especially fond of clutter. It provides plenty of hiding spaces for them. As well as things to chew on.

The best way to try to keep them out is caulking holes in walls and pipes. Keep outdoor firewood at least 20 feet from your home. And reduce clutter as much as possible inside.


Rats are bigger than mice – and more destructive. Still, they only need a hole the size of a quarter to squeeze into your home.

Because rats’ teeth are stronger than those of mice, they can do more damage. Including chewing through plastic and old pipes.

Like mice, they like to nest in firewood. So keep it away from the outer walls of your home. They also like clutter in attics and basements.

Look for droppings and gnaw marks in your home to see if any have already taken up residence. They have oily fur, so they might also leave grease marks.

Raccoons & squirrels

In addition to getting at your survival food stockpile, raccoons and squirrels can carry diseases. Including rabies.

Their access to your home might come at a higher level. Check your roof for broken vent covers and loose shingles. Make sure windows are secure.

Because both are adept at climbing trees, cut branches extending over your roof. Those branches are like a welcome mat for these critters. And clean out gutters.

Another welcome sign is an overflowing garbage can near your outer walls. Make sure all garbage receptacles are tightly closed.

Birds & bats

Like mice and rats, birds and bats are able to fit through very small openings in your home.

Take a walk around your home and seal any openings you find with caulking, steel wool or foam rubber.

Also, seal chimneys with chimney caps. Even when the weather warms up temporarily, keep windows closed in the winter.

If you do open those windows, make sure screens do not have holes in them. Check them regularly for damage. 

Spiders & cockroaches

These guys can be found in homes regardless of the season. But like other living creatures, they prefer the warmth of a home to the cold outdoor air.

Use a broom to destroy cobwebs. Proceed cautiously when accessing old clothes and shoes from your basement. Spiders could be making them their homes. If you see a spider with a violin shape on its thorax, it could be a dangerous brown recluse.

As a general rule, cockroaches don’t bite humans or animals. They can – leaving a nasty welt – but they usually don’t.

But they are still a nuisance and are always looking for something to eat. Make sure all food in your home is secured in airtight containers. If they can’t find food, they’ll go elsewhere.

Other pests

Other pests that can invade your home during the winter include fleas and ticks, moths, and bed bugs.

Make sure to treat your dogs and other pets that venture outside with flea and tick preventative medications. For their benefit and for yours. Otherwise fleas can hitch a ride into your home on those animals. Wash your pets’ bedding frequently.

Moths love clothing and upholstered furniture. They especially like wool and fur. Store clothes you rarely wear in sealed garment bags after washing them. Vacuum inside storage areas including closets. Use moth balls.

Bed bugs can be a nightmare. They can enter your home in luggage after you’ve traveled. A mattress cover should encase both the mattress and box spring. Vacuum frequently and wash bedding regularly.   

Mosquitos will be here soon enough

Winter has its drawbacks, to be sure. But at least most of us are free from annoying and potentially dangerous mosquitos during colder months.

The same cannot be said for spring and summer. And it won’t be long until those warmer months come along.


  • DENNIS KELL - January 27, 2022

    I have been an Exterminator since 1973 and in business since 1985. here in California. you have hit on some general information. for pests. but really needs more info for people. such as bed bugs. they are a problem all yr round. and the current pesticides. don’t work well. and there a lot of preparation for a treatment . don’t use aerosol cans of pesticide especially ones they say are for bed bugs. what happens is they will spread to more areas. which makes the problem worse. heat treatments can sometimes work but heat can’t get the cracks and there for they are still alive. tenting is about the same. now brown recluse spiders have a local poisson un like the black widow spiders . so brown recluse spiders and there are many different ones out there. have a local area that makes your flesh rot. and it can recur later . no antidote for them. but blackwidowns they do have antidote. these are just a couple of things I wanted to pass on. but of course there are many more and for rodents don’t brother with those gadgets that are supposed to repel them there are NONE that work. the best thing for them is to put traps out and most baits to attract them would be peanut butter. and do an Exclusion to seal out new ones. must be sealed from top to bottom of buildings. to get 100% elimination. if done property it is a permanent solution. unless another contract remove the work or adds new openings. sometime Mother Nature will also cause you to not be able to get a permanent fix to the problem . When in doubt seal it up. also there urine will be an attrant to new rodents to venture inside. they will know if the other rodents are gone but will check things out and get in if you miss something. autos and trucks check under your hood they will cause damage to wires and even could and have seen auto go up in flames on the side of the road. it you want more info on how to take care of that let me know.

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