Don’t be fooled—Just because you see less wildlife running around during winter doesn’t mean they are not there. In Alabama, most of our local critters don’t even hibernate through the chilly weather. So, where does wildlife go in the winter?
In this blog from Covenant Wildlife Removal, we will discuss what our local creatures do and where they go to survive harsh conditions. Continue reading to discover why you may see far less wildlife when the temperatures drop.
Alabama’s Common Winter Pests
Especially because Alabama experiences milder winters, you should still expect to see wildlife scurrying around and possibly entering your home. Here are the four most common winter critters that may become an issue on your property or indoors.
1 | Rats and Mice
Unlike much wildlife in the winter, you can expect to see more rats and mice. While other species tend to hide and essentially sleep the winter away, rats and mice are more abundant indoors than ever as they seek warmth and shelter.
When the temperature begins to cool, rats and mice search for a warm shelter to protect themselves from the harsh weather and predators desperate for a winter meal. Most species do not hibernate. Instead, they remain active, just far less busy than during warmer seasons. Rats and mice may even reproduce during the winter. However, it is at much slower rates.
Where Do Rats and Mice Go in the Winter?
In the winter, rats and mice move from their typical summer or spring home to find a warmer and more hidden location than usual. They are skilled diggers, so they often burrow into the ground against a fence, rock, or external wall.
That is, if they don’t have easy access to a cave or human dwelling. Rats and mice prefer nesting inside our homes, under the crawlspace, or in natural caves because they are often warmer and more protected than underground soil.
In fact, a mouse or rat may even take up residence in your vehicle for the winter season!
Health and Safety Concerns
If you have rats or mice in or around your home, there are some health and safety concerns you must know. First, mice and rats are known for spreading nasty diseases and contaminating household foods. They are also notorious for chewing at structures and causing significant damage. Rats and mice will even gnaw at electrical wires and fixtures, causing house fires. At the very least, their urine and feces may cause stains and emit a foul odor.
2 | Raccoons
Raccoons don’t often sneak indoors. However, they will make their presence apparent through many pesky clues, like raided trash bins and torn-up gardens. Their typical food sources will likely be scarce through the harsh winter months, so it is typical for raccoons to search for nutrition in other locations, like your home.
But be careful—raccoons are notorious for spreading terrible diseases!
As the air begins to chill, raccoons keep busy eating as much food as possible. They put on extra weight to survive the cool weather. Depending on where they are in the country, raccoons often sleep the winter away in a den. In the warmer states, like Alabama, they are less likely to sleep through the winter and more likely to stay active. However, you’ll notice more raccoons hiding away if we experience a season with abnormally low temperatures. They are solitary creatures, but it’s common to find more than one raccoon sharing a single den.
Where Do Raccoons Go in the Winter?
A raccoon’s winter den can take many forms. Some create a home from fallen trees, abandoned burrows, or a hole in a tree. Unfortunately, they may also decide to stick out the winter in the comfort of your home. Indoors, you’ll likely find them under the crawl space, in the attic, or inside an unused chimney.
Health and Safety Concerns
Like rats and mice, raccoons are most known for their destructive habits and spreading disease. They are one of the primary carriers of rabies and spread salmonella, leptospirosis, and roundworm. Unfortunately, some illnesses raccoons transmit can be contracted through direct contact with their waste or inhalation.
They are also known for causing quite a bit of damage to homeowners’ yards. For example, suppose you suddenly notice broken bird feeders, messy trash cans, and dug-up flower beds. In that case, there is a high chance you have a raccoon wreaking havoc in your yard.
3 | Squirrels
Squirrels will be the least of your worries this chilly season. They tend to carry on with their typical habits. Plus, they are skittish around humans and rarely nest inside a home.
At the start of fall, squirrels will begin putting on some extra pounds in anticipation of the harsh weather ahead. In northern states, the weight gain is very apparent. However, you may not notice a drastic difference in warmer climates like here in Alabama.
Squirrels remain active through the winter and do not hibernate like other furry critters. These clever animals keep busy hiding their food in the ground and checking their stock to ensure other squirrels haven’t dug it up. They will even go to the extent of pretending to bury their food in certain areas to throw off thieves.
Where Do Squirrels Go in the Winter?
Squirrels are masters at surviving the harsh winter weather on their own. However, if necessary, they will choose your attic, garage, or shed as their winter den.
Health and Safety Concerns
Squirrels are more of a nuisance than a threat to humans. Burying their food may cause damage to well-groomed lawns and flourishing gardens. Their burrowing can also kill trees and create tripping hazards in the yard.
4 | Bats
Now, bats certainly don’t disappear at the end of the spooky season. But you may see significantly less of them. Bats survive the winter by slowing their activity and hiding in the coziest location they can find. Unfortunately, this is sometimes our home.
While some bat species hibernate through the winter, others remain active. Because Alabama doesn’t reach unbearable temperatures during winter, most of our local bats carry on with life as usual. Some may migrate to warmer regions to escape the cold, and others roost in warmer locations than their summer or spring homes.
The biggest obstacle for bats in the winter is the lack of their typical food sources, like flying insects. To combat the scarcity of nutrition, they often slow their activity significantly.
Where Do Bats Go in the Winter?
Bats survive the harsh winter weather by finding a cozy spot to stay put for the season. In the wild, they are attracted to caves, holes in trees, and rock crevices. However, buildings and residences also make for a suitable winter home. You may notice a colony of bats roosting in your attic or chimney. They might even move into the home’s interior if the attic or chimney is no longer suitable. Otherwise, they’ll avoid being in close quarters with humans.
Health and Safety Concerns
Bats carry many ill-causing diseases that can easily transmit to humans and pets. They also host parasites like bat flies, fleas, ticks, and mites. If bats roost in or near your home, your biggest concern will likely be their corrosive and damaging waste products. Not only do bat urine and feces have a pungent odor, but they can decay wood and destroy various materials that make up a home’s structure. Even worse, their waste is the primary source of how bat diseases are transmitted to humans and pets.
Have a Pest-Free Home this Winter
Are winter pests invading your space this winter season? If so, reach out to the trusted and skilled experts at Covenant Wildlife Removal. We pride ourselves on using only the most humane methods of critter removal in respect of the wildlife we share our community with.
If you’re experiencing an infestation of any kind, act quickly before putting you and your family at risk of life-threatening diseases and structural damage to your home. Call Covenant Wildlife Removal today to get the pests out and keep them out, so you can enjoy this special holiday season!