Critters that live in your cottage in winter and how to get them out

mouse-peering-out-of-interior-hole Photo by Neil Lockhart/Shutterstock

Short of burst pipes and flooding, there’s no worse surprise than arriving at your cottage to discover that squatters have set-up shop over the winter.

However, before you dial pest control, you may be able to remove the unwelcome visitors on your own. Here are the best methods for evicting common unwanted animals.


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Some find mice terrifying, while others find them irresistibly cute. Regardless of which camp you fall into, if they’re in your cottage, they’ve got to go. Capable of producing over 40 babies per year, mice not only get into foodstuffs and gnaw at electrical wiring, they also carry and transmit disease.

Since they’re able to enter buildings through the smallest of cracks, chances are some have found their way in over the winter. Humane deterrent methods include peppermint oil, Tabasco sauce and electronic devices that emit an ultrasonic sound.

However, these are less effective than the tried-and-true method of a traditional snap trap. To ensure the mice don’t snag bait without setting off the trap, use something extra sticky, like peanut butter. Or, take a note from the pros, and use an Eat More chocolate bar instead.


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Raccoons are most likely to enter attic areas in the spring in order to give birth to their young. If your attic has become a nursery, it’s time to exercise your patience — raccoon kits can’t venture out until eight weeks of age.

Once they’re old enough to go, your best method of defence is to become the most annoying landlord ever. The Ontario SPCA recommends harassing raccoons with light and noise. Put a radio near the raccoon’s den, tuned to an all-talk station at a loud volume. A work light or bright flashlight should shine towards the den, preventing the mother from resting. Finally, add an odour deterrent to the mix, such as coyote urine or a rag soaked in ammonia. It may take a few days, but your new roommates will be forced to find new living quarters.

However, if you think a raccoon has distemper or rabies, it’s absolutely best to call the professionals.


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Much like mice and bats, squirrels can sneak in through the smallest of holes, which is why prevention is key. Once in, the amount of damage they can wreak in a short time period is shocking. With a constant need to chew, insulation and live electrical wiring both fall victim to squirrels.

To prevent major damage to your cottage, the Toronto Wildlife Centre recommends employing the same tactics as suggested for raccoons. Noise, light and scent deterrents can be used to encourage them to find a new home elsewhere.


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Bats look for warm places to hibernate during the winter, making your cottage’s attic mighty appealing. Typically, they enter around chimneys, through attic vents, or where brick meets the soffit.

Wait until dusk to see where the bats are entering and exiting your cottage — those areas can then be sealed or fitted with a one-way door to prevent them from re-entering. However, much like other critters, be careful not to separate a mother from her young. Baby bats cannot fly until July, so it’s best to wait until August before you take any drastic action.



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