pa wildlife that damages property

Wildlife in PA that can Damage Your Home

Over the past weeks, we’ve written about animals that can cause trouble for homeowners or otherwise endanger property, family, pets, and so on. Today, we’ll wrap up our series on how the local wildlife can damage a home. Know that there are more situations than we’ve covered (we wrote a great piece about bees inside a home here), but we did get the main culprits on our list.

So without further adieu, here are the final animals on our list:


Pennsylvania is filled with deer. The obvious is that when deer enter your property, the futures of your trees, shrubs, and garden are certainly in question. Deer also tend to use wherever they are as a bathroom. Yards and gardens will quickly show signs of being trampled when deer come through.  Deer also bring deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease.

The bigger problem with deer is their size. While a few plants being eaten isn’t going to result in significant insurance claims, the large deer can startle quickly and find themselves running into everything from your ground-mount solar panel installation to your car. When large-ticket items are trampled, you will wish that you would have taken steps to deter the deer from your yard when you had the chance.

What can you do? There are a surprising number of options to deter deer from your property. The first bit of advice we’d like to share:  Don’t plant too many enticing vegetables for them to eat. Lettuce, beans, and peas are deer favorites. Fruit trees are another favorite for deer (i.e., pears, apples). Plant your garden, but plan a slightly-less deer attracting assortment if you think deer may be a problem for you. You can also plant less appealing food scents, such as garlic, onion, and mint to mask the delicious smells of flowers and fruit.

Fencing is a great option, too. You can use natural fencing (tall, coarse shrubs) or man-made fencing.

Deer are also not good climbers (and they know that). Planting raised beds for your garden or even stacking pallets around the yard can deter deer from coming in and “climbing” to get their food.

Deer also scare easily—bright motion lights, noises, and even scarecrows do a great job of deterring deer. Dogs are a great deterrent; it’s not their size, but rather their smell that keeps deer away. Also, you can use products like “Deer Off” that use egg products to create a rather foul-smelling solution that you can spray around your garden. Deer are more than happy to stay away from that smell.


Another very familiar staple to every Western Pennsylvania home is the raccoon. Raccoons are climbing, aggressive scavengers that will stop at next-to-nothing to get food. They can turn over garbage cans, topple bird feeders, take over dumpsters, and even rip up sod to get to the grubs underneath. They take great advantage of the resources living among humans provides.

Raccoons also like to live in our homes. The shelter and safety that we enjoy work out rather well for them, too. Prevention is by far the easiest means of dealing with raccoons in the home, but if you can’t seal all the holes in your home and structures, then there are still a few options you can try.

The biggest problem is that raccoons can carry rabies. They like to enter into homes (especially kitchens) through pet doors (and any other means they can find). If a raccoon is in your home, they may not be able to find their way back out. Give them a chance—close up the room they are in and provide them a way out. Allow a few hours to see if they can find their own way back outside.

To keep raccoons from wanting to stay around the home, seal off garbage and food items. Don’t throw unwanted fruits and veggies outside. Wash out your garbage cans weekly. Cutting off the food opportunities can go a long way to solving your problem.

Once you have them, the same sealing techniques mentioned for other animals work fine for raccoons. You can also use cayenne pepper spray to encourage them to leave—they do not like it at all. You can try to trap raccoons and relocate them (several miles away) if that’s allowed by the county where you live. You can also call a professional who would know how to examine the extent to which the den is connected to the home, the number of raccoons you may be up against, and so on.

Hopefully, you enjoyed our coverage of local Pennsylvania animals and how they can appear cute (or, in the case of opossums, scary), yet can cause damage to your home and property. Always consider the situation—the animals aren’t trying to hurt anyone and don’t realize that your property wasn’t built for them. We recommend trying to safely remove the animals rather than exterminate them. Almost all animal infestations can be solved without poison, guns, and other items that are not just deadly to the animals, but can be extremely dangerous to your family and neighbors.


Henry Duckstein Jr.


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