When we generally think about unwelcome intruders in our home, we think of pests and pest infestations. What we forget to remember is an unsealed crawlspace, which can host a variety of unwelcome living creatures, from pests and rodents to stray (or even wild) animals!
There are several reasons as to why an unsealed crawlspace acts as a welcome ground for such pests and animals:
- Easy Access: Crawlspaces are easy to climb into, and can be accessed by pests and animals in a variety of ways – from wall cracks, dirt floors and vents and many more
- Moisture and warmth: the hot and humid weather creates an atmosphere in the crawlspace which is warm and moisture-laden (not to mention dark and secluded), making it an ideal breeding grounds of pests and animals, who are mostly cold-blooded.
- Abundance of Food: Pests find an ideal environment in terms of both warmth and food, the latter of which is abundantly available in the form of rotting wood for pests, which in turn become food for bigger animals like snakes and spiders.
- Shelter: Animals such as raccoons and cats and other rodents find safety in the often-dark and isolated crawlspaces and tend to stay in them.
HERE ARE SOME COMMON INTRUDERS THAT LIVE IN UNSEALED CRAWLSPACES:
Termites: These tiny insects actually cause a lot of damage! It is estimated that they cause almost $30 billion dollars’ worth of damage alone. Termites can consume the hardest wood cellulose, along with other types of organic materials such as books, paper, leather, insulation, drywall, animal fur and cardboard, and thrive well in the moist and dark environment present in crawl spaces.
Rodents: Rodents like rats and mice start from your crawlspace, multiply rapidly and go on to cause great damage to your home in a very short time. Not only do they dig holes in building materials, they chew wires (which often creates a fire hazard) and contaminate the food storage. They are themselves harbingers of several deadly diseases such as salmonella, rabies and hantavirus, and host other harmful parasites like tapeworms, ringworms, ticks and mites.
Carpenter Ants: One of the most commonly available species of ants, carpenter ants ranging from 1/4″ to 3/8″ in length and are generally black-to-reddish or black-to-yellowish in color. Just like termites, they are quick to create galleries, though their galleries are smoother as opposed to the termites’ rough ones. They do nest in wood but do not eat it, and therefore destroy wood at a rate that is lesser than that of termites.
Stray Animals: With human development and construction increasing by leaps and bounds, the natural habitats of several small animals like squirrels, skunks, opossums, and raccoons (among others) get destroyed. These animals often find shelter in unsealed crawlspaces. Stray cats are also known to enter crawl spaces – both to get shelter and in pursuit of mice.
Once these animals make your crawlspace their home, they will live, breed, and die in it, which gives rise to ugly odors and deadly diseases such as rabies.
Snakes and Spiders: When it comes to snakes and spiders in your crawl space, it is a bit of a complicated matter. If present in small numbers, snakes and spiders (especially those like daddy long legs) are actually good for your crawlspace, since they eat up several of the other insects and rodents and repulse many stray animals. That being said, if there are too many of them, or if the species of snakes and/or spiders are deadly and/or poisonous, they will pose a great threat to the safety of your household.
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