How Much Does Wildlife Removal Cost?
Evicting a few pesky squirrels from the attic or opossums from under the deck may seem easy, but it can get complicated quickly. Wildlife removal costs a national average of $377, with a typical cost range of $189 to $573.
- The typical price range for removing wildlife from a home is $191 to $576, with homeowners across the country paying $378 on average.
- The main factors that can affect the cost of wildlife removal include the type and number of animals in the home, the location of the animals, and the type of service required.
- A homeowner may need wildlife removal if they notice scratching noises, animal droppings, an unpleasant odor, mounds of dirt in the yard, or disturbances in or around their trash cans.
- While a homeowner may be able to deal with a minor rodent problem on their own, it’s recommended that they hire a professional wildlife removal specialist to handle wild animals that have made their way into their home or yard.
There’s not a lot of mystery about what’s going on when scratching and scrabbling sounds come from the attic, chimney, or, even worse, the walls. As residential communities spread out through what was formerly the habitat of wild animals, it stands to reason that those animals will look for new and inviting places to shelter and nest. While many of them are cute from afar or in a video posted online, hosting them in a home intended for humans is less than ideal: Wildlife can carry disease or insects, gnaw on wiring, damage building materials, and create other havoc as they nest and play. They need to be removed, pronto.
When a home’s residents become aware of an animal in attic space or elsewhere in the home, the question of how to remove the animal without harming it usually leads to swift internet searches for “attic animal removal” or “animals in the walls.” Ideally, the home’s residents will do a quick exploratory check to see if they can identify what kind of animal has moved in before they call a wildlife removal professional. Wildlife removal is different from pest control, where the goal is often to kill mice, vermin, or insects and prevent their return: The removal process is geared toward safely removing a misguided creature and relocating it to its natural habitat. This requires knowledge of the challenges each animal presents and of locations where they can be released with a minimal likelihood of re-invasion and a high chance of their survival. Therefore, it’s important to understand the basis of wildlife removal cost. A search for “raccoon removal cost,” “squirrel removal cost,” or even “squirrels in attic removal cost” will garner some ballpark estimates, but the real cost of removing these animals and preventing their return can vary based on a number of elements. According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, the typical cost range is between $191 and $576, with an average of $378, but each situation is a little different based on the factors discussed in this guide.
Factors in Calculating Wildlife Removal Cost
Paying for one of the best wildlife removal services isn’t something most people have as a line item in their budget, but it’s important to understand the components of the cost once an animal (or family of animals) has entered a home. This will help homeowners determine whether DIY or professional wildlife removal is better in their particular situation and whether a cost estimate provided by a pro is reasonable.
Some animals are easier to remove than others, and the degree of challenge will affect the cost. While some animals are easy to capture and relocate, others, such as skunks and bats, require specialty handling for both the capture and removal and will therefore be more expensive to evict.
Number of Animals
One squirrel in the attic can be a quick capture and release. On the other hand, a colony of squirrel families will take much more strategy and time, and the cleanup of the damage will also affect the removal cost. The total number of animals will be a key determining factor in the overall cost.
Some locations around the home, such as under a deck or an addition, allow easy access to the infestation. Once the animals are truly inside, however, costs begin to rise as access for the removal becomes more difficult. Hiring a professional to remove rodents from attic spaces can cost as little as $200 but can rise to $1,500 as access is reduced. Removal from inside walls averages about $350, and chimney removal ranges from $180 for a nest near the top to $560 for a complicated removal near the damper.
In most cases, the best option when there are wild animals in the home is to remove and relocate them. Certain circumstances may call for extermination, which means a professional will use poisons or traps to kill the animals while they are in the home, then remove them and dispose of them—costing less than live removal, but requiring more cleanup. In either case, a professional may also strongly suggest exclusion treatment, which involves sealing the access points the animals used to enter the home in the first place. This can mean sealing the roof and spaces around vents and pipes; filling cracks in the foundation; installing fences, nets, or other devices that block entry; and removing yard materials that can act as temporary nesting areas for animals that then relocate inside the home.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Species, number of animals, location, and service type will create the basis of wildlife removal cost, but there are other circumstances that can have a significant effect on the overall price. While these considerations don’t apply to every situation, when they do, it’s important to factor them into the total removal cost.
Removal vs. Extermination
Removal cost is often lower than extermination cost. Removal requires time, traps, routine checking of the traps, and then transport away from the home to a safe location: Most animals can’t just be dropped off one block away, or they’ll return. Extermination requires simple traps or poisons and can take a long time to complete depending on the type of animal, but it’s less desirable both for the safety of the animal and the safety of the home. In addition, many species of wildlife are protected, and exterminating them may be against the law. Except when a particular problem makes the cost of extermination a better option, the cost of removal is worth it for everyone involved.
Prior to providing an estimate or beginning a removal, most wildlife removal companies will require a thorough inspection of the area affected to make sure the type of animal as well as the size and location of the infestation are something they can manage. Some companies offer this inspection for free if the customer ultimately hires the company to provide services, while other companies charge an average of $75 to $300 for the inspection.
Dead Animal Removal
Realizing that there is a dead animal in the home can be even worse than discovering a live one. Dead animals, particularly in attics, basements, and walls, will start to decompose immediately, which means they are often detected because of a pervasive smell. If the dead animal is readily visible, disposing of it is something that a home’s resident can take on, but if the animal’s location is unknown or is inside a wall, a professional will come locate, remove, and dispose of the animal for a fee ranging from $150 to $250 on average, with increased cost if walls need to be broken open to retrieve the animal. Aside from creating a horrible smell, dead animals can attract insects and other pests, so residents will want to waste no time in hiring someone for this task. Following the removal of the dead animal, homeowners will want to pay attic cleaning costs to have the space professionally sanitized.
Wildlife can wreak havoc in a home. Wiring may be chewed and damaged; insulation may be matted, pulled apart, or soiled after being used as bedding material; and ductwork may be contaminated with feces and fur. If the animals were larger and brought in insects, those may now be living in wood. Siding and cladding may be pushed out as an access point. Depending on how many animals were in the home and how long they were there, the repairs can be minimal or quite extensive.
|Repair Type||Cost Range|
|Drywall repair||$300 to $900|
|Wiring repair||$2 to $4 per foot|
|Ductwork repair||$12 to $25 per foot|
|Siding repair||$350 to $1,400|
|Insulation repair and replacement||$1,000 to $2,150|
|Crawl space repair||$500 to $15,000|
A removal expert can provide a general estimate, but in the case of a major infestation with significant damage, it’s best to consult with a construction contractor for a complete quote.
Wildlife living in the home can cause damage that needs repair, but after a significant incursion, the home itself will need to be cleaned to prevent illness and disease in the residents and to keep other animals or insects from seeking out the scent of the previous visitors. Even if the animals were largely contained to the attic, residents will want to consider budgeting for a whole-house cleaning, especially if the animals were located anywhere near air ducts or, especially in the case of birds, in air-conditioning or heat equipment or in windows. A deep cleaning averages between $200 and $470, but if the infestation resulted in a large amount of feces and urine soaking into the wood or walls, a biohazard cleaning service is necessary and will cost between $190 and $450 to treat the affected area.
Wildlife Control Contracts
For those who live in the woods or near grassy areas where lots of wildlife is competing to get in, or in areas where rats, mice, and bats are frequent invaders, it’s financially sound to consider a longer-term wildlife removal contract. Instead of onetime wildlife removal jobs that treat each problem as a separate event, contracts with one of the best pest control companies such as Orkin or Terminix create a recurring service that continues on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis until the problem is resolved and chances of a recurrence have been eliminated. The costs will vary based on the length and frequency of the contract, but for homes with recurrent problems, this can be a very economical solution.
Wildlife Removal Cost by Type of Animal
Each kind of animal that takes up residence in a human home presents different challenges for a wildlife remover. Whether it’s due to number, size, defense mechanism, or stealth, each animal will require different techniques for the trapping and removal process, some taking much longer or presenting more risk than others. The type of animal, therefore, affects the cost of the job.
|Type of Animal||Removal Cost|
|Bats||$230 to $700|
|Birds||$100 to $2,000|
|Groundhogs||$150 to $200|
|Moles||$100 to $550|
|Opossums||$250 to $500|
|Raccoons||$400 to $600|
|Rats and mice||$175 to $500|
|Skunks||$300 to $600|
|Squirrels||$200 to $600|
Bats require a tricky removal process. Because they are protected animals, they generally cannot be forcibly removed—but they are also known to carry rabies, insects, and bacteria, so it’s important that they be removed promptly. In most cases, bat removal requires the installation of a one-way access window after any additional access points have been sealed so that when the bats voluntarily leave to hunt, they cannot get back in. Bat removal costs an average of $230 to $700 depending on the number of bats and the length of time it takes to force them out. Testing for rabies—necessary only if a resident has been bitten—incurs an extra charge.
Removing birds—whether songbirds nesting in the chimney or pigeons that have taken up residence in the garage—can be dicey, as different states and towns have regulations in place for protected species. For this reason, checking with the local animal control agency is important prior to beginning any DIY or professional removal. The professionals will know how to tackle bird nest removal based on the species and can advise a homeowner on how to get rid of pigeons and other birds. The cost will usually range between $100 and $300, but if the birds insist on returning to their preferred spot, it may be necessary to install deterrents such as nets or spikes to prevent them from resettling. This service will cost between $500 and $2,000.
Groundhogs may look quirky and cute as they trundle through the yard, but they can be ruinous to fences, foundations, gardens, and lawns, and they’re devastating should they get inside a home. Because they can tunnel, they push up soil, pavers, and stones as they hunt around for snacks. Live trapping and relocation are the ideal removal plan and will require a couple of trips from a wildlife remover—one to deploy traps and another to remove the trapped animal and relocate it. The cost averages between $150 and $200, plus any repairs that are necessary to the home and yard.
It isn’t common to see moles—they prefer to remain underground—but their tunnels will make the yard terribly uneven and create trip hazards all over the place. They can disrupt root systems, kill grass, and nudge patio pavers around. Live trapping and relocation are expensive, because the moles aren’t contained inside a home or space and they can easily leave and return to the yard. The trapping and removal cost will average between $100 and $550.
Opossums provide a lot of benefits to a neighborhood—they eat mice, deter rats, eat some snakes, and devour Lyme disease–carrying ticks—and they almost never develop rabies. However, if they’ve taken up residence in the yard, they can make a huge mess by pulling apart trash bins as well as trampling and eating garden plants, so they become a nuisance quickly. They can also carry some diseases. If they’ve made it into the house, they obviously require immediate removal, and if they’re causing a problem in the yard, they need to go as well. Trapping and removing them, along with sealing access points to a home, will cost between $250 and $500, and if there’s an ongoing problem in the yard, installing a 4-foot fence will go a long way toward getting rid of opossums for good.
Raccoons aren’t a DIY job. First, they are protected in many areas, so there are guidelines that define how they can be trapped and relocated. Also, raccoons prefer not to engage with people or other animals, so they’re a little better at hiding than other animals. As cute as these “trash pandas” appear, they carry diseases that are dangerous to pets and people and can squeeze through a hole as small as 4 inches in diameter, so if there’s a raccoon in the attic or somewhere else in the house, or terrorizing the yard, homeowners are advised to call in a pro. Removal will cost between $400 and $600.
Rats and Mice
Rats and mice breed so quickly and carry so much disease that there is no time to wait patiently for slow methods of removal, and poison is best used only as a last resort, because it can result in dead animals in the walls or sick pets. Live trapping is the most common option for removal, though in a significant infestation, a wildlife removal specialist may support kill traps to reduce the number more quickly. Live trapping will cost an average of $175 to $500 depending on the size of the colony and the difficulty of accessing them in the home where they have nested. As a follow-up to the removal, it’s critical for a homeowner to have a complete inspection to seal and block all entry points—if several mice have made it into the house, more will follow, and the homeowner will need to consider mice exterminator costs to prevent the spread of disease.
Skunks are also not a DIY removal job, for somewhat obvious reasons. In fact, many homeowners using humane cage traps to catch squirrels or other nuisance animals in their yard have been horrified to discover a skunk caught in their trap instead. Skunks will follow animals they’d like to eat into crawl spaces and basements, and they are truly difficult to remove before they spray the house with their musky, oily defense scent. Removal will cost between $300 and $600, and homeowners can also plan to pay for materials to clean the area where the skunk was trapped with DIY scent removal treatments or to hire a professional cleaner to work their magic, but chances are the scent will linger for a while.
Watching them frolic in the backyard can be entertaining, but squirrels in the attic are not a trifling matter. Active primarily during the day, squirrels can wreak havoc on insulation and wiring, and they can damage siding as well. Between the months of March and October, a sudden scurry of squirrel noises may mean that a mother squirrel is raising her babies in the attic and will leave within a few weeks. There are some DIY methods to try, but because some areas do have regulations regarding the trapping and relocating of certain kinds of squirrels, it’s a good plan to call a wildlife specialist if the repellent options don’t work quickly. Plus, there’s really no such thing as free squirrel removal—a homeowner will pay in time, repairs, and irritation if the removal is delayed. The cost for a professional will be between $200 and $600 unless the infestation is large and involved, in which case it can be higher; squirrels are smart and need to be relocated a significant distance away, or they’ll return to what they consider their property.
Do I Need Wildlife Removal?
What are the signs there are unwanted wildlife guests in the home? Sometimes they’re fairly obvious, while other times a collection of smaller clues will eventually lead a homeowner to realize they have a problem.
Scratching Noises in the Walls or on the Roof
If there are scampering sounds in the attic or on the roof, or scratching or abrasion sounds in the walls, it’s likely that there are animals making them. While crackling noises in the walls can also indicate an electrical issue, either way, the problem needs to be checked out immediately.
Droppings, which will vary in size, shape, and color based on the animal that left them behind, are a fairly sure sign that there are animals in the home. Smaller rodent droppings may be present in kitchen cabinets and along baseboards, and other animals may leave small groupings of droppings in nesting materials or in warm areas near heat sources. Birds and bats will leave their droppings on the floors in attics or on the floor if they’ve nested in the eaves of a home.
Especially if there’s a larger infestation in the home, sooner or later an animal will become trapped in a wall and die, or die of other causes somewhere else in the home. A slightly sweet, sickly odor will make its way through the house. An unusual smell of this nature when there’s no obvious source indicates it’s time for the home’s residents to start looking for other signs that wildlife has been nesting or to call a removal specialist to come investigate.
Mounds of Dirt in the Yard
Moles, opossums, skunks, and groundhogs are all tunneling and digging animals that will dig in the ground for insects to eat or will create actual tunnels underneath the surface. If there are many mounds, it’s likely there’s an active community in the yard that may be disturbing and destroying roots and plants—and eventually the foundation of the home.
Sudden, small movements out of the corner of a homeowner’s vision are often the first sure signs that there’s something unexpected in the house. Bolder animals will simply strut across the room, completely unbothered by a human’s presence or hyperfocused on the food source they’ve just spotted. Even if the animals are not in the house, the presence of a larger-than-normal collection of squirrels in the backyard over a period of time increases the likelihood that they have identified the house or yard as a target, and seeing opossums, skunks, or raccoons more than once suggests that they’re very comfortable in the yard and may be causing a problem.
Trash Can Disturbances
Most nuisance wildlife can’t fully overturn a large, full trash can—if that’s happening on a regular basis, homeowners are advised to check for bears. But lids that are flipped off of trash barrels, scrambling noises inside the barrels, or plastic trash bags that have been left out and are torn apart are likely signs of raccoon and/or skunk activity, and scratches and bite marks through the top of plastic trash barrels can also be from squirrels and opossums. Rats are great climbers as well. Any disturbance of the trash cans or the bags indicates there’s a problem, and if it becomes a regular occurrence, it’s likely time to call in a pro.
Wildlife Removal: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
A couple of mice that stray inside as the weather grows chilly can often be dealt with by a homeowner, if they’re comfortable handling the traps and relocating the animals. If the problem is small and largely outdoors, using natural repellents or physical repellents such as spikes, nets, or fencing can also be a DIY option. However, once wildlife is inside the home, it’s really better to call a professional for assistance. First, their methods are likely to be more successful and more efficient, which is important: The longer the animals are in the home, the further inroads they’ll make, which will make it more difficult to get them out and more likely that they’ll reproduce inside the home. Second, these animals can carry disease, and professionals will know how and when to protect themselves from the animals and how to advise the homeowners on cleaning and sanitizing processes; they can also provide exclusion services that prevent the animals from returning. Third, professionals will be up-to-date on local ordinances related to animal relocations. And finally, a pro will know where to look for and how to find entrance points to the home.
How to Save Money on Wildlife Removal Cost
In general, the cost of removing wildlife from your home is reasonably low, compared to the stress brought on by knowing there’s an animal in your house and also compared to the damage that will likely be done if the animals are allowed to linger. However, there are several ways to reduce the cost of wildlife removal services.
- Check your home for entry points. Several times per year, inspect the exterior of the home for holes, cracks, loose boards, loose siding, and open space around pipes. Clear up brush piles in the yard and trim overhead branches. Tidy up garbage and waste promptly.
- Remove nests. Seasonally remove empty or abandoned bird nests and squirrel nests from chimneys and nearby trees in the yard.
- Act fast. Call a wildlife removal company as soon as you know there’s a problem. Waiting or fruitlessly trying to DIY a solution will cost money in supplies and time, during which time the animals will cause more damage and potentially invite friends to stay or grow their family.
- Get several quotes. Interview several wildlife removal companies before choosing the one you feel will get the job done well—not necessarily the least expensive one but the one that will complete the removal and seal the home against future infestation so there won’t be a repeat call in a few months.
Questions to Ask About Wildlife Removal
As with any contractor a homeowner hires, it’s a good idea to ask for references from neighbors, friends, and family. In this case, however, references will only be able to share their personal experience with a wildlife remover, when what the homeowner really needs is an expert opinion, especially as some animals are protected species. A homeowner may consider asking for referrals from wildlife rehabilitators, humane societies, or animal control officers when choosing an ethical wildlife control company; these people have regular interaction with professional removers and probably have strong opinions about who provides excellent, ethical, and humane services—and who doesn’t. Once a homeowner has some referrals, they can ask for inspections and estimates from several wildlife removers before choosing one to work in their home. The following are helpful questions to ask before making a final decision.
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you and your workers licensed and insured?
- What kind of animals do you handle? Have you handled this type of animal often?
- Are there animals that you do not handle?
- Do you use humane processes? What is involved in the removal and relocation process?
- Do you ever use poisons?
- Will you provide a written inspection report and recommendations for treatment?
- What are your payment procedures?
- Do you offer exclusion services and a guarantee of the work, or do you have a service warranty that includes follow-up service if the animals return during the warranty period?
Discovering that there are animals in the attic or home that aren’t invited can make anyone’s heart skip a beat. While it’s not a situation that requires panic, it is something that should be handled promptly, and often by a professional for best results. These are some of the most common questions about wildlife removal and their answers to help homeowners with that initial reaction and to guide them to the best option for their home.
Q. How do I remove squirrels from the attic?
It’s important to remove squirrels from attic spaces as soon as it is possible to do so humanely, as they can chew on wiring and damage walls as well as carry disease into the home. First, a homeowner will need to check local laws and ordinances regarding wildlife; in some areas, it’s illegal to trap or relocate animals. In those cases, it’s best that the homeowner consult a professional for advice about how to repel the animals and then seal the access points. If relocation isn’t a problem, the first step is for a homeowner to locate the nest—if there are baby squirrels present, it’s better to wait to begin the removal process until the babies are old enough to survive on their own after the removal and relocation. The next step is to search for entry points in the attic and seal all of them except for one: There’s no point in removing the squirrels if their main access points are still available. Then, the homeowner will set a humane trap with a one-way door near or immediately outside the remaining access point. Once the squirrels are caught, they need to be relocated to a wooded location at least 5 to 6 miles away. If all of this seems like more contact with the animals than a homeowner is prepared to deal with, they’ll need to call a wildlife removal company, which will have the equipment and experience necessary to address the problem.
Q. How can I get rid of animals from my house effectively?
Getting rid of unwanted critters is a multistep process. First, a homeowner will need to evict the animals that are currently present by using traps and relocation or by seeking professional assistance from a wildlife removal expert or a wildlife exterminator. That step will remove the current squatters, but to effectively remove the animals and avoid repeat guests, the homeowner will need to make the home less hospitable to wildlife. One way is to avoid piling wood against the side of the house; a woodpile makes a great temporary nesting space as the weather cools, and it’s a natural instinct for the animals to seek a nearby spot that’s even warmer as the weather turns colder. Similarly, it’s advisable for homeowners to cut back brush and branches that are snugged up to the home or hanging close to the walls or roof. To further prevent access, homeowners will need to seal all potential entry points to the home. This can be tougher than it sounds: Animals can squeeze into tiny, tiny gaps if the promise of warmth, food, and water lies just beyond. Homeowners will also want to be prompt about cleaning up food waste, crumbs, and spills as well as sealing trash in a sturdy trash bag before placing it in indoor or outdoor trash bins—rodents have incredibly efficient scent receptors and will make a long journey to grab that crust of bread that was kicked under the edge of a cabinet.
Q. What can I do to prevent animals from coming to my house?
Fences are a good start—they’ll keep many animals out of the yard and thus prevent easy access to the house. However, deer fences need to be at least 8 feet high, and a determined groundhog can burrow underneath in no time. The prime attractor for most animals is a food source or easy place to nest or rest. Cleaning up the yard, removing fallen branches and fruits (including berries and buds from trees and shrubs), and avoiding bird feeders will go a long way toward making the yard and home less of an interesting option for local wildlife. Repellents—natural, chemical, and physical, such as garden spikes or wind chimes—can also encourage animals to choose a different yard. And in case these methods fail, sealing access points to the home will discourage yard guests from becoming house guests.
Q. Is there a difference between wildlife removal and pest control?
There is. It’s possible a homeowner will need both, depending on the type of animal in the home, but if it’s pretty clear the invaders are wildlife, it’s important to begin with wildlife removal. The goal of wildlife removal is to humanely and safely take the animals out of the home, where they don’t belong, and relocate them to a place where they can live out their lives in a more natural habitat—ideally somewhere far from the home, so they don’t return. Pest control is focused on insects and small pests, and the goal is usually to kill existing ones and then prevent reinfestation. Pest control companies often employ poison or spray repellents that could harm wildlife, and attic pest control can result in those chemicals spreading through the home unnecessarily. Removing the wildlife first, then sealing the home against reentry and tackling any residual pest control situations, is the preferred sequence of events.
Q. How long does it take to remove animals from my house?
The answer to this question depends on several factors: How many animals are in the home? What kind of animals are present? What restrictions are in place regarding relocation of those animals? How much damage have the animals done? A wildlife removal expert will be able to assess the situation and provide an estimate of both the cost and time frame. For a small incursion, it may take only a few days to trap, remove, and seal, but in a more complicated situation (for example, bats are federally protected and can’t be physically removed—they must be invited to leave and prevented from returning), it could take weeks or even months to complete the process.
Q. Who should I call if I have snakes in my house?
The best choice for a homeowner after discovering snakes in their home is a call to their local animal control officer. Animal control can usually be located by contacting the local non-emergency police number, where a dispatcher can direct the call. It’s never a good idea to try to trap or relocate a snake without guidance from a local expert; sometimes it’s difficult to tell if a snake is venomous or not, and it can be harmful to the snake to move it if the move isn’t done properly and safely by someone who is familiar with the local wildlife.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, LawnStarter