A skunk takes a frosty morning foray in Bangor in this 2007 file photo. Credit: Scott Haskell / BDN

When we think of pests, often the first things our minds jump to are creepy crawly bugs eating through garden plants and structural pieces of housing. Many pests that are common in Maine, though, are mammals. They can look cute and cuddly, but mammalian pests have the potential to wreak havoc on your home, property and even your health and wellbeing.

Here are some furry pests to look out for in your house and yard, and what to do with them when they have started to get a little too comfortable cohabitating with you.

Mice and rats

Mice and rats are among the primary rodents that are trying to find their way into your house this fall and winter. Keeping mice out of your home, especially in rural areas, can be an affair akin to war games. In their quest for shelter, mice can also find their way into cars if they are left in a garage during the winter. Here’s how to keep mice from trashing your vehicles.

Not to be outdone by their smaller cousins, rats have a propensity to gnaw their way through wood, drywall, electric cables, plastic pipes and even metal. With the increase of rodent populations like rats in Maine, you also have to worry about the transmission of Lyme disease. Here’s how to keep rodents out of your house, what to do about rodents if they are in your house and how to get rid of rats specifically.

Squirrels and chipmunks

Squirrels and chipmunks are yet another group of problem rodents for homeowners as the weather starts to cool and they seek out food and shelter. Once they move into attics, walls and basements, these rodents can not only cause damage, but they can also be a constant, noisy and smelly nuisance. This year was a boom year for chipmunks, too, the stripey, smaller brown cousin to the squirrel. Chipmunks will also chow down on crops like cucumbers if they are left to their own devices. Here’s what you can do if you have chipmunks in your house. Here’s what to do if squirrels start coming into your house.

Another issue in the same vein: flying squirrels. These nocturnal critters can create large colonies in your house, which is noisy and destructive. Having flying squirrels in your attic especially can make it quite hard to sleep. Here’s what you can do to get rid of those flying squirrels.


These adorable trash pandas will do anything in their search for food. Not only will they tear up trash cans, but they will also tear up insulation in the walls or ceilings if they find their ways to the house. Raccoons also harbor diseases that can be dangerous to both humans and pets. Here is what to do to keep raccoons away and what to do with them if you have a raccoon problem.


Skunks can dig up yards and gardens in search of tasty treats, but they are perhaps best known for their signature stink. There are a number of preventative measures that you can take to keep skunks from coming to your yard in the first place, such as removing brush that attracts them for dens or conducting regular lawn maintenance to keep tasty grubs away. However, sometimes, despite your best efforts, you accidentally agitate a den or your dog gets a little too nosy. Here’s what you can do if you or your pet is sprayed by a skunk to get rid of that nasty stink.


Opossums can be very beneficial around your land. They eat ticks and are entertaining to watch as they romp and play. However, some people have issues with opossums when they get into vegetable gardens, trash cans, recycling bins, compost piles, stored grain and chicken coops. Opossums are generally not aggressive, but they will growl if they feel threatened. Here are some ways to keep opossums away from your home and its surroundings.


Woodchucks are a common problem for gardeners throughout Maine. The furry rodents feast on gardens like they’re salad bars. Here is what to do to keep woodchucks out of your garden, as well as what you can do if they find their way there anyway.


Many people consider porcupines to be a nuisance because of the damage they cause to trees and wooden structures. In addition to plant material, porcupines crave salt and are attracted to objects that have salty human sweat on them, such as ax handles and boat oars. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of having porcupines around, though, is the potential to get quilled, especially if you have a nosy dog. Here’s what to do if you get quilled by a porcupine.


Not only can deer carry the ticks that bring Lyme disease, but they are also notorious for chowing down on vegetation around the house and in the garden. Here are the best ways to keep deer away from your garden and land.


In Maine and elsewhere, coyotes are fairly polarizing as far as wildlife goes, with some people viewing them as dangerous pests and others viewing them as essential parts of the ecosystem. However, there is no doubt that having coyotes too close for comfort can be a disquieting experience. Here’s how to humanely deter coyotes from your property.

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