If your business operates outdoors, deals with food, or interacts with nature in some way, you might have to deal with unwanted animals, such as pigeons, racoons, or squirrels. You might also have to deal with smaller critters, like ants or roaches. In a best-case scenario, these animals will be a nuisance. They might annoy you on a superficial level or make your customers uncomfortable. But in a worst-case scenario, they can represent a serious health hazard – and jeopardize your entire business.
What’s the best way to handle these unwanted animals?
Know When to Call a Professional
Many business owners are inclined to try and handle an animal issue themselves. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; if the problem is small, or if it’s an isolated incident, you may be able to prevent the animals from returning and eliminate potential damage. That said, it’s usually better to call a professional – especially if the problem has grown beyond the capabilities of an amateur or if you want to keep your business pristine. For example, a pigeon control expert will likely be able to evaluate your problem, get rid of existing pigeons, and prevent further unwanted pigeons from hurting your business in far less time than you can. Considering most exterminators and animal control professionals provide free estimates before doing any work, it’s worth at least calling to find out what services are available. That said, there are some steps you can take on your own to handle unwanted animals at your business.
Assess the Problem
Your first job is to assess the severity of the problem. Oftentimes, the infestation is far worse than it initially appears; for example, you might see a single mouse running around, but there could be a nest of many mice hiding in the walls.
- Look for evidence. Look for evidence of animal activity. This could include chewed items, droppings, or other visual signals of animal acts. Move items out of the way and look in nooks and crannies to find evidence that’s not immediately visible.
- Ask employees for reports. Recruit your employees to help you keep watch for animal activity. Collect reports on a regular basis; what animals did they see, how many did they see, and what were the conditions for the sighting?
- Estimate the effects. Some animals may not pose a major problem. For example, birds are common everywhere humans live; seeing a few on a wire outside is no cause for concern. But if a family of raccoons is living in your dumpster or if there’s a nest of rats wreaking havoc on your business, you’ll need to take action immediately.
Most animals infiltrate your business in search of food and/or shelter. Accordingly, you can deter most animals and prevent them from coming back by practicing better cleanliness.
- Keep food sealed and stored properly. This is especially important for restaurants. If you have food in store, keep it in sealed containers and clean up any spills and messes you encounter.
- Wipe down and mop all indoor areas. Regularly wipe down surfaces and mop or wash the floors. The cleaner the indoor habitat, the less likely you’ll be to attract animals.
- Pick up garbage and lock the dumpster. Remove all garbage at the end of the night in tied bags and lock your dumpster to prevent unwanted visitors.
- Power wash affected exterior areas. Use a power washer to get rid of evidence of animals and deter animals from taking up residence.
If animals are getting inside your business, look for any openings and seal them. Oftentimes, ants, rodents, and other animals utilize small holes and cracks to infest your building; these can often be filled with caulk or another type of sealant.
Utilize Traps (and Other Products)
There are dozens of products that can help you manage a low-scale, low-priority animal problem. For example, traps, poisons, and sprays could help you deal with isolated animals or small infestations. However, you need to be sure your products are safe for use in your business.
Train Your Employees
Finally, make it a point to train and educate your employees. Make sure they understand the importance of deterring and handling animals at your business. Set rules and procedures for how to properly handle food and garbage, then supervise and evaluate your employees to ensure they’re following all your specified requirements. No business owner likes the idea of unwanted wildlife interfering with their profitability and business integrity. Fortunately, these problems are rarely permanent – and with the right solutions, they’re relatively easy to handle. Do what you can on your own, but don’t hesitate to call a professional if you get in over your head.