New England residents face some pretty tough challenges when it comes to keeping their properties safe from natural hazards, especially in the northernmost states and along the coastline. Between the heavy snowfall in the winter, the risk of hurricanes in early fall, and the prolonged rainstorms in the spring, there’s a lot to look out for, but there’s one hazard that sticks around all year long—the animals.

Homeowners in many regions of Massachusetts constantly grapple with the surrounding animal populations, which can be quite dense in wooded rural and suburban areas. When they’re not tearing up gardens or tipping over trash cans, these critters are trying to work their way into garages, sheds, basements and attics in a search for a warm place to nest. Animals have caused thousands of dollars in property damage while looking for a suitable home, which makes a proactive prevention strategy a must for property owners all across the state, even in heavily developed residential areas like Newton and Wellesley.

Roofs are one common entry point that many different types of critters capitalize on, and their efforts to gain access to your home or place of business can lead to a serious repair bill. Animals commonly enter roofs through soffits, soffit vents, and gaps in your shingling, but some are quite capable of creating an opening if one isn’t readily available. The best way to protect your home is to learn about the different animal species that may pose a risk, as doing so can help you spot vulnerabilities and shore up your roof before they move in. To that end, here are 5 critters you should look out for:

Squirrels

These rodents can be a massive pain for property owners, as their strong teeth allow them to chew through wood, pry up asphalt shingles, and rip apart your insulation. Squirrels’ teeth are constantly growing – they keep them trimmed by gnawing on whatever they can find – which can lead to significant problems if they find a way into your attic. If you’ve heard a rustling sound in your ceiling or found wood chips in unexpected places, you may want to check for external damage to your roof.

Racoons

Raccoons are often drawn to homes that provide them with an unintentional food source, such as bird feed, pet food, and loosely sealed garbage cans. While most raccoons will not try to force their way into your home during the warmer seasons, they do look for safe and dry areas to bear their young. Typically, these pesky rodents will nest inside attics after locating a dislodged shingle or turning a small opening into a modest hole to squeeze through. Raccoons are known for tearing up insulation and chewing on electrical wires, which can pose a serious fire hazard.

Mice

While Mice don’t cause as much damage to your roof as the other animals on this list, they can lead to a number of issues if they make it indoors. Mice build their nests above ground, making them excellent climbers and adept at finding vulnerabilities in your roof. These critters can squeeze between loose shingles and into small holes in your decking, where they often build nests and multiply. Beyond the health risks, mice are known to chew through wiring and pipes, burrow into a property’s wooden framing, and dislodge insulation in the attic.

Birds

There are a variety of bird species that may cause problems for your roof, such as woodpeckers, house sparrows, feral pigeons, and starlings. While many Massachusetts residents have learned to coexist with these (relatively benign) neighbors, they sometimes nest in and on buildings in large numbers. Birds build their nests using sticks, twigs and other debris, making gutters and downspouts perfect foraging spots and common roosting areas. Believe it or not, bird droppings contain a high concentration of uric acid, which can corrode roofing materials like tar paper and lead to the disintegration of shingles over time.

Bats

Bats may be great for reducing bug populations around your home, but they can also pose a risk to the health of you and your family. Bat droppings are known to contain an array of parasites and diseases, so preventing them from roosting in your attic is extremely important. These critters gain entry by turning small openings into larger holes, scratching and clawing their way through your shingles. While bats are not known for destroying wooden boards, wiring, or siding, they can create quite a mess in your attic and may lead to significant water damage or rotting of your home’s structure.

How to protect your roof from critters

The best way to prevent these animals from damaging your roof is to familiarize yourself with the warning signs and to keep an eye out for entry points. A well-maintained roof is harder to breach, so staying on top of its condition can ensure your home is adequately defended. Here are some simple steps you can take to protect your roof from invasive critters:

  • Have your roof inspected regularly
  • Trim all overhanging branches
  • Keep your gutters clean
  • Look for loose or missing shingles
  • Eliminate potential food sources
  • Install a chimney cap and gutter guards
  • Check your attic for signs of nesting

If you’re concerned about the local animal population, Flynn Roofing can help you check for vulnerabilities and shore up your roof’s defenses. Our licensed team of roofing contractors has helped families and commercial property owners around Massachusetts identify common risks and protect their roofs from unwanted guests. We will work with you to develop a personalized action plan that can meet your specific needs and keep your property safe.

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