Chatham Emergency Services Update

By Hunter Marr -
Chief, Skidaway Division

Squirrels, Raccoons, and Bats, Oh My!

One of the many wonderful things about living on Skidaway Island is that we live in the middle of a wildlife sanctuary and have the opportunity to observe and interact with more than 200 birds and countless other wildlife. Where else can you observe a bald eagle while eating breakfast cereal?

However, as with many other bountiful situations, there are a few downsides, not the least of which is Bambi and his family using your front yard as a salad bowl. Unfortunately, some of our loveable furry and feathered fellow residents can precipitate hazardous fire conditions if left to their own devices. Below are a few of these situations and suggested ways to mitigate your fire risk.

  • Animals Chewing on Electrical Wires - Most rodents have very strong, sharp teeth, and they maintain this strength and sharpness by constantly gnawing on various natural and manmade materials. We are particularly interested in rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, possums, and even bats, all of which live in abundance on Skidaway Island. When these rodents can access your attic or crawl space, they enjoy chewing on the coatings surrounding electrical wires. This can lead to those wires shorting out and possibly sparking, which can cause outages and fires. If you haven’t already done so, you should ensure that any openings to your attic or crawl spaces, no matter how small, are animal-proofed with wire mesh or other material.
  • Birds and Animals Nesting in Chimneys - Birds singing can be a happy sound, but not so much when those sounds come from your chimney. The same applies to the squeaking of tiny critters looking for Mama. It is not uncommon for birds, squirrels, or raccoons to nest in the flue of chimneys. In addition to the noise and smell coming from a nest in your chimney, the nesting material can block your flue and increase the chance of a chimney fire and deadly carbon monoxide buildup. Bear in mind, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects some bird species, so any action to clear their nest must wait until the eggs are hatched, and the young birds have fledged. You can then have a chimney professional remove the nesting material and install a chimney cap to prevent future nests.
  • Birds Nesting on Porch and Other Exterior Lighting - Birds are attracted to the warm, dry environment of our porches, and nesting spots high atop porch lights seem exceptionally safe and inviting. Besides being unsightly, this nesting material can overheat and catch fire, even when the lights are on a timer and aren’t on all the time. Many fires are reported nationwide each year by this situation. If you notice the beginnings of a bird’s nest on or in your light fixture, remove it and take measures to discourage future building. This can involve something as simple as deploying a plastic owl decoy or as involved as installing appropriate-sized bird spikes on the light fixture (small birds will nest amongst the spikes if the spikes are too large).

The moral of this story is to enjoy your life in the wildlife wonderland that is Skidaway Island but exercise a few preventive measures to ensure your home doesn’t suffer the consequence of becoming a wildlife habitat.

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

Visit to read the original article.