You probably never think of your home’s window wells, but you’ll certainly notice them if some hapless creature bumbles into one. The best way to prevent this from happening is to have your window wells rigged with heavy-duty window well covers that you can seal and latch down to prevent rain, dirt, trash, and the occasional critter from falling in. If you don’t have window well covers and happen to find a frog, possum, skunk, or something bigger in there, make sure you know what to do when animals are stuck in your window well. Here are few suggestions with an eye toward helping the animal get out while keeping yourself from freaking out.
Take It Easy
Before calling animal control or some modern-day trapper to handle the situation, take a breath and realize that the animal isn’t happy about this situation either. If the animal is nesting, of course, that’s a different story, but consider the fact that there’s no need to have it killed. Most animals will move along once they realize they’ve been discovered by humans. Trapped animals just need a little help moseying along.
Assess the Situation
Some animals are bigger dangers than others, of course. Smaller critters will usually be too frightened to raise a fuss when you move to lift them out of the well. Lizards, rabbits, mice, voles, frogs, turtles, birds, and similar tiny creatures are often paralyzed with fear and need assistance. Larger critters like rats, opossums, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and larger mammals might raise a ruckus and fearfully lash out. Thus, you should encourage them to move on from a distance.
The Great Escape
Keep rabies and other diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans in mind. Birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and most small rodents don’t carry rabies, but many larger mammals do. While they might not have rabies, turtles and other lizards can carry the salmonella virus. When dealing with smaller animals, you might be able to lift them out by hand, but be sure to wear heavy-duty work gloves before doing so. In truth, it’s better to encourage them (with food or, gently, with a stick, broom, or shovel) into a bucket or box that you can carry elsewhere. Attach a rope to the handle or sides so that you don’t give the animal access to your fingers!
Larger beasts often just need the means to climb out, so find a 2×4 plank, or a thick branch, lower it into the well, then walk away. More likely than not, the animal will scale the board or branch and leave in your absence. If the animal refuses to leave, it may be injured, which means it’s time to call animal control.
Now you know what to do when animals are stuck in your window well, but how do you keep it from happening again? Heavy-duty window well covers are the best option, but you can also block holes in the window well wall and add a fence around the perimeter of the well. Good luck!