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14 Exterminator Nightmares that Will Make You Cringe

Birds in vents, raccoons in the attic, and a python on the front lawn: You won't believe what these experts have run into on their house calls.

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Opossum surprise

This car owner heard a scratching noise coming from the hood of her car—when it wasn’t running. When she lifted the hood, she came face-to-face with this opossum. She called David Seerveld, a wildlife removal expert at AAAnimal Control. “It chose to assume a defensive position rather than play dead, and it bared its teeth and stood still,” says Seerveld. That’s when he took the photo. After using a snare pole to noose the opossum, he placed it in a cage and relocated it to a nature preserve. Find out how to keep your home—and car—pest-free.

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bats in houseCourtesy

Bat party

A client heard noises coming from the fireplace one night and opened the damper to check it out. Imagine the surprise when bats flew out and into the living room! Apparently, they made the chimney their home. Although bats eat up to 1,200 flying insects an hour, you wouldn’t want them inside your house. Seerveld safely captured and released the unharmed bats outside.

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guinea hencourtesy

Running a fowl

Seerveld was called in when residents ran into this Guinea hen in an apartment building stairwell. Seerveld says that sometimes Guinea hens are kept as pets; apparently, this one decided to fly the coop. An attempt to capture the hen with a net failed, so Seerveld waited until he was able to approach the hen and grab it by the body and feet and place it in the net. Thankfully, he was able to find the hen a more suitable home: “A wildlife rehab clinic accepted the bird since I was not allowed to just release it into the wild.”

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raccoonCourtesy David Seerveld

Masked mama

The mother of these adorable raccoon kits was responsible for the extensive damage to the siding and roof of a house—but all she wanted to do was create a maternity wing. “This female raccoon tore a hole in the wall,” explains Seerveld, and then gave birth to this litter. “I mounted a trap over the hole, went in the attic and confronted her, and then chased her out.” Mama raccoon ran out of her hole and into the trap. “I removed the litter of babies by hand, and re-united them with the mother, and relocated them all together. The mother carried them off one by one to a new nesting site.” 

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termitesCourtesy Arrow Exterminators

Tunneling termites

Termites are quite the architects. Michael Luten, regional sales manager with Arrow Exterminators, says in severe infestations, they can make free-standing tunnels where they stack up dirt, along with other things like saliva and fecal matter. The word gets out, more termites join the party, and more dirt increases the size of their tunnels. The ones you see here span the main support beam under this house. Be on the lookout for these 15 signs your home’s about to be infested.

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termitesCourtesy Arrow Exterminators

The art of escape

Dave Cook, regional sales manager with Arrow Exterminators, was called to a local high school because of a termite swarm. The only hitch is that the school staff couldn’t figure out where the termites were coming from. After an inspection, Cook found them behind this picture. “The termites had come through an expansion joint and built tunnels to this picture, and you can see what happened. I’d say that this is a picture-perfect visual of subterranean termites,” says Cook. To prevent this from happening in your home, memorize these 13 must-know tips for DIY termite control.

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nest in carCourtesy The national Pest Management association

Available: Two cozy units with hood and warm engine

When Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs at the National Pest Management Association, noticed her car was running funny, she took it to the shop. Her mechanic soon called to tell her a rodent had made a nice little nest for itself in the engine compartment and chewed up several of the car’s electrical wires. Shortly after her incident, Mannes’ husband’s car had the same problem. “We ended up calling a licensed pest control professional to come out and take care of the situation. Luckily, it hasn’t happened again since,” she says.

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hornets nestCourtesy The national Pest Management association

Bow to the queen

According to the National Pest Management Association, a mature colony of bald-faced hornets has 200-400 workers—that’s a lot of stinging power. The nest in this picture is about a month old; they can get as big as a basketball if they’re in a location where the winters are mild or the nest is in a protected location like a barn or garage. You won’t want to miss these 14 creepy things found in people’s homes.

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bird nestCourtesy dryer vent wizard

Fluff cycle only, please

You can’t blame this bird for picking a dryer vent for its home—it’s warm, safe, and dry! “While seemingly harmless, bird nests in dryer vents can cause poor dryer efficiency, human respiratory infections, and dryer fires,” says Jason Kapica, president of Dryer Vent Wizard. “The safest way to remove a nest once spotted is to call a professional.” That’s because built-up lint is extremely flammable and a fire hazard. It’s one of 15 hidden home dangers you should never ignore.

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kitchen holeCourtesy fantastic pest control

What’s a small hole?

A completely renovated kitchen is a pleasure—at least until you notice the mice droppings. Imagine the surprise Jordan Foster, pest technician with Fantastic Pest Control, got when he saw this gaping hole in the wall. “A family had their kitchen refurbished and the contractors left a giant hole in the wall,” says Foster, allowing the rodents to come and go as they pleased. Here are 13 more horrible home improvement fails you won’t believe are real.

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bed bugCourtesy fantastic pest control

Crawly bedfellows

Foster says this was the most disgusting and shocking bedbug infestation Fantastic Pest Control ever witnessed. Believe it or not, people were actually living in the house. “The buggers were literally everywhere, and I still can’t comprehend how somebody could have lived in these conditions—bugs were falling on top of them from the ceiling,” he says. Don’t miss these 13 must-know secrets about creepy household pests.

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pigeon atticcourtesy

Pigeon patrol

Usually, noises in the attic are from squirrels or a raccoon—but on this call, Seerveld discovered something else entirely. “I saw a large amount of bird droppings, and even some nests and eggs. Sure enough, I found several pigeons roosting in the attic, including nesting pairs,” he says. His team removed the nests by hand, and they prevented the pigeons from coming back in by installing a one-way door over the opening.

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dead ratcourtesy

Watch out for that wire

Rats aren’t always picky about what they chew on. When Seerveld got a call to this house, he smelled a familiar odor coming from the kitchen. He knew there was a dead rat somewhere, and his nose led him to the rat’s final resting place—inside the back of the oven. “I found the rat’s mouth around the electrical components, and it was pretty clear it had electrocuted itself to death,” he says.

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Now, that’s a lawn ornament!

When Seerveld was called to an Orlando apartment complex to remove a snake, he was a little surprised to find this huge Burmese Python on the lawn. “These snakes are native to southeast Asia, not Florida, so I knew it was either an escaped or an intentionally released pet,” he says. “It was 11″ long, but not at all aggressive. In fact, it appeared thin and malnourished, so perhaps it had been living outside for a long time.” He picked it up and transported it to a snake center in central Florida. Next, check out the 12 craziest things people found in home inspections.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.