Noises from the attic are never a good thing. It typically indicates the presence of rodents or other wildlife. Attics usually make an ideal environment for pests like rats, mice, and possums that damage stored items and electric cabling and insulation. Attics also make the perfect environment for nesting birds. Having wild animals or birds living in the attic can not only cause damage to property but can also spread diseases like salmonella and hantavirus.
Here are some signs that indicate the presence of pests in the attic: urine, nests made of paper, leaves, and twigs, disturbed insulation, ducts ripped apart. Nests are a sign of squirrels, rodents, and birds. Disturbed insulation usually indicates raccoons and squirrels and ducts ripped apart are another visible sign of raccoons.
If you haven’t yet taken a look at the attic, here are some audio signs:
- Scampering or scurrying noises – rodents or squirrels
- Gnawing or squeaking at night – rats
- Purrs, snarls, whimpers, growls, hisses, whinnies – raccoons
The first step to getting rid of attic pest is…
Identify the Pest
The best way to identify which pests are inhabiting your basement is to look for visible signs of habitation, commonly their dropping. You need to learn to identify the shape, pattern, and size of its scat.
Nick Petti, from the Enviro-Tech pest management franchise, gives a little insight into how to identify pest from their droppings:
Clean it up
Before you get rid of the infestation, you need to clean the area once. Follow the advice of Center for Disease Control, here are some tips:
- Open up the windows to air out the infested area. Leave it that way for at least half an hour before you start cleaning up. It’s best not to hang around the attic during this time.
- Put on protective gloves and wear a mask so that you don’t touch or breathe the dust that has been contaminated by the feces and urine of the pest/s.
- Spray a disinfectant over the area to clean it up. You can use a bleach solution (9 parts of water and 1 part bleach) or use any other household disinfectant. Make sure the disinfectant is mixed in the right proportions. Let the solution sit for a while so that it inactivates the virus. Leave the room for 15-20 minutes.
- Use a rag or paper towels to pick up the materials and dispose them in a sealed plastic bag.
- Before putting the gloves away, decontaminate them with disinfectant or bleach and water. Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Note: The mask provides protection against dust, mold, but it does not protect you against viruses.
How to Get Rid of Different Pests in the Attic?
There are different ways to get rid of each pest. The methods and traps that are used for mice won’t work for rats. You need to find the right traps and methods to use. Using the wrong methods might send out warning signals to the pest and make them aware of the oncoming evacuation attempts. Here is how you can get of mice, rats, squirrels, bats, and raccoons from your attic.
Mice in the attic can be a real pain. They tear out books, wood, plastic, and pretty much anything that they can set their teeth on. Mice are very small and can crawl through drain pipes and follow electrical wires within walls as well.
Female mice get fertile when they are around 50 days old and are able to breed all through the year. The gestation period is only 20 days and each litter can have 10-12 mice. Because mice multiply so quickly, the infestations usually blow out of proportion if they aren’t attended to immediately.
There are common entry points for mice to get into your home. Make a checklist of these and thoroughly check every single point. Here are the most common entry points for mice:
- Gaps in windows or ceilings- check if there are any obvious gaps in windows and ceilings. Try installing finish timbers to close the gaps.
- Gaps around the roofline- have any timbers shrunk and given rise to gaps? The gaps will have to be sealed.
- Drainage pipes- check whether the drainage pipe connections have been sealed well.
The most effective way to get rid of mice is to set mousetraps. A mousetrap costs around $1 per piece. Set mouse traps near drain pipes and places where mice can get access to electrical wiring. You can use peanut butter, cotton batting or dental floss as bait. Don’t use cheese, in fact, peanut butter is the best option for bait. You can use glue traps, snaps traps, zap traps, poison traps, and live traps. Snap traps are the best way to get rid of mice on your own without the intervention of a professional.
Take out the traps as soon as the job is done. Dead mice around the attic will discourage other mice from taking the bait. If the mice problem isn’t getting better, you are going to have to call a professional for help. The damages caused by mice will eventually cost you more than how much it would cost you to call a professional. Since mice multiply rapidly, it’s relatively easier to get rid of the mice as soon as the issue stems up. Check out the top pest control companies and get a free quote to get an idea of how much the service could cost.
Rats are a lot like mice, but they are more vicious in looks and nature as well. A hole the size of a quarter is all a rat needs to get into your home. They usually find a way to areas of the home that are dark and have less traffic, like the attic basement, or find a way into the walls. They can be difficult to get rid of and it may take a lot of time to rid them from your home.
Rats are harmful and pose health risks to the residents of the house. Rats’ teeth grow throughout their life which makes them do more damage to your property than their smaller counterparts. Rats mark the path that they use at night by defecating and urinating along them. Their waste leaves stains and also becomes a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Some of the signs that indicate rats in the attic are chew marks, package tampering, noise, and the obvious – rat droppings. They were responsible for spreading the bubonic plague and can also spread 30+ diseases. Rats can contaminate food and pose a danger your pets by bringing in other pests like ticks, mites, and fleas.
Never use a mousetrap for rats. Rats are bigger and are mousetraps will only irritate a rat and warn it not to take anything from a trap of. Here are a few ways to get rid of rats:
- Seal entry holes: This is the first thing to do before you attempt to kill the rats is to seal all the entry holes. Make sure more rats don’t get into your home while you’re trying to eliminate the problem.
- Wooden snap traps: the good ol’ fashioned snap traps are the only ones that have managed to stand the test of time. Place the traps close to a high-traffic path and leave them for a few days. Don’t add a bait. Rats are cautious about new items in their environment, let them get used to the new additions in the attic.
- Poison: After a few days, they rats mark the traps as safe by marking a trail of urine along. Then place rodent baits/poison around and lure them
How to seal entry holes?
Entry holes are anything that that is big enough to let a rat into your home (if the hole is big enough for a rat, it can also invite mice). They could be anything from a loose roof tile to a crack in the foundation, a trashcan or an open chimney. Rats have exceptionally strong teeth that are strong enough to chew through roof tiles, soffit covers, and vents. So any existing holes should be sealed with concrete or steel mesh. When you leave the trashcan outside, make sure it’s covered.
Rats that consume the poisonous baits will most probably go to an isolated place to die. Since all the entry holes are closed, the rats are likely to die in the attic. Make sure to look for signs of stench from the attic as it is likely to be a dead rat that needs to be disposed.
Note: If you find traps disappearing, don’t be alarmed. Large rats are known to run away with the traps clamped around their bodies. Screw the traps into the floorboards. You could also place them in rat trap covers, but each of them cost around $15.Like mice, even rats reproduce at a fast rate so if traps and poison don’t solve the problem, you will need to call a professional to help you out.
Ps- Do not use sticky traps for rats as they can pull away from the trap and all that you’ll find is some hair stuck to the glue.
If you have a pest or rodent problem in your kitchen, here are some tips to keep your kitchen pest-free.
Before you try to remove a squirrel or a raccoon from your attic, you need to contact your state extension facility or the wildlife agency to determine what laws are permits apply to trapping and relocating these pests. You may have to call a professional trapper to do the job.
Squirrels can gain access to your attic through holes that are around 1.5 inches long. They sometimes even chew the hole to make it bigger so that they can gain easier access. These holes may not be easily visible to the eye. They are typically found around vents, pipes, or corners. Then there’s always the possibility for them to enter the through the garage, walls, decks or from under the stairs. Any hole that is around 1.5 inches could be a likely entry point.
The mating season for squirrels is in late winter. During this time, squirrels are most active in the mornings and evenings where they are seen doing acrobatics and the male actively chases the female. This is the time when it is likely for squirrels to also get into your attic. Squirrels tend to chew through wires and insulation and cut through your home’s roof timbers and underneath eaves. If a squirrel gnaws at a wooden beam for long enough, it could pose a threat to the home’s structural integrity. If there is a large quantity of feces or droppings in the attic, it could endanger your family to the risk of salmonella infection.
How to remove squirrels from your attic?
Follow these steps to get rid of squirrels in your home:
- Seal entry points
- Choose the right squirrel trap and set it up
- Use the right bait
- Draw the pests from their secret hiding places
- Relocate the squirrels safely
- Use appropriate repellents and preventive measures
Choosing the right squirrel trap
When it comes to choosing traps, always go for one that will not hurt the squirrel. Do not use body grip traps as they harm/kill squirrels. Choose a safe option like a live cage trap or one with one-way exclusion doors as they catch squirrels without harming them.
1. Live Cage Trap: This trap traps the squirrel without harming it in any way. Once it is captured, you can take the trap with the squirrel to a place where you’d like to relocate the animal and it free.
2. One-way Exclusion Doors: This is a trap in which there’s only one way in and no way out for the squirrel. You can transport the squirrel to a place away from your property and it free.
Bats aren’t destructive, unlike rodents. Though build up of bad poo could erode drywall and wood. Bat guano or bat droppings can also pose health risks to the members of the household. Bats are mammals and shed hair regularly. This hair along with the guano buildup can grow mold that could trigger allergies for sensitive individuals. It could also trigger a disease called Histoplasmosis or Bat Guano disease. Bats can also be carriers of rabies, a single bit or scratch from an infected bat could pass on the disease to someone. Why bear the potential risk, instead it’s better to get rid of bats from your attic before they cause any serious harm.
Bats can enter your home through gaps that are as small as 3/8th of an inch. They generally enter through holes in ridge caps, fascia boards, or broken windows and vents. Remember that it’s illegal to poison or harm bats.
If you’re wondering how to know if there are bats in the attic, here are some signs that can help you figure it out:
- Seeing bat guano and smelling it. It is found in piles. Their dropping and urine have a very strong pungent odor
- Sighting bats flying around during the evening
- Hearing bats at night
How to get rid of bats in your attic?
There are a few ways which can help you to get rid of bats from your attic. They are:
- Wait for them to leave
Bats migrate in cold seasons, if you have a cold season coming up, save yourself the trouble and wait for them to naturally move out of your attic. Once the bats leave, you can identify the entry points by looking for piles of bat guano. Usually, wherever you find bat poop, there’s an entry point closeby. Seal them all, make sure that you’re wearing gloves, goggles and take other protective measures when you’re sealing up the holes. Once all the entry points are sealed, clean up all the bat guano that has been collecting in the attic.
- DIY Bat Removal
This method is advisable only if you have one bat in the attic and not for an infestation. Shut the attic to prevent the bat from flying into the house. Make sure you are fully protected before you approach the bat (mask, goggles, long sleeved jacket). A bat when scared could bite as a defensive resort when cornered. You don’t want that, a bat bite could expose you to the danger of getting rabies. This is why the first and the third method are the most advised. With a small towel or a net, gently cover the bat and scoop it up. Make sure to not to squeeze the bat tightly. You can take the bat outside close to a tree and let it loose on an elevated platform since bats cannot take off easily from the ground. Now, look around to see if there are more bats. If there are none, look for possible entry points and seal them to prevent more bats from coming inside.
- Call a Wildlife Removal Expert or a Pest Control Company
You’ll need to call a wildlife removal expert if you have a bat infestation and you live in a state that has warm climate all year round. Or if winter is far away and the bats are creating too much nuisance in the attic. The is the safest method that doesn’t compromise on your family’s health and can get rid of the bat infestation at the soonest.
Other than in the attic, bats can also be found in the chimney and other dark areas that are shut-in.
Raccoons are skilled animals that are strong and have nimble hands that are designed to climb. They usually make their way into an attic by climbing trees and finding a small hole in the attic that they make bigger or making a hole in the roof where sections of wood overlap. They are also capable of climbing wooden walls or brick walls to make their way inside. You can tell if there’s a raccoon in the attic if you hear scampering or loud scratching noises coming from it.
If you have a raccoon in your attic, first check what the state laws on raccoons are. Don’t attempt to get rid of raccoons on your own, they get aggressive when they are cornered or separated from their young ones. As cute as those babies might look, you need to get them out before they start pulling your home apart. It’s best to call a professional like a wildlife expert or a pest control service that handles raccoons. Professionals have all the equipment needed to trap the raccoons. While rapping a raccoon, first the young ones need to be taken out and then the mother must be trapped. Trapping raccoons require body grip traps, live cage traps, and paw hold traps. Professionals also ensure that the raccoon is trapped in the most gentle manner and is released back into nature. They also do a double-check to see if all the possible entry holes have been sealed.
Raccoons can cause a lot of damage like shredding wallpaper or pieces of roofing to build nests for themselves and their young. They also bite electrical wires that can cause fires. In extreme cases, if the raccoon problem isn’t dealt with, the animal claws its way through the ceiling and can even fall into the house. Hence, it’s best to deal with a raccoon problem as soon as you become aware that you have one living in your attic.
How to Find a Good Pest Control Company?
The most reliable way to find a good pest control service is to read online reviews about the top pest control companies and narrow down one that you think is the best. You can further ask neighbors and friends if they’ve heard about the pest control company that you’ve zeroed out on or had an experience with them before requesting for a service. You can also get a free quote from different pest control companies so that you can get the best deal.
If you have had an experience with a pest control company, do leave a review on the companies page of our website and help out a peer who’s in need of pest control.