Animal In My Attic

 


If you are hearing noises in your attic, you may have a wild animal that has decided to temporarily use your attic space as a den or nesting site.  Clues to help you  figure out what kind of animal it is include what time of day or night you are hearing the most activity,  what kind of noises you are hearing, and what “signs” you are seeing (ie footprints, type of fecal material, if any, etc).  If you cannot see the animal directly, it is very important to know the animal’s normal behavioral patterns in order for the eviction strategies discussed below to be successful.

If you are hearing activity in your attic between the months of March through October, it is extremely likely that the animal in your attic is a female with dependent young! During the birthing season (March through October), wild animals often seek out den sites that are well protected from other wild animal predators – and, inevitably, closer to human habitation since human dwellings afford many kinds of niches.

If you are hearing noise during the birthing/rearing season, the good news is that the situation is usually temporary.  As soon as the young get old enough, it is no longer safe for the babies to be in such close proximity to humans and the entire family will abandon the den site.  For this reason we often recommend giving the mother and young a “grace period” of several weeks in order to allow her young to become more independent.  This is the least risky solution of all since it ensures that mother and young will be able to remain together.  Nests of wild animal babies are often tucked away in inaccessible areas of your attic, so if the mother gets separated from her young for any reason it can be almost impossible to find the babies.  Occasionally, if separated from their mother for too long wild animal babies will leave the nest in search of their mother and can fall between walls as a result.  Allowing the female to raise her young until they are old enough to become mobile and start following her on outings avoids the possibility of having dead or dying young trapped in an inaccessible portion of your house.


So what kind of animal is living in my attic?

The two most likely inhabitants of attics are squirrels and raccoons.  If you are hearing noises during daylight hours you most likely have a squirrel living in your attic.  Squirrels are typically only active during the day, and their activity patterns cease as soon as it has become dark outside.

If, on the other hand, you are hearing noises during nighttime hours, you most likely have a raccoon or flying squirrel living in your attic.  Raccoons and flying squirrels are nocturnal animals, meaning they are usually only active at night.

Still not sure?  If you have access to the attic from the inside of your house, and feel comfortable doing so, take a look around.  The animal that is living up there will not rush up and attack you – most likely the animal is much more scared of you than vice versa, and will do everything possible to avoid coming in contact with you.

If a squirrel is living in your attic, you may see leaves and other debris – including nuts – stashed around the attic.  You may also see squirrel droppings left behind, which are usually smooth and oval in shape.

If a raccoon is living in your attic, you may see areas called ”latrines” which are where a raccoon urinates and defecates. Raccoons generally do all their toilet activities outside, to avoid attracting predators due to any scents. However, sometimes they do create latrines inside, so this is something to watch for. An oily stain on a ceiling may be your first clue that there’s a latrine above.

You can also sprinkle a 6-8” wide band of all-purpose baking flour around the perimeter of the attic and check for footprints the next day.  Squirrel tracks are approximately 1”-1 ½” long, with the front feet containing four digits and sharp claws, and three large “palm” pads.  The squirrel’s rear feet contain five digits and four palm pads.

Alternatively, raccoons leave tracks that can sometimes closely resemble a small human hand.  Raccoon tracks are between 2” and 3” long.


If you absolutely cannot wait for the mother and young to leave on their own, and you have at least determined the animal’s normal behavioral patterns, you can evict the animals by turning their quiet, dark and safe den site to one that is the exact opposite.  This is easily accomplished by using some common household items to make your attic noisy, smelly and scary.

Click on the following links below to find specific information on eviction strategies for the following situations:

Squirrel, Flying Squirrel, Raccoon

Nocturnal animal (active during the night), Diurnal animal (active during the day)