Thursday, January 23. 2020
Scratching! Chewing! Banging! Thumping! Chattering!
Regardless of the type of noise, you have animals in your attic. The first thought most homeowners have is to try and determine what animal is causing the noise. Is it possible to determine what kind of critter is living in your attic based on the type of noise they make? For the most part, yes.
The time of day you hear the noise and the combination of the different types of noises they make will provide some clues.
Raccoons: Being nocturnal, noises are most frequently heard at night but raccoons can also be active in the attic during the day, especially in the spring when the babies are born. Weighing between 5 to 26 kg (11 to 57 lb.) they can make quite a bit of noise. It is common to hear heavy walking and thumping. Homeowners have described the sounds to be similar to the moving of furniture. Very distinctive is the loud chattering noise the baby raccoons make. For the first three weeks their eyes and ears remain closed and when they are bothered or hungry they vocalize. The mother raccoon often has her babies above the master bedroom as it is the quietest place in the house during the day.
Squirrels: Being diurnal, mostly daytime noise is heard especially at dawn and dusk. But don’t rule out noises during mid day and nighttime as not being squirrels. They move quickly so quick scampering across the ceiling will be heard. A squirrels front teeth are constantly growing therefore it is common to hear them chewing on wood, drywall and wires. From outside the home running sounds in the soffits can be heard. Baby squirrels usually do not vocalize unless they are in distress. Therefore it is not possible to determine if you have squirrels by listening for the sounds the babies make. Hearing multiple animals quickly moving in the attic would mean that the babies have now grown-up and are now moving about in the attic. At this point they need to be removed immediately because the amount of damage caused to the house at this stage of their life is exponential.
Mice: Being nocturnal, nighttime noises are heard, caused by the chewing of mice. Mouse noises are almost always quite localized, homeowners will point at the ceiling and say “I hear it there.” This is the main difference between the noise caused by mice compared to that from raccoons and squirrels. Because they are so light weight they cannot be heard moving on top of the insulation in the attic. They tend to nest beneath the insulation, directly on the drywall and being rodents they constantly chew on their surroundings. In the dead of night the chewing sounds caused by mice can be perceived as the noise caused by raccoons and squirrel.
It is important to keep in mind that the acoustics of your home, the thickness of walls, presence or lack of insulation can have more of a bearing on the volume of noise than the size of the animal. We often get called out to remove what the homeowner thinks is a raccoon when it turns out to be mouse activity.
Regardless of what animal is living in your attic it is never a good idea to let them live there. While it is not their intent to cause damage the fact is, they do. They can chew on your wires, defecate in your attic, destroy your insulation, create odours, carry diseases and cause water damage and allergies. I love all animals and would never use fear tactics as a means of convincing someone to remove animals. But after 35 years of witnessing all that they are capable of doing, I feel strongly that they have no place in our homes.
By Brad Gates, B.Sc.
Brad Gates is the owner and president of AAA Gates Wildlife Control. He has over 35 years experience in the humane wildlife removal and prevention industry.