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What Animal Causes A Scratching Noise in the Attic

Updated on: February 28, 2021

Scratching noise in the attic is a sure sign that an animal has found its way into your home. While some of them are wild animals trapped in the attic, others are pests that seek shelter. Aside from the problems they cause, animals in the attic damage the insulation, wires, and other structures.

So what animal causes the scratching noises in the attic? The sounds made by the animal in the attic helps identify what they are. Some of the usual suspects are rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, bats, opossums, or birds. Finding out which specific animal makes the scratching noises in the attic helps homeowners or exterminators decide which pest control method works best.

7 Animals that Might be Causing the Scratching Noises in the Attic

The best way to identify which animal causes the scratching sounds in the attic is to come up and see them. However, most of these animals are elusive – they run away as soon as they hear footsteps approaching the area.

Another way to determine which animal is in the attic is to listen to the kind of sounds they make and observe the time of the day they’re most active. Here’s how to identify the animals in the attic based on the sounds they make:

1. Rats

Roof rats are excellent climbers that prefer building their nests in high places like the attic and false ceilings. Around 24% of rodent infestations in the country occur in the attics and garages. Most of these rodents start seeking shelter during the fall and winter seasons. Roof rats are nocturnal animals, which is why homeowners are likely to hear noises in the attic at night.

These rodents make scratching noises when they’re creating nests to care for their babies. Homeowners might also hear scurrying noises in the same parts of the attic. This is because rats run fast in the same pathways when they’re trying to get from one place to another.

2. Mice

Like rats, mice are also active at night. This is when scratching and scurrying noises in the attic are audible. These rodents typically communicate through ultrasonic sounds that humans can’t hear, but they occasionally squeak when talking with other mice.

It’s nearly impossible to differentiate between mice and rats based solely on the sounds they make in the attic. It’s also difficult to see either of these rodents unless the infestation is already severe, and their nests are already full.

To accurately determine whether it’s mice or rats that are causing all the ruckus in the attic, search for other signs like their droppings. Both rodents leave droppings everywhere they go, but mice droppings are a lot smaller than rat droppings – mice droppings only measure up to a quarter-inch with tapering ends while rat droppings are around 1/2 to 3/4 inch with blunt ends.

3. Squirrels

Squirrels are more active during the day. They might be the animals in the attic if the noises are heard when the sun is up. These animals come and go throughout the day because they’re continuously looking for shelter or storing food in the attic. Like rats and mice, squirrels are also more active during winter.

Aside from the usual scratches they make when moving around the attic, squirrels also make chewing, chirping, and scampering noises. The acorns they store in the attic might also drop or roll around, which causes more noise.

4. Raccoons and Skunks

It’s easy to find out if one of these larger animals have made their way into the attic than smaller rodents. The scratching sounds they make are much louder than mice, rats, and squirrels. They’re also always heard at night because raccoons and skunks are nocturnal animals.

Raccoons also make thumping and scratching noises whenever they walk around the attic. Some homeowners describe raccoon noises in the attic like a burglar breaking into the house. They also vocalize when communicating with each other, which usually sound like guttural cries or growls.

On the other hand, skunks are typically silent. They only make noises when they are threatened. Another way to identify between skunks and raccoons is the foul smell in the attic. Skunk spray is made of oil, which is why the smell sticks longer to an area.

5. Bats

Although it’s quite rare for bats to invade homes, these nocturnal animals enter the attic when they need to find a place to give birth in. Most of the wild bats found in the attic were only trapped or injured. If it’s a bat in the attic, homeowners are likely to hear movement in the attic during dusk and dawn.

Bats also create soft fluttering noises when they spread their wings or struggle to move inside tight spaces. They’re also a lot less destructive than mice and rats, so their presence in the house is more of a nuisance than an actual danger. Homeowners are advised to trap and release these animals instead of killing them because they’re helpful for the environment.

6. Opossums

Another animal that loves living in the attic is the opossum. They’re destructive animals that enter the house by tearing shingles and ripping soffit on the roof. Opossums in the attic are quite easy to detect because they produce loud scratching noises. They also roam around the large area of the attic instead of sticking to the sides as smaller rodents do.

Opossums also vocalize when communicating with each other, so homeowners might hear hissing and shrieking noises. But aside from the loud and disturbing sounds they make, the presence of opossum in the attic presents dangers to the pets and the house’s structure.

These destructive creatures destroy some parts of the roof and attic just to get inside the house and build a cozy home there. They’re also aggressive towards pets like cats, which is why you might notice the cat food disappearing quickly when there’s an opossum in the house.

7. Birds

Bird sounds are almost always limited to chirps and tweets that are heard throughout the bents. They typically enter the house through the holes in the roof and build a nest there. These animals are not comfortable in extremely enclosed spaces, so you’ll likely hear fluttering sounds when a bird gets trapped in the attic.

After the bird is out of the attic, find the opening they might have used to enter the house. Make sure to repair the damage to prevent birds and other animals from getting inside and building a nest in the attic.

What to do About the Scratching Noise in the Attic?

The scratching noises against wood in the attic are the first sign that animals are trying to share the house with you. Further investigation about the source helps homeowners eliminate the nuisance before it starts causing more trouble. If the scratching noises keep you restless at night, here is a step-by-step process to get rid of them:

Identify Which Animal Makes the Sound

Different animals in the attic create different sounds. The kind of noise heard, its loudness, and its frequency gives you a hint about the pest’s identity. However, it’s still difficult to accurately determine which animal is nesting in the attic without any other information.

If the animals aren’t in the attic every time you peek at them, try searching for other signs that might help identify them. The size and shape of droppings are an excellent way to determine the animal in the attic.

Eliminate the Pest in the Attic

Once you’ve identified the kind of animal making the scratching noises in the attic, it’s time to call pest management professionals to get rid of them. Some homeowners perform DIY exclusion work in their houses to save money, but it’s still better to leave the task at the hands of a professional exterminator.

Licensed exterminators have the right tools and knowledge to get rid of whatever animal is in the attic. This allows them to perform safe and effective exclusion work that won’t cause further harm to the family and the environment.

Throw Away the Nesting Materials

Extermination doesn’t simply end when the animals are out of the house. It’s also important to disinfect the area and get rid of the nesting materials. Most pest management professionals include decontamination in their services, so homeowners won’t need to worry about the proper way of disposing of nesting materials.

For homeowners who managed to eliminate the source of scratching noises in their attic by themselves, the next step is to throw away the nesting materials if there are any. Make sure to wear full protective gear when cleaning up the nests because their droppings and urine can still contaminate the house and cause diseases.

Seal All Roof Holes

After the pests are out and the nests are clear, it’s time to inspect the house for holes that animals might use to enter. Seal the holes on the wall with steel wool and caulk to prevent rodents from chewing through them.

Repairing the roof holes and wall gaps also minimizes the chances of different animals getting trapped in the attic.

Trim Trees Near the Attic

The tall trees connected to the roof and attic are one of the most common entry points that animals use to get inside the house. They use the long branches as bridges to reach the roof and find a hole to enter. If you don’t want to cut down the tall trees in the yard, make sure to trim the branches attached to the roof.

Full Attic Inspection by PermaKill Exterminating

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PermaKill Exterminating is a locally run and operated pest control provider in NJ that offers smart and safe extermination services. Our highly trained staff treats pest control as a science, which allows them to perform excellent pest control services every single time.

We also utilize different IPM-based methods to ensure that the treatment is safe for the family and the environment. Call us at (973) 584 – 6414 to eliminate the animals that cause the scratching noises in the attic.

Read more: What is the Difference Between a Mouse and a Vole?


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