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What to Do If You Hear An Animal in the Wall
When rodents and birds are present in a given neighborhood, they will often scavenge properties for food and shelter. If a house has open nooks and crannies, these creatures are highly tempted to enter. This is particularly true during the colder months of the year.
Identifying the Invader
If you're hearing thumps or knocks that seem to be coming from within your walls or above your ceiling, you first must try to identify what kind of animal it is. Chances are, one of the following animals is inhabiting your house:
- Bats: Out of all the creatures that can fly, the most haunting is the bat. A nocturnal creature, the bat will often make squeaking noises in the various darkened corridors that it frequents, such as caves and attics. A home’s attic makes for a convenient nesting space in neighborhoods where bats congregate, especially in houses with unintended openings. When bats cluster inside a home, they are capable of causing significant interior damage, especially as they get stuck within walls and try to scratch and bite their way to freedom.
- Rodents: Rats and mice are drawn to many of the things that repel humans: garbage cans, foliage piles, abandoned outbuildings, and dark corridors, just to name a few. The trouble is, these attractants are typically found in close proximity to human dwellings. In neighborhoods infested with these critters, any home is a sitting duck for scavenging, squatting rodents. Rats tend to burrow in yards and slip inside homes at night, whereas mice tend to nest indoors around the clock. Any house with coin-sized holes can be vulnerable. Rats and mice are prone to infest attics, crawl spaces, basements, and wall cavities. If scratching sounds are emanating from any of these areas, chances are you have a rodent on your hands.
- Birds: Few creatures enjoy freedom as much as the bird. With its ability to soar above ground and travel great distances in seconds flat, the bird is the envy of all other species. As such, birds are among the more outdoorsy of creatures. When birds do find themselves indoors, it's usually because they've simply wandered into a covered space for the purpose of nesting. If a bird winds up in your attic, it won't want to stay for long, and it's liable to make scratching, chirping or pecking noises if it can't find its way back outside.
- Raccoons: Known for climbing up trees and resting on branches, the raccoon is a nocturnal creature that sometimes makes its way into homes when opportunity strikes. Once inside, this typically solitary animal will gnaw electrical wires, shred up insulation and make some of the loudest shrieks of any home invader — the likes of which could deprive any homeowner of a good night's sleep. In residential properties, attics are a raccoon’s typical area of choice.
- Squirrels: For homeowners, the squirrel presents many of the same problems as the raccoon. As a relatively large rodent, the squirrel is louder than rats or mice. It can also do a lot more damage to home interiors due to the size of its molars. The sounds of a squirrel range from short chirps to sustained squawks. With its insatiable teeth, the creature is also the most aggressive when it comes to plowing through attics. If it is not able to find food, the squirrel will nibble on any wood in sight.
How to Get an Animal Out of the Wall
Once you have identified the type of animal, you need to target the specific problem. Can the animal climb up and down, or is it stuck inside the wall? Each issue requires different steps to be resolved.
If the animal is able to move around freely, you should start by trying to identify possible entry points. Animals generally enter through the attic, where they then fall or crawl down into the wall from the top. You can attempt to rid the animal from your house using a few different methods:
- Ultrasonic repellents use high frequencies to repel pests without the use of chemicals. These can effectively drive your animal invader away with little interference from you.
- Try placing food lures in a trap at the entry points to draw them out of their hiding spot. Wet cat food is a great option for luring a range of pests, particularly raccoons. Peanut butter, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for enticing squirrels. When choosing your bait, make sure the animal can easily smell it from a distance.
Attempting to first draw the animal out on its own can potentially prevent having to remove it with methods that are more drastic. However, keep in mind: even if you have discovered an adult animal that can freely move around, there may still be a litter of baby animals that are unable to climb. It is possible you will be able to identify this by peering down into the wall where it meets the attic.
If the animal is stuck inside the wall, they likely don’t have enough to grasp onto to climb back out. The inside of your walls may be too smooth to provide traction, especially for baby animals with little climbing experience. In this case, you will have to try physically to remove it.
- Mice and rats may be relatively easy to remove on your own by using heavy gloves and a long grasping device, such as a snare pole to pull them out from the top of the wall. However, animals with a nasty bite, such as raccoons and squirrels, may require an animal control specialist to assist.
- If you are unable to simply reach down into the wall and retrieve the critters, you will need to cut a hole in the wall where they are trapped. Unless you are an experienced DIYer, this will likely mean calling a wildlife removal professional.
You should never simply leave a trapped animal with the expectation that they will eventually find their way out. If they are truly stuck, they will ultimately die of starvation, dehydration, or exhaustion from trying to escape. This will leave you with an even worse problem. A dead animal, even a small one, will create an unbearable scent as it decomposes and you will still have to take strides to remove it.
How You Can Keep Pests Out of and Away From Your House
In order to prevent birds and rodents from entering your house in the first place, there are many simple solutions. These include:
- Keeping garbage sealed away in trash cans.
- Trimming all branches that come within three feet of your walls or roof.
- Checking your house for cracks and gaps in the foundation, siding, or roof and sealing them as necessary.
- Bringing all pet food and bird feed indoors overnight.
- Adding a cap to your chimney.
If critters are known to invade homes in your neighborhood, keep them out of yours with Critter Ridder® Animal Repellent Granular from Havahart®. Made from granules of three different hot peppers, Critter Ridder® has the repellent power to drive away squirrels, raccoons, and other loud invaders for up to 30 days with a single application in your attic, crawl space, or other problem areas. Visit Havahart® today to see our full line of animal repellents.
Who Are Your Invaders?
Do you have a stowaway in your home? Is it an animal we didn’t cover? Feel free to visit us on Facebook to tell us about it. Also, be sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter, which will clue you in on new products and other helpful articles to protect your home from pests.