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Homeownership Tips
How To Identify Pests In Your Home

How To Identify Pests In Your Home

Once, I was convinced there was a horse in my attic. Ludicrous, I know! But when I hear unexplained noises that go bump in the night, my imagination can get the better of me. After a visit from my local pest control service, I learned that the “horse trotting” noises were likely caused from a raccoon jumping down into my attic from a hole on the edge of my roof. There wasn’t a lot of insulation at that entry point, so when he thumped onto the plywood and ran to his spot, I heard “horse.”

Do you hear strange noises coming from your attic or walls? If so, here’s some information that can help you identify what type of critters are taking up residence within your home.

Popular Pests

Some of the most common pests to invade attics, walls and crawl spaces include raccoons, squirrels, rats, bats, opossums and snakes. Depending on your specific House Pests, you will need to work with either your local pest control company or a professional wildlife animal removal service to evict your pests.

For example, my local pest control team can treat for rats. But because I was hearing a horse, they determined that I was likely harboring a raccoon or other large wildlife animal, and instructed me to work with a specialty wildlife removal service.

The Noises

One way to start identifying your House Pests is to identify the noises you hear. Do you hear scratching? Thumping? Rolling? Hissing? Chewing? Are the noises at night? During the day? Here’s a list of common pests and their noises and habits:

  • Squirrels — Squirrels make quick, light scampering noises. They are active during the daytime, so they are typically heard early in the morning and before sunset. Squirrels hang out near their entry point, so they are usually heard along the edges of roofs. They can also scurry up and down the walls. You may also hear squirrels rolling their acorns, and scratching at surfaces.
  • Raccoons — Raccoons are nocturnal, so they are usually heard after sunset and before sunrise. Most attic raccoons are pregnant females looking for a safe place for their pups. Scratching may be heard as they build their nests. Because raccoons are large critters, they make noises often described as heavy walking or thumping. Raccoons are also very vocal, especially the young pups, producing chattering and growling noises.
  • Rats & Mice — Like squirrels, rats and mice travel quickly, making light scurrying and scampering noises. Depending on the density of walls and attics, these critters can sound bigger or smaller than they actually are. Rats and mice are very destructive pests, and they breed in high numbers. You may hear them at night, pitter-pattering throughout the attic, scurrying up and down the walls, and scratching at pipes, electrical wires and wood surfaces.
  • Bats — If you can hear bats in your attic, be prepared to discover a large colony. Normally, it’s hard to hear a bat’s high-pitched noise, but hundreds of bats together can turn up the volume quickly. Bats are nocturnal, so they are often associated with nighttime noises of crawlingflying and high-pitch squeaking noises.
  • Opossums — Opossums are large animals, so they move slowly. They typically seek out the warmth and safety of an attic and claim it as their den. So when an opossum arrives in an attic, it’s typically there to stay. Because opossums are mostly quiet creatures, they are sometimes not discovered until they die and a foul odor fills the home. Opossums are nocturnal, so if heard, they sound like a very heavy, slow-moving animal during the night.
  • Snakes — Snakes typically end up in attics because they have followed the scent of their prey — rats. Because snakes don’t make a ruckus, they are usually found during removal of other pests. Occasionally some homeowners do hear what they describe as a slithering noise.

Inspecting The Attic

If you’re a bit braver than me, you might want to inspect the attic yourself before calling your pest control company. Me? I didn’t want to take the chance that a wild horse would come blazing down the attic stairs.

When inspecting the attic for possible entry holes and critter damage, there are some telltale signs that can help you determine the species in your attic.  For example:

Droppings — Rats and mice leave droppings all over the place … thousands of tiny droppings. Squirrels typically do their business in one location, and it’s often near the entry point. Larger animals, like raccoons and opossums will leave larger droppings. Bat droppings, or guano, can be highly toxic to humans and usually contain insect parts.

Damage — All pests are destructive to some degree; however, some are more than others. Raccoon damage may include scratched structural wood, shredded roofing material, damaged insulation, damaged vent ducts, chewed pipe insulation, damaged air conditioners, attic ventilation fans and chewed electrical cables. Rats and mice like to hang out near water heaters and furnaces, where they can scratch at pipes and chew through wires. Squirrels tend to leave behind evidence of gnawing, as well as tracking indentions on insulation.

Entry Points — The smaller the entry point into your attic, the smaller the critter you may have living in your attic, such as a bat, snake or rat. On the flip side, while a larger entry point might indicate that a raccoon has made its way in, it’s also the perfect opening for all of the smaller critters to tag along as well. And of course, multiple entry points identified in your attic can lead to multiple species gaining access.

Evicting Your Unwanted Pests

If you suspect you have a pest in your attic, act promptly to remove the animal. The National Pest Management Association reports that rodents consume or contaminate about 20 percent of the world’s food supply. They also carry fleas and ticks that potentially carry diseases. In addition, rodents are responsible for many house fires that are started due to chewed wires and spilled flammables.

It’s important to bring in the appropriate professionals to eliminate pests. Start with your local pest control company for guidance, and then bring in a wildlife removal source if needed.

PrimeLending hopes this information will help keep your home free of house pests, as well as any strange noises that go bump in the night.

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Written By Mandy Jordan