Removing unwanted animal residents in our attic
October 31, 2004 2:37 PM   Subscribe

We live (rent) on the second floor and attic of a house. The attic is finished in such a way so that there are crawlspaces on each side of the gable, which we use for storage. Something, presumably a squirrel or other manner of rodentia, has taken up residence either in the recesses of one of these crawlspaces or between the floors and scratches away annoyingly, most often at 5:30am. Is there anything we can do to drive the thing away* or should we just invest in a humane trap?

* We have a cat and two dogs live below, so things that emit animal-annoying frequencies are out of the question.
posted by stefnet to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Block the way the squirrel gets into the eaves.
posted by smackfu at 3:21 PM on October 31, 2004

I disagree. When a friend had a squirrel living in her ceiling, her landlord promised to trap and remove it. As an expedient, he decided instead to merely cover the hole through which it had gained access. Saddly, he did it when the squirrel was still inside. After a few days of desperately trying to claw or chew its way out, it finally expired, giving way to a maggot infestation which, in turn, led to swarms of flies throughout the building.

They say sometimes, if you're very quiet in the dead of night, you can hear that squirrel quietly the landlord in his native Ukrainian...
posted by ba at 3:24 PM on October 31, 2004

quietly cursing, that is
posted by ba at 3:25 PM on October 31, 2004

Invest in Borrow a humane trap. The local animal control dept should be able to hook you up. If that doesn't work, time to have the landlord call an exterminator.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:31 PM on October 31, 2004

(Um. That wasn't meant quite as heartless as it sounds. A professional exterminator just has more knowledge of how to convince the animal to enter a trap. Hopefully it'll be released unharmed into an approriate setting.)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:37 PM on October 31, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks. I think we've decided to call the landlord and try the humane trap route first. Thanks for suggesting animal control.

I wouldn't have the first notion of where the squirrel is getting in either as there are a number of nooks and crannies in this house.
posted by stefnet at 4:14 PM on October 31, 2004

We just dealt with this today, in a house that we're renting--we tried calling the landlord (who lives kind of far away), and while he promptly called the real estate agent to deal with it, it's been several weeks now, and we just decided to take things into our own hands.

We called animal control a while ago, and they left one of those humane traps in the attic for about two weeks, before they had to come and take it luck.

We heard on a radio call-in show a little while ago that that expanding foam you can buy in Home Depot, etc., is supposed to be a good solution, if there's a specific hole where they're coming in...the idea is that while they can chew through anything, the foam is so nasty tasting that it discourages them. (We'll see.)

We took advantage of the fact that it's an unseasonably gorgeous day today in the northeast to plug the hole, since they only seem to come into the house at night. We thumped on the ceilings, made a lot of ruckus in the attic, and generally did what we could to make sure they weren't inside. We then generously filled in any of the holes where it looked like they might be coming in, and for the first night in a long time, it's quiet up there, so we'll see.

(As an aside, if you want to try and look for where they're getting in, look for a nook or cranny that has a lot of branches and leaves collected around it. If they're in the house this time of year, they're probably trying to build a nest, and in our case, at least, there was a pile of stuff that they couldn't fit through the hole stacked up in one specific corner.)
posted by LairBob at 6:13 PM on October 31, 2004

> We thumped on the ceilings, made a lot of ruckus in the attic, and generally
> did what we could to make sure they weren't inside.

I lived in an old house whose walls and attic were home to quite a number of beasties--squirrels, possums, at least one raccoon, from the volume of the nightly ruckus I wouldn't have been surprised to find a herd of deer bedded down up there.

Several boxes of mothballs scattered in the attic and down inside the walls wherever there was clear evidence of wildlife was very effective at getting it to move elsewhere. Before mothballs, scratch scratch rustle rustle thump gnaw all night long; after mothballs, silence. After a couple of days of silence I went around and patched the entrance holes.
posted by jfuller at 3:12 AM on November 1, 2004

You can try and be humane using a "Havahart" trap, which will allow you to release the rodent bastid in a park. Or you can maintain your role as the alpha mammal of the house and just stick a couple of big rat traps baited with peanut butter and some seeds - add fennel or licorice for good measure. Keep at it - squirrels like company.
posted by zaelic at 5:08 AM on November 1, 2004

What worked for me in a similar situation was wadding up aluminum foil, inserting it in any squirrel holes (or potential holes) then spraying the expanding foam that LairBob mentioned to seal off the whole shebang. I had read to do this somewhere. Apparently animals don't like chewing foil either.
posted by TimeFactor at 1:25 PM on November 1, 2004

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