Something is in my attic... Help me figure out what it is and how to get it out! (SLYT...)
April 5, 2009 1:07 PM   Subscribe

We've been hearing rustling overhead. There is a narrow crawlspace up there. I made an opening, stuck my camera up and recorded a video.

You can't see any critters, but you can hear them. What do you think? Sounds like the gophers in Caddyshack to me...

Location is Colorado. Possibly squirrels? The space is too small to fit in, any suggestions for removal? I'd like to do it myself, but perhaps this is best left to the pros. If so, any recommendations in the Boulder area? TIA!
posted by cosmac to Pets & Animals (24 answers total)
I say it sounds like squirrels. HOwever, it looks towards the end like something has been chewing on one of your wood beams. I don't think squirrels do this. Am I seeing correctly that the beam visible at the left during one part of the video has been gnawed at? If so, I would take that as clue #2. And I would call some animal-removal expert cause you don't want critters in your house and you don't want them chewing up the stuff that holds your roof up.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:12 PM on April 5, 2009

It does sound like squirrels to me, too.
posted by Brockles at 1:14 PM on April 5, 2009

Can you get back up there with a flashlight, too?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 1:17 PM on April 5, 2009

Best answer: Sounds like a raccoon. If it is, hire a pro to remove. You do not want to face down an irate raccoon.
posted by jamaro at 1:18 PM on April 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Having dealt with both squirrels and raccoons in my house, I can tell you that those sound exactly like squirrels. I'd call a pro, they know what they're doing so as to not rip apart your crawlspace getting them out.
posted by meerkatty at 1:21 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: looks towards the end like something has been chewing on one of your wood beams

No, all looks solid up there.

Can you get back up there with a flashlight, too?

I have, and used a broom to push the insulation around. Can't see anything, it goes pretty far back. They're probably snuggled in the insulation deep back there.
posted by cosmac at 1:26 PM on April 5, 2009

Chewing on the beams doesn't mean it isn't squirrels. At least, when I was a kid, we had problems with flying squirrels (IIRC) gnawing on the ends of rafters. Kind of bizarre, but there you go.
posted by hattifattener at 1:35 PM on April 5, 2009

Sounds exactly like my parrot when he's imitating the squirrels out the window. But my parrot's right here where he's supposed to be so it's probably squirrels.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:42 PM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You could have a family of squirrels living in your attic. There is a humane way to get them to relocate. Please read.
posted by watercarrier at 1:44 PM on April 5, 2009

Those high-frequency rodent repellers may work on squirrels. Stick one of those up there, let them get out then plug up thier entrance.
We used these in combination with traps to get rid of mice a couple of months ago. Dunno how effective they were by themselves, but we don't have any more mice!
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 1:46 PM on April 5, 2009

Nthing squirrels. My parents had some move into their attic. The exterminator sprayed something up there that didn't kill them but chased them away; then he helpfully sealed the holes where the squirrels got in.

Alternatively, you could borrow someone's cat and leave it up there for a few days. (kidding!)
posted by orrnyereg at 1:51 PM on April 5, 2009

Best answer: Squirrels or rats. Either case you need to find out how they get in. Then so that they don't die inside put a screen on the opening but make a little one-way type door with a flap of the screen so that they can get out and not back in. After a week or so close that off. That is the humane way. Alternatively, get rat pellets. They dehydrate the animals so they leave to go find water and die outside of your dwelling. After a few weeks seal the entry.
posted by caddis at 1:53 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: Looks like it's probably squirrels. They are active during the day which tends to confirm it according to watercarrier's link .

I've taped over (lightly) the one possible point of access I've found. They should have no problem getting through it, I just want to be sure it is how they are getting in and out. If that's it, I'll see if I can construct a one way door. The possibility of babies complicates things though...

Don't worry watercarrier, I'll be as nice as I can!
posted by cosmac at 2:30 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

You can look at my question history and see how effective pellet poison is.

You should be able to buy a 1 way door or trap at at hardware or garden store for under $15. It's more expensive than pellets, but definitely worth it.
posted by Orrorin at 3:45 PM on April 5, 2009

You could always put a webcam on the squirrels' nest, and set up a Paypal link for donations. Infinitely more enjoyable (and profitable) than pellets and traps!
posted by aquafortis at 4:29 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

If they are squirrels, DO NOT CALL THE COPS.

If you don't believe me, just go to this link. (Part 1) (Part 2)
posted by davidamann at 5:00 PM on April 5, 2009

I removed several squirrels myself using a live trap. The county extension agent warned me to not only seal the entrance to my house but to also relocate the squirrels at least 3 miles away, which makes me wonder if squirrels excluded by a one-way door would just try to find another way in and do more damage.

Basic steps:

1. Get the trap. I borrowed it from a rural friend. It's a big cage with a door that closes when the critter touches the food tray. You might be able to get one from the humane society or county extension.

2. Set the trap where the squirrels hang out. I think I used peanut butter as bait.

3. Check the trap at least once a day.

4. When you've got a squirrel, put on gloves and pick up the trap. If your squirrels are like mine they might lunge.

5. Put newspaper in the car, add trap with irate squirrel, drive 3 miles to a nice place with trees and few homes, and release.

6. When you're sure you've gotten them all out, thoroughly seal up the entrance the squirrels had used.
posted by PatoPata at 6:18 PM on April 5, 2009

If it's squirrels, get this taken care of asap. My parents had mid-6 figures worth of damage to their house caused by a family of squirrels who chewed on electrical wiring, and ended up getting zapped. The squirrels turned into flaming balls of fur, which is pretty nasty to have in a space like an attic.

Don't want to freak you out, because I'm sure this is a totally rare occurrence, but that is the worst case scenario situation.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 8:21 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: Not squirrels! I set up a webcam and used motion sensing sw to record. Here is what I found! Raccoon, right?
posted by cosmac at 6:59 AM on April 6, 2009

That sure looks like a raccoon's bandit face to me. This should make it easier to find where he is coming in. A raccoon will require a significantly larger opening than a rat or squirrel, but that opening may still seem surprisingly small. All he needs to do is get is head through and that is just a few inches.
posted by caddis at 8:18 AM on April 6, 2009

Told ya it was a raccoon. Now, get a pro.
posted by jamaro at 12:43 PM on April 6, 2009

Pros often use cotton balls soaked in coyote urine to get the raccoon to skeedaddle. Just an FYI. This is one of the most humane ways to get a raccoon out. Might want to check your pros and see what they plan to do.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 4:45 PM on April 9, 2009

Response by poster: To bring closure to this... I had a raccoon with two, maybe 3 babies. I hired a "pro" who tossed in some paper rags with male raccoon urine and made a bunch of noise. He wanted $150 for this, plus $90 a visit to continue to harass them. He didn't want to deal with traps or with climbing in to get the babies.

I decided to simply continue to harassment myself by making noise and poking them when I could reach them (safely, using fish tape through the ceiling light fixtures below). I also tossed rags with ammonia up there. It was fun checking in on them with the webcam every so often... After 3 weeks, they left. I've now covered the vent with hardware cloth.

Best I can tell, they don't cause the damage squirrels do, and they eventually do leave. Get a pro if you can't wait. If you do get a pro, see if you can get them to do it for a fixed price...

Final video with a brief glimpse of the babies (about 1 min in).
posted by cosmac at 11:11 AM on April 27, 2009

Cosmac, thanks for the videos. I've had a couple of squirrels in my attic before. Not fun to trap and remove. Very entertaining and interesting thread.
posted by atm at 6:20 PM on April 29, 2009

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