What is living in my attic?
November 23, 2010 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I can hear something scurry above my head. But no signs when I check for evidence. My study has a ceiling, and above that is the loft/storage/attic area. I can hear things scurrying there at certain times of day and night. Sound big-ish to me (rat sized?) but I also know even little things can sound big.

Pulled the ladder down, climbed up with the torch and checked around. No sign of anything - no chewed material, no droppings, not a sign. But there is definitely something 'up there'.
What is the most humane way to check if something is living in my attic? Is there a kind of trap, or test, or something? I would feel a bit weird calling out the pest exterminators if there are no signs of anything.
BTW I am living in SE England, and it is pretty cold (there is no heating up in said attic/loft) so it is not geckos or something like that. I am guessing it has to be a mammal of some kind.
posted by Megami to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A Havahart trap?
posted by dolface at 12:26 PM on November 23, 2010

Best answer: One winter hen I was growing up we had squirrels use our attic for acorn storage. We heard the scurrying but found no obvious sign that anything was living there. A few peanut butter-baited no kill traps placed around the attic uncovered the culprits, and their acorn holding zone was discoverd after a more thorough search.

You may have creatures running around up there but not actually living there.
posted by phunniemee at 12:27 PM on November 23, 2010

Yes, a trap will catch them. I have had this problem a few times, it turned out to be squirrels. It is unnerving though to hear animals running around in the attic.
posted by chocolatetiara at 12:30 PM on November 23, 2010

Response by poster: We have squirrels here at the moment, ballsy little creatures (our bird feeders have all become squirrel feeders). Other than maybe nuts going rancid or the fact that squirrels can get in means something else can get in, is it a problem? And other than finding how they are getting in, how would I stop them?
posted by Megami at 12:37 PM on November 23, 2010

Exterminators can find where the squirrels are getting in and remediate that. Call exterminators. They are used to people calling and saying "Some animal is running around over my head." That's what they do.

We had squirrels nesting in our eaves and the exterminators were quite humane--they waited for the juveniles to grow up, baited the squirrels to come out, and then sealed the entrances so they couldn't get back in. So far, so good.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:40 PM on November 23, 2010

Best answer: Squirrels can be a problem if they decide to chew wires, etc. which could cause a fire. You need to get rid of them.
1. Go outside and see if you can find how they are coming into your attic. Block all holes, I ended up using flashing because they will continue to chew. Spray the outside of your house, under the eaves, soffits, etc. with ammonia (trust me it works) you are trying to eliminate their smell. If you do not eliminate their smell they will continue to come back and keep chewing.
2. Use a trap to catch them, they love peanut butter. If you want to release it read this to get an idea of how far you would have to release it so it might, like I said, might not come back. In my opinion I would kill the bugger(s).
Trust me, you don't want them in your attic because they will continue to chew and they will keep coming back.
posted by govtdrone at 12:53 PM on November 23, 2010

We put a new roof on our house and that stopped it. Also, there were oak trees with branches that hung over the roof, and the squirrels would jump onto our roof off of these. So we had them trimmed.
posted by chocolatetiara at 1:04 PM on November 23, 2010

I don't see why you would conclude there are "no signs of anything" when you can actually hear for yourself that there are creatures running around up there! Definitely call an exterminator.
posted by ootandaboot at 1:12 PM on November 23, 2010

Yeah, wild animals in your house is bad. Calling an exterminator now means not having to call someone to remove a rotting carcass later.
posted by SMPA at 1:14 PM on November 23, 2010

Are there any trees that would brush against the roof where you're hearing the scurrying? I was convinced there were mice above my bedroom at home before I connected the dots between the rustling noise (which I SWEAR sounded mammalian in origin) and the giant overgrown bush outside my window. And also that I heard the noise more often when it was windy.
posted by MadamM at 1:26 PM on November 23, 2010

If you can hear critters running overhead, it's critters. Call an exterminator, it's the only way to get it sorted out. And rodents aren't healthy to have in your house, especially if they chew through the wiring or give you viruses or stuff.

I had critters running overhead and it turned out to be rats. I heard one of them yelling "EEK EEK EEK" in the middle of the night through a crack in my very flimsy plaster ceiling. Followed by little ratty feet running along aforementioned ceiling. It scared the crap out of me, and I like rats. But I don't want them in my house. They are smart and might hack my email passwords. Only a professional can outsmart them.
posted by tel3path at 3:01 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Had squirrels between floors, in the farmhouse I rented years ago. They ran in and out every morning at a certain time, like clockwork. Exterminators are good at this sort of thing, and if you hear them running around, there is no reason to feel embarrassed in calling them.
posted by davejay at 3:47 PM on November 23, 2010

A cousin told me about her rented home's squirrel problem, and I had almost the same initial reaction as you did "Oh, they're just squirrels, ok"

I was SO wrong. Cutting to the chase, my cousin awakens one morning to drywall dust falling onto her face as she's lying in bed. A squirrel had chewed through her ceiling with a few dozen of his buddies.
posted by fontophilic at 7:41 PM on November 23, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. While my situation with the exterminators is a bit 'interesting' (I rent, and have no choice of which service I use due to the agreement etc. etc.) you have me convinced. Ringing them now.
posted by Megami at 12:00 AM on November 24, 2010

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