There are a few creatures that can get into your attic spaces. Some are large, like raccoons. This makes them easy to distinguish from other intruders. They're so loud, you may be tempted to think a human burglar has broken in, instead of a furry masked intruder. Some are small, like birds and bats, but their wing flapping often gives these critters away. The two that sometimes get mistaken for each other are mice and squirrels. These are the attic-invading pests we're going to focus on. Here are a few questions that will help you determine what you have.
When are you hearing the sounds?
The best way to figure out which of these two animals is making noises in your attic is by the time of day you hear the sounds. Most squirrels, especially the species that enter homes, are diurnal. That is to say, they are most active during the day. Mice are nocturnal animals that are most active during the night. If you're hearing bumping and thumping just before you go to bed, it is probably mice getting ready for a night of foraging. If you're hearing noises in the morning and throughout the day, it is more likely squirrels. But, be aware that some other animals, and also natural phenomena like tree branches scratching and bumping against the house, can be mistaken for both of these animals. So, when the noise is heard isn't the only clue you should go with.
It is also possible to hear squirrels at night. This is because they may have to be active to take care of their offspring. But these noises will be less noticeable than their day noises, as a general rule.
How loud are the sounds?
You might be tempted to think you know which of these two animals you have by how loud the sounds are, but the sounds mice can make would surprise you. But sound can be a valuable clue in determining what is living in your house. Mice sometimes give themselves away by the squeaks they make. While not all mouse squeaks are audible, the squeaks that are audible may be the hint you need to rule out squirrels.
Are you noticing droppings and urine in your kitchen or pantry?
If you're finding droppings around your home, they could help you figure your mystery out fairly quickly. No, you don't have to examine the droppings for size, color, and texture. We're not going to put you through all that. What you need to take note of is where you found the droppings. Squirrels aren't going to leave feces in the back of your silverware drawer. These creatures eat a limited list of dietary staples and, while squirrels may try new things if you leave them on your porch, they aren't likely to be searching your home for new dietary choices. So, those droppings on your pantry shelves, and in the backs of your drawers and cabinets, are a sign that the noises in your attic may be mice. But, it is important to take note that you could have both critters living in your home.
Do you see any entry points in your eaves or soffits?
A close inspection of your eaves and soffits may be the biggest clue of all. Squirrels get into homes through high entry points. They seldom get in on ground level. Mice, on the other hand, prefer to chew their way in from ground level. If you have chew holes up near your roofline, especially under the overhang, the infesting rodent living inside your attic spaces is most likely a squirrel.
The best way to figure out whether or not you have a mouse or a squirrel is to have a professional pest technician do a detailed inspection and monitor for these animals. A professional will also be sure to take care of the "whole" problem, and not just the invading animal(s). Areas of contamination need to be dealt with. Secondary pests like fleas, ticks, lice, and mites, need to be considered. Entry points need to be sealed. And, a protocol should be implemented to resist future infestation.
If you live in our New Jersey service area, let the caring professionals here at ChemTec remove the invading animals safely, and humanely.