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Animal in the attic #369386 - Ask Extension

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Animal in the attic #369386

Asked October 11, 2016, 4:02 PM EDT

I have an animal in the attic. I believe its a rat based on the dropping. we are unable to sleep at night because of chewing and gnawing. I can't figure out how it enters into the attic. How do I get rid of it?

Tioga County Pennsylvania

Expert Response

Thank you for your question.  Figuring out how the animal gets in the attic can sometimes be difficult.  Some animals can squeeze through openings you wouldn't think are large enough for them to use. Rats, for example, could be coming in your crawlspace, if you have one, and climbing up to the attic through the walls.

To capture the animal, I would first try a live trap.  Several companies make a trap that can capture rats or squirrels.  Bait it with a mixture of peanut butter, songbird seed, and nuts. Check the trap in the morning and periodically during the day. If you catch the animal, then you'll know what you're dealing with, and it may help you tailor your search for its entry point. I prefer live traps versus poisons, because I don't like the idea of putting poisons around the house, and you have no control over where the animal is going to eventually die. It may die in your wall and the odor will not be pleasant.

Unfortunately there are no guarantees when it comes to discouraging wildlife, but there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of animals gaining access to your home. In the attic, if you have gable vents at each end of your house, check them to make sure they have a screen covering on the inside, so animals can't crawl into the attic between the louvers in the vent. Some houses have soffit vents.  Check these to make sure they are secure and the screen has not been torn or degraded. Keep tree branches trimmed back away from your home, so animals can't jump to your roof from the tree limbs. Check your foundation for cracks and openings where pipes or conduit enter under your house. You can seal cracks with caulk and holes where pipes penetrate the foundation with that expandable spray foam. If you have a crawlspace, make sure foundation vents are secure and don't have any large cracks between the vent and the foundation opening. Also make sure the crawlspace door fits securely, and there aren't any gaps between the door and foundation opening. Check under sinks in the kitchen and bathroom to make sure there aren't large gaps where the supply lines come in from under the house and where the drain pipe goes through the wall or floor.

Hope this information helps, and thanks for using Ask an Expert.

Jim
  
Jim Burke Replied October 13, 2016, 6:10 PM EDT

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