Rodents like rats and mice make their way into warm structures as it gets colder outdoors. This time of year you may wake up in the middle of the night to what seems like scratching in the ceiling or walls. Which is a big confusion to people when they hear noises in the attic or the walls, especially if it’s their first time hearing these noises. Normally in this time of the year, we receive calls from all over the Greater Toronto Area in regards to scratching in the walls. This is a typical rodent behavior but the type of noise can be misleading. There are several ways to accurately identify the differences if you are not sure of what type of pest you are hearing.
Mice V.S Squirrel
When dealing with a mice problem, majority of the time you will hear scratching in one spot. Multiple areas are also possible but again, the scratching or gnawing will be in one spot. In some situations where the inside portion of the drywall contains no insulation the noises can be amplified. Most of the time mice movement won’t be heard, but rat movement can be. Squirrels are fast and jittery animals, which means that they can run very fast and are very active. So expect the most noise and scattering in a larger area of the ceiling or attic during the day when dealing with squirrels.
Mice and squirrel noises can be misdiagnosed. If you suspect a squirrel is in the walls or in the attic, consider the following. Squirrels very rarely travel inside the walls of the house but this situation is not unheard of. Some homes with chewed side vents can present this possibility, or younger squirrels that have fallen in between the walls.
Time Of Day
First and foremost, when are you hearing the sound and what time of the day or night are you hearing it? There have been occasions where we arrive at a client’s home to inspect the attic and find that it has been a windy week, and a loose attachment was squeaking on the roof. So it is important not to panic, and to give a nice quiet listen to troubleshoot what it is that you’re hearing.
The time of the day is important. Squirrels are active during the day which means if they’ve sheltered in your attic, they will exit and re-enter regularly. When it gets dark they enter the attic and begin to sleep. More often than not, you will not hear a squirrel at night. They tend to be active just before sunrise and during the day time. Mice are shy and cautious rodents. You may be a light sleeper and find that you are hearing scratching / gnawing within the walls or the attic. This may wake you up in the middle of the night. Our clients say that when they tap on the wall to investigate the noise, it suddenly stops. This behavior is related to mice portraying their cautious and shy nature and it’s a great testing tool!
Evidence Of Mice
If you are able, you can check the attic for droppings and tunneling in the insulation. Pathways that are about 1-2 inches wide on the surface of the insulation are where mice have traveled. You will also find tunneling in or near these paths. Tunneling is a great indication of mice presence, they look like someone took their finger and poked through the insulation. These are pathways or highways that mice create, they mostly use the same path to navigate through the attic. Mice droppings can be difficult to find depending on the type of insulation. They resemble a dark brown colour and look smaller but similar to a grain of rice. This information can also be obtained in kitchen cabinets, behind fridges, stoves and basements.