Pests in the United States have been a serious and costly problem to many homeowners. Many houses in suburban areas get infested by various pests such as: rodents, insects, reptiles… and their homeowners hate to deal with this issue because it is expensive.
In addition, if a house gets infested, its price of sale will be lower. I mean, who would knowingly buy an infested house? Or a house that can, easily, become infested?
Invasive species such as rodents or insects do not have the intention of ruining your house. They just want to have a safe shelter and a continuous source of food to guarantee survival.
And maybe you may wonder how wild animals can fit to live in closed areas such as attics and houses. Well, squirrels and woodchucks leave the wildlife because they do not have the sufficient means to defend themselves from lethal predators that put their species in danger.
A closed area, like an attic, is the perfect place for a colony of rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons… It provides them with all the calm and safety they want and they do not have to forage long distances for food; they can just sneak to your trash or your kitchen and steal all the food they want.
An attic will also improve their habit of gnawing as attic pests consume the wood of walls, the stored old clothes, the wood boxes of storage, and the electric wires.
For these reasons, you should know that your attic is in danger or may have, already, been infested. Therefore, you should take some measures to protect yourself, your property, and your environment.
What kinds of pests are able to infest attics?
Kinds of pests that are able to infest your attic
Your attic is threatened by many pests, and it is important that you have multiple protection systems to avoid all of these pests. But first, you need to know about these pests and why they infest your attic. You should study their behavior to guarantee a perfect treatment or a strong protection.
Rats are in the top because they are most likely to invade your attic. There is even a species called “roof rat” which likes to live on roofs and in attics.
The roof rat or black rat is a perfect climber, it likes to live in dark, quiet, and closed areas and attics are more than perfect in providing these conditions.
Roof rats have a destructive behavior that can be responsible for ruining your whole house structure: they gnaw wood from the walls, scratch walls when climbing, chew electric cables, feed on stored clothes, and leave their feces everywhere. In addition to that, they carry a stinky smell which is able to spread in the whole house, creating anxiety and stress.
Rats have a fast reproduction behavior which means that a couple of rats will become a colony of up to 20 rats in 1 year, and these 20 rats don’t have a problem with turning your attic into a big nest or a “rat Villa”.
Mice, cousins of rats, are just tiny rodents with a massive destructive behavior. The house mouse is a species of mice that lives in houses; it likes to invade houses because of the commensalism relationship between him and the human victim: the mouse uses the human resources without harming it, but it is more harmful when mice gnaw the wood furniture or the wood walls and practice their unpleasant chewing habit.
Mice are nocturnal, so they sleep 12 hours when the day light is up and then wake up at night and start foraging for food in your house. They build an initial nest in the attic to provide shelter, warmth and safety, and then they start seeking out food sources such as: trash, stored food, garden fruit and insects in the attic.
Squirrels are also rodents, and they are wild rodents, but in the US they are the most common pest found in attics. How can a wild rodent invade your attic and make it its home?
Well, as said above, squirrels are small rodents that cannot defend themselves in front of dangerous wild predators, therefore, they choose attics of houses in suburban areas, where they can have shelter, warmth, and protection. It is quite near to the wildlife so they can forage for food but, by the end of the day, they will return to their safe shelter in your attic.
The Eastern Gray squirrel is the most commonly known species as an attic invader. This squirrel can’t resist the cold rough weather in the wild, so it chooses to live in an attic to provide warmth and safety. It has a bushy and fluffy tail, it looks cute, but do not forget that it is a pest, and it is a serious threat to your well-being as long as it lives in your attic.
When it comes to bats, everybody starts to feel scared. Of course it is scary to have bats in your attic, but only 13% of infested attics in U.S suffer from bat infestations.
This scary animal is also a rodent, a flying rodent, which makes it worse. Bats are strictly nocturnal, which means they are active only at night, and when they are active they forage distant areas for food sources and then they come back to your attic.
The only problem with bat infestations is that they have a significant smell in their feces which is so frequent and this smell is able to transmit diseases.
Bats are smart rodents that won’t make you see them; they will choose tiny holes in your attic and stay there. Therefore, it is really critical once infested by bats and really complicated to exterminate them.
Raccoons are not rodents, and among all these pests we are listing, this could be the most dangerous pest.
Raccoons are as big as dogs – or maybe bigger – since a single raccoon measures 16 to 28 inches (40 to 70 centimeters) long with a fluffy tail addition that is 8 to 16 inches (20 to 40 centimeters) long and weighs 8 to 20 pounds (3.5 to 9 kg).
Making of it the biggest attic pest as far, its size makes you wonder how the extermination of this pest is even possible.
Usually, only a raccoon female would invade your attic to give birth to her young in a safe and warm place. And since raccoons are perfect climbers, they won’t face any problem when climbing your walls to gain entry to the attic. And their strong teeth give them the ability to smash little pieces of wood around the perimeter of your roof and create a hole to your attic.
The opossums are wild animals, but opossum females choose to invade an attic to breed a liter of young in a dry, safe and warm place away from wild predators.
Adult possums are also sometimes found together in the same attic; in that case, your attic would be ruined in few days.
Opossums invade your attic usually in May and June, but they also come back in December to overcome the coldness of winter.
Opossums are also dog-sized animals which are 11.8 to 35.4 inches (30 to 90 centimeters) and a single possum weighs up to 14 pounds (6.4 kg).
Wondering how bed bugs have the ability to infest your attic?
Well, it is often possible to suffer from bed bugs in the attic. They could be brought to it from old infested clothes or boxed or transmitted to the attic through wood cracks.
Bed bugs are like any other species, in search of a safe place to build their nest which is called “harborage”. And if they find an attic, they will become permanent residents in this attic, and it would be so hard to detect them since they mark their food trails with pheromones and follow it when the night comes, so they won’t be under your bed, they will be in your attic but they will not have a problem with sucking your blood.
If bed bugs are found in an attic, it means that the whole house is suffering from a severe infestation.
Hazardous insects: wasps, bees, flies…
Many other hazardous insects may also settle in your attic and become a dangerous pest to your house, such as: wasps. They are most likely to build their nest in your ceiling or in the attic and attack all the humans in the house. They present a danger to young people which can become extremely allergic to wasp bites, and also flies which present a major nuisance in a particular house flying around and transmitting diseases from dirt to human food.
Several other insects may also become hazardous when infesting an attic, so make sure to protect yourself from these pests.
How can these pests get into your attic?
You may wonder how these big wild rodents or mammals can get into your attic. Well, they have needs, and they must fulfill these needs to guarantee the survival of the species. A single raccoon cannot pass 3 years in the wild, majorly because of predators and rough conditions, while in a safe attic, a raccoon can live up to 20 years. In this case, you may think you are helping the environment, but the true issue here is that the wild animals won’t give up their wild habits and will keep practicing it in your attic.
Most rodents gain entry to your attic through small holes, even undetectable small holes in the scale of 1.5 inch (4 centimeters) long which are usually around the perimeter of your roof.
Many other openings can present entryways for wild mammals and rodents such as:
- Soffit vents
- Chimney pipes
- Sewer pipes
- Eave gaps
- Open windows
Other animals chew their way inside, like raccoons, if they find a subtle piece of wood that is easy to crack, they force their way in by cracking it. Squirrels and rats, also, chew wood to gain entry to safe places.
Potential damage caused by attic pests
Attic pests are very destructive, and they leave huge damage in the area they infest. Attics, for example, get ruined because of a wild infestation.
These mammals and rodents are used to living in the wild, so of course they are destructive and they can never act as domestic pets in your attic.
The potential damage caused by attic pests varies from simple fecal pellets all over the attic to the total destruction of the roof:
Piles of fecal matter
If you get infested by either a rodent or a mammal, you will get tons of fecal pellets all over your attic. These animals consume a lot of nutrients daily and have fast digestion systems inside their intestines; therefore, they will fill your attic with feces.
- Squirrel feces are similar to rice grains and are 1/3 inch long.
- Rat feces are similar to those of squirrels but pointed in the extremes.
- Opossum feces are huge turds: large and bigger feces.
- Raccoon droppings contain berries.
- Bat feces have a strong offensive smell which is able to cause lung disease.
Rodents like squirrels, rats and bats have a bad habit of chewing wood and scratching it. A colony of rats can chew a whole attic in a couple of years and bats would ruin the whole structure because of their destructive scratching.
If you have any electric wires or sewer pipes or TV cables, be sure that they will be chewed sooner or later if you have a rodent in your attic. These animals like to chew any material and they will cause potential fire accidents.
Signs of having intruders in your attic
As with any other kind of pests, attic pests also leave clues and signs behind them. These signs may lead you to a particular infestation and it may help you start your plan to exterminate the attic pest you are suffering from:
These wild animals make strange irritating noises, especially bats which make scary painful noises, and raccoons which make identifiable noises while in the attic because of their large size. Young opossums also make a noticeable noise which is most similar to pup noise. You may also see the animals infesting your attic such as raccoons and opossums due to their big size and their diurnal (during the day) activity.
The unpleasant odor of bats is also noticeable, and it gets quickly spread in the whole house once a bat has infested your attic. This odor is contaminated and it is able to transmit lung diseases.
Feces all over the attic are the best sign of rodents as they leave a lot of feces behind them. Types of feces are listed above in the “potential damage” section.
Wood scratching is also a habit of rodents, raccoons, and opossums, they like to climb walls and by that horrible scratching are able to ruin the entire structure.
Rodents, and especially squirrels, are perfect chewers, who will gnaw every material in their way leaving behind chew marks that are remarkable: small teeth marks all over the ceiling or the material stored in your attic.
Prevention tips that can help protect your attic
“Prevention is better than cure”. That’s why we always add prevention tips to our articles, to make you avoid nuisances and protect yourself and your property from pests.
Our first tip is always regular inspection of the house. You should inspect your property, including your attic once every month so you can exterminate an early infestation before invasive species can reproduce and become a terrific problem.
Inspections should be done professionally. All pipes, holes, stored material, and wood cavities have to be inspected. And if no sign of an infestation is found, you can make sure that you are safe.
Trimming or removing trees
All trees around the house borders should be removed, you may ask why? Well, squirrels like to live in trees and to move in trees and most of their activities are done in trees. So a tree limb reaching your roof could be a way for squirrels to enter your attic. Trim all the limbs and remove the trees around the perimeter of your walls.
Installing a wire fence within the boundaries of your property can be able to block rodents or wild animals from passing into your backyard and then from invading your attic. While this method could be very useful with big-sized mammals like raccoons and opossums, it doesn’t work with rodent-like squirrels or rats which will easily overcome the fence through its holes.
Sealing and closing holes
To guarantee that none of the invasive species listed above don’t gain entry to your attic, seal all the holes that may lead to your attic and fix all the wood cracks or replace your old useless ceiling because many species can force their way in by chewing wood and creating small entry holes.
Extermination tips: getting rid of attic pests
Once your attic becomes infested by a pest, you should take all measures and be ready for any possible damage to your building structure.
Follow our guide to exterminate any kind of attic pests and save your attic:
Getting rid of rodents and mammals:
Due to their big size and their wild life experience, rodents and mammals are not easy to remove from your attic. It takes a lot of effort to exterminate them. But instead of hiring an expert, here are some useful tips that may help you:
For mice and rats, it is better to use a snap trap. Install a snap trap in your attic with full precision – it needs to be near to rat and mouse nests to become effective – bait the trap after a week with a piece of cheese and enjoy the result. This method is not effective in case of huge colonies.
- Best product in markets is made2catch Classic Metal Rat Trap 4 pack only for $14
For raccoons and opossums, it is quite more complicated. Since females get to your attic to give birth to a liter of babies, they become extremely aggressive in the protection of their young. Therefore, these mammals should be treated carefully. It is best to use cage traps to catch raccoons and opossums as they are not so smart and they will just follow the bait, by that they will get easily caught and sent away. Simply, install the trap cage near to the nest and bait it with a cantaloupe. Enjoy the results.
- Best product in markets is Havahart 1045 Live Animal Two-Door only for $52
In case of bats, it is critical, since these animals are not easy to deal with and there are no effective devices in the markets which allow exterminating bats. Physically removing these pests is necessary and that must be done by a bat control professional.
- Prices vary from $600 to $2000 to successfully get rid of bats.
Getting rid of insects in attic:
Not too many insects are able to infest your attic, but when it happens, it becomes as critical as animal infestation.
Although insects won’t chew electric wires or fill your attic with feces, but they are responsible for damaging wood and transmitting diseases. Therefore, getting rid of them is mandatory.
Many products could be used to exterminate insects from attic, starting with insecticides which are very effective in case of bed bugs. You just have to spray the entire attic with insecticides and wait for a couple of days until bed bugs leave or die inside it.
Electric repellents could also be used in this case. Since insects are extremely sensitive, ultrasonic sounds can be able to repel them forever.
Last Things You Should Know About Attic Pests
Attic pests cause serious damage to any type of building and they, mainly, infest attics. Raccoons, rats, mice, squirrels, opossums, bats… are all mammals that are big-sized and it is undoubtedly that they are a major nuisance to human life. Wild animals live in the wild, why do they have to invade our homes? Well, they have to invade your attic to protect themselves and guarantee survival. But they won’t if you protect your attic and follow all the prevention tips.
We hope this article was useful to you and that your attic pest questions are all answered.
Other resources for attic pests
How to Pest Proof Your Home – Entomology at the University of Kentucky
Integrated Pest Management Strategies – Never Pest