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Strange sounds in the attic

A few times this winter, and just tonight, we've heard scratching sounds in various parts of the attic.  we've heard the sounds only at night or pre dawn.  they go on for a few seconds and stop.  after a minute or two, they stop.  each time i go up there, i find nothing.  may these be signs of a squirrel?  something else?  or may we just be hearing things?  we don't have an attic fan, and had new trim and siding installed last summer.  any advice?

thanks much.


And I wrote back with....

Chasing down noises is tricky.  Your roof (or ceiling) can act as a drum, making you think there's something different than what you heard.  You need to find out, first, is there anything actually up there, and second, WHAT is up there.

Ok, this is what you do:  Turn the light in the attic ON - leave it on, 24/7.  If you don't have one up there, see if you can rig one up.  Under the light, set up a small cracker, smear a bit of peanut butter (not too much) on the cracker, and place it in an exact position so you can tell if it's been touched.  If you can, do all this in the area of the noises.  Check every 24 hours.  If you go, say, 3 or 4 days and nothing's been touched, you can relax - a bit.  Keep it up there - and see if you still hear the scratching.  

If it's gone, (or touched) something's up there.  Then it's a process of elimination.  If you think it might be squirrels, set up a squirrel trap in the same place as the "chum" you placed before.  Mice, of course, will be able to squeeze through the trap, and you'll find they have taken the bait but nothing's been caught.  Then break out the mouse traps.  If you start with the mouse traps, and scare or hurt a larger animal, he won't come near your trapset.

Sometimes it ain't easy!

Nice to hear from you.  Get back to me if you have more questions!


Rick replies....

Thanks for your help, John.  I need one of your squirrel traps, so I'll be calling your office, I'm only about 15 minutes from you and I'll pick it up. My neighbor saw me outside, looking around and came out and told me he had seen a squirrel(s) going in my gable vent.  I know exactly what to do now, thanks to your squirrel page.  Can you show me how to work the trap?  Is it hard?

Will let you know how everything goes.


(I told Rick we always have traps in stock, and if he was going to pick it up, we'll show him exactly how to do it.)

Rick lets us know how things went....

Just want you to know how things worked out, John.  First of all, thanks for all the input.  I just wouldn't have known what and how to do it if it wasn't for you and your web page.  And I can't get over the fact that you gave me the trap to take even though I had forgotten my wallet.  Every businessman should be like you, I will never use another exterminator, ever!  

Anyway, I got two squirrels, then loaned the trap out to a neighbor.  John, that trap has gone through the entire neighborhood like a dose of salts. We are slowly eliminating every damned squirrel in the area!  My neighbor down the street had to call a plumber, and he had to tear open a wall where a squirrel had chewed through a copper water line.  She had awakened to find her entire basement filled with water.  What a mess!

Again, thanks for everything.


(Thanks, Rick, both for the kudos and update!)

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