Imagine a scene for a moment. You’re lying in bed just trying to fall asleep. Coming from your walls or ceiling is a small scratching noise. You try to ignore it, perhaps it’s just the house settling, you think to yourself. It grows louder and louder until you can’t ignore it anymore.
Unfortunately, if you were hoping this was a ghost story I’m sorry to inform you that your house is almost definitely not haunted. Instead, you likely have a different kind of pest you’re going to have to deal with. Lucky for you, however, wild animals are a lot less difficult to deal with than ghosts.
If you suspect animals have gotten into your house somehow you are going to have to do some detective work. That’s because the first step in dealing with a pest is dealing with their entrance to your home. But before we get started, let’s talk about tools.
What You’ll Need
- Filter mask or respirator (preferably HEPA rated)
- Tyvek suit
Before you get started, it is important to remember that your safety and health are very important and definitely at risk if you do not take proper precautions. Depending on the type of pest, you could be dealing with some nasty illness and disease. That’s why it’s important to wear a disposable Tyvek suit and gloves. Most important, however, is a filter mask or respirator. Pest waste contains diseases like hantavirus and the plague. Wearing a filter properly will protect you from most airborne illnesses.
You also are going to need to be comfortable using a ladder to inspect the exterior of your home, as well as crawling around on the roof, but we will get into that shortly. If you live in a two-story home you will likely need a 24-foot ladder. In a single-story home, you are likely to be fine using a 12-foot ladder.
Finding the Entrance
- Look around extremely closely to find where your pest is getting in. This is much like searching for an underground club with a secret entrance. You should do a full check around the exterior of your home for any holes that could be used as entry points. Once you have done this, it is time to bring out your ladder.
- As you scale the walls of your house, be sure to check in and under your eaves troughs. Small animals like roof rats can enter your home through a hole as small as a quarter.
- Do a full inspection of your roof for any holes. If there are any loose tiles, take a look beneath them. You will also need to check for:
- Missing or damaged screen on all roof vents
- Holes where the soffit meets the roof, eave vents, or wooden boards
- Chewed ridge cap vents
- Open plumbing stacks
- Chewing damage
- Brown fur
- Animal tracks
- Check inside your chimney. Oftentimes the chimney can lead into the attic. Some animals will even set up a nest inside your chimney. An experienced wildlife professional will know 1) where they should be inspecting and 2) common animal behaviors to help determine the most likely entry point.
- Check entrances in your attic. You are going to need to use your headlamp if your attic doesn’t have optimal lighting. It will probably be helpful in any situation, though, as you will need to inspect all of the smallest areas animals may be living.
- Inspect your attic thoroughly. This is also where having a HEPA filter mask will come in handy. Even if there are no animal feces inside of your attic, breathing in fiberglass insulation is extremely dangerous. You’re going to need to inspect every beam, pipe, duct, and wire for any type of chewing damage. Look out for animal feces, tracks, and tunnels inside of the insulation. If you are dealing with raccoons or squirrels, you may even find a nest with baby animals living in it. Be incredibly careful to only step on the beams in your attic.
- Once you have assessed your home for entry points, there are a number of things you will have to do. Most obviously you will have to patch any holes you find, but you should also consider hiring an electrician, plumber, or contractor to deal with the damage.