How to tell if rats or squirrels in attic?

Old 10-26-04, 09:02 AM
DKG is offline
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How to tell if rats or squirrels in attic?

Almost every night for the last month I have heard noises in my attic above my bedroom. No scratching sounds or squeaks / animal noises. Just scampering and an occasional loud sound like dropping a hammer.Typically I hear it about 4:30 or 5:30 AM, but this morning it was at 3:00 AM.

The noise is coming from an inacessable part of the attic. From outside I can see a fairly small hole (3 or 4 inches) where two roof planes come together which I believe is the access hole. Unfortunately, it is really really high up and I can't get to it. Roofers are coming next week to put flashing over it but I'd like to try to deal with the rodent issue beforehand.

I have been in the main attic and put out rat traps (baited with peanut butter), and poison. I don't see any droppings or other signs of infestation in the main part of the attic. I have thrown some poison in the soffit which I assume connects to the inacessable part. I can tell that the poison has killed something, but I can't get to it. I still hear noise, but it has been quieter.

I see lots of squirrels in my wooded backyard and I have seen them on my bedroom windowsill 2 stories up, so I know they can get up there (although I don't know how they do it). However, it is still dark when I hear the noises (as I said, usually 4:30 or 5:30 AM, but sometimes as early as 3:00), and I have read that squirrels are not nocturnal.

What do you think? Squirrels or rats? I want to make sure they aren't around when the roofers cover the hole. If they are squirrels, they would likely be out during the day, and if they are rats, I am likely trapping them in...

Last edited by DKG; 10-26-04 at 12:29 PM.
Old 10-27-04, 12:56 PM
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Squirrels in attic

One sure way of knowing what you are looking for is to examine the droppings. Both roof rat and Norway rat droppings are about the size of a bean. Roof rat droppings are pointed on the end and spiral shaped, whereas Norway rats droppings are rounded on the end like a capsule. Squirrel droppings are light brown and tend to look more like raisins. Both rats and squirrels are rodents. Mouse droppings are very small in comparison.

Squirrels are usually sleeping at night. Fox squirrels, rats, and mice do not. You can hear them running and squeaking and making other noises at night.

Sprinkle some flour on a piece of cardboard, black plastic, or some surface near the entry so you can check the foot prints. Squirrel foot prints look like tiny little feet. Rat prints reveal splayed out toes. Rats drag their tails, so a line should be evident between the foot prints. Of course, mice would have tiny foot prints.

Tree squirrels most often enter attics and spaces between walls and floors. To reduce squirrel problems in buildings, limit their access by closing all openings. Even holes that are too small for squirrels should be closed. Fox squirrels can climb vertical brick or masonry walls that have a
roughened surface. They can enter through vents, chimneys, broken windows, knot holes and construction gaps under eaves or gables. Keep all tree branches cut back from roof about 8-10 feet because squirrels can jump a great distance.

The Roof Rat is a climber, commonly nesting in areas above the ground: trees, vines, attics, ceiling voids, or in voids along the roof line. These rats enter your home much like squirrels. As their population grows they will nest in underground burrows. Norway rat burrows can be found along foundations, or beneath rubbish and shubbery. If the burrow is active it usually clear of vegetation.

Trapping is the preferred method of eliminating rats, mice, and squirrels. Using poisons inside the home can result in an animal dying inside walls or exclusive place. You will then have to live with dead animal odor until the animal is completely decomposed. Do not seal entries until you are sure that you have eliminated the pests, as they will gnaw their way back into your home.
Old 10-28-04, 11:39 PM
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How educational that was.

Super Response, but what would you expect from a Super Moderator!

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