Hot Topics: Squirrel in the Ceiling Hot Topics: Squirrel in the Ceiling

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When a rodent takes up residence in your home, it can turn into a cat and mouse game to get him out. The question is, how do you lure a squirrel out and block their entrance without trapping them inside?

Original Post: Squirrel in the Ceiling?

mikehende Member

Man, always something. Sounds like a squirrel got into the ceiling somehow. What can I do here, please?

guy48065 Member

You probably have a gap or loose vent somewhere in your soffits. Once you find his access, you can wait until he goes out foraging during the day and close up his entry...or you might have luck thumping the ceiling to drive him out. When this happened to me, I learned the reality is a squirrel has nothing better to do than spend all day every day trying to get back into your cozy home, and your time preventing it is limited.

Bud9051 Member

Guy's advice is correct. In the spring I evicted a gray squirrel. I let him stay there for the winter, but he sure didn't appreciate my kindness. Not only did he tear away at the boards I installed, but he attacked similar locations on other soffits. So, in addition to any access point you locate, be sure there are no alternate options for that critter.

mikehende Member

About the only entry place I can see is under the outside of the roof, but that would mean the squirrel would need to walk upside to get to that loose piece of whatever that is?

guy48065 Member

Cakewalk for a squirrel. They are the circus performers of the rodent family.

mikehende Member

So what would be my procedure here—to start banging on the ceiling and have someone stand outside of the house to see if/when it comes out? Nothing else if that doesn't work?

Bud9051 Member

From my experience, they leave in the morning and return in the evening. During good weather there is no reason for them to be inside during the day. The one I had to deal with would depart at early sunrise and return around 3 pm. I don't think banging on the walls and such will scare him out as they consider your home a safe place. Not that they need it, but are there any tree branches overhanging the roof?

mikehende Member

No overhanging trees.

PABugman Member

Other things can sound like a squirrel in an attic. Can you get up there and inspect? Giving advice at this early stage is just speculation.

mikehende Member

There isn't an attic—the inside ceiling is flat. The roof, however, is a little slanted like an upside down "V," but not with a sharp angle, so there's some space between the ceiling and the roof. We also hear it in the ground floor bathroom ceiling sometimes.

Bud9051 Member

One of those game cameras might identify what you are dealing with and narrow down the entrance point. If you haven't actually seen it, other critters larger than mice may still be possible: opossums, raccoons, and larger mice.

I have trapped several red squirrels. It took awhile, but they eventually became comfortable with the presence of my live trap.

mikehende Member

Well, since I can't break the ceiling, then what are my options? If I go around looking for any points of entry and sealing them up, whatever is in there will die and stink up the place.

Bud9051 Member

Is there a basement? Typical construction would limit movement through the walls for anything other than mice. The exception would be around large plumbing pipes, chimneys, and such. If you have a basement or crawl space you can inspect and seal large access points from down there to the ceiling above. If you see no activity indications, then those can be sealed. If you see activity, then the access point may be down low with them moving to the ceiling for more comfort.

Once you eliminate any low access points and paths to the attic, then it confirms the loose soffit you pictured is most likely their point of entry.

You will need a ladder to get up there and fix it, but before that, cover it with tissue or something that will give you an indication they are using that location. Dig out your MacGyver thinking and improvise something that will tell you they are inside or outside. An example is a row of toothpicks that get flattened in one direction or the other—won't necessarily work here, but that's the idea.

Here's an option—not easy but it might work. Cover the opening with tissue paper and then build a strong cage below the opening. If they are outside, they won't be able to get to the tissue. If they are inside, they will go through the tissue and then find themselves blocked.

The trap I used to catch my red squirrels (Tractor Supply) could be installed below the soffit to one side. Improvise a right angle access so once they exit the opening in the soffit they will have only one option: enter the trap. You could add some apple and peanut butter as incentive at the far end. This approach works well because you know they are most likely inside at night.

mikehende Member

I am thinking it may be tricky to hang a trap just outside that opening. If it is that opening, my neighbor says we can seal the opening around midday since if it's a squirrel it would surely leave to feed during that time.

Bud9051 Member

I agree that would be the quickest way to see what happens. My entrance point was wood soffits and he did a number trying to get back in. He didn't, and at least it assured me he was outside.

mikehende Member

Well if I go that route and there's still one or more inside then I guess they will die in there.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Have you heard any more noises from the attic space? You don't want any critter decomposing anywhere in the house. The odor will make you want to move! Hopefully it was just the one, but if you hear activity, I'd be figuring out how to trap or otherwise remove him.

mikehende Member

The noise isn't there every time I go up there, only mainly in the evenings.

I have a small hole in my ground floor ceiling which we put there when we had a leak from the upstairs bathroom, so the guy put in a removable cover. It's not big enough to put in a cage/trap, but I'm wondering if we can put any sort of repellent in there. The problem is that this would be under the upstairs floor and not in the upstairs ceiling where the noise is most of the time. I am thinking if push comes to shove to put some sort of poison in our bathroom ceiling, but some guys are telling me that we won't get any smell and some are saying the opposite, so I don't know what to believe.

PABugman Member

I don’t have hope that a repellent will work. Never had any success. Maybe others have. If a squirrel-sized animal dies inside the walls/floors you will get a serious odor. If it dies in the attic and the attic is vented, then the odor may vent outside except when weather conditions push the odor back inside. Are you positive that it is a squirrel?

mikehende Member

No, I am not sure, but the sound it makes is that of a squirrel. I am wondering if I can use that cube-shaped rat poison they sell at Home Depot, I can remove the ground floor bathroom's ceiling cover and drop a few in there.

PABugman Member

If whatever it is eats enough, then it will kill the animal. We’re still in the speculating stage, though.

Bud9051 Member

I believe there was a consideration to just block the suspected entrance point at a time when you hoped they were out. The concern is maybe there would be one trapped inside and it might die and stink. That's a maybe, where poisoning is an almost certainty. Plus, if you block the opening and don't hear any more sounds, there's a high probability they are not inside. If you do hear sounds, you can still reopen the hole.

Do you have a ladder to get up to the suspected access hole? If so, gently stuff the opening with tissue paper they can easily push out of the way. Make it secure enough that the wind doesn't blow it out. This can help confirm the exit point and also the size of the critter.

mikehende Member

Yesterday, we saw one going through the soffit.

So, my friend who does construction put some repellent in our bathroom ceiling and upstairs ceiling. He was jokingly saying a few times "come out come out" and then a squirrel jumped through that hole and scared the bejesus out of us! We closed the bedrooms and bathroom door and ushered it out via the LR. It was a small fella so I guess the parents were either somewhere else in the ceiling or out for food, so we will wait until Saturday and then seal the soffit. If we should hear anything in there afterwards we will place the poison.

mikehende Member

I just heard something in my ground floor bathroom ceiling so I think it's safe to say the repellent is not working so tomorrow I will get the poison. How long does it take for the repellent to work?

mikehende Member

The repellent did not work, but yesterday we cut a few holes in the ceilings and sprayed raw ammonia at a friend's suggestion, then left Rat X poison for any future invaders. We sealed up the outside entrance, but so far no movements.

Bud9051 Member

Squirrels are known to store food for the winter, so you might have a long wait until he gets hungry.

Since you know where he is getting in, if you opened it he might be quick to exit. Do the tissue trick on a weekend so you can check it frequently. Open the access, and place something like tissue where he would have to move it to get out. Then keep checking. If you see he exited, close the access and pray he is still outside.

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