A weakened or damaged roof can result in major problems, including leaks, and even the whole or partial collapse of the structure (Also possible for ceilings that are wet from urine and/or pest poop).
These are the kind of problems no one needs! A collapsed or badly damaged roof is going to be incredibly expensive to repair, replace or rebuild, and there is the possibility of serious injury or even death to the building’s occupants – this is also true of ceilings.
So, as with most other pest infestation problems, prevention and/or quick removal are always very important. The quicker we act, the less chance of damage or injury. So, let’s get to grips with how we stop, remove and keep unwanted attic guests out.
Attics and lofts — as with other areas that are prone to get infested with pests — can be a real endless game of removal, clean up and a belief everything is OK only for it to all start again. The pests that often inhabit these places above your home, outbuilding (such as barns) or business premises tend to be particularly persistent.
Yet, thankfully, loft and attic pest removal doesn’t have to be like a revolving door from hell that costs money, time and untold stress. This is because if you understand how these unwanted guests get in and the various options for removing them, then there’s every chance that you are going to have a pest free life where your upstairs’ spaces are concerned.
Know Your Pest
Wild animals — and yes they are wild, not domesticated — can cause untold damage to a building’s structure. They can chew through electrical wires and shred insulation, causing electrical fires and/or electrical bills to go up. With no insulation, your hot or cool air is going straight back outside. Chewed wires can short circuit causing sparks and then, well, the rest can result in your house burning down. An absolute nightmare no doubt!
The common attic or loft pests we find holed up in our roofs can also bring disease into your living space, where you and your family sleep, eat, live. Common diseases that these pests carry include the Hantavirus and salmonella. Both nasty illnesses we want to stay well clear of. So, bottom line, we don’t have a choice, if these pests are present, we have to get them out and keep them out.
To rid your attic of these pests, you must know exactly which one you are up against, this will save you time and money, because if you target the wrong kind of animal, your efforts and money will be wasted. The best way to identify who is living above your head is to trap the animal concerned, but this can be a tricky and long process. An easier and much quicker way to frame your home invader is to do a poop check. That’s right, collect some of the poop that’s been left around and use the descriptions below to identify who it is you need to get rid off.
Here is a checklist of how to spot any attic or loft pest via its little “presents”.
Mice: 1/8 inch – 0.3 cm long, pellet-shaped
Bats: ½ inch – 1.2 cm pellet-shaped, found in piles
Rats: ¼ inch – 0.6 cm long, sausage-shaped
Raccoons: Up to ¾ of an inch – 1.9 cm wide and 2-3 inches – 5 to 7.5 cm long; sausage-shaped
Squirrels: ½ to 1 inch – 1.2 to 2.5 cm long, sausage-shaped
Once you identify who is leaving the poop, please always follow your local, state, regional or government advice on how to clean up what can be a dangerous, unpleasant and smelly job. Remember, poop is full of bacteria and attracts other pests such as flies — which in turn are carriers of disease. Treat all faeces (poop) with great care and wear protective gear.
Here are some general guidelines that can help you begin the job of clearing up the mess left behind, but do read up on advice given by any agencies that are responsible for pest control and removal in your local area.
Open all windows to air out the space for at least 30 minutes before clean-up, do not stay in the space, get out.
Always be sure to put on protective gloves and masks. You don’t want to touch any faeces and you don’t want to breathe in any urine vapour and/or faeces’ matter.
Disinfect thoroughly! Spray and wipe down the space with a bleach solution.
Use paper or old towels and then dispose of them in a sealed plastic bag.
Attic and loft pests: Taking them on. Getting them out. Keeping them out
Rodents: Mice and Rats
Where possible we always suggest that you get rid of rodents in as humane a way as possible, so try to place humane traps throughout the space you want to be rodent free. Place traps near any openings along walls and eves and in places where you find any droppings. Corners are also a safe bet to catch unwanted guests.
If you do want to kill the rodents, snap traps are an effective way of doing this. If you choose instead to capture the rodents and then set them free in a place far away from where they were a nuisance, we recommended cage traps — which also have the advantage that they can be used again and again — sold in home improvement stores and pet stores. Many foods will work as bait, including bread, cheese, peanut butter and chocolate.
It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but as it’s above us the spaces directly under over roofs can sometimes be forgotten, yet, we need to keep them clean and free of things that pests may be attracted to. This can be scary if suspect that you have pests, but rodents like mice and rats like to nest in dirty, cluttered spaces. Remove any boxes, supplies, and garbage and create an open space. This will deter the rodents.
Check your traps at least once daily, but if you can, a check in the morning and the evening is better, then any trapped animals will not have to spend too long stressing out. An animal that is trying to escape will probably spend a lot of time urinating and pooping in its struggle to get away. Always wear gloves when handling any trapped rodents, as some may carry disease and an angry rat or mouse can and will bite in order to protect itself from you — who it will see as a predator even though you may be trying to help it!
Once removed, and you are sure the space is clear of all rodents then look to seal any openings in your attic through which the rodents may have entered in the first place. Look for signs of loose boards, open vents or even holes. Surprisingly a rat can fit through a hole the size of a US quarter coin — that’s pretty small — so seal off spaces you might have thought were actually too tiny, believe it, a determined rat can squeeze through and set up home in as long as it takes to say, “No way can a rat fir through there!”
To really cut off entry routes get your saw or shears out. Cut any foliage or trees that are overhanging eves, guttering or balconies. Any plants or trees that run up to or even near your roof are an easy roadway for these pretty nimble animals that think nothing of jumping, even when high up. There’s nothing more attractive to a rodent than an easy way in, and a run up a tree couldn’t get much easier or welcoming.
Further Info: Rats
It’s important to note that in all cases, you should never send a mousetrap to do a rat traps job.
At best a mousetrap will only succeed in irritating a rat and will most likely teach it to then avoid all traps of any size — no matter what tasty morsel you bait the trap with.
Mice are much more curious than rats and so are easier to lure in and catch, rats, however, will shy away from any new or unfamiliar items in their environment. This can make catching them harder if you only use traps scarcely or in the same place. Instead scatter rat traps around the space that has been infested for a week before you bait them. Then, once they are familiar with the traps bait them and you should see quick success!
An odd thing that can happen is when you find that the traps you’re setting seem to be disappearing. Vanishing in thin air. Is someone coming into your home and stealing your rat traps? Well, yes, in a way, they are, as bigger rats can quite easily take off with traps clamped to their bodies, that’s when they get really noisy. If this happens then you should look to screwing your next batch of traps to the floorboards, beams, or heavy pieces of wood. Either that or place them in rattrap covers (This will involve more expense), which will block any captured rat’s escape.
Of course there is always the professional option, but always do a thorough research of the services available. Find a company that is reputable, has a solid track record and good feedback. Your local government may even offer a free service.
Cute as they can be, there’s some places you just don’t want squirrels. One of these places is inside your home, outbuilding or office. Before you attempt to remove a squirrel from any attic or loft space contact any local government service or wildlife agency to make sure you are fully aware and read up on any ordnances or laws that cover these animals.
Some regions have strict rules that have to be followed, you may even need to apply for permits that will allow you to trap and relocate squirrels. Plus, well, it may well work out for the best if you employ a pro to do the job for you, then you know that you’re not going to fall foul of any laws put in place that protect or govern how these animals are caught and/or removed.
If you do decide to go ahead (If you are allowed) and trap and remove any squirrels yourself be sure to use a one or two-door metal cage. This kind of trap allows you to easily set the pest free when you get to an outdoor location that is far from your and other people’s property. A squirrel is always going to be happy in a forest or woodland!
Funnily enough rolling a good amount of mothballs throughout your attic or loft space can work wonders against squirrels. Though it is true that rodents are mostly undeterred by the lowly mothball, squirrels find the pungent smell horrible; it really is effective at keeping them away. Plus, any squirrels that have already set up shop will most likely decide to leave, when something stinks, who wants to stick around? Exactly. Mothballs are easy to find at any local store or can be ordered online from your favourite digital shop. Once the squirrels have moved out of your stinky — to them — loft or attic immediately seal off any holes or cracks to prevent new arrivals.
If the mothball bonanza fails to see the squirrels pack up and leave there are alternatives. One good idea is to set a few non-electric cage traps throughout the attic or loft, these will trap your pesky pests and make them easier to transport out into the wild to be released. Squirrels, not surprisingly, love cereals, nuts, grains and sunflower seeds, so bait your cages with some of the good stuff! Perhaps surprisingly apples and popcorn will also get a squirrel inside a cage.
Once set and baited try to make sure that you can check your traps every few hours, it makes it much less stressful for everyone involved take the cage outdoors and release the animals some distance away in an area with plenty of trees.
Raccoons and Bats
Our advice would be this: Please don’t attempt to get rid of raccoons or bats yourself. Raccoons are pretty big, can be aggressive when cornered – or when separated from their young — and are strong. They also become pretty fearless when up for a fight. Bats, although not particularly geared up to fight humans — unlike our raccoon friends — are extremely difficult to roundup and get out. They just don’t like leaving.
We always say that where these pests are concerned that the professionals are going to be your best bet for a safe and stress free removal. Yet, professional fees can be expensive, notably when a bat infestation takes hold, and even more so if they are a protected species. Always inquire to your local government as to if there is any assistance available or even if the service is free. You may well be happy to learn that your local taxes actually help you remove some pests at no extra charge to you.
Bats: Further Info
As many countless homeowners have discovered bats often prove to be an all too common and serious problem to deal with once they are in your house.
These amazing creatures can gain access to a building by squeezing through what you’d think were far too small a hole for an animal that big, but they can push themselves (Depending on the species) through spaces as small as 3/8 of an inch or 0.9 cm.
They will also effortless fly into your roof space through any gaps near or at your home’s roofline, where walls and eves meet. It’s as though they actually enjoy the challenge of testing their acrobatic skills, they really are quite accomplished fliers!
You’ll soon know when they are turning your attic into a bat cave by the pungent smell of their urine and droppings. Their poop quickly builds up and becomes a heavy mass ready to go through ceilings. No one wants a shower of bat poop landing on him or her as they sleep or are relaxing in the bath. Not only can such a structural failure cause injury and even possibly death, the health hazards are many. Bat droppings are a serious potential health problem that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Being nocturnal creatures, they are most active during the night, but even so, they are quite rodents and its hard to pick them up through noise in small numbers.
There are many products on the market which claim to repel bats, but the sad truth is that most of these are scams. Bats must be physically removed, and are kept out of your attic with certain one-way exclusion tactics.
Locate the spaces through which bats are entering and exiting your home. Bats are more difficult to remove than rodents and squirrels, because bats become extremely loyal to the spaces where they roost. For this reason, you will need to trick the bats using a process called exclusion.
During the daytime as the bats roost, position a small flap of 1/4-inch – 0.14 cm mesh netting in front of the bats’ entry point. Use tacks or nails to secure the piece of mesh in place but me sure to leave the bottom line of the mesh open. Don’t secure this part of the flap. This allows the bats to leave but not re-enter. This is a really clever but simply way of allowing bats out, but stopping them from getting back in: Sorry guys, but the hotel is now closed to all guests!
Once the bats have left — be sure all members are out — securely seal shut any entry points. You want have to wait to long, as when dusk falls, the bats will wake up and get on with the task of finding food.
Humane Attic Pest Removal
People often ask what is the most humane way to cope with attic pests. Well, the simplest answer is to make sure they don’t get into your house in the first place. Don’t make your attic or loft space an attractive place to be. Inspect the outside of your home and repairing any holes — even those you think are too small. Find any and all holes in roof flashing, behind gutters, in rotting fascia, foundation cracks, and tears in vent screens. Once found: Seal them off.
Also, as mentioned earlier, be sure to trim trees and shrubs 8 to 10 feet – 2.5 to 3 meters back from your property, then squirrels and/or rodents won’t be able to jump onto your roof.
Many people will take the view that once any animals are in your attic that terms such as “humane removal” no longer apply. It is now that many people will start to seriously consider the term “least inhumane”. After all, these pests can and do cause damage, cost money and carry diseases. It is ultimately up to you how you protect and secure your home, but we hope you may consider the harm that glue traps can do.
Spring traps are much more preferable as they cause a quick or instantaneous death. Glue traps torture struggling rodents that eventually die from stress and dehydration.
Equip Yourself: Things that will help you clear your attic
Tacks/nails and/or screws
Although this article has already mentioned humane and inhumane methods of rodent catching, we’d like to suggest that you avoid using glue traps to catch them. Glue traps are not only messy but are actually ineffective. Plus, unfortunately, some rats will even gnaw their legs off to escape, which then leaves you with blood contamination to clean up as well.
Also, always keep in mind that mothballs are poisonous and that you should wear gloves and take care while handling them. Always keep them away from pets and children. Educate older children about the danger they can present.
A bird roosting in your loft can be a real hassle. Not only are they noisy they will obviously, over time, leave increasing amounts of droppings, food, and other materials in your attic or loft space. The absolute best way to get rid of birds — as with other unwanted guests – is to keep them out. If a bird decides to make your attic space their home, wait until they have left the space for the day and then cover any holes they have been using as an entrance. Wire mesh or netting is an effective temporary measure to stop any holes being used as an entrance if you need to replace boards, bricks or any other materials.
No matter the kind of pests that are invading your life, we have it covered. Explore the site and find all the answers you need. Our Pest Removal FAQ has articles about getting rid of every kind of pest you can imagine. And if you still have questions, contact us: We’ll do our very best to help.
For example, if you’re having problems with bed bugs check out this page. Got a bats problem? Click here. Whatever your pest problem, we have detailed information that will help you tackle the issue head on with clear, easy to understand steps that work.