Hear Scratching in the Ceiling? – What To Do Next

by | Sep 11, 2023 | Pest, Rodent Control, Squirrel Control, Urban Wildlife

In the early morning (or middle of the night) you awake to hear scratch, scratch, scratch.

Or tap, tap, tap.

Rodents, squirrels, raccoons & even bats frequently intrude people’s homes & attics.

Noises in Attic

Animal noises in the attic are often described as scratching, scraping, thumping, tapping, chirping, or even knocking.

Sometimes these types of noises are related to wind, thermal expansion, or mechanical & eletronic equipment inside.

But more often than not, scratching in your walls or ceiling is caused by a rodent inside your house.

Click for Eco-Friendly Rodent Control. 

What to do if You Hear Scratching in your Walls

1) The Knock Test

The first thing you should try when you’re hearing scratching is the “knock test.”

Generally if you knock on the wall while a rat is scratching, the noise will stop. Squirrels and other wildlife will typically be unresponsive the knock. You might notice the noise stop for a moment while the squirrel listens to the knock, then go back to gnawing, moving around or whatever else it was doing. 

The results of the knock test might be helpful in determining whether you’d need a regular exterminator, or a wildlife licensed pro. 

2) Look for Entry Points

Looking for entries yourself is always a good idea. Even if you don’t find a gaping hole with a raccoon peering out, at least you will have a better idea of the possibility of an animal in your attic scratching at night.
  • Start on the exterior side or corner that you hear the noise and carefully inspect the gutter line, roof lines, foundation wall, anywhere where one construction material meets another.
  • Look for holes greater than the size of a quarter with evidence of gnawing around the edge, droppings, or dirty discolorations on the paint leading into the hole.
  • As a general rule of thumb, squirrels & bats will nest and make noises nearby their entry, whereas raccoons & rats often make noises in an area opposite or far away from their entry.

3) Camera in the Attic

Luckily it’s the 21st century and wifi camera technology is cheap and widely available. If you have a “front door” camera, or the desire to get one (they can cost as low as $30 for a decent camera), put it up in the attic and point it towards where you hear the noises.

You can even put peanut butter or an open can of catfood in front of the camera to intice the critter into view.

squirrel entry through damaged attic vent

*Check your attic vents. Insect grade screen doesn’t do a great job of keeping rodents & squirrels out. While in your attic, look for live squirrels. If not, there might be rats, which go hiding at the slightest noise…

Animal in Attic Scratching at Night

If you do indeed have an animal in your attic making scratching noises at night, don’t set any traps or seal any holes until you know what you’re dealing with.

Live traps for squirrels and raccoons won’t catch a rat or mouse, and rat sized traps will only harm or injure anything larger. 

If you have bats, they will need to be treated non-lethally due to federal protections through a process called eviction-and-excluion. 

Obviously, sealing up holes before you’ve taken steps to monitor or remove the critter runs you the risk of trapping it –or them– inside.

Wildlife and Pest Control

If you hear scratching in your attic, it might be a good idea to contact an expert that can deal with both rodent pests & wildlife.

In most states, pest control & wildlife removal are two separate licenses. A good wildlife control company is licensed with the State Fish & Wildlife Dept, but can also deal with rats & mice. They should ask lots of questions when you call, or offer a free or low-cost inspection.

Integrated Wildlife Management. 

Portland Pest & Wildlife Removal

In general, noises in the walls or ceiling isn’t one you want to DIY.

Having an animal pest control company do an inspection and provide you a plan is a good investment in preventing future frustrations.

If you’re in Portland Oregon and are interested in an attic inspection, consider getting in touch. We specialize in making the noises in your ceiling stop with thorough inspections, and proven safe & eco-friendly techniques.

Pest and Pollinator contact information phone 9712568440 email info@pestandpollinator.com