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What’s that noise in my attic?

Imagine you are sleeping soundly and are suddenly awakened at two a.m. by strange noises from above you. What is that eerie scratching sound coming from the attic? Staring up at the ceiling, your mind races with images of horrific looking animals running amok.

Bats? Do I have bats in my belfry?

The clock ticks by slowly as you restlessly toss and turn, waiting till morning when you can call someone for help.

This scenario, although fictitious, is based on real customers who have had the distressful experience of wildlife breaking into their homes during the quiet and dark early morning hours. Like little ninja thieves, rats, bats, and many other creatures find our homes to be a perfect environment to live in.

To find out what is going on above your ceiling, an inspection must be carried out. You formulate a list of possible suspects before you call the exterminator who will inspect the premises and determine exactly what has disturbed your sleep and peace of mind.

They are some common wildlife species that wind up inside our homes and businesses. Sometimes by mistake, but most often because our living spaces are not only perfect for us, but also a perfect environment for animals taking refuge to nest and give birth.

Bats

Bats can be a nuisance when they roost in an attic. They excrete guano, which is fecal matter made up of thousands of digested mosquitoes. Guano is highly dangerous and filled with bacteria that can make you sick.

Bats are the only mammals that can fly. Their precision flying can outmaneuver birds, and their wings create more lift than a bird’s wings can. They use echolocation, just as dolphins do, to find food. They do this by sending and receiving sound waves that bounce off objects.

Bat colonies like to take up residence in our homes and businesses. In Florida, bats are protected and cannot be evicted during maternity season, April 15 through August 15. Exclusionary work for bat colonies must be completed before their maternity season starts. Exclusion of bats is accomplished by hanging a back screen over the place where they exit their roost at dusk. Special “bat cones” are also installed. Together the cones and the screen allow the bats to leave the roost as they normally do but stops them from getting back inside when they return. The bats eventually give up and fly elsewhere.

Raccoons

Throughout Flagler, Volusia, and Brevard counties, wild raccoons are plentiful. In the wild, raccoon dens can be found in hollowed out logs, piled up tree branches, or underground burrows. Unfortunately for us, they are notorious for breaking into attics, barns, and sheds. In the colder months, raccoons are more likely to enter our structures for warmth, or for females to give birth.

Raccoon excrement is a telltale sign of their presence. The poop looks like that of a small to medium size dog. In it, you often might see palm tree berries mixed in with other foreign objects. The odor of raccoon urine and poop is strong and very pungent. While taking up residency in your attic, raccoons always defecate in the same area. If enough time goes by, raccoon urine can soak into the drywall causing a dreadful odor and costly damage.

 

Raccoon Kits

Female raccoons often break into attics to give birth to their offspring, called kits. Using your home’s insulation, kits can be protected from predators while they are the most vulnerable. Raccoon kits are born with their eyes closed and rely solely on their mother for sustenance. After 3-4 weeks, their eyes open. They stay with their mother for up to a year.

Opossums

Opossums are a common sight in Volusia and Flagler counties and are important to a healthy ecosystem. Besides eating ticks and venomous snakes, opossums may hold the key to repairing broken spinal cords in humans.

Known for their incredible immune system, scientists have sequenced their DNA and mapped it next to our own genome to understand our differences. In utero, opossums appear able to regenerate their spinal cord when broken. They can also accomplish this incredible feat at birth and for a few days after.

Scientists hope that one day they will be able to help someone recover from paralysis due to a broken spinal cord – and we will have the opossum to thank for it.

Rats

Rats are everywhere in Florida. They live in just about any environment from inland cities like Deltona and Debary, to the dense mangroves along our coastlines in towns like Flagler Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, New Smyrna Beach, Ponce Inlet, and Oak Hill.

The two main kinds of rats in our area are the Norway rat and the Roof rat. Both are extremely damaging to homes and businesses. Rat urine and feces can soak into walls and ceilings causing extensive and costly damage, not to mention the odor and health hazards.

Norway Rats

Norway rats get their name from the country Norway. During the 18th century, rats were quite common aboard sailing vessels coming and going from Europe. Over time, the name stuck, even though they have nothing to do with Norway.

Norway rats are larger than roof rats and have thick, heavy fur. They are usually grey in color and have a blunt nose. Their eyes and ears are small, and the tail is longer than the rest of the body. They like to build nests at or below ground level and are common in crawl spaces and basements.

Roof rats

Roof rats, also called black rats, are one of the most common rats in Florida. They live and breed in palm trees and feed mostly on a vegetarian diet consisting of citrus fruits and berries. They are smaller than Norway rats and have a lighter texture to their fur; their eyes and ears are larger, and their noses are pointed. Their tails are shorter than their heads and bodies. They are dark brown to black in color. Roof rats are great climbers and like to build nests up high, which is why we often find them in customers’ attics.

Rats as prolific breeders. Female rats can mate at any time of year and have up to 10 babies at once. The gestation period for rats is about 21 days. Female rats are truly baby-making machines.

Young rats make a variety of vocal sounds including a chirping sound that humans may not always hear.

Roof rats can leave behind telltale signs in attics. Look for greasy rub marks as rats like to follow the same familiar paths throughout your attic. Rats have oily dark fur which rubs off them as they travel back and forth. They are most active at night making noises as they run around and chase each other.

All rats like to chew and gnaw on whatever they find. They can chew through a variety of building materials including wood, brick, plastic, and soft metals. This is because their front teeth never stop growing, and they need to wear their teeth down. You may hear rats chewing as the sound reverberates throughout your home.

To be more environmentally friendly, many of our newer vehicles have soy-based wiring instead of petroleum-based wiring. To rats, your car’s wiring is a tasty treat. Customers who have had their cars’ wiring chewed by rats have filed class action lawsuits against car companies. This kind of damage is rarely covered under insurance, leaving you to foot the bill.

Both Norway rats and roof rats defecate and urinate everywhere they go. They carry fleas and are thought to be responsible for the Black Death in the Middle Ages.

Rats need water to survive and will seek out water indoors if they cannot find any outdoors. Many rats chew their way into homes looking for water. Once inside, they may chew a water line either from the refrigerator or the dishwasher, causing a flood inside your home. Some rats have given a surprise to a homeowner or two when, upon lifting the toilet seat, they found a rat looking up at them from the bowl.

Keeping Rats Out

It is important to keep rats out of your home since they can be so destructive and dangerous. Incredibly, rats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter. Block off any openings into your home or business with steel wool or concrete board. Use wire mesh to block attic access from soffits and gables.

Do not put out bird feeders as the bird food will attracts rats like flies to honey. Fix any leaking water spigots and keep air conditioning water runoff directed away from your home.

Do not ever use rat poison inside a home or business; it is a danger to pets and children. Also, if a rat were to eat the poison inside, it would die somewhere in the walls or insulation making it impossible to find. Poison should always be used outdoors with specifically designed bait boxes.

Squirrels

Squirrels often chew their way into homes to make permanent nests. They will obtain food and water from outside the home but return inside regularly.

Much like rats, squirrels need to chew and gnaw on things to grind their teeth down. If a squirrel is chewing your rafters, you will hear it.

Trapping squirrels is difficult since they are so fast and erratic. They are wary of traps and shy away from them.

Dave’s Pest Control offers affordable wildlife removal for your home or business. We provide a detailed attic or crawl space inspection to determine what could be making the noise.

Whether it’s raccoons, possums, rats, bats, or squirrels, we will safely trap, remove, and relocate invasive pests from your home or business.

Call us today for a free estimate.

Dan Coffey
Dcoffey@davespestcontrol.com

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