Let’s get it straight. What you heard was something. What was it though? First things first. You will want to rule out if the noise is consistent. Or if it is due to the wind. Frequently siding, roof pipes, and other such components of the home come loose and make noise. This is more of a steady noise. Wind direction and speed may affect these sounds in your home.

Likewise, temperature fluctuations can cause the wood in your home to expand and contract. Leading to what can be described as clicking or popping sounds. This is like when a ghost makes a noise, and you tell yourself that it is just the house settling.

Wouldn’t it be nice to explain the newfound sound as animals running along your roof? Or perhaps acorns dropping on your home? What about that tree you have neglected to trim? Its branches might be playing patty cake with your shingles by now.

It is easy to jump to the conclusion that there is an animal inside your home. And there is a good chance that you are right. Keep in mind that it could be something different. And that diagnosing a wildlife issue based on sound, is the not all that effective. There are much better ways to figure out what that noise is in your attic.

Inspecting the Exterior of Your Home

Start the process by walking around the outside of your house. If a raccoon ripped off a soffit return, or part of the roof to get in, then you’ll likely see it from the outside. Look for something different in the vicinity of the noise. By doing so, you will rule out: Tree branch, loose component of home, large entry point made by raccoon. You need not perform a detailed wildlife inspection. Yet you should be able to knock out a few possibilities with a quick walk around the house. In turn, you’ll minimize the likelihood of paying for a wildlife inspection, when it’s not an animal.

Tree branches were mentioned earlier. In order to keep animals from getting onto your roof, restrict access by keeping branches 6 feet or more from the structure. Nuisance wildlife are resilient in exploiting the vulnerable points of your home’s construction. Don’t make it easy for them to gain access to the roof.

What Animals Live Inside Cleveland, Ohio Attics?

The most common pests that get into attics in the Greater Cleveland, OH area are: Mice, Gray Squirrels, Flying Squirrels, Bats, Raccoons, Red Squirrels, Yellow Jackets and Birds.

One thing to consider is if there is insulation where you are hearing the noise. If so, any noise from above the insulation will be muffled. Lots of people think that they have a raccoon in their attic, when it is just mice. Mice sound louder when they are directly on the other side of the drywall. If you hear something directly on the other side of the ceiling, then the animal has burrowed through the insulation. This is likely rodent activity.

Let’s look at each animal individually. Then let us know what kind of wildlife is thought to be in your attic.

Squirrels

squirrel nesting in roof by gutter

Squirrels often access the attic from the wood around the gutters.

There is grey, fox, flying and red squirrels in Cleveland, Ohio. All of which can be found in your home. Squirrels often chew through the fascia board to gain access into the attic. This is the wood board behind the gutter. They get in between the gutter and bottom row of shingles basically. This may be hard to spot from the ground. What you can do is sit and watch for squirrel activity on the roof. Dormer eaves, vents, and soffit returns are common wildlife entry points to check out also.

Female squirrels will move inside after breeding occurs in Mid- December- Early January. Litters are born February- March. A smaller percentage of squirrels have another litter July- August. Otherwise, a group of them will leave their summer drey (nest), in place of your attic during the colder months.

Red Squirrel:

These red devils are active, destructive and do a lot of gnawing. You might want to get your electric wires inspected in the attic after removal. Red squirrels feed on conifer seeds (pine, spruce, fir, hemlock). If these trees are found near the house, these little critters may pose a threat.

Fox Squirrel:

These common tree squirrels are native to Ohio. In urban environments, their numbers have decreased due to the grey squirrels’ presence. They have big bushy tails and coloring like a fox. Although they can break into your home, they are not cavity dwellers like the grey squirrel. Hence, they tend to be less troublesome. If you investigate tall trees in winter, you’ll see their drey nests.

Grey Squirrel:

By far, the most problematic wildlife in our area is the grey squirrel. These invasive Europeans are highly adaptable cavity dwellers. Black squirrels are also grey squirrels. Those are what we mostly see in Lakewood, OH. And boy do they love the old homes around here.

Grey, fox and red squirrels are diurnal (active during the day). If you hear animal sounds during the day, it is most likely one of these squirrels. Other attic inhabiting vermin are primarily active only at night. Birds, yellow jackets and chipmunks are less common in attics. Yet they are the exception in the case of daytime activity.

Flying Squirrel:

Flying Squirrel Feces in an Attic.

Flying squirrel feces will be concentrated to latrine areas.

Not many people consider that flyers are even a thing to consider. Yet flying squirrels are common inside Ohio attics. Unlike the other tree squirrels, these critters are only active at night. Squirrel movement is fast. Comparably to bats, flyers move much faster. If you hear soft thumping sounds, it could be them jumping from rafter to rafter. Flyers leave soon after sundown and return before sunrise. This is when you will hear them crossing ceilings.

Noises Heard from Squirrels in the Attic

Red, fox and grey squirrels will be most active just after sunrise and right before sunset. As they head out in the morning, you’ll likely catch wind of them. Scratching noises in the morning usually means a grey squirrel infestation. During the day, debris and nuts can be heard rolling around. They carry nuts into attics and attempt to bury them in the insulation. Their movements are fast. Red squirrels are the most active inside. There will be a significant amount of scratching, gnawing and screeching sounds during the day.

Grinding noises are the signature squirrel sound. Especially as the squirrels come in for the evening. It’s almost like they are gnawing their way further into the structure. Basically, they gnaw on wood to maintain their incisor teeth and work to improve their passageways.

Signs of Squirrels in Attics

If you look around inside your attic, you will likely see large areas of depressed insulation by their entry point. Additionally, squirrels use the bathroom in one spot. So, you likely won’t see any droppings. Flying squirrels have small droppings, like a deer mouse. Yet they will be more concentrated to a pile, or small area.

Mice

How mice enter attics in brick homes.

Mice climb up brick walls and access attics from the gaps along the roofline.

J- channel outside corner tube of siding that is used for mice to gain access into attics.

Mice and other wildlife will use these hollow tubes to climb right into your attic.

One thing to note is that you won’t be hearing mice screeching at each other. Being low on the food chain, they tend to remain quiet. Like other rodents, they need to gnaw on things to whittle down their incisor teeth. This is something that will keep you up at night. If you hear this and go tap on that area, they will stop for a bit. Then start back up once they feel that you have left. Mice are very in tune with human activity. They will wait until all is quiet in the house before starting their nightly routine.

Opposed to other attic inhabiting wildlife activity tied to dawn and dusk, mice will be heard late at night. There will be a sustained scratching in one spot. Yet depending on the level of infestation, there may be similar noises heard in different rooms. Unless there is no insulation, you will not hear them running from spot to spot.

One thing about mice is that they do not retain heat very well. Therefore, mouse nests inside attics will be close to access panels and canister lights- where it is warmer. If the noise is way out by the outside walls, it might not be a mouse.

Signs of Mice in Attics

It doesn’t take mice much of a gap to get inside attics. To prevent problems with mice, do not feed the birds. Also, you will want to keep branches pruned away from the home. With vinyl sided homes, they often climb up the j-channels on the outside corners of the home. This can be easily resolved by installing Critter Kaps. On brick homes, they climb up the exterior and get into cracks between the wood trim at the roofline.

If you have blown-in insulation you will see pathways of tampered down insulation. You will also see little golf ball sized burrows in the insulation. Mice also can’t hold their bowels. You will see feces scattered around areas of activity.

Bats

Bat inside wall of home.

Bats are usually heard as they move slowly in walls and soffits.

Bats are most active at sunrise and sunset. If you suspect that you have bats in your attic, start with a bat watch. Get a big mug of coffee and go out before sunrise. Sunset works too if you are not a morning person. You will see them swooping around. This is an effective way to figure out their exact entry points.

The average bat colony inside a residential structure is around 20 bats. A lot of guano can accumulate over time. Bat feces often carries a fungus called histoplasmosis. Be sure to wear a full-face respirator when entering a bat infested attic.

The classic bat noise is a soft scratching in the wall as they crawl around. Since bats hang upside down while they roost, you are more likely to hear them inside a wall than overhead in a ceiling.

You may also hear squeaking or high-pitched chirping in the attic. The noise can be likened to a fast-paced cricket noise. Remember that bats are dormant in winter. So, you won’t be hearing them then.

Compared to other nuisance wildlife in attics, bats move slow. They are a bit awkward as they crawl around. You can hear them moving to seek better temperatures, or to approach the exit. Sometimes they get stuck in a wall. That can create a ruckus. You may also hear tapping noises coming from the soffit as they flap around in there.

Signs of Bats in the Attic

If you don’t see one hanging around, then you will see the droppings. If you find any suspect droppings, pick one up. If it disintegrates when you crush it, then it is guano. That is since the feces consist of mainly of insect exoskeletons.

Raccoons

Raccoon in soffit of home.

You can usually spot a raccoon entry point from the ground. They are around this size.

Does it sound like someone broke into the house up there? Well, someone did. It is a raccoon. Any heavy thumping noise is going to be made by a larger animal. While an opossum might sneak in, that is uncommon.

Think about hearing a dog rummaging around on its bedding before settling in. That can be the noise you hear, especially when there are young up there too. Litters of 3 – 7 pups are born April- May. Once born, you will hear the mewing noises. You will really start to hear them snarl once they get old enough to wrestle around. They usually stay with their mothers until fall. Does it sound like they are fighting February- March? Nope. Not fighting. Its just breeding season.

Just like bats and flying squirrels, they leave to go forage outside around sunset. Can you imagine if you had all three? It would be like a parade every night. Sometimes you can see footprints and their dirt residue from climbing up the downspouts. The hole must be over 4 inches. Most are easy to spot outside if you look.

Birds

Broken screen to roof vent where starlings got inside.

Starlings often enter homes through vents with broken screens.

Starling nests in attics can become large.

Starling nests look like a pile of hay inside of an attic.

Starlings will get into attics. Mostly through broken screens on roof, soffit and gable vents. Their nests can grow to be massive. Birds’ nests can carry mites, fleas, and disease. Once they nest in homes, it is more likely that one will end up in trapped in your heating vents or in the basement. You don’t want these guys hanging around.

Some older roofs don’t have a drip edge installed under the bottom row of shingles- leading behind the gutter. This strip of metal protects the wood fascia board behind it from water. Softer water damaged fascia board gets compromised by nuisance wildlife. Birds will find roofline gaps to nest in.

 

Sometimes one squeezes in and gets stuck. They end up flying into the rafters and making a disturbance. If that happens open a window if there is one up there.

Bird nest inside bathroom exhaust fan vent.

When birds come back from migration, your bathroom exhaust fans become prone to birds. They can stuff nesting material way back in the duct. Special exhaust fan covers may be installed to help prevent this from occurring. Noises above the bathroom usually means birds. There will be chirping noises. Squirrels will try to get into bathroom exhaust fan vents too. It is wild to see them scale a wall in order to get in.

The easiest way to spot birds is to look for white droppings under the vents, on shingles and on exterior walls.