If you hear vocalizations coming from your attic or walls, they are most likely caused by raccoons, squirrels, mice, rats, or birds.
If you hear:
- loud chattering noises, growls, “chirps,” or grunts during the day, you may have raccoons. These vocalizations are often accompanied by shuffling noises or creaks as the raccoons walk across the ceiling joists. Adults will go out at night to feed. You may see them at dusk or dawn leaving or returning to the den. Young raccoons will stay inside until they are almost weaned. They sound like this:
- muffled chattering or rustling noises at night, you may have a tree squirrel. During the day the noise goes away when the squirrel goes outside to feed.
- quiet squeaking noises and “cheep”-like vocalizations, you may have mice or rats. Insulation often muffles mice or rat vocalizations. The sound of their feet as they scurry along walls or ceilings is a more common sound, as is the sound of them gnawing on wood. These noises can happen any time, day or night.
- chirping noises, you may have birds. Birds often gain access through vents and will build nests in the attic. European starlings and house sparrows are the usual suspects. These species may be removed without a permit, but other birds are protected by federal and state laws. The young should be allowed to leave on their own (typically 2 to 4 weeks).
Identifying the species based on sound alone can be challenging. Always inspect the attic for other signs, such as droppings, chew marks, paths left in the insulation, or sightings of the animal or bird.
The Wildlife Identification pages have photos that can help you identify what animal you are dealing with. Click on the animal photo and you’ll be directed to a page that provides identification and life history information as well as damage control and prevention tips for that species.