Q: I hear heavy thumps and thuds in my attic in the middle of the night. Also, something seems to be chewing the wood up there. Would raccoons do this?
A: It is possible that raccoons have taken up residence in your attic but I think the more likely source of the thumps is a family of flying squirrels. They are nocturnal creatures, for whom the party is just getting started at 2:00 a.m. As they glide from boxes of Christmas decorations to roof rafters, they can provide enough thuds and ‘skittering’ noises to keep the soundest sleeper awake.
Flying squirrels are small creatures so it is difficult to find the openings where they come in. Nonetheless, use your binoculars to closely examine the outside of your home, particularly where overhanging eaves meet the siding. Look for a ‘dirty area’ where the animals come and go each night. Cover the hole with wood or metal if you find it.
Even so, you’ll need to remove the animals in your attic. You could use a small live animal trap (Havahart, etc) baited with sunflower seed and peanut butter. When an animal is caught, you have a dilemma. The Department of Natural Resources frowns on relocating wild animals beyond your own property. And if you choose to defy governmental rules, the animals you relocate will still probably starve in their new, unfamiliar location. I’ll let you decide if it is actually more humane to use a lethal mouse trap instead.
The chewing sounds probably aren’t coming from squirrels. I suspect rats or mice instead. They’ll be caught in whichever tarp you choose for the squirrels. I DO NOT recommend using poisons. It is a misconception that rat poisons make the animal seek water or ‘dry up and not smell’. A dying squirrel will find its way into the most inaccessible part of your attic and make your life miserable for weeks.
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