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Why Do Animals Get in Attics During the Winter?

With the winter months fast approaching, wildlife will start trying to take refuge from the elements and one of their favorite places is your attic. It is the perfect mix of warmth, convenience, and provides protection from predators. A small entry point, like a crack or hole, to get into your attic space is all an animal needs to make themselves right at home. While some of these animals can be cute and cuddly, they have the potential to cause significant damage to your home. Not only can pests carry diseases, but they oftentimes cause damage to things like your insulation and drywall. 

What Kind of Animal is in My Attic?

The most popular animals to hide out in your attic space are bats, squirrels, raccoons, mice, and rats. Because each species is so different, they all bring their own unique set of problems.


Bats can be detected by the smell or by visually seeing bats come and go from the attic or roofline. Bat urine has a powerful ammonia smell that can dissipate into your living areas. Their guano, or droppings, are dark-colored pebbles that can be found in piles. If you see bat guano, be sure to call your wildlife removal company or bat expert local pest control to help you with wildlife removal as their droppings are highly toxic to humans. 


Squirrels can be pinpointed by their chewing or scratching noises. They are diurnal, meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk. Chewing through the drywall, and baseball-sized holes in the exterior siding are also indicators of squirrel activity. Lastly, insulation pulled out at the entry points, teardrop-shaped droppings, and pungent odor can be signs of squirrels. 


Raccoons, being the largest in size, tend to make the loudest noises of the bunch. If there are snarling, scratching, footsteps, or chewing sounds coming from your attic, those can be an indicator of raccoons. Another sign could be if your soffit panels or siding is looking out of place.


Lastly, because mice and rats are so similar, they will have a lot of the same signs. Some of those include nesting, droppings, and noises in your ceiling and walls. Noise from mice and rats can be at any time of day or night. There is also the possibility of rodents dying in the walls, which can produce a very distinct smell.

How to Get Rid of Animals in My Attic?

First and foremost, remember that the animals in your attic are wild so be sure to keep children and pets away from the attic area to avoid any injuries. The safest course of action is to let the animals leave on their own. Just like you and me, these animals have to leave every day to get food and water. When you call a wildlife removal company in your area, depending on the animal, a technician will come to your property, inspect the attic, and recommend the best course of action. This may include one-way exits, excluding the animal from the attic, or trapping and harassment.

A one-way exit is a device that only allows one-way access to the attic, meaning the animals will be able to leave the space but will not be able to get back in. Once they are sure all of the animals are gone, the tech will then seal up any possible entry points as well as fix any damage, such as insulation and drywall, and disinfect the area. It is always best to leave the job up to the professionals. These animals can be dangerous, aggressive, and will defend themselves if they feel threatened.

Why Call a Wildlife Removal Company vs. a Pest Control Company for Animals in Attics?

How do a wildlife removal company and a pest control company differ? As the name might suggest, wildlife removal companies specialize in the proper way to remove unwanted wildlife from your home. Pest control, however, is used for bugs and sometimes small animals like mice and rats. In the state of Virginia, there are very strict laws on how to remove bats, where they can be moved, and in what months they are allowed to be displaced. It is also illegal to poison any animals, other than mice and rats, on your property. With so many rules and regulations, it is always best to call an expert wildlife removal company. Summit Wildlife Removal has over 30 years of experience and serves Alexandria, Springfield, Manassas, and other Northern Virginia areas.

How To Keep Animals Out of My Attic?

The easiest way to get pests and wildlife out of your attic is to prevent them from getting in there in the first place. Here are a few things you can do to protect your home from unwanted visitors. 

  • Inspecting the Exterior of the Home for Damage
  • Trimming Tree Limbs
  • Identifying and Sealing potential entry points like vents and soffits. 

One often-forgotten method is inspecting the exterior of your home. It might seem obvious, but not many homeowners are even aware that they have any damage to their roofs or may not have ever even seen them. By keeping tabs on the condition of the house, you can catch problems before they escalate. If you live in a wooded area, making sure that the branches of your trees are not too close to your roof can be another way to prevent animals from getting in. Since raccoons and squirrels are such good climbers, these branches make the perfect path to easy entry. Another simple way to keep animals out of the attic is by making sure any entry points or holes are sealed. Your chimney and exhaust vents help wildlife gain access to your home but can be easily secured. 

Ultimately, contacting a pest control service or wildlife removal company near you is a foolproof way to make sure you aren’t combating pest problems this winter. 

If you need help getting animals out of your attic, call Summit Wildlife Removal at 703-884-2124 to schedule a free estimate. 

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