If you have heard sounds of scratches at night coming from the attic or crawl space above your home, you understand the frustration. Noises in the form of squeaks, thumping, and even walking sounds. You know there is something in your attic, but how do you find out what it is? And if it turns out to be rats causing a disturbance, what's the best way to kill rats and effectively get rid of them?

The view in the attic that attracts pests to stay


One clue to what makes those noises is the time of day it happens. If it’s primarily during the daytime, early morning or prior to sunset, you likely have a squirrel issue.

Attic noise at night is likely some type of nocturnal animal, like rats or possibly a raccoon. Next, you must consider the location of the sounds. Is it coming from a wall or an area that is a tight space? This usually indicates a rodent problem, like mice or rats.

What is the volume of the walking or thumping? A heavy sound indicates a larger animal, such as an opossum or raccoon. Hearing sounds that are light, quick, and scampering indicates squirrels, mice, and rats. This article will help you decipher what is in your attic or walls that is making scratching noises at night.

What types of Animals are in the Attic that Scratches?

You will find some of the most popular pests, such as squirrels, bats, raccoons, birds, and mice in the attic. Wild animals inside the home not only pose a potential health threat but also wreak havoc on your home. We have listed below some of the popular attic dwelling pests and the noise they make.

  • Raccoons

If you hear noises that sound like thumping or heavy walking at night, it may be raccoons in the attic. The adults make a squealing sound when they are mating. If there is a nest of baby raccoons, they will make a distinct chattering sound.

  • Squirrels

These pests are mainly heard in the daylight hours. Particularly early morning and the evening. You will hear a medium-level noise of rapid scampering, normally in the attic. However, you might also hear them in the eaves and walls of your home. If it’s a female, you might first hear one, but later, you will hear the sounds of 20 smaller feet--about five additional babies! You might also hear a rolling sound as they roll their nuts along the floor of the attic (your ceiling!).

  • Rats and mice

Both are nocturnal pests. You will likely hear them scurrying around past sunset. You will hear light scampering and scurrying within your walls, perhaps even some scratches in the attic. You won’t hear any squeals, but you will hear them running rapidly up and down the walls. Mice make sounds similar to rats, only lighter. The thickness of your walls, and the insulation, will have an effect on how loud the noises are.

  • Bats

Bats don’t make much noise being rather quiet pests. However, you may hear their chirping around evening time, depending on how many there are.

  • Birds

If you have birds trapped in the attic, you will hear their chirping and the flapping of their wings. These sounds occur in the daylight because the majority of birds are diurnal.

Birds in the attic

  • Possums

This is another pest that is nocturnal. They are big and slow, and you might hear their steps in the attic as they walk along the beams. Possums do not make any vocal noises.

  • Snakes

Many people describe a slithering sound when there is a snake in the attic.

  • Flying Squirrels

The opposite of ground squirrels, a flying squirrel, is nocturnal. They create noises similar to rats; however, you probably will not hear them within the walls

What Do the Rodents Do When You Hear Scratches in the Attic?

You'll most likely hear the rats scurrying and mice scratching in attic. Since they are nocturnal, you normally hear them when you are turning in, or later at night.

On some occasions, during the daytime, when the house is quiet, you might also hear them. The sounds of scratching that come from the attic, walls, or ceiling are them nesting or foraging for food.

They are typically quiet animals. This is why they can go a long time unnoticed. When you do hear them, it usually means you now have a mouse infestation.

To distinguish what is making the scratching, tap loudly on the area you hear the noise. If it’s a mouse, it will stop making noise, and then move on to a safer location.

Mice scratching in attic


What Noises do Raccoons Make in the Attic?

A raccoon can wreak havoc on the wiring and insulation in your attic, as well as carry rabies. If you think you have this wildlife in your attic, some of the signs include:

  • If you are hearing loud scratches and bumping noises, you likely have a raccoon intruder in your attic. These pests are physically the biggest of the attic invaders. Therefore, they are going to be noisier. The sounds they make are heavier yet slower than rodents and squirrels make.
  • Raccoons are also rather vocal and make chirping sounds that are distinctly familiar to their species. Few other attic critters make the same sounds of chattering as do raccoons.
  • Raccoons are primarily nocturnal, but they may also be seen during the night or day. They have spans of activity that are longer than other invaders of your attic.

What other issues do raccoons present?

Besides the obvious issues mentioned above, raccoons are carriers of a fungus that creates lung infections in humans. They also can spread rabies should your pet cat or dog come face-to-face and get bit by one.

Raccoons can destroy the attic insulation and chew on electrical wiring, creating a potential attic fire. If you are hearing not only scratching sounds but also dragging and thumping noises in the attic, you likely have a raccoon issue.

When you notice the sound of thumps, it is usually the first indication of larger animals. This could be raccoons or opossums. You may be hearing them as they drag something heavy over the top of your ceiling.

What Scratching Noises do Squirrels Make?

The most common wildlife animal that winds up in the attic is a squirrel. Here are some clues you are dealing with a squirrel:

  • Of all the animals that are on the list of attic invaders, squirrels are the only ones that aren’t nocturnal. The early mornings and evenings are when they are most active.
  • Squirrels make a noise that is rapid and scurrying. Fast scurrying and the sound of scratches, and you might hear acorns and nuts as they roll around the attic.
  • Dissimilar to raccoons and bats, squirrels are not vocal critters, making hardly any sounds at all.

A squirrel scratching

What Noises Do Bats Make?

In a short time period, bats can quickly multiply and become an invasion. They are carriers of fungus and rabies and can even cause humans to get lung infections. Some signs they might be present include:

  • They make high-pitched, squeaking attic noises. They also will create scratches noise in combination with chirps and squeaks that are high-pitched. You will usually hear these noises at night because bats are nocturnal creatures.
  • Since bats are intruders that fly, they can do harm to points of entry/exits and to the ceiling. Any places that give them access then they will be damaged.
  • Bat droppings create a bad odor, also called guano--this is the biggest clue to bats. Droppings from a bat leave an odor that is toxic and powerful, much like ammonia.

The ceiling of the attic offers the ideal place for a bat colony to come in and leave. In addition, bats also carry a fungus that causes human lung infections, and they also carry rabies. You won’t see bats during the daytime because they are nocturnal.

For the most part, a bat is a quiet animal.  However, as they crawl in some areas,  they do make noises softly scratching the surface. Bats do not chew the woodwork. Therefore, there won’t be any sounds of grinding wood. However, you might notice the high-pitched chirping sounds of a cricket.

How do you find out what animal is making the attic noises?

Some other animals that might get inside are stray cats and snakes. A pigeon might get trapped up there, and you will notice noises of wings flapping. You might notice these animals are more active at night.

Whatever the reason, these animals have made a home, and you want them to disappear. However, don’t try to get rid of them yourself. You need a professional. They know the best way to rid mice from attic.

Having an animal anywhere in your home is unnerving. Yet when you notice scratches sounds above you or in the attic, it is even worse. Particularly if you are not positive about what type of animal you are dealing with. It could be flying squirrels, birds, bats, or some kind of rodent.

There are clues to look for to learn who the culprit is behind those scratching sounds. There is potential for them to spread dangerous bacteria, as well as wreak havoc on several other areas.

Bat flapping its wings as one of the attic noises


What Scratching sounds do Attic Dwellers make?

Attics are made with good ventilation in mind. This is to ensure it does not become an oven in the summer or a freezer in the winter. What does good ventilation mean to wildlife? All that ventilation translates into several open invitations indoors. With openings that are a welcome mat, many a wild animal looking to cool off or get warm.

How do we differentiate noises coming from attic scratches?

It is often difficult to tell what pest is up there by the noises in the attic we notice. When we first start to look around, we might see various signs of pests, such as their nests, droppings, and trails.

Sometimes the best way to describe the noise is that it sounds like animals running on the roof. Or, perhaps it sounds like nuts are being dropped onto your house. The noises in the attic can navigate their way through vents and attic spaces. Magnifying sounds like there are animals living inside your home when they are only on top of it.

The most common pest species that are making noises are those that either climb or fly. Some of the sources of various sounds coming from attics and walls include mice and rats, raccoons, bats, and birds.

Some of the noises include vocal sounds, thumping noises, high-pitched chirpings, and flapping sounds. Birds are most capable of traveling within enclosed areas. You might recognize them as they run into the eaves or become trapped and search for an exit.

What is a Non-Attic Noise vs. an Attic Noise?

It can be difficult to determine their exact presence because of how sounds travel through vents and attic spaces. Most likely, it is mice and rats, squirrels, or raccoons. If you are hearing a heavy thumping during the evening hours, it is likely a raccoon.

Raccoons make vocal noises, while if you are hearing tapping noise in the daylight hours, it is likely squirrels. Rodents make scurrying noises in the evening hours. They depend on a series of chirps and squeaks to communicate with others in their species.

Hearing scurrying noises and squeaking is usually the first indication you have a wildlife presence in your home or backyard. These wildlife animals are in search of food sources. Often attics offer them access points into your home where there is food available.

Call a Professional

A.N.T Pest control providing the best services to handle raccoons, bats, and rodents.


When the presence of wildlife in your backyard is getting too much to handle, you need to call a professional. The simple truth is you should not have to share your food with animals from the outdoors.

If you are tired of dealing with squirrels, raccoons, bats, and rodents and are concerned about the rat exterminator cost of dealing with these invaders in your home, give us a call!  Contact A.N.T. Pest Control, and we can refer you to an experienced wildlife professional!

Contact Us

1200 S Cedar Rd #2D/E
New Lenox, IL 60451


Email Us

to top