11.12.2003 - This was yet another case of an animal in an attic. The customer called me, and was hearing all sorts of running and walking noises in the attic, with
most of the activity coming at night. From the description of the problem, it sounded like a larger animal, as opposed to rats or squirrels. Larger animals most
commonly include raccoons and opossums.
I arrived at the house and began my inspection. It wasn't hard to find that a large hole had been torn right into the roof. At this point, I knew that I was dealing with a raccoon. Only raccoons are strong enough to claw and rip a hole right through the shingles and the wooden roof itself. My attic inspection confirmed it, as the attic contained raccoon droppings and tracks.
I could not see the animal in the attic. This is very often the case when I do my attic inspections. The critter finds a way to slink off and hide very still in some dark corner or under some insulation, and in a large and debris-filled attic, I often don't spot the animal(s). However, the evidence and the noise meant that it was there, somewhere.
I set a special trap system up on the roof. I created it on the spot, since it's not something I normally carry around, since I don't often have a hole coming out of a flat area - most holes are somewhere in the architecture that won't allow this system. I used heavy gauge steel mesh and made what is called a nose cone. This closed off any point of exit except to go directly into the trap. After it was all securely bolted down, and all the other potential exit points sealed shut, I left.
I returned the following morning, and had caught this raccoon. It's important to never leave an animal trapped on a roof for long - it can overheat and die. I unbolted the trap, removed the raccoon into my truck, and then got to work on a normal, good old-fashioned roof repair.
Do it yourself: Visit my How To Get Animals Out of the Attic page for tips and advice.
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Remember, the most important step in a total wildlife control solution is to stop the source of the problem - if you have wild critters in your attic or home, the only way to permanently solve the problem is to close all the entry points! This is a special
skill, and it requires extensive knowledge of both architecture and animal behavior. Being a skilled repairman also helps. All repairs should be done in such a way that keeps animals out for good - this often means sealing with steel, and sealing openings
so that they are airtight, with no trace of airflow for animals to detect. Remember, rodents can gnaw through almost anything, and raccoons can tear through almost anything. While it's important to trap and remove animals, and clean up the waste they leave
behind, the most important step in solving the critter problem and in keeping animals out forever is to identify and repair every last critter access point into the building. Without this crucial step, the job isn't complete.
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Trapping wildlife on the roof may not be a walk in the park. It requires specialized equipment knowledge of how to trap animals on slanting surfaces. Since dealing with wildlife on the roof can be quite challenging, the best option is to contact professional wildlife removers to handle it. If you feel you have all that it takes to trap and remove the animal from the roof, then you can give it a try, though. Since animals on the roof always live in the attic, and somewhere in the chimney, you should inspect to locate the entry points that the critters use.
To know the type of critter that you want to eradicate, inspecting the attic is always the best way to go. While in the attic, you can examine the type of droppings that you find to know the type of critter that lives there. And if you're lucky, you might find the animal up there. However, it's imperative to note that some animals, such as raccoons and snakes, are dangerous to deal with on your own since they can attack when cornered.
For small animals such as bats, you can use commercial excluders on the main entrance and seal off other exits. However, excluders may not be effective for large and intelligent animals like raccoons and possums. If you find that you have raccoons or possums, you can use a unique trap mounted on the main entrance or exit to trap the animal while it tries to get out. For the case of a raccoon, you may find a relatively large entry hole on the roof. Raccoons have agile hands and can easily tear into the roofing materials such as shingles to get into the attic.
With a special kind of a live cage trap, you can trap and relocate a nuisance animal at least ten miles away. When your target animal is captured, always transfer it as soon as possible to avoid causing a lot of stress to the caged animal and dehydration. After trapping the animal, always inspect the attic and chimney to ensure that there are no animals or young ones left behind as they can starve and die. Even though poison might seem like a short-cut to the solution, it could cause more trouble than you might realize.
When dealing with critters on the roof, employing preventive measures after animal removal can go a long way in preventing future occurrences. Such measures include fixing loose soffits, broken vents, damaged or loosely attached roofing. Also, prune the tree branches growing towards the roof and keep your compound clean.