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How to catch a critter you can never find?


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  • How to catch a critter you can never find?

    Hi, Folks.

    We have "something" in our house.

    But let me back up. I know we have the odd mouse because our cat catches them in the basement and brings them up to us. Not very regularly but it does happen. I also have a trap in the basement that catches mice every now and again. We never see mice in the living area of the house unless our cat let it go. There are no signs of rodents in the house. No chewed food packets or droppings, etc. We live in a rural area, surrounded by woods. Our yard is a playground for squirrels and chipmunks.

    So back to the start again. We have something that scurries above the ceiling of the first floor. I've heard it in several areas of the house, it's not limited to just one room. I am positive it's not a mouse because of the noise it makes. I know that noises can be amplified and make things sound larger than they are e.g., a chipmunk running through leaves outside can sound like a tiger. LOL, but this noise in the ceiling definitely sounds too loud to be something as small as a mouse. It also appears to be a single animal. We only ever hear it in one place at a time and it never sounds like a group. I have traps in a few places of the house but whatever it is never goes near them. I don't want to use poison because we have a cat and I don't want a dead rodent stinking up the house.

    Any ideas on what I can try?

    Cheers, Max

    EDIT : I am sitting here in my living room and I can say with 100% certainty that what is moving above me is NO mouse. I can hear it running about. I can hear it's claws scratch the floor as it runs. I can hear the noise it makes as it bashes into things - you can throw a mouse from one side of a room to the other and it would make less noise. I've never done that by the way, I'm a sap who choose to catch them and let them go in the woods. Sucker. I guess it's time to bite the bullet and just call in an exterminator.
    Last edited by Max; 10-02-2010, 01:40 PM.

  • #2
    Critter.... live near woods? Any chance it's a raccoon? Is there a way you can get into the attic and check for any 'gifts' (droppings) left behind? If the droppings are larger than most mice, it's probably more likely to be a raccoon.


    • #3
      and the thing with raccoons is that they will get into houses especially where there is food (mice and rats) and make it apart of their regular routes for food.
      I would recommend getting into that area, and putting in a live trap, and use a can of tuna, or a can of cat food to trap whatever is in there.
      The next thing you need to do is find where the animal is gaining access and fix it. not only are animals getting in, but it is a place where the weather can get in too.
      Good luck


      • #4
        Raccoons can be very big, and very fierce. Let's not assume that is what it is just yet, and please be careful when in the attic trying to determine what it is. You don't want to be in an attic with a raccoon that feels cornered.

        It could also be a squirrel. That seems more probably to me. It could also be a larger rat. I'd start by looking for the entry point. What can fit through that should tell you a lot.

        Their suggestions are right, put a live trap up there and look for droppings.

        Post some pictures when you catch it!!


        • #5
          I had Rats years ago when a neighbor stopped using the garbage pick up and started throwing it out back to fill in his swamp. The big traps got them though. They were loud and would drive my Yorkie nuts.

          You could put the cat in the attic. He will probably either catch the culprit, or just walk away if it's something he don't want to tangle with.

          Live traps work great, and catfood or tuna like has already been mentioned is hard for most critters to resist and they can smell it for miles.

          Good luck.


          • #6
            Attic pets...

            I would not put a cat up there. If it IS a raccoon, that cat can be mangled really bad. Not a good situation to have happen in an attic. The other advice about scouting for the opening is a great idea. And looking up there through the attic opening is okay. If it is a 'coon up there, it will want to go to the farthest spot from where you are. The problem arises when they are cornered and have no means of escape. Don't do that. Raccoons, rats, snakes....they will always flee if given a chance. Verify what you got. A live trap of proper size for a raccoon is a great idea, as is the cat food. Not a fan of tuna. It never worked for me. But, I have trapped DOZENS of raccoons using cat food.


            • #7

              I would still guess this is a mouse. I have experienced the same thing. A mouse can sound like a giant squirrel. My next guess would be a squirrel - if a mouse can sound like a squirrel, then a squirrel could sound like a large raccoon.

              A way to know for sure would be to invest in a game camera that hunters use - it is motion activated and will take their photo. Can get one for as little as $70 - see Gander MountainĀ® > Wildgame Innovations S2 2.0MP Digital Game Scouting Camera w/Strobe Flash - Hunting > Game Cameras > Cameras :

              Once you find out what the critter is, your best bet would be a live trap of the correct size. You really don't want to poison it and have a rotting corpse stinking up some far corner of your attic or within a wall.
              Drywall Taping & Finishing For Beginners


              • #8
                Thanks for the replies, Everyone.

                Still no sign of this critter but I will try and follow the advice given here. Just let me clarify a couple of points.

                When I say that the critter is above the first floor, it's not in the attic. Our house has a basement, first floor, second floor and an attic that was converted by the previous owners (closets). So the critter is above the living room and under our master bedroom. I've never heard anything in the attic but there's not much space. The master bedroom has cathedral ceilings and the upstairs is just closets (and a couple of really hard to access places under the roof.

                First thing I am going to do is determine where it is getting in and I'll take care of that. I can think of one place but it's not easy for me to get to. We have vent on the end of the roof, right at the top, and it covered in slats of wood. From down below it looks like one of the slats has been moved so things can get in. I will need to check that out.

                I don't think the animal in question is a raccoon. The animal doesn't sound that big. My guess is a squirrel that pops in and out from time to time.

                Thanks for all your great suggestions and I will be sure to post an update when I have dealt with this guy.

                By the way, our cat was declawed by his previous owners so there is no way we're putting him up against a wild animal. Mice are about his limit.

                Cheers, Max


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Max View Post
                  We have vent on the end of the roof, right at the top, and it covered in slats of wood. From down below it looks like one of the slats has been moved so things can get in
                  That's exactly what it was for us one time. Squirrels come and go as they please...


                  • #10
                    Hi, Folks.

                    I thought I would come back and give you an update.

                    I placed a humane trap in the crawlspace in the attic (by our master bedroom bedroom gas heater unit) and the trap was triggered a couple of times without catching anything. The holes are too small for a squirrel to get out but it got me thinking....there was activity there. So I placed a couple of smaller mouse traps in the same place and over the next week I caught 11 mice. Then it stopped. The noises stopped. The traps remained empty. The mice were a little larger than the ones the cat usually catches but they were not huge. Even though they sounded like elephants when they were crashing around, they were just very noisy mice. I know that I will still need to try and find how they are getting in but for the time being, everything is rosy again.

                    Cheers, Max


                    • #11

                      Super! So glad it was that easy! Although a nuisance, mice are far easier to deal with than squirrels and especially raccoons! Thanks for the update, too! We like updates!


                      • #12
                        Quote, "EDIT : I am sitting here in my living room and I can say with 100% certainty that what is moving above me is NO mouse."

                        Um. Yeah.....

                        I have no idea how mice travel between floors other than they are inside the walls. I wonder if the crashing noises I heard were made by mice coming down from the attic and either jumping or falling the last couple of feet. I know that noise travels better through solids than air but I swear the noise these things made sounded way too loud to be a mouse. But no mice and no noise would seem to prove otherwise.

                        Anyway, so much for being 100% certain.