Determining the Rodent or Pest Scratching in your Wall

I had recently spoken with a customer regarding movement they were hearing in a wall in their house. They were sure it was a squirrel because they had found an entry point in the garage. They consulted with Batzner to discover the next step. A few days later, I was brushing my teeth in my own bathroom when I heard something in the wall next to me. I turned the toothbrush off and listened again. There it was, a scratching directly parallel to my elbow, inside the wall. I pounded on the wall and the noise stopped. A few days later, I heard it again.

I sat down with Paul Matusiak, a 30-year Batzner veteran, and explained the noise in my wall. I also told him about the conversation I had with the customer regarding the squirrel. I wanted to understand how Service Specialists determined what was in a wall, how it get there, and how to get it out.

He asked me the question he always starts with in this scenario. “Was it consistent, or did it stop and start?” Breezes can cause noises that can be heard through the walls, like a loose soffit, for example. Turning a faucet on can test for a loose pipe triggered by running water. If the noise is consistent, it is most likely non-pest related. On the other hand, pest noises are more intermittent as they stop and start whatever they are doing. They may also freeze if they hear noises from you. Matusiak explained that feeling for vibrations can also help determine the cause. Consistent vibrations also indicate a non-pest source. Scratching-type noises can be anything from mice and rats to a large nest of carpenter ants communicating back and forth to wasps, hornets and yes, larger rodents such as squirrels.

Regarding my case, Matusiak explained it would be very rare for a mouse to be inside an interior wall, but as he questioned me further, we hit on a possibility. “It is unlikely a mouse would be in an interior wall on the second floor unless it was near the chimney.” Bingo. I realized the chimney ran right through that area.

For the mouse, baiting in the attic and the basement should do the trick, along with finding and securing the outside opening to ensure more won’t find their way in. Squirrels need to be trapped, so finding their access point is imperative; there are usually two openings far apart. Do NOT block their access before getting them out as they are very destructive and will chew through electrical wires and walls in an attempt to get out. Stinging insects and carpenter ants need to have their nest destroyed, so first identify their access point. Depending on the type of pest, a pest control professional will then treat it by either injecting dust, foam or spray into the wall, and most likely spraying a barrier around the outside of the building.

Regarding the potential damage that can happen if the situation is allowed to progress – carpenter ants, squirrels, and rats can cause expensive damage to a building’s infrastructure. Mice contaminate food and destroy furniture, clothing, and other stored items when they nest in them.

Periodically check the outside of your home, paying close attention to loose or water-damaged soffits. They are often the access point for many pest. Broken sewage pipes, foundation cracks, roof damage, rotted window and door frames, even the slightest opening is an invitation to unwanted guests.

Hearing something unusual in your wall? Call us at 866-591-3519 or contact us online to determine if further investigation is required to discover the cause.

Wisconsin’s Top 8 Small Animals in Pest Control

Wildlife removal in Wisconsin can mean many things, from something in your wall or attic to a guest under your porch. In order to determine what small animal made its way into your personal space, there are a couple of clues you can look for based on the habits, diet and activity of each. See the eight most common animals that Batzner runs into throughout Wisconsin:

1. Raccoon

Diet Opportunistic eaters and will eat whatever they can find, including fruits, veggies, small animals, and garbage.
Shelter/Entry Raccoons can enter through open garage doors, chimneys that don’t have a cap, attic fans, roof vents, and open soffits. Not usually found in basements.
Offspring Generally give birth to 1 litter per year during April and June. The litter is typically 3-5 young that stay with their mother for about 7 weeks.
Most active time Nocturnal, and if they are seen active during the day, it may indicate that the animal is sick.
Removal Live trapping with marshmallows, opened canned tuna, aluminum foil as attractant is recommended.


2. Squirrel

Diet Nuts, seeds and vegetation.
Shelter/Entry Frequently found in openings of soffits and overhanging trees allowing rooftop access. Because of this they are more commonly found in attics, rather than basements.
Offspring 2 litters per year – one between February and April and one between August and September. Each litter has 2-6 young.
Most active time Most active during early morning and late afternoon.
Removal Live trapping with walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds.


3. Opossum

Diet Fruit, snakes, insects, and trash.
Shelter/Entry Use existing openings under slabs or porches, open garages, not usually found in basements. Opossums don’t dig but will take over openings and holes from other animals.
Offspring Normally 5-8 young in a litter (could be up to 25), breed one time per year during February through June.
Most active time Nocturnal.
Removal Transient animals and may move on after a couple of days. If necessary, live trapping can be done with canned cat food or apples.


4. Rabbit

Diet Vegetation, veggies, grass, and herbs.
Shelter/Entry Rabbits usually place their nests in plain view, sometimes in the middle of a yard, brush piles, or long grass with fur over and around the nest. Not usually found indoors.
Offspring Typically have 3 litters per year with an average of 7 babies per litter – very few make it to maturity.
Most active time Dawn and dusk.
Removal Live trapping with brussel sprouts, carrots and lettuce.


5. Skunk

Diet Small mammals, eggs, fruit, berries, insects, food scraps in trash, and dog feces.
Shelter/Entry Under decks, burrows, under sheds, wood or rock piles, not usually found indoors.
Offspring 5-6 young in April-June.
Most active time Nocturnal.
Removal Live trapping and/or covered trap baited with cat food, chicken entrails or sardines with brussel sprouts, carrots or lettuce.


6. Woodchuck/


Diet Herbivores eating a variety of green plants and flowers doing damage to gardens and flower beds.
Shelter/Entry Typically burrow underneath something such as a porch, deck or slab. Burrows could have between 2-10 entrances.
Offspring One litter per year of 4-5 young, born usually in April or May.
Most active time Daytime, especially early morning and late afternoon.
Removal Live trapping with vegetables, cantaloupe, sweet corn, lettuce, canned peaches or fruit cocktail. Trap needs to be set early morning before the groundhog comes out. Groundhogs will have secondary openings that need to be blocked off to funnel the groundhog in the trap from the main burrow.


7. Rat

Diet Eat anything they can find, including garbage scraps, and insects.
Shelter/Entry Burrows, attics, walls, under slabs and porches. Can fit into openings the size of a quarter.
Offspring Breed year round (up to 5 litters per year) with 6-24 babies per litter.
Most active time Nocturnal.
Removal Exclusion, burrow baiting, and snap traps.


8. Muskrat

Diet Cattails and other aquatic vegetation.
Shelter/Entry Build lodges similar to beavers in river and stream banks.
Offspring 2-3 litters per year with 6-8 young each.
Most active time Mostly nocturnal or near dawn or dusk.
Removal Live trapping with fresh vegetables, carrots or apples.

*It is important to note that if there is muskrat problem, there will be some type of body of water nearby.