Not unlike us, animals seek warmth in the cold winter months, especially as temperatures fall to near or below the freezing mark. Our chimneys can provide a refuge for these cold animals, especially birds and rodents.
Some animals that can be found hiding out in chimneys include:
- Rats and mice
If you hear scratching, squeaking or even flapping noises around your fireplace, your chimney may be hosting an unwanted animal guest. If having an animal take up temporary residence in your chimney doesn’t sound like your idea of a cozy winter, read on to learn more about the animals that commonly infest this location and to get some helpful tips on how to deal with them.
Some birds prefer to nest in hollow trees. An accessible chimney without a chimney cap can sometimes act as hollow trees, so birds may find their way inside to nest.
If a bird decides to build a nest there, do not attempt to "smoke it out." Instead, close your flue to help prevent the bird from entering your home and do not use your fireplace until a nuisance wildlife control professional has assessed the situation.
Once any birds have been removed, have your chimney professionally cleaned. Any remaining nesting materials could pose a fire hazard. Finally, consider installing a chimney cap to help prevent birds and other animals from entering your chimney.
When searching for shelter, rodents can gain access to your home through surprisingly small holes. Rats can squeeze through holes the size of a quarter. Though roof rats (which are generally only found along the coasts and in some port cities) tend to infest attics, they could potentially find their way into your chimney. Norway rats can also enter your chimney from the ground level and find little shelves to nest on. To help prevent rats from entering your home through the chimney, inspect your fireplace carefully for any holes and properly seal the ones you find. You should also have a professional inspect your roof and chimney for potential entry points.
If a rat happens to get inside your chimney, it can pose a health hazard. Rodents can carry pathogens that may cause disease. They can also harbor ectoparasitic insect pests — ticks, fleas and mites — that can be a nuisance to human beings. Rodents, while small, are also wild animals. Again, it's best to hire a professional to handle rodent removal.
Female raccoons may enter your open chimney to birth their young and nest (den). Chimney caps are a great way to help deter raccoons from turning your chimney into their nursery.
Like rats and mice, raccoons can also carry pathogens that may cause disease. They may also attack if they feel threatened. In the case of a raccoon infestation, your best course of action is to hire a professional to remove these animals.
Squirrels are well-known for finding their way into all kinds of places like attics, crawl spaces, walls and chimneys. If they make their way into your home, squirrels can typically be found in attics and can sometimes fall into wall voids surrounding the chimney.
As such, squirrels can be hard to reach and catch. They are excellent climbers and very skilled at evading larger animals they consider predatory. A professional wildlife control professional will know the best methods for getting a squirrel out of your home.
Remember, if you suspect there’s an animal in your chimney, your best course of action is to give Terminix® a call to learn how our removal and exclusion services can help you.