Humane Removal of Animal Pests in the Attic

9 January 2017
 Categories: , Blog


Critters that invade attics can quickly become a nuisance. Among homeowners and even among those who specialize in pest control, there are people who prefer to settle human-wildlife conflicts humanely. Killing the invasive animal is not the only option. Depending on your problem animal, there may be a peaceable way to remove it from your attic. Examples of animal pests include raccoons, squirrels, mice, and bats. 

Live Traps

Animal trapping is the tried-and-true way to humanely remove animals. Live traps (those that do not kill the animal) are widely available at home-improvement or outdoors-type stores. For medium-sized animals, there are metal-wired cage-type traps, usually with a spring-loaded door. The small size generally suits squirrels while a large size is better for raccoons. Much smaller traps, usually solid plastic and tunnel shaped, are available for mice. You can also find collapsible aluminum traps for mice called Sherman traps. 

Setting and Baiting

Each kind of trap must be properly set and baited. When you buy a trap, there should be instructions included on the specifics of setting. Most traps need to be placed on level ground to operate properly. As for baiting, think about what will attract the animal. Being omnivores, raccoons will eat just about anything, including fish, melons, cooked meat, and wet cat food. For squirrels, nuts and seeds are often used as bait. You can use peanut butter as bait with high success for both squirrels and mice. 

Actions After Catching Animals

You can either trap your nuisance animal yourself or find a pest-control specialist who performs humane removal. Assuming you catch the pest yourself, it is recommended that you call a wildlife or animal-control organization to see whether anyone can take the animal off your hands with the agreement that its life will be spared. If there are no laws against relocating a given animal in your state, you may set the little critter free in the woods. In many states, however, it is prohibited to trap and relocate many species except on your own property. It is legally acceptable to release the animal anywhere on your own property, but if you do so, make sure you know how the animal got into the attic. This way, you can block the entrance and ensure that the animal does not return. 

Actions for Dealing with Mice

Please note that while being humane is highly admirable, there are cases where a lethal method is the safer option for your health or that of your family. Mice are highly difficult to remove without killing unless there are only a handful of individuals who have not yet bred. Otherwise, mice quickly expand their population, causing damage by chewing, nesting, and leaving behind droppings that may be disease risks. Only live-trap mice if you know exactly how they got into the attic and can close the entrance up. Otherwise, mice will keep coming in and out, and the situation may not prove healthy.

Actions for Dealing with Bats

Another warning: you should be extremely careful of how you handle bats that might enter your attic. Bats nationwide are suffering from population decline due a disease that only bats can get, so there may be laws in your state about killing or handling bats. There may be a wildlife organization near you that handles these little flying mammals. In general, the best way to "remove" bats is to chase them out and block them from re-entering with exclusion measures. If this does not work, call animal control about how the bats can be removed without harm. As with mice, be careful of unhealthy bat droppings and always clean them up as part of attic decontamination.   

Bats, mice, squirrels, and raccoons are not the only animals that can invade attics, but they are some of the most common. If you are the type that values animal life, there may be a feasible option of humane removal available. It is recommended that you consult a wildlife organization or pest-control company in these endeavors.