Scratching in the walls

denismJuly 27, 2007

Hi there. I was browsing the internet in search of help and I stumbled upon this site. I found alot of similar problems to mine but none quite the same.

I rent an apartment that's on the last floor of a centennial house. It's clean and all, but quite old. I find that the isolation is a myth! And I'm of course close to the attic. Anyways I've started hearing scratching sounds coming from my walls. I started at one of them and tonight (after rationalizing I was hallucinating... so much for that!) I heard it clearly in a corner wall close to the door to my patio. It's scratching, but no sqeaking. Plus it's not frantic, it's more like little by little. It will go quiet than start again, and usually in the same spot that is until recently. Now every little noise has me on edge to find a critter, but I realize it's an old house so you do get noises.

The big mystery is: I found nothing that points to mice or rats inside the apartment! No droppings, no nibbling, no rummaged food or anything else. I'm just weary I'll wake up with a critter infront of me one night (and I will go berzerk until I catch it and kick it out!).

Any ideas? Am I on borrowed time or is it okay? You see it's not my house so I'm limited in my actions...



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They may just stay in the walls and never come out, but they are there, eating up the landlords walls. Let your landlord know.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 7:08AM
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Was talking with a guy at work... bats maybe??

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 7:09PM
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"Am I on borrowed time?"

This made me laugh! Noises in the middle of the night make the imagination go wild, lol.

Bang on the wall and see if you hear any critters scurring for dear life. If you do, then you need to tell the owner to look into it.

If you're on the first floor, go outside and see if you can see any signs of invasion, such as freshly chewed siding. If you can see where they entered, then have the owner lay some poison or some traps, and seal the hole.

Oh, one more thing: don't read any Steven King novels at night.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 10:37PM
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We had scratching in the walls of our bedroom on the second floor of the house, also our touch lamps would cycle at various times for minutes at a time. The noise was around where the outlet was.

Never had anything in the house so figured it must be bats.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 12:33AM
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Well... I'm on the 3rd floor so tracking infestation on the ground will be hard, and it's a huge house. However I found what looks like a whole where a mouse could crawl in close to the last scratching... should I block it?

PS: I did tap on the wall last time, and nothing budged. I thought that was odd...

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 6:49PM
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Could it be your neighbor below you? Perhaps they are trying to break out! :)

Seriously, could they have a cat or some type of animal that is scratching on the wall below your apartment and it sounds like it's inside your wall?

On another note. My parents had squirrels get into the attic, and then fall down through the wall. One or two dies and the smell was awful for weeks! Hope that doesn't happen to you.

Let us know what you find out.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 7:53PM
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Denis...Had a similar problem at a summer home years ago. Only occured at night and could not figure out what it was; and like you bang on the wall and all was quiet for a few minutes, then start again. Believe it or not it turned out to be carpenter ants in a wall stud slowly eating the wood! They mostly are active at night as they expand their nest. Removed the paneling and replaced the eaten stud and eliminated the ants and tiny opening they were getting into. Carpenter ants are large and black and drop from trees, etc. and love slightly damp locations. Check for tiny amount of sawdust along baseboards and where you may be hearing them. If you find them and this is your problem you may need a qualified exterminator as they can be difficult to get rid of especially i n an old home. Good luck, hope you find the problem. Mark in Buffalo

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 12:30PM
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You know mark, my parents had carpenter ants too and I never thought of it, but you might be right. I do have a bug "problem" as well - I'm in a rural area so it's somewhat normal. I'll check it out. Thank you.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 2:05PM
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Wow, your experience sounds eerily familiar. I lived in apartment with scratching noises in the walls. One night was particularly bad. I was lying in bed, almost asleep when I heard some fluttering and flapping. I panicked. I jumped up and turned on the overhead light and out of my door-less closet flew a bat, then another, and another. I screamed! I grabbed a tennis racket. I managed to whack one to near death, lifted up the heat register, and swatted him down the furnace chute. I didn't know what else to do. Then I thought I can't do this all night, so I called my landlord, who called the police. Bats, as I later learned, are an endangered species. A police officer arrived, put on a huge, thick glove and proceeded to remove the bats one by one. My landlord later found the dead bat. He wasn't too happy. But hey! I wasn't too happy about having bats in my apartment! We soon parted ways...the landlord/bats and I.

This was in a 1960s-70s house, which I learned a while ago had been burned down as part of a local firefighters' exercise. Good riddance, I say!

Call your landlord. Make him/her deal with it.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 2:09PM
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What is is about bats and tennis rackets! :) My husband did the same thing when we found a bat had come down our chimney. I n the movie, The Big Chill, they killed a bat with a tennis racket.

I heard scratching noises right after we moved into our new house. I was sure we had a mole in the wall. It turned out to be the new baskets - they were adjusting to the room and were creaking - that I had just placed on the entertainment shelves. House was quiet and that's all I heard.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 3:31PM
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"so I called my landlord, who called the police."

That's so funny because I am a police officer, and I'd like to see the look on MY face if someone called me to remove bats! I'd probably laugh in their face! (no I wouldn't, I'm professional ;)

This being said, I'd rather it be bats than anything else. They don't scare or disgust me at all, so I'd surely manage. I have to pay rent today, I'll put some pressure on the landlord, who's usually pretty good.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 6:00PM
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"That's so funny because I am a police officer, and I'd like to see the look on MY face if someone called me to remove bats! I'd probably laugh in their face! (no I wouldn't, I'm professional ;)"

This was a small me, this was the highlight of this particular officer's night, I'm sure.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 9:29AM
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Moles simply would not go into a wall, nothing there of interest to them. But I suppose that if the walls were itching, they might appreciate the scratching. With regard to protected species that happen to be pests on your premises, the technique is 3S. Shoot, Shovel, Shutup!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 5:31PM
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Oh, yes they do! They get inside the basement, through an open door, in the winter time. They then try to find a warm place and end up getting up in the insulation, get caught and die. Believe me, we have had that happen. WHEW!!!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 10:05PM
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oh yes they do! They go where it is warm and to get bedding for their nests.

We had something sounding like a mouse one time in our attic. Put up bait everywhere. No more bait. No more mouse sounds...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 5:07PM
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Everything stopped. Suddenly. Wierd...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 7:26PM
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Could it possibly be a tree branch rustling against the roof when there is a breeze? Had that happen to me a long time ago. Scared me to death.....

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 12:31PM
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I have a friend who just finished a series of rabies shots because a bat landed on her in the dark and may have bitten her....they couldn't catch the bat, so she had to have the shots.
My money is on bats.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 1:58PM
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I can totally sympathize. We bought our house 6 months ago and three times now (weeks apart), we've heard scratching in our office wall. The noise is down near the baseboard. Our pest management company can't find anything ... no signs of mice, no obvious entry points. We did see bats on the outside of the attic vent, but the vent is screened and there are no holes or tears and the seal is good. The noise happened all three times in the middle of the night ... like 4 a.m.! I'd love to figure it out ... just the thought of something in there is creepy to me. Pest people put mouse traps up in the attic today. We'll see what happens. Very frustrating!!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 6:27PM
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Lots of good suggestions and probable causes. I would only suggest introducing heavy SMOKE into the interior voids in question, and see if the noise changes at all. Most critters instinctively flee from smoke. If you already smoke big smelly Cohibas, you're half way there! ;')

Simply removing the wall plates from outlets or light switches might provide good smoke introduction points.

Also I have seen some half-decent STETHOSCOPES at Walgreens for under $11... might help you ID or locate the source. Then again you might also catch the housemates saying unkind things about you, lol.

What is it about bats and tennis rackets! :)

Well... it WORKS, and... it's a satisfying THUD! Plus it's an easy way to be The Big Hero(tm) when the wymins izz all a-screamin' and wrappin' towels 'round their heads "so the bats don't get tangled in our hair! They go after your hair!..." Uh, yeah, OK, maybe if you use moth-flavored shampoo, lol.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 12:05AM
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We have this once in a great while. It has always been mice. We lay traps, catch a few in early winter when they first start to come in, then generally no more for the rest of the winter,
OR - get the landlord to get an exterminator!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 5:26PM
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Had the same situation when we rented an older home a number of years ago. YOu could hear something scratching in the walls. Turned out to be rats. The home had a cellar -- dirt walls & floor. There was a trap door that led to the cellar (it was tight enough that the rats couldn't get into the house, but they could get into the walls. We baited the cellar with rat poisin. Found one rat dead in the cellar and another one dead in the yard.

I taught school once in an old school building that had mice or rats in the walls. One must have died in a wall behind my room. When the students came into the room, they said "Why does it smell like cauliflower in here?" It took several months untilt he "cauliflower" odor finally was gone.
Good luck

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 3:26PM
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Typically in Michigan you will deal with bats, mice, or flying squirrels scratching at night. They use the insulation as needing material and for warmth.

Here is a link that might be useful: Michigan Bat Control

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 7:21PM
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