Don’t Guess, Identify: How to Tell What Animal is in Your Wall?

Mouse chewing the electric cable

Understanding which type of animal has moved into your walls is the key to properly removing it. Rodents such as mice and rats are often the culprits, as they can squeeze through tiny openings. As you look for evidence of these animals, their droppings, gnaw marks, and tracks will become more visible. Larger animals like squirrels or raccoons can also occupy your walls but require larger entry and exit points. These animals leave behind damaged or eaten food and vegetation that can be hard to miss. Likewise, bats may also inhabit your home, making screeching noises during night hours. Identifying what kind of animal is in your wall is essential for a successful removal process.

Commonly found animals in the wall

A hiding racoon

  1. Mice and rats: The evidence of their presence is wide-ranging, from small droppings around the size of a grain of rice to distinct gnaw marks on woodwork, insulation, and other materials. You may also see urine stains and marks left from the oils and dirt they leave while traveling.
  2. Squirrels: You’d likely recognize their work if you found it: gnaw marks are typically larger and more jagged than those left by mice and rats, while droppings are similar in shape to rats or mice but larger. Moreover, these pesky creatures often return to the same spot, so keeping an eye out for further damage is wise.
  3. Raccoons: Raccoons can be persistent pests, particularly when it comes to their presence in attics and walls. Their signs are larger, tubular droppings often accompanied by greasy marks and stains on nearby surfaces. With keen observation, one might even notice the tracks or footprints raccoons leave behind in the dust or dirt as they navigate through walls or cavities.
  4. Bats: Bats are known to enter walls and attics through small openings, leaving behind unwelcome reminders of their presence. Guano, or bat droppings, is usually black and has an unmistakably strong smell. It is typically found near the point of entry or near roosting areas. Additionally, urine stains and rub marks from oils and dirt can be found on surfaces they use to get around, creating an unpleasant way to discover a bat infestation in your home! 

Common signs of an animal in the wall

Squirrels on the roof

Specific sounds that different types of animals may make in the wall

  1. Though small, mice and rats can make quite a bit of noise throughout the house. While it can be heard during any time of day, it’s often much more noticeable in the evening when the rest of the home has fallen silent. 
  2. Squirrels: Squirrels can be a source of amusement and entertainment with their sprinting around, but they can also become pests when they use your house’s walls as their running track! Their scurrying noise is unmistakable; usually, it’s a reminder that they’re up to no good again. Aside from the rustling sound, squirrels will also make chirping or squeaking noises as they take care of their daily activities.
  3. Raccoons: Raccoons are quite versatile when it comes to the various noises they make. From chittering and purring to the unsettling growling sound, raccoons can make themselves perfectly heard. Although these sounds may be heard at any time of the day, they are often louder at night. Not only that, but they also tend to create scratching or thumping noises when they scurry around in your walls. 
  4. Bats: you can hear their high-pitched squeaking come alive in the night and sometimes even feel a faint thumping or scratching in the walls.

How to recognize the specific signs of gnaw marks made by different animals

Rat in the wall

  1. Mice and rats cause a variety of damage with their gnawing. While these small rodents have small teeth, they can leave surprisingly deep marks. Their sharp incisors can gnaw easily through wood, plastic, and wires. 
  2. Squirrels: Squirrels are industrious gnawers who often leave their mark on surfaces. You can usually spot their gnaw marks by the distinctive jagged edges and rough texture they create, especially on wood and plastic. These gnaw marks can sometimes feature tooth prints alongside them, making them even easier to identify. 
  3. Raccoons: Raccoons are notorious chewers, leaving larger and more irregular to gnaw marks than their rodent counterparts. Equipped with a powerful jaw and sharp teeth, raccoons can easily penetrate wood, plastic, and metal. It’s not uncommon to observe their unique tooth prints on gnawed areas, indicative of the breed’s resilient feeding habits.
  4. Bats: Bats may often be mistaken for rodents due to their similar feeding habits. Yet, the gnaw marks they leave behind are quite distinct and can be used to easily differentiate between the two. Typically, bat gnaws marks are small and irregular, while tooth prints will accompany the marks left on wood and plastic surfaces. 

How to identify the specific animal

Bat in the wall


  1. Droppings: Droppings provide crucial evidence of the kinds of animals present inside walls or on roof lines. Mice and rat droppings are small and always have an elongated shape, about the size of a grain of rice, whereas raccoons leave droppings that are larger and curved, resembling a large grape. Squirrel excrement follows the same pattern but is more elongated before drying. Lastly, bat droppings, more commonly known as guano, identify the presence of these flying mammals since there tend to be large amounts, and they produce a distinctive smell besides containing black pieces in their shape.
  2. Gnaw marks serve as a key indicator of the type of animal present. Rodents like mice and rats leave small and precise gnaw marks compared to squirrels which create larger, more jagged marks. Additionally, raccoons tend to create fewer gnaw marks due to their lack of interest in this behavior. Knowing these differences can help to identify which animal is causing the damage, which is important for prevention involving unique species’ needs.
  3. Other characteristics: Tracks and footprints are often the most obvious sign, but other easily identifiable signs include urine stains, rub marks from oils and dirt where the animal has traveled, and even nesting materials like shredded insulation, twigs, or leaves. 
  4. Behavior: Bats come alive at night, sleeping during the day and swooping through skies under the darkness. Squirrels, on the other hand, are most active when the sun is out, searching for food and scurrying around in broad daylight. Meanwhile, raccoons demonstrate an impressive level of intelligence while they creep around in the shadows at night, searching for food sources. 

Habits and behavior

  1. Mice and rats are nocturnal animals that are often difficult to spot due to their habits of being secretive and timid. You may hear them scurrying in the walls or ceilings at night, but their presence is mostly noticed because of their destructive habits. They can be found indoors and outdoors as they need little resources to survive; they feed on various food, including seeds, fruits, and insects.
  2. Squirrels: they are active during the day. They are agile, acrobatic climbers who can often be spotted scaling trees, power lines, and even houses. Unfortunately, these habits also cause damage to building structures due to their gnawing habits. But their diet doesn’t just consist of wood; they feed on various foods, from nuts and seeds to small animals.
  3. Raccoons: Raccoons are most active at night. However, their intelligence and dexterity allow them to be active during the day. These animals can open latches, tear off shingles, and even break windows to gain access to a building. On top of that, they will consume almost anything they can get their hands on, including fruits, vegetables, insects, fish, and small animals.
  4. Bats: Their ability to fly, combined with the size of their bodies, means they can squeeze into small crevices. This is why they often roost in large colonies in places humans overlook, such as attics, walls, and other parts of a house. Bats are also known to prey on insects and small flying animals, which makes them an invaluable asset in bug control.

How to remove the animal and prevent future infestations

Please don't hurt the animal

  1. Humane methods of wildlife removal, such as live traps, are essential to not harm the animal and to comply with legal regulations in wildlife management. While it can be tempting to take shortcuts using harmful methods like poisons, these should be avoided, and care should be taken when selecting a humane solution for animal relocation. Humane methods prevent dubious practices and protect animals from unnecessary suffering. 
  2. Prevention is the best way to reduce the number of animals gaining access to your home. You can start by sealing up any holes or cracks in exterior walls and trimming back trees and bushes that provide access to the roof. Additionally, installing chimney caps will help keep animals out of your house. In addition, maintaining good ventilation in attics and basements is key to avoiding unwanted critters.
  3. Exclusion work: Exclusion work is an effective method of eliminating unwanted animal intrusions. To succeed, the entry point must be blocked off, and the surrounding area less appealing to the creature. This is accomplished by installing barriers of metal flashing, wire mesh, or other materials preventing the animal from entering again. Exclusion work done correctly keeps animals out permanently, stopping property damage and preserving safety for both humans and animals alike.
  4. Sanitation: Sanitation is also a key factor in preventing future infestations. This can be done by cleaning up and disposing of droppings, urine, or nesting materials left behind by the animal and treating the area with a disinfectant. This will help to remove any odors that may attract other animals.
  5. Professional inspections: Sanitation is a key factor in preventing future infestations, as it eliminates traces of animal activity. This will reduce any odors that may have been lurking around, which can be a magnet for other critters. After removing any droppings, urine, or nesting materials left behind in the affected area, you should use an effective disinfectant to thoroughly clean the space and prevent anything unsanitary from lingering on in the future.
  6. Local laws and regulations: Important to check with your local laws and regulations before you start any removal or exclusion work.

Professional wildlife removal service

A racoon in a cage

  1. Thorough inspection: A professional wildlife removal service is an excellent choice to quickly and effectively eliminate animal infestations. The technicians will carefully inspect the property to find animal habits and behavior signs, such as gnaw marks, droppings, and nesting materials. The inspection also involves listening for scratching and rustling noises, which are clues that can help identify animals present in the area. Furthermore, they will identify potential entry points on the property – such as cracks and holes in walls or roofs – so that preventive measures can be taken to stop any re-infestation.
  2. Identification: Not only are they essential in helping to discover which type of wild animal is causing trouble, but their advanced knowledge and techniques enable them to come up with an efficient and effective removal strategy that will prevent future infestations from happening.
  3. Humane removal: Humane animal removal is essential for any situation that involves wildlife in your walls or home. They can use humane methods to remove animals with minimal stress, supporting the well-being of humans and the animals involved. Humane methods may include using live traps, exclusion techniques, and more, so you can be sure the job will be done correctly and without harm to the animal. 
  4. Prevention: They will offer advice such as sealing up holes and cracks, trimming plants that provide roof access, installing chimney caps, and maintaining well-ventilated attics and basements.
  5. Sanitation: Professional wildlife removal services don’t just capture and remove animals; they also take care of the sanitation process. Sanitizing a space of droppings, urine, or nesting materials left behind by an animal can be time-consuming and elaborate. From proper disposal to inspecting the area for any further signs of animal activity, these professionals have the tools and experience to create a safe environment after removing an animal.


Animals in walls can cause serious damage to your home – from chewing through wires to weakening the walls’ structure. Not to mention the unpleasant smells and noises they can create. That’s why it’s important to identify and remove animals from your walls as soon as possible. Taking care of the problem now will help prevent future infestations and keep your home in good condition.

Preventing future infestations is key to saving time, money, and resources. Sealing up holes and cracks, trimming back trees and bushes that provide access to the roof, installing chimney caps, and keeping attics and basements well-ventilated are some ways to prevent animals from getting into walls.

If you think there’s an animal in your wall, don’t try to remove it yourself. Not only is it inhumane, but you could also end up with a bigger problem. Call a professional wildlife removal service to identify and safely remove the animal. They’ll also be able to prevent future infestations by sealing up any entry points.

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Zoltan Szatmari

Zoltan is a test and industrial engineer from Europe who loves learning anything new and working on small projects. When he is not working, he is usually hiking or going to the cinema.

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