Critter in the Wall

 I received the following email from my sister the other day:

Hello all,

I have something in my wall between my bathroom and kitchen wall….  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get it out?  I’m not sure what it is…  Kameron and I think it might be a bat, but it’s possible that it’s a mouse.

If you have any suggestions… Please let me know…  I hate how it sounds in there…  You can hear the scratching and then something dragging…  Not great!

Let me know…

Tongue firmly in cheek, I responded as follows:

Critter Options:  

    1. Take Kameron to Chuck E. Cheese with a roll of quarters.  Have him practice on Whack-a-Mole for a while.  Then when you get home., give him a hammer and let him start busting holes in the drywall.  When the critter pops out one of the hammer holes, Whack Him!
    2. Borrow a shot gun.  Do your best Elmer Fudd imitation, “Shhhhhh…  Be Verrwy Quiet…  I’m hunting wabbits…”  Close your eyes, listen and shoot where you hear the sound!
    3. Rent Mousehunt.  Those guys had a million ideas!  I particularly liked trying to impale the mouse through the wall using nail guns and 16d nails…
    4. Turn up the TV until whatever it is dies.  The smell will go away in about a week…

    Number four is the method I generally use, but if you decide to do one of the others, I can’t wait to hear about it!  If there was a way of getting it out of the wall without putting a hole in the wall, it would have found it already on its own.  It wants out as badly as you want it out.  Yes, it could be causing damage in the wall, but probably less than if you go after it.  If you still hear it there after a week, then it probably has a path to get to that point and is trying to get through to the next stud or into the cabinets or something.  At that point you may have no choice but to put the hole in the wall and get it stopped.




    Bat Exclusion using Hardware Clothe and Duct Tape

    Bat Exclusion using Hardware Cloth and Duct Tape

There are some things you can do.  It’s best when you can find out what you’re dealing with, but that’s not always possible.  For small mammals such as mice or bats, that you expect are still traveling in and out, you can put hardware cloth over the opening.  Cut the metal fabric slightly larger than the opening.  Three sides should be cut to leave protruding sharp points. Fasten one edge above the opening and bend the protruding points back towards the wall around the hole, creating a hinged flap that they can escape past, but cannot comfortably re-enter.

 Once you are sure that there are no animals inside, seal the hole.  Again, once the building envelope has been breached, this is often an area which will be breached over and over as the scent is there and it will be recognized as a weak point. 

 Bats, rats and mice can enter any hole that they can get their heads through. If the hole is small, steel wool can be used to fill the hole.  This is difficult and uncomfortable for them to chew through.  Larger holes may need to be patched with sheet metal.  Once the point of entry has been permanently sealed, then cosmetic repairs can be made, such as replacing siding, stucco or whatever the appropriate finished material is.

Back to my sister’s issue, odds are this is a bat or mouse in the wall.  It has probably entered through a small hole and become trapped, unable to find it’s way back out.  It may have followed holes drilled for wiring (or plumbing considering the location) and without her tearing up the walls to find it, it will probably die there.  It is not unusual to find mummified remains when doing demolition for remodeling projects.

Even when your solution is #4 above, it is always good to look for an entrance point.  If you can find it, it needs to be blocked to prevent additional “critters” from entering.   Be they bats, rats, mice, squirrels or God forbid, larger creatures such as possums, raccoons, cats, etc., once an entrance point has been created, breaching the integrity of the building envelope, it will be a constant point of entrance, even after the initial invader has been eliminated or died.  If you can determine what intruder you’re dealing with, you can set the appropriate trap outside the hole in the path they are traveling.

You can find more information on bat exclusion here:

You can find out how to build a bat house here:

You can find more about mice here:


And if you’re one that believes misery loves company, check out this amusing blog and read about someone else’s experiences driving critters out of their home:  Fair warning though, some of his pictures are a bit graphic….

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