scratching in the walls and ceiling at night

Are You Hearing Scratching Noises at Night in Your Walls and Ceiling?

Scratching noises in the walls or ceiling at night are among the most unnerving sounds. You struggle to fall asleep as you consider the possible cause of the scratching. Could it be mice? Squirrels? Snakes? Or something else?

Before you let your mind run wild with the worst-case scenario, please take a few moments to educate yourself on the most likely sources of the noise and the ways to deal with whichever home-invading pest may be. You must first identify what you’re up against before taking any steps to remedy the situation.

In this post, we will talk about everything you should know about what to do if you hear scratching in your walls, and we’ll also be going over which types of pests are most likely to be the culprits.

scratching in the walls

Scratching In Walls – What's Happening?

There are only two possibilities as to where the scratching sounds might be coming from. It’s either a creature running around in your walls or ceiling or something related to the house itself, such as a leaky roof, a loose pipe, a dis­lodged soffit, or even faulty electrical compo­nents. Regardless, identifying what is disrupting your peace is the first step in fixing the problem.

If the noise is consistent, then it’s likely a household-related issue. Animals are erratic and inconsistent, whereas a loose pipe, a piece of siding, or a gust of wind will be more predictable. You should check the exterior and roof of your building carefully. Also, keep an eye out for anything that looks loose or out of place. If there’s something blowing in the wind, or something loose on the roof, check to see if you can confirm it visually.

If the noise seems to be coming from inside the house, try turning on the different taps in your home. This will confirm if it is a loose pipe and allow you to narrow down which one. Also, try turning your furnace or air conditioner on and off, as well as any other major household appliance. It should help you identify the source of the problem if it’s mechanical.

How Did Pests Get Behind The Walls?

Pests typically gain access behind walls by chewing or gnawing their way through them. Rats and mice are notorious for this behavior, as they need food and nesting locations. Therefore, they will chew through anything they can get their teeth into.

Wood siding, plaster, drywall, and even concrete block walls are vulnerable to rat and mouse bites. If you suspect that rats or mice are present in your home, they may be chewing on one of these materials right now, which would mean that they already have access to the walls of your home.

What To Do If You Hear Scratching In Walls

Mice, rats, squirrels, and even bats could be one of the creatures in your walls if you hear scratching. They can do extensive damage to your home over time and even cause your family members serious health issues as they leave behind droppings and potential diseases.

As we mentioned earlier, you must identify the pest causing the scratching in the walls. Because each type of pest has a unique set of solutions and products, you can use to get rid of them so you must determine which kind you are dealing with.

After hearing scratching in the walls, here is what you should do:

  1. Determine the pest responsible for scratching the walls.
  2. Choose the best method of pest control for the specific pest.
  3. Attempt to get rid of the pests in your house by using a variety of pest control products, home remedies, and professional assistance.

The first step is undoubtedly the most critical one. Remember, before you begin searching for methods to eliminate scratching noises in walls, you must identify the type of pest causing them.

A List of Pests That Could be Making Noises in Your Wall

From raccoons to mice to squirrels to birds, bees, and even rats, these creatures can become unwelcome guests in our homes. If you hear noises that sound like they’re coming from the walls it is time to check them for any signs of a pest invasion.

Bats, mice, rats, squirrels, and chipmunks are all common home invaders. Each of these animals makes a noise in the wall because of its movement and activity. Mice, flying, red, gray, and Chipmunk squirrels cache their food in wall voids. They come and go from openings along the foundation, wall, and roof lines. Nuts, seeds, and acorns are some examples of foods they can store inside the walls of your home.

Nocturnal rodents include mice, rats, and flying (or gliding) squirrels. These animals forage mainly at night. Red and gray squirrels and chipmunks are diurnally active, leaving their nests then. The timing of the sound may indicate who is making it.

It’s important to know for sure what animal or bug is making these noises before you decide which method or product would be best for removal. Knowing which types of pests, you’re dealing with will also help you determine how they got into your walls in the first place.

mice in the walls


Mice are some of the most common causes of scratching sounds heard behind walls or in ceilings. Along with scratching, they may also hear the skittering sound of their paws as they run around. You might also hear noises like chewing or gnaw­ing if you have mice in your home.

A faint “tapping” noise, accompanied by the sounds of small objects falling or rolling, is common. This may be accompanied by a slight rustling and chirping. Mice are territorial, and they often fight and scurry about. It might seem like a lot of noise. Babies, or pinks, also squeak a bit when they’re born.

Mice are most likely to be active at night, but if they need to forage for food during the day, they will do so. You could hear their scratchy sounds day or night, but usually, when your home is calm quiet, and they feel as though they’re not in any danger.

rats in the walls


Like mice, rats can also be the reason behind the scratching noise in your walls. They also eat things like paper, plastic bags, and other items. When you see bite marks on packages, be ready for the possibility of rats.

Rats will scratch at night because they’re more active at night, but they are also intelligent, purposely adapting their movements and activities to the time you are likely to be in bed or away from home.

Rats tend to leave urine tracks wherever they go. This urine smell can be intense. If you experience foul odors and scratching sounds, chances are you have an infestation of rats.


Like bats, birds can also become trapped inside your walls. Birds enter homes in search of warm, comfortable spaces to lay eggs. They may get stuck in walls while looking for a good nesting site.

If you have a bat or bird stuck in your wall, you may hear flapping and chirping sounds in addition to scratching. They’ll do everything they can to get out. Since birds are active during the day and bats are more active at night, you may be able to tell which one is trapped in your wall based on when you hear the noises.

If you don’t know what kind of animal it is, try using a flashlight to look into the hole. If you see an eye, that’s probably a bat. If you see fur or feathers, that could mean a bird.

bats in the roof and wall


Bats are actually quite common in homes, especially in attic spaces. This is because they are relatively quiet, and homeowners are usually notified only when they fall behind walls.

Juvenile bats tend not to be able to fly well yet, so they tend to fall more often when they first start flying. These nocturnal creatures usually make scratching noises at night. When they fall behind, they become disoriented and lose their way. If they can’t fly, then they’ll try to climb to get outside while scratching at the wall.

Bats usually enter homes through cracks or holes that might be present around windows or doorways. Bats will also look for ways under siding or even through holes around pipes.

squirrel in the walls


Squirrels are expert climbers and can easily get into a home. They tend to make their way into attics in order to give birth and rear their young. This makes the squirrel a top contender for the animal scratching in walls.
Squirrels make scratching sounds that are similar to those of mice.

However, they’re daytime creatures and will cause the majority of the ruckus during the day. They do have some distinctive noises associated with their presence. However, these sounds can often be mistaken for rodents or other critters. Because they stick to such a rigid schedule, they are easier to identify than you may think.

Squirrels are pretty resourceful; once they’ve established their own territory, they’ll spend a lot of time going back and forth between your walls and the outside. They adhere to a rigid, consistent schedule, so you’re most likely to see them early in the morning or at dusk. As they spent their days forage­ing for food and bring­ing it back to their dens at night, it’s not un­usual to hear scratch­ing or tap­ping noises dur­ing the day as well. However, most of the activity will take place during either sunrise or sunset.

Another common sound associated with squirrels being present in the attic, walls, or ceiling is their chewing sounds. Because their teeth never cease to grow, they continually fill them down by chewing on anything they come across.

As with raccoons, often times squirrels will leave visual evidence of their entry point. Have a walk around your property and see if you notice a wall of roof vents that has been chewed. Occasionally they will bend a soffit panel or portion of the siding as well.

The best way to deter squirrels from entering your home is to keep all exterior doors closed, and windows shut tight. If you have an attic access door, make sure that it’s securely fastened. You can also use a variety of deterrent products such as peanut butter, bird seed, oats, corn meal, or bread crumbs. These items work because squirrels don’t like the taste.

chipmunks in the walls


Chipmunks are similar to red and gray squirrel species in being diurnal. Chipmunks typically enter buildings through lower areas, such as the basement or first floor. Chipmunks often use gutters as a place to hide, which causes them to scratch against the metal. Hiding food in walls and darting in and back out, scratching sounds may sometimes be heard as the Chipmunk digs around in the wall.

Chipmunks are noisy and make a wide variety of sounds, especially when they’re active and moving around inside walls. Even if you’re not able to see the animals, you might hear them rushing and scratching sounds in the walls.

Also, their distinctive “chip chip” sounds, which they make with their teeth, are too close to be outside.


Roaches are one of the most common pests in the United States and cause scratching in walls. They can contaminate food and may carry diseases such as salmonella and gastroenteritis. There are many different types of roaches, but they all have similar habits.

Roaches are no­cturnal insects that live under floors, in basements, and in attics. They like to go into hiding during the day and come back out at night to look around for food. Some species are even drawn to water sources such as faucets and bathtubs.

If you see roach droppings or eggs inside your home or along windowsills, you may be dealing with an infestation. You may also see dead roaches on walls or under furniture, or you may hear them scratching or scurry­ing around behind walls.

The insects also eat paper and fabric in their quest for food, leaving behind a telltale smell with their feces. Cockroach infestations can cause allergies and asthma sufferers to experience attacks, and the pests can spread insulation dust from the inside surfaces of walls, crawl spaces, and basements.

Cockroach stains on walls are the wet poop marks that roaches leave behind. These poop marks, which are also known as cockroach smear marks, on walls are an undeniable sign that roaches are present.

Roach smears are usually found on the walls of damp, dark places in your home, such as on the walls of the bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

Roaches can randomly poop anywhere. However, most of the time their smears are near their nesting or hiding places.

Roaches that infest homes don’t make sounds audible to humans, but roaches crawling inside the walls can produce a chirp that at times is audible to humans. That happens when there are many roaches or an entire colony of roaches hiding in the walls.

You should also seal off any entry points that allow roaches back into your home. Check around doors, windows, and utility pipes for cracks or openings where they might be coming through. Make sure that all food sources are kept sealed tightly away in containers with lids on them, so they don’t attract ants as well as roaches, and contact a professional if you feel the scratching in walls continues after your treatments.

racoons in the walls of house


Raccoons are a common culprit for causing scratching in walls and ceilings. They are nocturnal animals that live in tree hollows or tunnels under buildings. They eat anything that smells like food, including birdseed, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. If you have raccoons living in your walls, they will often cause damage by tearing apart insulation, wiring, and insulation to get at their food source.

Raccoons can get into your home and get into walls through vulnerabilities or openings that you may not even be able to see. They usually look for ways into your home through the roof or attic, but they can also crawl through windows or vents on the sides of your house.

One of the best things you can do if you suspect raccoons are responsible for the scratching in walls around your house is to contact your local pest control agency. If you want to remove the raccoon by yourself, you should try using repellents first before trapping the animal. If you do try trapping the raccoon, be sure the raccoon is not a mother nesting with her babies.

Other Common Signs You have Pests In Your Walls Aside From Scratching In Walls

Cockroaches, bedbugs, and other pests can invade your home in addition to termites and rats. An infestation may be identified in the bathroom, kitchen, basement, and attic spaces. Look for these signs:

  • There may be an infestation if there are a lot of the same kind of bug around your house. Dead bugs are most frequently spotted on window ledges and in the cellar.
  • Mattresses are also a favourite habitat for dust mites, microscopic creatures that survive on human or animal skin fluff. Since they cannot be seen by the human eye, if you think there is an issue, you may require dust mite sanitation.
  • Bed bug and cockroach droppings may be difficult to spot, depending on the type. Some excrement and other forms of evidence are nearly invisible to the naked eye.
  • Mice and rats will make nests from whatever materials they can find. Look behind appliances, inside cabinets, and in small nooks and crannies in the house with a flashlight for shredded paper nests.
  • Certain odors can signal the presence of a pest. Bedbugs, for example, produce a sweet, musty aroma. Mice, on the other hand, produce a foul, musky odor that smells like urine. Cockroaches, in contrast, produce an oily substance that smells like soy sauce.
  • Mice and rats leave tracks and marks along the paths they regularly take. Dark grease marks along the walls may be an indication of the presence of rats or mice. Footprints, urine trails, and fecal droppings in the dust trail may also be indicative of the presence of rats or mice.

What To Do Next

Once you’ve identified the source of your wall or ceiling noises, you must decide what to do.

If you are prepared to handle the issue yourself, there are methods and approaches to do so. You may purchase traps exclusively for each of the pests on the list. Always pursue the most compassionate option- although pests may be irksome, we should not make them suffer a gruesome demise.

A pest infestation may reappear days or weeks after you attempt to take care of it yourself, so you may want to hire a pest control specialist to ensure the problem is eliminated for good.

How to Keep Pests From Entering

You either want to prevent future infestations, or you want to avoid them entirely. If you’ve never had an infestation, you might be wondering how you can keep pests away from your home.

Look for potential pest entry points in your house. For example, any holes, cracks, or fissures in the walls or roof may lead to an infestation, so be sure to inspect for and fix any issues regularly. If a pest can’t get into your home, then you won’t have to deal with an infestation.

Another great tip is to make sure that there is no debris or food lying around your home. This is what attracts pests. So, if you make your home undesirable to the pests, they won’t settle down in it.

When Should I Use Pest Control?

You should call an exterminator if you are unable to handle the problem yourself or if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable doing so. An exterminator will be able to eliminate the infestation safely and efficiently and will have a lot of experience doing so.

Don’t wait to address a suspected infestation; act immediately if you hear scratching in your walls. Do something yourself to get rid of pests if you hear scratching in your walls, or call pest control immediately. This will save you a lot of time, annoyance, and house damage in the long run. It may seem like an inconvenience, but you’ll be saving yourself a lot of headaches down the road.


It’s an unpleasant experience to hear noises inside your walls. These noises are usually due to four or five pests, namely mice, rats, birds, bats, or squirrels. Diagnosing the problem as soon as possible can prevent it from becoming severe. However, you may risk house damage or even your health if you neglect it.

Scratching in the Walls FAQ's

What is scratching inside my walls?

Mice. Mice are some of the most common culprits for scratching sounds heard behind walls and in ceilings. Along with scratching, you'll likely hear the skittering of their light footsteps as they run around. You might also hear what sounds like chewing or gnawing as well if you have mice in the home.

Why do I hear scratching in my room?

If you are hearing scratching noises specifically, as well as scurrying sounds. Mice or rats are your likely culprit. With rodents, you'll usually hear them around bedtime and late at night. Occasionally when the house is very quiet you will hear them during the day as well.

How do you tell if there is an animal in your wall?

Hearing scratching or noises in the walls is one of the many signs of having rodents living in your walls. Keep in mind that the timing of the sounds could help you figure out what sort of critters you're dealing with or if it's just a tree limb rubbing against the house on a windy day or night

How long can a rat live in a wall?

Rats in the wild are prey to snakes, coyotes, owls and other animals, so they often live for less than a year, but rats living in more protected indoor areas can live for two to three years.

Answer Nerds
No Comments

Post A Comment