Recently I was in a Silicon Valley neighborhood forum where someone asked what to do about a mouse (“or something”) in the wall of a house. For better or worse, I have a fair amount of experience with this both personally and professionally: birds in chimneys, mice and rats in homes (inside plus in the attics, walls, crawlspaces, and heating ducts) and even a bat that got into first an attic and then into the living area itself – that last story goes with the photo from a backyard in Campbell of a townhouse I sold some years ago.
Sometimes this can be a do-it-yourself project but often it’s better if you leave it to the professionals: a good termite & pest control company is normally going to be your best bet for removing rodents and other unwanted visitors and keeping them out.
What happens if you hire someone to get rid of your mouse, rat, bat, bird or other invading animal?
Usually it’s a 3-4 visit process over 3-4 weeks to catch the house guest, then do “exclusion work”, which means finding how it got in and making sure that or any other access points are cut off, then rechecking another time or two to make sure that the problem is taken care of. (What you do not want to do is get a dead rat or mouse stuck in your wall, so the pros will usually use traps where they can retrieve them rather than poison in the house’s attic or crawl space.) The cost is often a few hundred dollars for this multi-visit process.
A lot of times, the rodents can get in through a torn exterior vent in either the crawl space or attic and from there go up or down the walls to get to the opposite side, so if you have the pest guys come out, expect them to need access to both the crawl space and the attic access (for most people, that means clear all the stuff off of the floor of the closet that has the opening to the crawl space and remove anything stacked up under the attic hatch). If your duct work is loose, the truly adventurous and creative visitor may decide to see where it goes. That actually did happen at my own house on Easter Sunday some years ago. It was noisy as the panicked creature ran along the length of the duct work under our house. My kids were worried that it would pop out at one of the heat registers so placed books and heavy items at the access points to keep it from getting any closer. And they dubbed our noisy athlete “the Easter Rat“.
Many termite companies have a branch that takes care of this type of work, but not all do. Thrasher Termite & Pest Control in Los Gatos (408 354-9944) is who I suggest to my clients and who has helped us keep out intruders at our home (this is not a paid post). I’ve been very happy with their work. Many, but not all, termite companies have a division that handles these problems, so they are a good place to try if you have an unwelcome guest from the wild.