I sometimes receive calls from people who tell me they have something in their attic, they are too scared to see what it is, and would I mind taking a look. If you find it difficult to sleep during a hot summers night, it is even harder when you have wildlife scrabbling around in the attic or crashing around on your roof. To know how to deal with it, you need to identify it.
There are a few likely culprits most likely to invade your roof space:
Birds – seagulls nest on flat roofs and will continue to do so because they are site faithful. Jackdaws frequently nest on unprotected chimney tops and use attic spaces if there is voids to ingress. Pigeons nest colonially under the eaves, in the roof or on ledges. Summer migrants such as swallows, swifts or house martins nest under the eaves or in roof voids. Starlings and house sparrows will also nest under the eaves or in lofts too. Occasionally mallards, kestrels or peregrines will nest in urban centres on flat roofs, windowsills or ledges of apartments.
Mammals – Grey squirrels often build nests in the insulation in attics. Rats and mice of course too can co-exist with humans but tend to be nocturnal where squirrels can be heard scampering around during the daytime. Both rodents and squirrels can chew cables and cause a lot of damage resulting in costly repair bills. Bats generally roost under tiles or felt and in ventilation ducts. Foxes can gain access to flat roofs or sloped roofs by climbing fire escapes or walls leading onto roof spaces. Old derelict offices or warehouses tend to be occupied by foxes as they provide a haven for the vixen to raise her cubs.
Insects – It is quite common for wasps to ingress during the summer period into people’s homes and build a hive. Similarly, in September each year cluster flies’ ingress into attic spaces to hibernate over the winter months when they flee outdoors with the arrival of spring sunshine.
Birds are protected by law when their nests are being built or are in use. However, they are only temporary visitors and most people enjoy their presence without disturbance. To prevent jackdaws nesting in your chimney every year it is best to purchase an ABR chimney cowl from Ecologica. It is difficult to prevent nesting gulls from returning each year unless you put netting on your roof. Roof eaves can be proofed with one metre lengths of Ecologica roofing comb protecting ingress against sparrows, starlings, rats which can be adjusted to suit any profile of roof tile. Ventilation systems or air bricks can be proofed with aluminium vent proofing grills or superior quality UPVC and stainless-steel mesh which is ideal for proofing against mice, bats and wasps. The latter can be mounted using screws or strong adhesive.
Pure copper knitted wire mesh 125mm is excellent for proofing voids against rats, mice or birds. Environmentally friendly, it will never rust and will not leave rust stains on brick or wood. It is made to cram into tight spaces, it is difficult to remove, and it is very hard for rodents to chew through. This knitted copper mesh has lay flat wires, which gives it a very tight and grippy final structure. An alternative is rodent proof woven 1mm stainless steel mesh which is great for airbricks.
Mervyn Walsh, Field Biologist