Rustling/scratching sound in ceiling

I live on the first floor of a two story apartment building. Early this morning, around 6:00 as dawn was breaking, I heard what sounded to be like a fast rustling sound in the ceiling…like an animal running up and down. I can frequently hear the upstairs neighbors talking, or walking, or even the faint sounds of their television, but this sound was different. There are a lot of squirrels on the property. I’ve heard of rodents in the attic or the roof, but would they get between the two floors?

I think they can and probably have. It could be mice, rats, or squirrels. If they can get in the walls of the apt above you, they probably can get in the space between the two floors.

I’m sorry, but you’ve got a case of the critters.

Squirrels, rats and chipmunks are all strong possibilities. They find ways to get places through walls. They could come through almost any smallish hole and often find routes along pipes where the pass-through hole is bigger then the pipe and the media used to fill the gap in the hole has worn away or was never installed.

Yes, they will get in anywhere they can. It doesn’t take a very large hole to allow a critter to squeeze inside. The owner will need to get an exterminator to trap the animal and close up any holes. You don’t want to kill the animal while it’s inside the building. As it decays, it will stink so bad you won’t be able to live in your house for a week or so.

Rustling and scratching noises in the ceiling? Isn’t that how things started in “The Exorcist”? :eek:

If it’s squirrels, be especially pro-active.

When autumn comes, they’ll be busy storing nuts in your ceiling space, and then, come winter, they’ll have bowling tournaments up there with the nuts. At 2 a.m.

Trust me, I know this first-hand.

Squirrels. Or ghosts. Or squirrel ghosts, but those are rare since most squirrels don’t die with unfinished business.

Yes. Sister’s house has a finished basement, and a few months ago when I was visiting, I heard a mouse repeatedly running back and forth in the ceiling during the night, apparently nesting and/or stashing food in the space between the joists. This was the basement ceiling, so it was approximately at ground level; it doesn’t take a very big opening at all to let a mouse find a way in.

It could be bats. They like tight tiny places to sleep during the day.

I live on the seventh floor of an urban appartment building. I got a handful of mice anyway - no idea where they came from or why they’re here. They seem to come and go between units - so far traps have caught zilch, but it’s been a little while since I heard them scratching or saw them zooming about the place. But this to say : yeah, rodents will get anywhere.

We had a snake living in our ceiling. We had seen it, and we knew it wasn’t poisonous. It stayed in the ceiling, and we assumed it kept rodents under control (our neighbors on both sides complained about mice, and we never saw one, except maybe in a blue moon, when the cats brought us a dead one), which we considered desirable. We knew its species never got big enough to be a threat to our cats, and at any rate, it was happy to stay in the ceiling. It was very hot up there, and the house was cool.

Every now and then, we’d hear it slithering, however, which was creepy.

In addition to squirrels, it could be birds. I had a couple of starlings who got in through a hole in the overhanging eave between the 2nd and 3rd floor of my house (squirrels may have originally gnawed the hole). They were building a nest up in there and I would hear them first thing in the morning, fluttering and thumping in the space between my bedroom ceiling and the floor above. It drove the cats wild.

I phoned a guy who came and set up a little one-way trap over the opening so the birds could get out but not back in. After a few days–to be sure there were no live birds still trapped in the space–he came back, pulled out the nest and sealed the opening off with a metal plate.

Maybe your neighbor has a secret dog? We had a neighbor upstairs with a small dog (they were allowed in the complex) and we could hear his claws as he galloped across a carpetless floor like the kitchen or bath.

My mother had a whole host of flying squirrels invade her house. She said the noises were… interesting.

I’m reminded of my experience a great many years ago when I was renting an old house that backed onto a large ravine and lots of green space, so there were a lot of critters around, most noticeably chattering squirrels. And in the winter I would hear rustling and scratching sounds from the attic just as you describe, although fortunately isolated over one specific area which wasn’t my bedroom.

I was sure it was squirrels so I bought some sort of hamster cage or bird cage and rigged it up with bait on a string that would cause the door to slam shut when the bait was touched. The result was that the bait was all nicely eaten, the door had slammed shut, but there was not a critter to be found!

I was still not sure what it was but on the assumption that it may have been something fairly large that nevertheless managed to squeeze through the bars, I put a large rat trap in the attic and waited. When I checked it out the next day the immense trap had sprung on a tiny little gray field mouse, with about ten times more force than necessary to send the little thing to Mouse Heaven (nothing gruesome, the mouse was still intact, just a little flat and very, very dead)!

So I subsequently put out a bunch of normal mouse traps, but I tend to think of sounds like that as associated with mice. Of course it will vary with whatever critters are common in the area.

You can usually distinguish squirrels from rats/mice by what time the sounds occur. Squirrels are diurnal while rats and mice are usually nocturnal. So if the sounds occur mostly at night they’re probably rats or mice, while if they occur mostly during the day they’re probably squirrels. The OP’s single observation of a sound at 6am is ambiguous – that’s about the time squirrels will be waking up, while my pet rats usually go to sleep around 9 or 10 am. Further observations could rule out one or the other.

Have you never seen a horror movie?


You don’t need an exterminator, you need a priest or Shaman.

I forgot about this thread, but I figured out the answer the next night when I heard the rustling sound followed by a person upstairs saying something along the lines of “no, get down!” So they have a pet upstairs…it’s an new neighbor, but I didn’t realize that until recently, and I’m guessing they have a small dog or a cat or something. Pets are allowed in the complex…it’s just the old neighbords didn’t have one and I hadn’t realized they moved out and were replaced by someone else.