If you are hearing strange noises in your chimney it may be a wild animal (such as a raccoon) that has taken up residence.
The FIRST MOST IMPORTANT THING is — Do NOT build even a small fire to try to smoke an animal out of your chimney – you will likely only succeed in burning or killing the it!
To a wild animal an uncapped chimney resembles a hollow tree, and they have no idea that their “tree” is connected to a human’s house! Unlike a hollow tree, however, the inside of a chimney can be slippery and raccoons seem to be the only animals able to shimmy up and down it.
So…How do you tell the difference between a denning animal (such as a raccoon) and an animal that is stuck (like a squirrel or a bird)?
• Listen to the noise that the animal is making.
o A stuck animal is often frantic…
- May scratch at the damper.
- May flap its wings repeatedly in an effort to get out.
- May fall down into the fireplace. (Even if it is able to get back up above the damper or onto the smoke shelf, it might not be able to get all the way back up the chimney.
o A denning animal is less frenzied…
- May hear only occasional movement
- May hear sounds of wild animal babies calling out to their mother.
- Noises may follow a more predictable pattern.
- Noises often occur only a certain times of the day.
OK…so if it’s Raccoons…
In spring and summer, chimneys and attics are appealing to mother raccoons as denning sites for raising cubs. The easiest thing to do and maybe the best solution is to wait a few weeks for the family to move out on their own. When the cubs are old enough to go on nighttime carousing with her, their mother will finally take them out of the chimney for good rather than carrying them back and forth.wal
Since mother raccoons clean their babies meticulously to avoid attracting predators, they look for quiet, dark and non-noxious smelling places to raise their young. If you create the opposite conditions, you can often evict them successfully.
• Close the damper and put a blaring boombox (remember those?) in the fireplace. Loud rap or rock ‘n’ roll music works best.
• Place a bowl of ammonia on a footstool near the damper.
Taking these steps JUST BEFORE DUSK increases the chances of success. Mother raccoons don’t like to move their cubs in broad daylight. Be patient, it may take a few nights’ work for the mother to move her family.
Call nearest Animal Sanctuary or Wildlife Rehab. Have them remove any critters out of the chimney. Once the unwelcome tenants are gone, call a chimney sweep right away to install a chimney cap with an animal guard to make sure no new unwelcome guests move in.
Stay tuned for Animal Removal: Part 2 Is there something ALIVE stuck in my chimney?