The sounds of scratching, scurrying, or crying from the chimney can strike fear into the hearts of any homeowners. Unfortunately, these sounds are just one of the many signs that you may have animals in your chimney.

To many animals, chimneys are the perfect place to hide from predators, seek shelter from the elements, or build nests. The presence of animals might seem harmless, but it can cause serious damage to the entire chimney system – and risk exposing your family to a variety of parasites and diseases. The following can help you identifying if you have animals in your chimney.

How do animals get into chimneys?bird on a chimney of a house.

The primary way that animals get into chimneys is through a damaged – or missing – chimney cap. The mesh or wire sides of a correctly installed and quality chimney cap protects the top of the flue and prevents animals from getting in; when damaged or installed incorrectly, animals can easily find their ways in to the flue through the chimney cap. Racoons in particular are known from gnawing, biting, and clawing at chimney caps to create holes large enough for them to slip through.

What animal is in my chimney?

Birds, roof rats, raccoons, and squirrels are the most common animals that can gain access to your chimney.

– Birds: For many birds, chimneys resemble hollow tree trunks and are seen as a perfect place to build a nest. Unfortunately, the dark and narrow chimney can prove to be disorienting; many birds become stuck in the flue – or find their way through the damper and into your home.

– Rats: Roof rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter; even small areas of damage or deterioration around the chimney can be big enough to allow a roof rat in. Rats are amongst the most dangerous animals to have in the chimney because of the number of pathogens and parasites they carry.

– Raccoons: Raccoons have a well-earned reputation for being sly. They have been knock to bite and claw at chimney components to create holes large enough for them to fit through. Unlike other animals, raccoons are usually able to use their sharp claws to climb up and down the slippery flue; unfortunately, this means many mama raccoons like to use chimneys as dens for their young.

– Squirrels: Squirrels are excellent climbers and have no problem finding their ways into attics, crawlspaces, and chimneys. Because they can be so difficult to catch – and often carry disease – professional help in removing squirrels is recommended.

How can I get the animals out?

Animal removal should be left to trained professionals. “Smoking out” a trapped animal often has disastrous consequences; opening the damper to start the fire can let the animal into your home, most nesting materials are dry and extremely flammable, and the animals are often overcome by smoke and heat before they find their way out of the chimney.

At Coopertown Services, our staff are experts at removing nuisance wildlife from middle Tennessee. We licensed by both the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and the National Wildlife Control Operators Association and specialize in humane animal removal.

If you hear the sounds – or notice the smells – of an animal trapped in your chimney, don’t try to deal with the problem yourself. Instead, call the expects at Coopertown Services for help identifying – and removing – wildlife from your chimney.