Cold weather means that pests will start making their way into your home in order to find a safe and warm place to nest and spend the winter. Two of the most common pests you are likely to encounter in the Ontario, including  Oakville, Burlington and the rest of Halton Region are squirrels and mice. If you suspect a pest has gotten into your attic the first step to getting them out is to figure out which pest you’re dealing with. Though they may seem similar, there are a few differences that can help you determine whether you have squirrels or mice in your attic.

Squirrels or mice?

Squirrels are often a fairly noisy and intrusive pest, so it’s likely that is the first one you’ll think of when you hear noises in your attic. However, mice can be more bothersome – and noisy – than people think! Some of the most common ways to tell them apart include:


Squirrels – Noise in your attic during the day is likely caused by a squirrel in your space. They move around at all hours of the day, and can make chewing, banging, scratching and jumping noises as they move around. During nesting season, you may even hear signs of nuts being moved around the attic as they prepare to feed their young.

Mice – The sounds that mice make are usually quieter than those from squirrels, but they will be no less noticeable. You may hear consistent scratching sounds as they move around the attic and up walls, and the sound of chewing when they sharpen their teeth on wood and other materials. Mice are nocturnal animals so you will be more likely to hear their noises at night.


Squirrels – Squirrels are much larger than mice, so their droppings will be much larger as well. Squirrels are less likely to move around your home so their droppings will be concentrated in the attic.

Mice – Mouse droppings are quite small, shaped like a grain of rice and will likely be found behind containers in your pantry and in dark corners in your basement or attic. Mouse droppings are often infected by viruses, so it’s important to handle them with care when it’s time to clean.

Did you know? Sometimes, mice are mistaken for raccoons in the attic. Mice can be quite noisy so if you think you’ve got an animal problem, maybe it’s a rodent problem. Regardless, they should be removed quickly to avoid potential (or further) damage. Call the experts!

Signs of damage

Squirrels – These pests need a larger entry point than mice do so the damage they create during entry will be more noticeable. You may also notice odors coming from your attic and signs of what looks like water damage on your walls and ceilings from their urine and feces.

Mice – Two of the most common goals of mice is to find shelter and food. If they are in your attic, the first need is easily met. In their hunt for food mice will search food pantries and cupboards looking for packages that they can rip into. Look for signs of tampered food like chewed edges on boxes and holes in bags.

How to prevent squirrels and mice from entering your attic

The methods you’ll use to keep both squirrels and mice out of your attic are pretty similar.

Find their entry points and seal them – Although squirrels need a bit bigger of a hole or crack to get in, inspecting along your roofline and soffits, around chimneys and on your roof can help you find potential entry points to seal.

Inspect your home foundation and garage for cracks – Mice will often enter your home from a crack in your foundation or around a basement window and make their way up to your attic.

Remove food sources – Leaving food waste and pet food out in your yard can draw in a number of pests, including squirrels and mice.

Keep your yard clear – Brush and dirt piles in the backyard can draw in pests and encourage them to stick around your property.

Remove attic pests quickly

Regardless of what kind of pest you have in your attic, it’s important to act quickly to get them out. Baby season begins in early spring, and once squirrels and mice start reproducing it can become much harder to get them out of your home.