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What Animal is Living in My Basement?

Think there’s an animal in your basement, but not sure what it might be? Here are some clues that can help you distinguish one invader from another.

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While plenty of animals can cause problems around your property, some are more likely to make their way into your basement than others. These can include:

look for signs of animal invaders

Mice and Rats

Mice can carry diseases into your home, as can wild rats. Both rodents are likely to build nests inside your walls if they have a chance to access them, and otherwise compromise the health of your home. These critters tend to appear more frequently as the weather cools, which does give you time to look out for them as the seasons change.

Mice and rats tend to do most of their damage closer to the ground. If you notice droppings throughout your home as well as crumbs or damaged drywall near the joints of your basement, you can likely attribute your losses to either one of these creatures.

Chipmunks and Squirrels

Squirrels love to nest in your insulation, chew up your wires, and generally make a nuisance of themselves if they get into your home. These creatures won’t always try to escape once they’ve settled indoors; instead, the warmth and safety of your home may provide them with the perfect habitat to thrive in. Chipmunks exhibit many similar behaviors once indoors, though they tend to be more skittish than their larger cousins.

Much like rats and mice, squirrels and chipmunks will leave behind droppings that will give them away. These dropping piles will be bigger than the ones left behind by smaller rodents. In that same vein, any related damage is likely to be more widespread. If you’re getting animal droppings as well as basement damage in the middle of your walls, you can more readily assign responsibility for that damage to either a chipmunk or a squirrel, both of which can climb more easily than their ground-bound cousins.


Snakes don’t tend to leave much visible structural damage behind in your basement. Instead, these creatures pose a more immediate threat to your family’s health. If you notice any of your family pets acting odd or if you stumble across snake skin in your basement, then reach out to exterminators or animal control representatives in your area as soon as possible.


Raccoons, like squirrels and chipmunks, are troublemakers. These larger creatures can leave a path of destruction behind them if they make their way into your home, tearing up your insulation to make nests and destroying your electrical wiring.

The good news is that raccoons tend to make themselves fairly obvious. The droppings they leave behind are much bigger than those of a mouse or squirrel, and they’re relatively noisy in a quiet family home. If you’re hearing any odd “thunks” or crashes, or if you’ve noticed something disturbing your trash, you’ll want to call area animal control experts as soon as possible.

Groundhogs and Rabbits

Groundhogs and rabbits alike are two of the larger types of critters that can make a mess of your basement. Unlike raccoons, they don’t often make deliberate attempts to get into your home. Instead, these creatures prefer to burrow beneath your home. While this doesn’t always qualify as an infestation, they can force your basement floor and foundation to start sinking prematurely. In turn, these creatures can settle into any cracks that form in your basement’s floor and walls, essentially moving in right alongside you.

If you notice your basement floor starting to buckle, soften, or otherwise sink, then you may have an infestation to deal with. Again, animal control and exterminators alike can remove these creatures from your property. Only once they’re gone should you call in area contractors to try and lift your basement back into its original position.

Bats and Birds

Bats are primarily a risk to your home due to the diseases they can bring into your space with them. They pose little to no structural threat to your basement.

Pigeons and woodpeckers, however, will enthusiastically start to tear away at the structural supports holding your basement in place should they get inside. Woodpeckers, should they get inside, will search for insects in any exposed wood, while pigeons can steal some of your home’s supplies to make nests in your rafters. Luckily, these creatures don’t tend to hide once they’re stuck inside. You can trust birds to make nuisances of themselves as they try to make their way back outdoors. While it won’t be fun to deal with them in the moment, you can at least rest easy knowing most birds won’t remain in your basement for more than a day.

Both birds and bats tend to leave feces behind, meaning they’ll be relatively straightforward to track if they’ve settled in your basement. You can also keep an eye out for nests in your rafters or even for disappearing home goods, including tissues, string, and small pieces of fabric.

Working With Professionals in Your Area

Are you dealing with an unwanted guest in your basement? Unfortunately, the contractors in Columbia, SC, who offer access to home waterproofing measures can’t help you get rid of them. They can, however, refer you to exterminators and animal control representatives in your area. Once the invaders have been removed from your home, you can reach out to home improvement contractors to repair the damage these critters have left behind. Reach out today for a free inspection and repair quote on the services you might need to restore your home’s structural integrity.

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