Did you hear the chirping or scratching of nails coming from the fireplace? There are many theories that could come to mind. Believe it or not, but your fireplace and chimney are common places for animals to build their nests and take shelter in storms. Since the holidays are now over, the creatures will start to return to the chimneys for shelter for the coming storms.

With the use of chimneys starting to die down, especially in the south with the warmer fronts moving in, animals are coming out from their homes to find food. The most common animals that take shelter in chimneys are raccoons, birds, bats, and squirrels. These all look for dark places to hide at any given moment day or night. Chimneys provide warmth, dry atmosphere, and are not used year-round which allows for critters like stated before to establish ‘residency’.

Problems With These Animals

By taking shelter in a chimney, there runs the risk of getting trapped. Animals tend to cause issues by being noisy and messy by leaving behind droppings and scraps of food. Nests can clog the chimney with the chosen materials used to build the nest preventing smoke from escaping leading to a fire. Blockages increase the risks of carbon monoxide buildup inside the home. There is an increase in the risks with animals finding a way into the home. Since animals do not bathe, there will be an odor and their droppings are just as bad. The odor can become worse if the animal ends up trapped and dies inside. Wildlife carry diseases on their fur and in their droppings. The contaminated droppings can sicken a family. Also, these creatures are most active at night becoming a nuisance for homeowners.

Removing Animals

Animals, such as these and many more, need to be removed by a professional. These animals can cause many threats to someone who does not know what they are doing. Animals can easily be scared into places where they become stuck and die. If an animal carcass is discovered, it is best to have it removed professionally as there are potential health hazards.

  • Birdschimney swift
    • Birds will build their nests inside the chimney for warmth and protection. The Chimney Swift, a smaller species, tend to build nests in the chimney flue lines while the larger species will build their nests on the damper or smoke shelf. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act says that it is against the law to remove nesting birds. You will have to wait for the broods, or young birds, to leave. For some reason you cannot wait for the broods to leave then it is best to seek out a local wildlife officer. This must be done before a professional sweep can come and clean your chimney. They can install a heavy-duty stainless steel chimney cap.

raccoon in chimney

  • ¬†Raccoons
    • Known for their aggressive attitudes and being nocturnal, raccoons are harder to remove from chimneys. One bite can cause rabies and possibly roundworms. These creatures need to be removed by a professional only. Black steel and aluminum are no match for these creatures since they are able to breakthrough. It is best to install a heavy-duty stainless steel chimney cover.


  • Bats
    • Searching for warmth and shelter, bats will look hard for places similar to chimneys. This animal can also carry rabies, it is best to be removed by a professional. Since they are able to fit through bird screens and open mortar joints in brickwork, it is best to install a damper and a chimney cap to prevent them from getting into the home.
  • Squirrels
    • Creatures that are notorious for building nests extremely tight in chimneys. Their nests normally will block the ventilation of the chimney flue causing a fire. Squirrels are known for climbing through the dampers allowing them to enter the home. The best prevention method is to have a professional install a heavy stainless steel chimney cover.