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What’s Living In My Walls? 5 Types Of Damage And What It Could Be

August 9th, 2022 | 7 min. read

What’s Living In My Walls? 5 Types Of Damage And What It Could Be

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Have you heard suspicious scratching within your home’s walls? Maybe sounds of scurrying underneath your front porch? Dogs barking at something you can’t see? 

No one likes hearing things you can’t see. Even more so, your anxieties and fears may heighten knowing something is in your home that shouldn’t be. 

So, you decide to pull out your best Sherlock Holmes get up and start sleuthing, magnifying glass, and all.

(Okay, this isn’t really necessary to start inspecting your home for unwanted house guests, but it makes it more fun, right?)

The truth is if you hear something pitter pattering within your walls or underneath your floors, chances are, there is some sort of critter that’s gotten through your siding. 

Whether they’ve infiltrated through some already damaged siding or created their own pathway, this is an issue you don’t want to take lightly. 

But, before calling wildlife specialists, you’re probably curious about what could be living in your walls. Bees? Termites? Woodpeckers? Opossums? The possibilities are near endless. 

Because Southwest Exteriors has been a siding replacement expert in San Antonio since 1989, we’ve helped many homeowners who have found a critter in their siding and need to fix it. 

In South Texas especially, we have diverse ecosystems full of bugs, birds, and rodents. Sometimes they’re looking for protection from the environment. Other times they just need a home and find your siding extremely attractive. 

No matter the circumstances or the area you live in, unwanted animals in your siding can not only damage the interior frame of your home but can damage much more than that.

So, what could be living in your walls, and how do you identify what it may be? 

This article will outline five common damage signs indicating something is living in your walls. Identifying the type of damage will help you identify who’s guilty. 

After reading, you’ll be able to inspect your home’s siding from the exterior and tell what kind of critter may keep you up at night. 


What’s living in my walls? 5 types of damage to identify

If you’re reading this article, chances are you are a curious problem solver. You like to find answers and investigate things for yourself instead of just calling in the authorities at the first sign of a problem. 

 So, you suspect something is living in your walls, and you want to know what. 

No matter where you are, some common critters are notorious for damaging exterior siding and living in the home’s walls. 

By looking at the damage on your siding, you can narrow down your options as to what may have caused it.

One of the most common types of damage caused by critters is holes in your siding. You can mostly determine what kind of animal may have caused the damage by looking at the size of the hole. But, that isn’t the only damage an animal can cause.

Here, we’ll look at five types of damage to home siding and what kind of critter may have caused it, so you’ll be able to assess your damage and determine what is responsible. 


1. Small holes or chew marks at the bottom of your siding

Finding small holes and chew marks on the bottom of your siding is one of the easiest signs to identify something living in your siding. 

This damage indicates some type of small rodent has infiltrated your siding. The most common rodents you see are mice, rats, and squirrels. 

Because these animals mostly reside on ground level, finding chew marks and small holes on the bottom edge of your siding is a big indicator that a small rodent has gotten into your siding.

The damage: small holes and chew marks on the bottom of your siding

The culprit: small rodents, like mice, rats, and sometimes squirrels


2. Small holes near the roofline of your home

While small holes on the bottom of your siding indicate rodent activity, small holes higher on your siding, commonly near the roofline, tell a different story. 

Holes the size of a golf ball to a tennis ball were most likely caused by a bird. Woodpeckers are common culprits for causing this type of damage, but other small birds native to your area can also find a home close to your roofline. 

The damage: Small holes in your siding off the ground and near the roofline

The culprit: Small birds 


3. Larger holes in your siding

We’ve covered what may be responsible for small holes in your siding, but what if you find something bigger? The bigger the damage, the bigger the animal. 

If you notice larger holes or chunks of your siding that have been damaged, something larger than a mouse could be living in your walls. 

This type of damage is most commonly caused by larger rodents and critters, which could be raccoons, opossums, squirrels, or skunks. The damage can be really anywhere on your siding, but these types of animals typically find higher ground to burrow. 

If you have a large hole at the bottom of your siding, you may want to keep an eye out for stray cats or litters of kittens, especially if you live in an area with a large feral cat population. 

The damage: Large holes in your siding

The culprit: Raccoons, opossums, squirrels, skunks, or other large rodents


4. Insects swarming around one area of your siding

This next thing to look for may be hard to notice unless you catch the culprit in the act. 

Another common critter that resides within home siding and walls are flying insects.

Smaller holes can indicate an insect has invaded your siding, such as bees or wasps that have found an opening and are building their nests in your walls. 

You’ll most likely notice these flying bugs going in and out of your siding. If this is the case, that means they are making your casa their casa, too. 

The damage: Small holes and bugs nests

The culprit: Species of bees, wasps, or other nest-dwelling insects


5. Rot anywhere on your siding, windows, or doors

The final type of damage that indicates something may be living in your walls is if you notice rot anywhere on your siding or around your windows and doors. 

Rot occurs when excess moisture becomes trapped. 

Your siding, windows, and doors make up the exterior of your home. When they are not sealed properly, they are susceptible to water infiltration and rotting. 

In extreme cases, the water can also get into the interior walls of your home and cause rotting in the frame where you may not even see it. 

If you notice any rotting anywhere in your home, this could mean your windows, siding, or doors weren’t sealed properly, but it could also mean something has created a hole that has let water in, causing that rot. 

Sometimes, wood that looks rotted or becomes deteriorated could be caused by termites or ants, not water. 

So, if you notice damaged wood that looks rotted or like it has been eaten away, chances are either a critter has created a hole somewhere in your home that is allowing water to get in, or you may have a termite or ant problem. 

The damage: Rot and deteriorated wood

The culprit: Any critter or possibly termites or ants


Assessing your damage and determining what may be living in your walls

Now you know some common signs of damage that tells you something may be living in your walls. 

If you notice any suspicious damage on your siding, there are a number of critters that could be the culprit. 

  • Smaller holes and chew marks near the bottom of your siding may be small rodents, like mice, rats, and sometimes squirrels.
  • Smaller holes higher up on your siding and near the roofline indicate a woodpecker or native bird building a nest inside your walls. 
  • Larger holes in siding tell you a larger rodent is in your walls, like raccoons, opossums, skunks, or squirrels. 
  • If you notice swarms of wasps or bees around your siding, they may be building a nest inside your walls. 
  • Any rot around your home can indicate something has created a hole in the exterior siding, which has allowed water to damage the wood in your home. Damaged wood could also indicate the presence of termites or ants. 

As you can see, there are many critters that are able to damage your siding and get into the walls of your home. Inspecting the damage and determining who the culprit may be will help you find the right specialist to help. 

At Southwest Exteriors, our siding project managers and installation crews know how to spot a critter in your walls. However, if you do have unwanted house guests, we’ll help direct you to the right removal specialist to properly and safely remove the critter. 

If you do have damaged siding, you may be wondering if you can just repair it or if you’ll have to replace a large portion of your siding. 

Check out this video where Installation Leader Dale talks about what signs and symptoms indicate you should replace your siding or just repair it. Then, if you have critter-induced damage, you’ll have a better idea of whether you can just have it repaired or need to have all your siding replaced. 


Photo Credit: doctorlizardo via Flickr. This image was not altered in any way.