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Help identifying a critter

by TONI H / May 12, 2013 3:39 AM PDT

The only indication that I've found for the last three years that I have a critter comfortably living under my house in the crawl space is a purring/vibrating noise it makes that can easily be heard through the floor from a room away. Stomping on the floor where it is actually located does nothing to frighten it away...it just continues making the noise. It isn't there every day.....sometimes I go a whole month without hearing it, and then it will be back for whole weeks at a time.

If you use your tongue against the roof of your mouth and blow so your tongue and lips actually vibrate, you can almost mimic the actual sound I'm hearing.

I've looked in vain for entry tunnels, tried shoving a trap type cage with rat bait under the house (it must be too big for the cage I have because it has never entered it or sprung the trap). I can't crawl very far into that area of the crawl space because it narrows too much for me to be able to back out in a hurry if I encounter something nasty that comes at me, and using a flashlight never shows anything because obviously by my entering the space nearby, I've frightened it away again.

I've listened to audios online of various animals here (raccoons, possums, groundhogs, squirrels, bobcats, etc.) and haven't found anything that even comes close to the sound I hear, other than my own housecat so I'm wondering if it might be a ferral cat that has decided for the last few years that I provide great protection, warmth, and a nesting area with enough small critters for food in my fields that I am now a permanent homestead for it?

Any advice, suggestions, tips on how to rid myself of this so far non-threatening critter?

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Clarification Request
you never told us
by itsdigger / August 2, 2013 9:52 AM PDT

the end of the story. What kind of critter was it?

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(NT) Might be the dead kind by now
by Steven Haninger / August 2, 2013 10:07 AM PDT
In reply to: you never told us
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Still don't know....
by TONI H / August 2, 2013 10:36 AM PDT
In reply to: you never told us

I have some inheritance money coming in a month or so and will finally hire a professional exterminator to figure it out. LOL

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Oh Man !
by itsdigger / August 2, 2013 10:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Still don't know....

The suspense is killing me ! Silly

All Answers

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How about this motion detector Dog Barker
by itsdigger / May 12, 2013 4:00 AM PDT
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That sounds almost like a
by TONI H / May 12, 2013 4:42 AM PDT

perfect option; however, I would have to call the company to find out if just by me walking across my floorboards normally (which is only 6" to 2" above ground level of the dirt floor beneath the entire downstairs....that's why I can't crawl far into the underbelly without literally being in danger of attack by something I know nothing about right now). If this detector has the ability to sense motion through a door or window, I would suspect my walking above it would make it go off on a pretty regular basis and make my real dog go ballistic on me. For some reason the noise coming through the floorboards from this unknown critter isn't something that appears to 'threaten' my real dog into any type of reaction or I believe he would actually be barking at the floor in that corner already.....and there's no reaction from him whatsoever and it's been going on for three years already.

Thanks for the link.....I'll try calling them tomorrow. Otherwise, I think I'm going to be at the mercy of an exterminator pretty soon. It's never made any attempt to claw its way into the house so other than just being a PITA noise, I haven't been afraid of it. I know with snakes (lots of experience here with them), when they used my concrete outbuilding as their nesting/mating area, the babies would come back the following year when it was time for their turn to mate....they always managed to find their way 'home' by instinct alone until I was finally able to completely seal off the building two years ago. I'm wondering if the same thing is happening with the critter under the house.....perhaps it's not the same one each year but rather a baby that came 'home' and I'm actually a 'nursing' home for generation after generation?

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maybe sprinkle this around the house
by itsdigger / May 12, 2013 4:53 AM PDT
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Another good idea
by TONI H / May 12, 2013 5:48 AM PDT

that I have reservations about....lol If I sprinkle it on the dirt under my house in the crawlspace area, I wonder if the odor would permeate the wood floor just enough to not bother me, but make my dog and cat (both of which spend large amounts of time indoors) go nuts out of fear themselves. At least it's something else to consider. Thank you.

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well than
by itsdigger / May 12, 2013 5:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Another good idea

get a couple of geese. My buddy has had a couple of geese hanging around his house now for a couple of years and it seems like the geese adopted him and his wife. He say's those geese are the best watch dogs he ever had and nothing comes in his yard cause those geese are pretty protective of they're territory.

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by itsdigger / May 12, 2013 6:03 AM PDT
In reply to: well than

he say's goose eggs are pretty good eatin' Wink

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Rome had sacred geese for just that reason. They made so
by Ziks511 / May 13, 2013 9:18 PM PDT
In reply to: well than

much noise that the Romans were able to repel a night-time infiltration of Celts in the Third or Fourth Century BCE. The geese were sacred to Juno, and their temple was The Temple of Juno Moneta, or Juno of the Warnings. The reason this is more than a tiny footnote, is that the Temple of Juno Moneta became the place where coinage was validated and produced. Moneta is where we get the words Money and Monetary from.


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Call pest control?
by wpgwpg / May 12, 2013 4:41 AM PDT

Have you considered calling the pest control people?

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Pest Control.
by Dafydd Forum moderator / May 12, 2013 4:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Call pest control?

I think it's Gollum my precious.


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I've called my local
by TONI H / May 12, 2013 5:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Call pest control?

Animal Control agent here, mainly to request a larger live trap cage that I could possibly bait with cat or dog food to see if I could trap it, but after numerous calls, I've never received a call back. I don't know if an outside independent exterminator would allow me to rent one and I'm not spending a fortune buying one when I don't know what I'm dealing with since cages come in all different sizes. I'll start making calling tomorrow, I guess before it gets firmly entrenched here for the months ahead again and have the cycle continue.

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when it's there
by James Denison / May 12, 2013 6:11 AM PDT
In reply to: I've called my local

You could burn some garden sulfur in a smut pot near edge of house skirt and blow under there with a fan, see it come running out, see what it is. Pouring clorox through any access near the center of house under the floor will drive it out too. If it's a cat though, might have kittens too young to flee.

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Start by mentioning what time of day or night
by Steven Haninger / May 12, 2013 6:19 AM PDT

you hear this critter. Possums, raccoons and many squirrels are nocturnal. If you hear this mostly in the early morning, it's most likely you've got a nighttime animal returning for its daytime sleep. If in the early evening, it's something waking up. The "purring" noise makes me wonder if there might be more than one. Of course you could have a snoring critter as well but the time this happens might have relevance.

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my cats are most active at grey times
by Roger NC / May 12, 2013 12:23 PM PDT

early morning, just before and after dawn, and the same in the evening.

But the most active wouldn't be when you'd hear them purring, in fact that's when I would expect a feral cat to be out and about.

To hear it through the floor though, it would have to be a loud purrer if a feral cat. One of mine is that loud, one is almost hard to hear in your lap.

Interesting you dog and cat don't really react. Another cat might not cause a reaction. But my indoor cats are really nosey and press against the storm door when the inside door is open and a neighborhood cat comes up to the storm door.

Any of your friends have game cameras? several guys at work set game camera's up that take pictures on movenment. Maybe you could set one up where it would catch a picture of your visitor so you'd at least have an idea of what was visiting.

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I was under the impression that cats only purr
by Steven Haninger / May 12, 2013 7:00 PM PDT

as a sign of contentment but find that I'm wrong. This would mean Toni's critter couldn't be a feral cat. I now read that such purring can happen with a nursing litter. The mother cat and kittens could both purr. Now I wonder if the animal couldn't be coming under the house to nurse. The only thing that makes that idea far fetched is that there would likely be feral cat sightings in growing numbers as more kittens were produced as she said the noise could go away for a month.

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Might be a panther, or cougar
by James Denison / May 13, 2013 2:17 AM PDT

LOL, sounds a bit crazy, but the black panther has been making a comeback in some areas, and cougars have been spotted moving into the east.



Toni, you need to crawl up under there and poke whatever it is with a stick and then come back and tell us what it really is.


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I have actually
by TONI H / May 13, 2013 3:12 AM PDT

considered the cougar because I have spotted them on my land twice over an 8-yr period of time. Once was about five feet away from my computer room along the fence line late at night. My dog at that time scared it away with a typical cougar growl that is unmistakeable. Another time one was sprawled out flat across a huge boulder in the side of my 'mountain' on my property and you could see it very plainly sunning itself and totally relaxed and unafraid of people in the yard at the time.......half a football field away but straight up the mountain facing the house so it seems closer.

The strange thing is that I can't find any way it could come and go so easily to get under the house. That corner of the house is literally at ground level and I mow very close to the house easily without any bushes or anything in the way other than a few irises. I've checked all over trying to locate a 'tunnel' or opening around my foundation and there's nothing........however........

I do have a raised deck (about three feet off the dirt) that I added to the house about six years ago....I will have to crawl up under that and check for 'tunnels' that might have been dug out by a groundhog or something that a larger cat could dig a little wider and have the ability to get under the actual foundation concrete blocks (which are only one block deep into the ground there) and come up under the house. Perhaps if the tunnel was already there, it could be utilized and made larger without too much trouble....and cats are natural diggers when looking for a den.

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Maybe no more exotic than a raccoon
by Steven Haninger / May 13, 2013 3:27 AM PDT


Raccoons make several types of noises, including a purr, a chittering sound, and various growls, snarls, and snorts."

I recently watched a pair of them crawl under a neighbor's storage shed shortly before sunup. I checked the spot at which they disappeared and saw nothing that looked like an animal that fat could squeeze through. I'd say there was no more than 2" of clearance between the shed's floor frame and the dirt.
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I've pretty much
by TONI H / May 13, 2013 4:20 AM PDT

ruled out a raccoon for a couple of reasons.......I mostly hear the purring sound during daylight hours, but occasionally hear it after sundown (never really late night times though) and it has never attempted to claw its way into the interior of the house. I don't have plywood under my hardwood floors....this house was built in 1946 using wood grown as trees on my own land and a residential sawmill so my floors are actually nailed directly into the floor joists. That gives enough 'claw' leeway for anything under the house wanting in to get a 'toehold' to begin entry. This house was built entirely by the hands of the first owner and his brothers in 1946 and I've tried to keep the integrity of it as close to original as possible even with my 'remodeling'. I even ripped off all of the drywall five years ago and discovered original oak tongue-in-groove beadboard walls and ceilings that are now exposed (even more 'toeholds' available). Nothing is in the walls anywhere with easy access for anything larger than a mouse because as new wiring was being added over time, we realized that there are diagonal 2X4's nailed in between all of the original vertical studs and it was a real PITA trying to find areas for new wiring to get to the circuit breaker box that I had to replace because the original from 1962 when the house first was wired for electricity had only glass fuses and those old huge original main fuses. Indoor plumbing went in about four years later...except for a hand pump at the kitchen that went to a reservoir at the back of the 'yard' and was gravity fed.

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it was common
by James Denison / May 13, 2013 4:39 AM PDT
In reply to: I've pretty much

to use diagonal studs in those older country homes to help stabilize them in the days before sheet lumber like plywood was available. Otherwise all the sideways stability would have been on the nails alone. I've seen a number of older country homes having siding replaced and many of them were built that way. Of course it could have been added later, but I suspect based on the date you give, it was part of the original structure.

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I have concrete blocks
by TONI H / May 13, 2013 5:36 AM PDT
In reply to: it was common

that are the really old types and nothing resembling what you would find as foundation blocks today in a local Lowes...these old blocks are the outside perimeter for the original four rooms that made up the original house. The laundry room and bathroom were added later and were originally the old back porch that had been added years before plumbing was imagined. That porch was enclosed, plumbing added and the porch divided for the two rooms. When I first moved in the washing machine was still hooked up to the gravity reservoir and only had ice cold water to wash with until I added the extra plumbing for hot and cold and the pipes connected to give me both. The actual center beam under the house is a massive tree truck laid on its side the entire length of the house from front to back and propped up with huge boulders from the property. When I had the entire upstairs ripped off ten years ago and rebuilt, the local building inspector needed to come and make sure my center beam would pass inspection or if I would have had replace it and to use concrete and posts to keep the house jacked up for the extra weight. Since all my weight was around the outside perimeter walls, it passed as is and I was told that was pretty normal back in 1946 around here.

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by James Denison / May 13, 2013 12:14 PM PDT
In reply to: I have concrete blocks

I thought I'd posted one with links to examples of various older diagonal bracing, but it seems not to be here, or ended up in some other thread. Google and you can find frame diagonal bracing and also where the sheathing was placed on in diagonals to serve as the diagonal bracing.

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(NT) A small correction. Diagonal sheathing over regular studs.
by Ziks511 / August 3, 2013 2:00 AM PDT
In reply to: it was common
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I owned a pet raccoon, named Ivan the Terrible.
by Ziks511 / August 3, 2013 1:57 AM PDT

I had a wonderful time hand raising him and he hung around the cage we built, and which he broke out of very quickly until late fall at which point he answered the call of the wild as he was intended. Raccoons have a very wide vocabulary, and particularly when nursing cubs a purring sound emanates from both mother and kits. The little ones have a great "Please, Please" sound which is an upward rising repeated squeak when hungry. Meeting and greeting family members tends to be chirring. They also hiss like cats, which is a particularly good time to get lost, because they do charge, they do bite very hard and have very sharp teeth. I never got bitten badly, but my nose took a chomp which didn't break the skin and taught me not to presume too much on our acquaintanceship.

The limited sounds offered by your visitor and the lack of clearance beneath your home leads me to think feral cat, possibly raising a family which would provoke purring.

Apparently science still doesn't know how purring sounds are made. From experience it seems to be related to breathing because they purr on both the exhale and the inhale, and there is a slight change in tonal quality between the two. However cats can go from utter contentment to clawing and biting the hand stroking them in a heart-beat. I have the scars to prove it.


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If you put your tongue
by TONI H / August 3, 2013 6:45 AM PDT

lightly against the roof of your mouth and blow so it vibrates, that's the sound I get....muffled of course, but loud enough to hear it even when I'm perfectly still two rooms away. I never hear any squeaking that would kind of indicate a passel of babies.......nothing like that in the three years it's been coming and going under there......just the purring sound. And whatever it is isn't intimidated by my stomping hard right above its head......it just waits a second or two for me to stop and starts up the purring again. LOL

If it was a feral cat (we have tons of them here because of the fields and farms and barns everywhere), I would think that at least once in all this time I would have spotted it or my dogs would have chased after it. My dobie would only tolerate my housecat because she was here first and didn't take any crap from him, but he was my hunter and killed and dropped critters at the front steps, including feral cats he came across, almost on a daily basis, and this thing has been around a long time to survive him. He's been gone (passed away) for about a year now, but he had two full years of being able to get to it and didn't.

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(NT) Roger. The term for that period of activity is crepuscular.
by Ziks511 / May 13, 2013 9:21 PM PDT
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Call someone or do it...
by Willy / May 12, 2013 2:24 PM PDT

While you believe its under the house, be sure that any vents or heating ducts/piping isn't carrying the sound from area to another. Since, you can't find any entry from ground level then it maybe using upper entry and reaching below the house. Only a real inspection will do of what you may encounter if not the animal then possible entry and/or "leaving" left behind to give a clue of the animal. As for protection should you try, a good claw hammer does well in close quarters to include any type of spray like bug spray as well. Of course that's up to you. You can use ground hog or mole "smoke bomb" to see if any entry can be found that way. ------Willy Happy

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