Animals that live in chimneys & how to keep them out

This time of year, we see signs of Spring everywhere we look.  The birds are chirping, the grass is growing, and small animals can be seen running from place to place.  Unfortunately, your chimney could be one of the destinations the animals seek.  Animals of all kinds have been known to make their homes in chimneys.  Animal nests in chimneys can lead to chimneys fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.  Our chimney company receives many calls every spring about animals in chimneys.  We recently met a homeowner in Columbia, MD, who told us about a previous incident that occurred involving birds that nested in their chimney.  The homeowner learned from experience that is always best to have their chimney inspected every year.  Below is everything homeowners need to know about animals that nest in chimneys.  We will also educate you on how to keep animals out of your chimney.

Why animals go into chimneys

Many animals look at chimneys as a place to den and make a nest.  Chimneys represent a warm place that is protected from rain and is safe from predators.  It is that nature of all animals to provide a safe place for their offspring.  Humans feel the same urge.  In this case, animals have chosen a place that threatens your home.

Animals that Like living in chimneys

Different types of animals live in your chimney. These animals include:
  • Birds, including chimney swifts, owls, sparrows, and starlings may build a nest in your chimney
  • Rodents, such as rats and mice
  • Squirrels
  • Bats
  • Raccoons

Hazards created by animals nesting in chimneys

Chimney fires are an obvious danger of animal nests in chimneys.  There are several other hazards that homeowners seldom consider.
  • The nests can block off airflow, putting you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Rodents, squirrels, and raccoons can carry parasites.  These parasites can leave their animal hosts and feed on the humans and pets within the home.
  • Squirrels, rats, and raccoons may enter the home and damage wiring, furniture, and contaminate foodstuffs.
  • Bats and raccoons can be carriers of rabies. Rabies is a disease that can be fatal.
  • Rodents, squirrels, and raccoons can carry other diseases such as leptospirosis, hantavirus, plague, and other nasty bacteria and viruses.

What to do if you have animals living in your chimney

Homeowners should contact their local animal control department to report animals living in their chimney.  Animal control has the training and equipment necessary to safely remove wild animals from your chimney.  Animal control can also determine if the animal inside of your chimney is part of a protected breed.   Removing certain breeds or birds is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Never attempt to remove the animals yourself.

How to keep wild animals out of your chimney

A chimney cap is the best tool to keep animals out of your chimney.  It is possible for homeowners to install their own chimney cap.  However, it is always best to hire a professional chimney service company like ours.  The best option is to have a chimney professional conduct your annual chimney inspection.  Looking for signs of animal nests is a standard part of chimney inspections.  The chimney sweep will also show you how to keep animals out of your chimney.


Animals are a threat to every chimney.  Installing a chimney cap and hiring a licensed chimney sweep to conduct an inspection is the best defense.  Call your local chimney service company and schedule your annual inspection today.  One nest can ruin your chimney.

One Reply to “Animals that live in chimneys & how to keep them out”

  1. Thanks for the tip to never remove animals yourself. My sister says this week she’s heard birds chirping in her chimney. We’ll have to hire animal removal services.

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