Spring is in the air! Flowers are blooming, grass is growing back, and there are cute, newly born animals everywhere. But no matter how adorable baby squirrels, raccoons, mice, and other creatures may be, they lose quite a bit of their charm when they decide to take up residence in your attic. No homeowner welcomes the sound of tiny feet scurrying above their heads in the middle of the night. What is more, many animals can carry diseases and bacteria, chew through wires and insulation, and worse. If you don’t take care of the problem quickly, there’s no telling what kind of problems you’ll have to deal with down the road.

There are surefire ways to prevent critters from moving into your attic in the first place. However, if you suddenly find yourself housing some uninvited guests, here are some steps you should take to reclaim your home.

Mice: These furry critters with oversized ears and bright black eyes might look cute, but don’t let them fool you. Mice reproduce rapidly, which means there are likely more nearby. The easiest way to take care of mice is to invest in traps at your local hardware store. They cost a few dollars and can either kill the mouse or simply trap it. Instead of baiting traps with cheese, use a small scoop of peanut butter, which will last longer. Note: if you purchase the more humane traps, be sure to check them frequently and ensure mice don’t die from dehydration or stress.

Rats: A rat is much larger than a mouse, so don’t make the mistake of thinking your standard mouse trap will take care of your rat problem. Most traps simply irritate rats and many are capable of taking off with the traps clamped around their bodies. Instead, call a professional to help you find, trap, and discard of these creatures before they become a bigger problem.

Squirrels: It seems like these animals are everywhere, especially in the spring. The last place you want them however, is living in your attic. Before you attempt to remove a squirrel, contact your local humane society or wildlife agency. A professional trapper may be worth the money. If you insist on trapping a squirrel yourself, be careful and use a metal cage equipped with one or two doors which will allow you to set the squirrel free outside.

Raccoons and bats: While these critters couldn’t be more different, they are similar in one respect– they’re dangerous. Don’t try to remove them yourself! Raccoons can become hostile, especially if they feel trapped. Additionally, both of these creatures can carry dangerous diseases like rabies. If you suspect that raccoons or bats are living in your attic, call a local pest control professional.

Once the critters have been cleared out of your attic, disinfect the room with a bleach solution. Be sure to wear gloves and a mask while performing these duties. If you’re unsure of how to clean up scat, there are professionals who can do this for you.

Of course, the easiest way to remove any critter from your home is to keep them from taking up residence in the first place. Thankfully, there are some preventative measures you can take to keep animals out. First, be sure to inspect the outside of your home for holes and repair them, even very small ones. They may be found under eaves or behind gutters. They could be broken screens or foundational cracks. Next, keep trees trimmed back about eight or ten feet from your house, which will make it harder for the animals to jump onto your roof. Finally, be sure to remove from your yard food sources like garbage, pet bowls, and even fruits and nuts from your trees as quickly as possible.