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Are animals attracted to thatched roofs?


Are animals attracted to thatched roofs?

Thatched roofs are made from natural material such as water reed, combed wheat reed or long straw, which could potentially attract pests.

An empty and quiet thatched house or thatched cottage is a target for pests however many still also seek occupied properties, particularly dry, warm roofs during a cold winter period.

At Higos, we have been looking after thatched properties for years providing excellent levels of insurance cover at competitive prices. We understand thatched properties need regular maintenance and avoiding additional damage from animals is important.

Animals can be attracted to thatch at any time of year and common thatch pests can include birds, rats, insects and squirrels.


Sparrows in particular were once known as ‘thatch birds’ due to their habit of pulling at straw on thatched roofs for their nests in spring. Other birds such as magpies and woodpeckers can also be the cause of thatched roof damage, through building a nest, getting to bugs or just out of habit. 

If a bird damages a thatched roof and forms a hole, the repairs are usually quick and inexpensive as long as the repairs are undertaken as soon as a hole is spotted. This will prevent other pests having access through the hole created.


Birds also like nesting in chimneys so it is important to check for this before lighting a fire. This is more crucial if you haven’t lit your fire or had your chimney swept in a long time.

Rats and mice can also be attracted to thatched roofs and can cause problems if they gain access into the loft space. If rats or mice have access to thatch, they can chew the straw and any fixings that may be on the thatched roof. They may also burrow their way out of the roof by forming a hole. The holes they make are usually noticeable and easy to find, meaning any damage can be resolved quickly.

Rats and mice will only be deterred from a roof if they cannot access any food or water, therefore it is advisable to ensure your water tank is well concealed.

Another intruder that can cause damage is squirrels. Squirrels can be a nuisance to thatched houses or thatched cottages by chewing through cables, both externally and internally if they enter the loft space.

One of the best ways to make it harder for pests to enter or damage a thatched roof is to install wire netting. Netting can be fitted over the main part of the thatch and also over the ridge, making it difficult for animals to enter the loft space, access the straw or cause damage to the roof.

It is also recommended to walk around your property once a week to check the roof for any unwanted animals or nests. Check for holes or straw sticking out as this may indicate your roof has had or currently has other unwanted guests.

Removal of pests

Firstly, make it as hard as possible for pests to access your thatched roof in the first instance by installing netting and keeping the roof well maintained.

If you find vermin on your thatched roof or in the loft, they must be removed immediately. The method of entry to the roof by pests should be accessed and resolved to avoid re-infestation. If it becomes a regular occurrence, contact your local pest specialists.

An environmentally friendly way to keep rodents away is to invest in ultrasound gadgets. These gadgets emit high pitched noises which are inaudible to the human ear however unbearable to rodents.

Should you find insects such as flies, wasps, bees or their nests on or near your thatched roof, these must be dealt with in an appropriate way. Contact your local council or pest control services for more information on how to remove nests; do not attempt to tackle them yourself without professional advice.

If you own a thatched property, visit our thatch insurance page or talk to one of our thatch insurance experts today to find out how Higos can help you protect your home. Call today on 01458 270 352 or email



Posted by: Higos Insurance Services Ltd