Common Pests

A Thatch roof is a warm and dry place for pests to live and if it is a straw roof, there will almost certainly be some grain left in it, which will provide a food source for rodents. Thatched properties that are left empty or only used for several months of the year tend to suffer more from animal pests who enjoy the peace. In saying this, you can still find pests in your roof at any time of the year.

The Most Common Pests are: Birds, mice, rats, pine martins and wasps. Whether the house is occupied or not, a thatched roof is a warm and dry place during a wet windy winter for critters to shelter.



A wheat straw ridge is quite attractive to nest building birds, and they will pull straw from the roof to make their nests. With the most common of these being sparrows, which were often referred to in the past as “thatch birds”.

In the spring they have been known to plunder a thatch to build a nest, pecking out straw over a concentrated area making holes appear. Other offenders are crows, magpies, jackdaws and jays.

Mice and Rats

Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a cent and once in your roof, they will breed rapidly.

Also, Rats can do a lot of damage by burrowing through the thatch and chewing through plumbing, electric cables, etc. which can result in a fire.

They are persistent, destructive and if they have access to food sources and water, rats in thatched roofs are not easy to deal with. They will not come out, certainly not in winter. But if there is no water supply, they will attempt to get in and out of the thatch to find one.


Pine martins: can also do an enormous amount of damage to a roof very quickly burrowing through the roof and pushing out handfuls of material.

Insects: Thatched roofs also can become a haven for all sorts of unwelcome insects including Cluster flies and Wasps.  Insects such as spiders live in thatch and are only a pest if you are scared of them.

Squirrels: are the most common thatch pest in the UK.  The Squirrel enters via cables and branches close to roofs as it is very agile.  It then burrows through the thatch and chews through cables.