SQUIRREL BIOLOGY: (Sciurus carolinensis)
Squirrels are usually gray, sometimes red, brown, or black. Adults average about one pound in weight. They can supposedly live for up to ten years,
but life expectancy in the wild probably isn't more than 3-4 years. Squirrels give birth to two litters per year - one in late summer, and one in winter. The female gives birth to 3-4 young after a 44 day gestation, and
the young grow quickly, and are weaned in about ten weeks.
Squirrels are most active in morning and evening. Squirrels eat mostly nuts and seeds. They live in a variety of habitats, both forest and suburban or city areas. They establish home
territories, and often communicate via scent, chattering, and flickering of the fluffy tail.
Squirrels love to live in attics. They also love to chew, and will chew on houses or wires, ducts, pipes once inside an attic. People don't like the noises of squirrels running about above the ceiling or in the eaves,
but it's really the chewing that's a problem. If squirrels chew on electrical wires in an attic, it can create a real potential fire hazard. Squirrels also bring in nesting material and leave urine and feces in
an attic. They also commonly nest in a chimney
, where they can sometimes get stuck and frantically scratch, or sometimes even get into the fireplace
and inside the house.
No real important diseases, though they do carry parasites, and thus are vectors for the diseases that fleas, ticks, etc can transmit. They also leave a lot of droppings, which pose
the usual excrement health risks, such as leptospirosis or Salmonella. Click here for photos of squirrel poop
HOW DO I GET RID OF SQUIRRELS?
If it's just squirrels on the property, the best bet is trapping and removal. If it's squirrels in the attic, then all of the open holes and vulnerable areas through which they can enter should be sealed shut with a
material that squirrels can't chew through, such as steel. The squirrels can then be trapped and removed, or excluded through the use of one-way exclusion doors and tunnels.
To learn how to do it right, please read my squirrel trapping guide.
Read how to get squirrels out of a house using a one way door
CAN'T I JUST USE A REPELLENT?
There is no registered or effective squirrel repellent available. You can find some products on the market, such as mothball-based or urine-based repellents, but they are bogus. Go ahead and try them. And those high-pitch
noisemakers? The FTC has issued a warning against them - ultrasonic sound emitters do not work. Some people put noisy radios or strobe lights in the attic, but these also prove ineffective. There is no quick and easy
fix when it comes to squirrel removal and control. It's best to have a professional trap and remove the animals properly. Read my squirrel repellent
analysis of whether it works or not.
CAN I USE A SQUIRREL POISON?
No. Again, there is no registered or effective poison for squirrels. Many people attempt to use rat poison, but squirrels will almost never eat rat poison. And if they do, they don't usually die. And if they do die,
then they're going to die in the attic or walls most likely, and cause a terrible odor as they rot. The smell can last almost a month. Read more about
how to kill squirrels
and the drawbacks of poison and about other lethal control methods.
ARE THERE EFFECTIVE SQUIRREL PREVENTION METHODS?
Yes. You can keep squirrels away, and out of your house, with a variety of techniques. For property matters, don't leave out things that attract them, such as easily accessible bird feeders, fruit trees, etc. If
you really want to take it far, cut down all your trees! But more importantly, to keep them away from your house, you must find and seal all open holes that lead inside, to the attic. Read more about it
on my how to keep away squirrels
prevention techniques page.
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Squirrel Email From Reader:
Hi David, Hope you can help. A squirrel tried to get into my soffit or attic. I called some good professionals, they put in a one way door trap.
The squirrel left. All the corners of my house were sealed with a stainless wire mesh doubled. The squirrel has been working on that wire to get into another corner. This started
the first week in December, and probably before she had any babies. Now some six weeks later, she comes to my attic, makes a lot of noise trying to rip up the steel mesh. I bang on the
windows, and I see her go back down. It's the same squirrel, I'm pretty sure. She's now larger, and probably ready to give birth. She takes the same path, over a fence and climbs up
the brick wall of my home. The company I used has come down several times, and even added another layer of wire. So far, she has not gotten in, but she's determined. How can I stop this?
The corner is over my bedroom, and she's coming by at about 8 a.m., and I hear her making a racket when she's working on ripping out the wires. We've been in the attic, and there is no nest, no babies, no smell. So, she hasn't succeeded yet. Thank you.
If your house was properly sealed by the wildlife company, she won't be able to get in, and she'll have to find another spot. If she's chewing on wood, spray Ropel or hot sauce on those areas to discourage it. It sounds as though
this particular squirrel has become urbanized - it knows of no other place to have young than inside an attic. What happened to good old-fashioned trees?
Squirrel Email From Reader:
When is the best time (i.e., what time of year) to catch and relocate squirrels? I trapped and relocated 3 squirrels last summer (after they figured out how to get the food
out of the bird feeder). We now have 3 new squirrels sitting on our deck eying the bird feeder, trying to figure out how to get to it. It is only a matter of time before they are up on the feeder. I want to trap
them (with my very own "Have a Heart" trap the I got for Christmas) and relocate them. But I think right now is not a good time. They have their stash of food for the winter, and if I move them now, what will they have to
eat? If I wait until spring, and they have babies, what will happen to the babies? Do I need to wait until summer? I just want to relocate them, not harm them. What do you and your colleagues think? Thanks. Lenny
Interesting question. Squirrels are territorial, and I think relocation is a bit hard on them at any time. They have babies twice a year. The food stored in the ground for the winter? - They don't
retrieve it by memory, but by smell. Yes, squirrels steal each others' nuts. I guess the best times to relocate are any month except September or March, when the young are newborn.
How-to guide: how to catch squirrels
methods to catch them safely
Photos of squirrel tracks
for identification purposes.
How To Get Rid Of The Eastern Gray Squirrel In Your House -
If you learn that you have squirrels in your house, you will certainly want them gone as quickly as possible. They can be dangerous by spreading disease through their droppings. They leave debris in your house and nasty smells. They also do a fair amount of damage by chewing through electrical wires. It is not an easy task to get rid of them. They like living in peopleís homes because thatís where the food and shelter is. It is also the place where they can give birth and raise their young in a fairly protected manner.
The only truly effective way to extricate them from your home is to trap them or to create a path of escape. Be careful not to be bitten and be quick to shut doors to rooms further in the home and leave as many exits out of the home open as possible. Donít panic and try to calmly Ďherdí the squirrel out of your home. Depending on how the squirrel got into your home you may need to do a few repairs to keep them from entering again. If they entered through an open window it may be as simple as getting a screen. If there is a bit of difficulty you should consult a wildlife specialist.
How To Get Rid Of The Eastern Gray Squirrel In Your Walls -
If you hear squirrels in your walls, this is particularly annoying and also quite disconcerting. You may always wonder when the squirrels are going to try to gnaw their way into your bedroom or the extent of the damage they may be doing. They need to be removed from your walls, pronto! This will not be an easy task by any means. In fact, depending on how resourceful you are in animal trapping, this may not be the job for you but for the seasoned professional. Someone familiar with sheet rock may be able to devise a plan to get the squirrels out of the wall, while someone lacking in home repair skills may need assistance.
If you do want to get the squirrels out from the space between the walls yourself, you may have to cut a hole into your wall after you find the exact area where the squirrel is residing. Cut a square hole into the sheet rock but have a trap placed against the opening before you remove the square you cut. This has to be done carefully so the squirrel wonít be able to escape between trap and wall into the house. Once the squirrel is in the trap, take it far away and let it go. Then repair your wall.
How To Get Rid Of An Eastern Gray Squirrel In Your Roof -
Your first indication that you have an animal living in your roof may be the noise it makes when it moves in the rafters. If it has been there for a while, you may get a smell of urine and feces, especially in hot weather. There is no question that you need to have it removed from your house. The only question is how to get rid of it. You may get all kinds of advice from everyone you ask about this. Most information is well meant but useless. Strobe lights have been called a great exterminator of squirrels and there are instances where this method is quite successful.
Powerful smelling deterrents such as ammonia or items you may find in the garden center of your local department store are also worth a try. To use something like this you will want to place the foul smelling substance around everywhere but the exit/entrance hole. This will induce the squirrel to move away from the harsh smells to the outside. Once this is done you can cover their doorway and have a squirrel-free roof. To prevent their re-entrance inspect your roof for any areas they may be entering your home and fill these in.