If your home, yard or garden has been invaded by squirrels, you might feel a bit helpless. Squirrels are small, fast and elusive. They aren’t easy to catch and they can cause serious damage to your property. Some will eat your garden’s vegetables. Others will chew through your attic walls. The possible problems that can result from squirrels are seemingly endless. Don’t succumb to the annoyances of squirrels. You can be proactive and eliminate these nuisances so that you can return to your customary peace and quiet.
Follow the advice outlined below to get rid of those pesky squirrels once and for all.
An Overview of Squirrels
Squirrels belong to the Sciuridae family. This family consists of medium to small sized rodents. There are all sorts of squirrel types including tree squirrels, ground squirrels, red squirrels and flying squirrels. Most have very slender bodies with large eyes and furry tails. While they are cute to look at, they can wreak havoc on your home, yard, and garden. They make an incredible amount of noise and they chew and claw through just about anything. Their paws are so sharp and precise that they are often used to descend trees head-first.
Squirrels live in every type of habitat but for the most frigid polar regions and the arid deserts. While they prefer to eat nuts and seeds, they’ll also eat insects in order to survive while living in your attic. They’ll chomp away at your garden’s vegetables as well. Their teeth are quite large and can penetrate the toughest nuts found in nature. This means that they will chew right through your home’s walls and electrical wire.
Unfortunately, squirrels breed rather rapidly. They can breed up to two times per year and it only takes three to six weeks for them to give birth to numerous babies. While the majority of squirrels die in the first year of their lives, older squirrels can live upwards of 5 to 10 years. There have even been instances of squirrels surviving for 20 years in captivity.
How to Remove Squirrels from Your Attic
If you hear noises coming from your attic, there’s a good chance that you have a squirrel or another type of rodent living up there. Some squirrels make noise by rolling nuts around. Others will create very annoying sounds as they scurry around the attic searching for insects, nesting materials or a warm spot. Some squirrels will chew away at your attic to create large entry holes.
They are especially active during the day while other attic dwellers like mice, opossums, rats, and bats are nocturnal. So if you only hear the scurrying and scratching sounds at night, you probably don’t have a squirrel problem. While flying squirrels are a nocturnal type of squirrel, chances are your active nighttime pests are not squirrels.
Since squirrels are quite small, they can find their way into attics more easily than most homeowners would imagine. They are superior climbers thanks to their light bodies and incredibly strong paws. They typically choose to live in an attic because it is convenient or because of its location in relation to their typical home space. Some squirrels will chew right through your home’s fascia boards to enter the attic.
Don’t live with this problem. Squirrels will produce annoying noises until you eliminate them. Don’t assume that they’ll eventually starve to death up there. They can survive on insects and some will be savvy enough to enter and exit the home through tiny openings.
However, if they do end up starving to death in your attic, you’ll eventually have to remove them as their decomposing bodies will produce an awfully dreadful smell.
Removing squirrels from your home’s attic is not mission impossible. Begin by inspecting your home. Look for possible entryways that squirrels might be using to access the attic. Perhaps you have a small entry hole that you had not noticed before. Oftentimes, there are opening in roof vents or eave gaps that are just large enough for a squirrel to fit through.
Eventually, you’ll have to set your own traps or contact a professional pest removal service.
Guide to Squirrel Traps
Traps will be essential to eliminating your attic’s squirrels. Yet you have to use the right strategy and the proper trap. The market is flooded with all sorts of squirrel traps. There are lethal traps called body grip traps that resemble large rat traps. These aren’t for the typical homeowner. Leave them to the old school fur trapper crowd. They are far too difficult to use and there are more efficient solutions out there.
Some use the single animal live cage traps. This trap is quite popular because it is simple and efficient. Squirrels are lured into these metal traps by food and they step into the trip pan at the rear of the cage. This closes the trap door and captures the squirrel. Unfortunately, these traps aren’t one size fits all. Some are too small for certain squirrels. Others are too large. If the trap is too small, the squirrel won’t fit and when he triggers the trip pan, the door won’t be able to shut. If the trap is too large, the squirrel might bash against the walls in a panic and hurt itself.
You should opt for a repeating live cage trap. It is commonly used by professionals because it works. It is placed on the main hole that squirrels use to enter and exit the home. They’ll be forced to enter the trap if all of the other holes are blocked off. You can nab up to half a dozen squirrels with a properly sized repeating live cage trap.
It is also advisable to use a one way exclusion door trap. Some consider these to be the best traps to remove squirrels from attics. An exclusion door trap is similar to the repeater trap but it has one open end. It allows the squirrels to exit the attic through the one way door but not come back in. They’ll be permanently blocked out from the outside.
If you’d like to use bait to entice your attic’s squirrels from venturing into the traps, use peanut butter on the trip pan. You can also use whole peanuts in the shell or oranges placed behind the trip pan.
Once you’ve found all of the attic’s entry holes, seal them shut with steel mesh. However, you should leave the main entryway open. Then set a one-way squirrel exclusion door on this main entryway. You can also use a repeater trap that will nab all of the squirrels in a single shot. The exclusion door is designed to let them out of the attic but bar them from re-entering.
Remember, these traps won’t work as designed unless you’ve covered up all of your attic’s secondary holes as well. Come back in a day or two and you’ll likely find that you’ve caught the squirrel(s) or excluded them. If you no longer hear scurrying noises up above in the attic, you’ll know that you’ve solved your squirrel problem.
Now you can remove the trap and seal the main entryway hole shut with steel mesh. You should also take some time to clean your attic as the squirrels likely left nesting materials, feces and urine behind. It is worth noting that you can adopt a different approach to trapping your squirrels.
Some prefer to set a series of diminutive cage traps on the roof beneath the eaves. These are bolted onto fascia boards and they’ll trap all of the squirrels. However, they aren’t as efficient as the traps recommended above and sometimes they catch rodents that you did not intend to capture.
Why you Shouldn’t Kill Squirrels
While trapping squirrels is illegal in most states, it is legal to kill a squirrel with a snap trap in almost every state. The states that permit trapping typically require that you kill and dispose of the squirrel on your property when it is captured. Consider whether you want to do this.
Every jurisdiction lets you place steel over your home’s holes to prevent squirrels from entering. However, you should inject a dose of common sense into your squirrel fighting tactics. You aren’t being watched by the law in an Orwellian manner. Nobody is going to call the authorities on you if they see you relocating squirrels that you’ve trapped. Still, it is worthwhile to check out the specific regulations of your state’s department of wildlife to find out the exact details of your local laws.
So, after you’ve trapped your attic’s squirrels, don’t kill them. Some types of squirrels are actually endangered. For example, in Olney, Illinois, those who trap or kill an albino squirrel might face criminal charges. Those who run over this type of squirrel in Olney can be fined up to $500.
Besides, squirrels are cute and they are just trying to survive. While their scratching and scurrying is surely annoying, they don’t deserve to die. Be nice and let your squirrels loose far away from your home. Take a drive to an open area at least five miles away and let the squirrels out there.
However, it is worth noting that there are plenty of states that have classified red and grey squirrels as “game animals” that you can legally kill for food consumption. But the hunting of game animals requires a hunting license that must be acquired before the actual killing of the squirrels.
No jurisdiction in North America allows for the poisoning of tree squirrels. There are actually no poisons registered for the killing of squirrels. When homeowners use rat poison to kill squirrels in their attics or other parts of the home, these squirrels usually crawl into very tight spaces before dying. Their corpses rot in these tough to reach areas and they are nearly impossible to remove without investing in a significant repair job.
Yet homeowners can almost always legally kill a ground squirrel with poison. These are considered to be nuisances to the public as they often burrow right into water lines, gas lines, playground equipment, orchards and nut groves. A license for the poison is always required.
Instead of waiting for squirrels to find their way into your home once again in the future, be proactive and take preventative measures. Take some time out every month to thoroughly inspect your home. Look for damage and rot by the roof line. Pay particular attention to any holes that you spot. If you find any possible entryways for squirrels or other rodents, don’t put the repair project off until you have the time to address it. Fix the problem now to prevent another infestation.
Seal all of the holes. Consider using hardware cloth or chicken wire for these spaces as well as your home’s most vulnerable sections. Staple it right to the plywood and then apply an animal repellent to the area. Be sure to install heavy duty steel screens behind your home’s vents and large entry spaces. Always trim your trees so that squirrels can’t easily hop right onto your roof.
Take care to not leave trash outside of your home for long periods of time. Don’t let it accumulate inside your home either. Squirrels along with just about every other type of animal are attracted to trash, especially trash with food remnants. While the use of ammonia laden rags is cast off by many as a folk remedy, it actually works. Place these rags in strategic spaces along with commercial squirrel deterrents. Don’t forget to apply them to potential nesting spaces within your attic.
Consider repellents with predator urine. This non-toxic remedy repels squirrels quite effectively. However, no preventative measure listed above will be enough in and of itself. They must be used in combination with one another throughout the year.
Video: Guide to Repelling Squirrels
Trying to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Yard?
While it might seem impossible to remove squirrels from your backyard, it can be done. Squirrels are not only annoying, they can be dangerous and hurt your finances. Backyard squirrels will dig holes in your garden, eat the fruit from your trees and eventually gnaw at your home’s wood and wiring. They even carry diseases. There is no reason to accept squirrels as your backyard residents.
Unfortunately, squirrels can climb just about anything. They’ll climb your trees and home without a second thought. This makes it difficult to exclude them from a specific part of your property. Keep your tree limbs trimmed very short to prevent squirrels from jumping onto your roof. Eliminate all unnecessary outdoor food sources as well.
Certain states require homeowners to obtain a permit or license before removing specific types of tree squirrels. So check your local laws with your fish and game wildlife department before proceeding with squirrel elimination methods. Traps will control tree squirrels of small populations. However, you’ll have to constantly position, check and empty your backyard’s traps. This requires considerable effort and time. You can resort to poison baits but they might end up harming other types of wildlife. Place tree squirrel traps in elevated spaces like tree branches, rooftops and fence tops.
Place ground squirrel traps at ground entrances to capture them as they burrow into the dirt. Pick out burrow openings that don’t have debris. Areas with signs of recent dirt displacement around the openings are ideal for traps. Put the traps inside of boxes at openings that are at least 3 inches in diameter. This way, you’ll only catch squirrels and possibly other very small rodents.
It also helps to remove piles of leaves and brush from your yard as squirrels love areas that provide cover. Attack burrows with a rototiller or a shovel to constantly turn over the soil and deter squirrels. Don’t bother filling burrow holes as squirrels will likely come right back and re-open those old burrows.
Squirrels in the Garden
Any homeowner with a garden must go out of his way to fend off squirrels. Squirrels will eat your vegetables, fruits, berries and young seedlings. Some will even ruin your garden’s flowers and munch on your bird feeder’s seeds. Position your bird feeder at least 8 feet above the ground and away from trees so that squirrels can’t jump right onto it. Bury lemon or orange rinds beneath your garden’s soil. They act as natural squirrel repellents. You can also use garlic cloves next to your spring bulbs. Even garlic powder and cayenne pepper will suffice when placed on your garden’s soil just before its plants bloom.
Some have found that human hair and dog hair also act as squirrel repellents. Check out your local stores for motion activated sprinklers. While these are designed to keep cats and rabbits out of gardens, they’ll also help to scare away squirrels as well. Other solutions include peppermint oil, vinegar and the plants described below.
Plants from the Narcissus genus like jonquils and daffodils have a distinct flavor that squirrels can’t stand. They also have poisonous components from bloom to bulb and require little care. The Fritillaria imperialis from the Liliaceae family, also called the Crown imperial or Kaiser’s Crown, acts as a fantastic squirrel repellent.
They grow beyond 3 feet in height and emit a musky smell that squirrels hate. Marigolds also have a very pungent smell that detracts squirrels. The crocus tommasinianus, or Snow crocus, will bloom from March through April and send squirrels on their way. Finally, allium, a perennial from the Liliaceae family has an aroma reminiscent of garlic and onions that repels squirrels.
Costs of Professional Removal
If you decide that the squirrel removal process is too much work for you, consider the services of a professional rodent removal service. The cost of such a service differs by the number of squirrels that reside in your home, backyard or garden as well as the number of entry points and the size of your property. Homeowners are generally looking at an initial animal removal company fee of at least $100-$300. This includes the inspection of the premises and an evaluation of the infestation. Shop around because you might be able to find a company that will perform the inspection at no cost.
Once the company sets and checks the traps, removes the squirrels, seals the entry points and cleans up the contaminated areas, the total cost can balloon to $500-$1,500. If there are extensively damaged areas that need to be repaired, the cost will be even greater. Some pest removal services will provide a full year’s guarantee against squirrel re-entry.
Before committing to a professional pest removal service, you should read over the company’s agreement to ensure that all of the necessary services are included. The company should inspect the entire home, from the foundation to the roof line. They should perform exclusion work to seal all possible entryways. They should also be willing to perform a comprehensive cleanup and decontaminate areas that the squirrels have compromised. Ask them about their staff’s training, experience and methods of trapping. Be sure to get a written estimate and contract before agreeing to pay for their services.
Your squirrel problem has the potential to become a significant hindrance to your quality of life. Noisy squirrels really can prevent you from enjoying your home. Some squirrels will even chew right through your home’s walls and electrical wire. Don’t consider your squirrel infestation to be merely an annoyance that will fix itself in due time. The same is true of squirrels who have invaded your yard or garden. You worked hard to purchase and maintain your property. Don’t surrender it to squirrels. They provide no benefit to your living space and they’ll wreak havoc on your garden’s vegetables, your lovely trees and your beautiful home.
Follow the advice outlined above to eliminate your squirrels. If you give it a shot and decide that the endeavor requires just too much time and work, lean on the expertise of a professional rodent removal service.