It is difficult to imagine somebody being angry at a squirrel. After all, what harm can these soft-furred and fluffy-tailed animals possibly do to us besides melting our hearts away?

But don’t be fooled by their disarmingly cute looks, for these tiny woodland critters can become a real menace once they enter your household.

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The threats range from food supplies regularly going missing to tick and flea infestations and salmonella-carrying faeces and urine. The good news is there are many humane ways in which you can part with these unwelcome visitors. Or call in a squirrel control service to trap and evict them. But before doing that, you need to be aware of the reasons behind their small incursion.

Why are squirrels attracted to your house?

There are many reasons why squirrels have decided to seek shelter in your home. Here are the top three causes why you may have squirrels running about in your property:

  • The tree right next to your house isn’t maintained. Long, sprawling branches act as a staircase, which the agile creatures will use to reach your attic in a few well-timed jumps.
  • There are holes in your home walls, roof, or garage. These animals will read any hole they can fit through as a bright, neon “Welcome” sign, especially during the winter.
  • You keep bird feeders in your garden. Bird seeds are notorious for attracting squirrels from miles away. Having more than a few feeders can quickly lead to an infestation.

Squirrels generally prefer attics over other rooms for three reasons. Lofts are dry, warm and safe from natural elements and predators. When the squirrel gains access to your loft it will separate it into different sectors. One for defecating, one for sleeping, one for eating and one for giving birth (if it’s female). For its sleeping quarters, the fluffy vermin will use your insulation, tearing it to pieces to make a comfy bed.

What damage can squirrels cause to your attic?

Squirrel teeth never seize on growing, which is why they frequently need to gnaw on something to keep them nice and trimmed. However, while their natural habitat provides them with plenty of opportunities to do so (acorns, bird and tree seeds, etc.), in the big city squirrels are forced to improvise. This can quickly turn into a problem with a capital “P” as they can heavily damage:

  • Electrical wires and transformers;
  • Heating and air conditioning systems;
  • Patio furniture, lawns, and garden plants;
  • Home siding, fascia, and soffit;
  • Roof shingles, doors, and grilles;
  • Select car parts.

How to get rid of squirrels in your loft?

If a squirrel has managed to sneak inside your home, you will be aware of its presence almost immediately. These critters are fairly active during the day and will generate lots of noise, which can be very mentally exhausting. But there is no reason to deprive yourself of sound sleep if you can do something about it. Here’s how to drive out noisy squirrels from your loft the humane way.

  • Remain calm and assess the situation. You may find hard to believe this, but the squirrel is much more afraid of you than you are of it. Since the animal will be nervous, try to keep you cool to avoid being bitten as some squirrels may carry rabies.
  • Keep the squirrel as far away from your pets as possible. If you have dogs or cats, make sure to either move the pets into an adjacent room, take them to a friend’s house, or temporarily keep them in their holding pens. This will ensure that no pesky ticks, fleas, parasites or other beasties will get transmitted from the rogue squirrel to your fluffballs.
  • Hide all food away from view. Don’t expect a squirrel to simply walk away if you have bags of nuts and veggies in plain view, especially if the temperatures outside are way below zerо. Make sure to hide all food sources (tightly packaged food included) insecure, out-of-reach areas to hasten the troublemaker’s departure from your home.
  • Eliminate convenient hiding spots. Squirrels love to hide in small and dark spaces, such as cupboards and drawers since they remind them of the tree knotholes they usually inhabit in the wilderness. Closing these will deprive the squirrel of any safe hideouts, which will hopefully motivate the animal to head straight to the exit.
  • Provide the animal with an easy escape route. Make sure to facilitate the squirrel’s escape by closing all doors and windows of your house but the ones you want the animal to pass through. If the squirrel is located on the second floor, make sure to open a window that is in close proximity to any form of greenery, such as grass or trees.
  • Chase the squirrel away with scents, sights, and sounds. If the squirrel doesn’t want to leave on its own, you can give it an incentive to do so by soaking a few rags of cider vinegar and placing them in the room where the animal has taken residence. If that doesn’t work, you can also try playing loud music or talk shows for a continuous period, use a cool-burning LED bulb near the animal’s hideout, or buy fox urine to fake the presence of their natural predator. For attic and wall dwellers, try to talk as loudly as you can and repeatedly make noises with either a broom or by banging pans together.
  • Contribute to the wildlife preservation efforts by using humane traps. If none of the scarecrow methods gets the point across, then you’ll need to use traps to relocate the vagabonds. One of the most popular trap options, available from both hardware stores and online, is a one-way door trap. In order for the traps to work, you need to place them in the areas where you observed the most activity. For bait, you can use walnuts, peanut butter, or sunflower seeds.

It’s important to note the types of squirrels you can see in the UK. The red squirrel is a protected species, so it’s illegal to kill it. However, the grey squirrel is an invasive species and it’s illegal to release it in the wild. So, if you have caught the squirrel and you aren’t sure which type it is, take it to a vet. You’ll be advised on what to do next.

How to get rid of squirrels nest in the house

Besides being freeloaders, squirrels often feel comfortable enough to create a family of your own right under your rooftop. Once you’ve chased the initial invader away, you will need to check the perimeter in case the animal has left any offspring behind. The steps we’ve outlined below are especially important to follow if you’ve spotted the squirrel in the months of February through May or August through October, which is the duration of their breeding periods.

How to check if there are baby squirrels in your house

  • Put on protective clothing. Walking near a potential squirrel nesting site can be risky business since the mother can retaliate if she sees you as a threat. Stay out of harm’s way by using a headlamp, some sturdy gloves, and a dust mask.
  • Re-visit the area where you’ve last spotted the squirrel. Thoroughly search a perimeter of about 20 feet until you have located the nest’s main entrance.
  • Make some noise. Make a few loud noises while being a safe distance away from the nest, then stop and carefully listen for any activity. If there are young squirrels within your walls, you’ll be sure to hear from them in a few seconds.

What to do if you find a squirrel nest inside your home

  • Wait until all squirrels have matured. Newborn squirrels don’t stand a chance on their own and may suffer fatal injuries if you try to relocate them prematurely. If you are certain that there are young squirrels in your home, do the humane thing and postpone their eviction notice for at least two weeks until they learn how to walk alongside their parents.
  • Seal all squirrel entrances but one. If you try to block off all entrances at once, the mother will do her best to claw a new hole and save her children. You may also end up with dead animals inside your walls. Leave one entrance open and seal the rest using stainless steel mesh, aluminium flashing, and caulk or foam sealants.
  • Arm one-way traps in front of the main entry point. Once you’ve sealed off all remaining holes, place several traps near the nest. Once you’ve captured the entire family, release them back into the wilderness and seal the last remaining entry point.
Related: How to Prevent Squirrels from Digging up the Lawn

How to get rid of a dead squirrel

On rare occasions, the squirrel who sought the shelter in your attic may have been already badly wounded by its natural predator. As a result, the animal may perish from its wounds, leaving you with the unenviable task of tracking it down and disposing of its carcass. Here is what you need to know before you attempt to remove the unfortunate animal from your home.

  • Never touch the carcass with your bare hands! Wild animals can transmit several troublesome diseases to both people and pets, so you should always wear disposable gloves before removing the corpse from your premises.
  • Place the dead animal inside a leak-proof plastic bag. While doing so, take extra precautions to avoid contaminating the exterior surface of the bag.
  • Securely tighten the bag and place it in a second bag. Before sealing the second bag as well, take your gloves off by turning them inside out and throw them in the bag.
  • Place the carcass inside a durable container. Dispose of the container like you normally would with any other refuse.
  • Wash your hands and forearms with soap and water. This will ensure that your body is clean of any bacteria that may have managed to land on your skin during the disposal. If your clothes have been contaminated as well, refresh them with washing detergent.
Related: How to Get Rid of a Dead Animal

How to keep squirrels away from your house

Now that you’ve dealt with the squirrel cartel in your home for good, it’s time to repair the damages to ensure that the furry thieves will not return for a surprise visit.

  • Inspect your entire property for any missed entry points. Once you’ve sealed all holes in the affected room, make sure to inspect all adjacent rooms, and especially the attic, for any new entrances. Be sure to repair or replace rotten wood sections immediately as squirrels can easily gnaw through its softer texture.
  • Evaluate the condition of your property’s exterior. Fix holes and cracks in your exterior walls by nailing plywood and adding a caulk sealant around the edges. Block off any smaller openings using steel wool.
  • Install a cover for your chimney. If your home sports a fireplace, don’t forget to isolate its chimney. Although they will often be unable to climb back up, squirrels are alarmingly proficient at climbing down chimneys.
  • Keep nearby trees neatly trimmed. The distance between the tree’s longest branch and your home should be no less than two metres. For taller trees, hire an arborist.
  • Remove bird feeders from your garden.  If you are not keen on parting with your bird feeders, make sure to choose a type of seed that squirrels detest, like millet or safflower.
  • Keep all doors and windows closed when not in use.

So, there you have it, a guide on how to remove a squirrel from your house. Finding a wild animal inside your peaceful abode is always stressful and its relocation can be tricky.

However, with the right mindset, preparations, and the methods listed above, you will be able to drive out these acorn-eaters in no time. And, of course, if none of the methods work or the animal keeps coming back despite your admirable efforts, it always pays off to hire a certified professional.

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Image source: Shutterstock / Paul Reeves

  • Last update: October 29, 2019

Posted in Pest Problems, Rodent Infestations

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