Squirrels in the Attic - Guide to Safe Removal
Brief Step-by-step summary for complete guaranteed squirrel removal from attic:
Step 1 - Inspect the house, and find the squirrel entry holes (usually soffit or roof vents, or eave gaps)
Step 2 - Seal shut (with steel mesh) all the entry holes, but leave the main squirrel entry/exit hole open
Step 3 - Mount either a repeater trap or better yet, a one-way squirrel exclusion door on that main hole
Step 4 - Within just a day or two, you'll have either caught or excluded all the squirrels. When you hear no more scurrying noises in your ceiling/attic, you
can remove the trap or excluder door, and seal shut the hole with steel mesh.
Step 5 - Optional. You can clean and decontaminate your attic, which has squirrel urine, feces, and nesting material
The following tactics will NOT help solve your squirrel problem:
NO - The use of rat poison. Most squirrels won't touch it, most won't die, & unresolved open holes will mean new squirrels.
NO - Setting squirrel traps in the attic. It
seems sensible, but they rarely enter a trap inside the attic. Almost never, in fact.
NO - Setting traps outside, or on the roof. This will catch some squirrels, but rarely all of them. It's a dumb, slow, approach.
NO - Using any kind of repellent powder, spray, noise machine, flashing light, etc. These gimmicks simply don't work.
It's not a simple job for people with no experience. If you want in-depth information, everything I know, please read on.
The below guide is written by a naturalist and wildlife removal specialist with many years of experience
and hundreds of cases of safe and humane removal of wild animals from homes and buildings. This guide provides the information needed to understand
and solve a problem with squirrels living inside the attic of a home. This guide is written about the Eastern Gray Squirrel, but the principles also
apply to red squirrels and flying squirrels.
Do you need help? You can email me: email@example.com or check my
2018 list of wildlife removal companies. If you need
some good professional help in your area, my list is an excellent resource. We offer help in over 100 US cities:
....and 100 other locations. click here for your city or town.
CA-Los Angeles: 310-341-2036
CA-San Francisco: 415-881-4347
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TX Houston: 713-244-6679
Washington DC: 202-754-8770
So! You have a squirrel (or multiple squirrels) in the attic of your home. In the field of human-wildlife conflicts, probably the most common scenario
nationwide is the squirrel in the attic. Most people become aware that an animal is living in their attic when they hear scampering, or scratching noises
above the ceiling. A wide variety of animals choose to live in the attics of buildings, from rats and mice, bats and pigeons, raccoons, opossums, and
of course squirrels. Most of these animals will oftentimes use other areas of the home as well, from the soffits to the wall voids to the space between
floors, so the attic is not the only area you’ll find critters.
How To Get Rid Of Squirrels in the Attic: It's crucial to find out where they are getting in and out (yes, they go out for water and food). Once
you find the entry hole(s), you can mount a special repeater trap or a one-way exclusion door right on the hole. The repeater trap will trap all the
squirrels in one shot, and the exclusion door will let them out, but not back in. It's vital to make sure that any secondary holes are sealed shut, or
else this won't work. Another option is to set several small cage traps on the roof (under eaves) and bolted to fascia boards, to trap them all. But
cage traps aren't nearly as efficient, and they often don't fully succeed, and they can catch non-target squirrels. Once all squirrels are definitely
out, and any trapped squirrels are relocated at least five miles away, you can seal up the primary entry hole. You will also want to clean up their
feces and nesting material, and check for electrical wire damage. But wait! It's not always so simple. Squirrels go into attics to give birth to a
litter of young. You must deal with the baby squirrels in the correct manner. Below, and on the many pages of this site, I've written everything you
need to know about getting rid of squirrels in the attic.
Squirrel Noises: If you hear noises in your attic and you are unsure as to the source, it’s relatively easy to determine if it’s squirrels
– squirrels are active during the daytime. Thus, if you hear scampering and scurrying noises during the day, it’s likely squirrels. Other attic-dwelling
critters, such as rats and mice, bats, flying squirrels, opossums, and raccoons, are nocturnal, so they mostly only make
noise at night. Flying squirrels are also nocturnal. If the noises happen at night, there's a strong chance of mice or rats, so in that case, please
visit my other website about how to get rid of rats in the attic: www.attic-rat.com.
Gray squirrels are most active during the morning and evening. They can be heard as they exit the attic in search of food and as they come back in,
as well as during the times they simply run around in the attic. Mostly, it sounds like a quick and light scampering. Sometimes people can hear them
as they gnaw on wood, and sometimes as they roll nuts around. Depending on the acoustics of the home and the sensitivity of the listener, the noise
may sound faint or like a “pack of wild dogs” as I’ve heard it described. Read more about animal noises in the attic during the day
or a discussion on are squirrels ever active at night?
Squirrel Sightings: Because squirrels are active during the daytime, and because they often chew a large entry hole, many people often see
the squirrels exiting and entering the house. That’s the best way to be certain that the critter(s) you hear are actually squirrels.
Why Are They There? Attics make a great place to live! They are warm and dry and safe. Eastern Gray Squirrels are highly adaptable animals,
and they are very agile. They are arboreal, which means they live in trees. Female squirrels give birth to two litters of young per year, one in summer,
and one in winter. The exact time of birth can vary a bit based on several factors, but generally the winter litter is born in early February and the
summer litter in early August. Much of the time, the female makes a leaf and twig nest high up in a tree. If she can find a hollow tree, that’s even
better. If she can find an attic, that’s better still. Squirrels are very urbanized animals, as you can see when you look out your window. They are
members of the rodent family, and are excellent at gnawing and chewing on wood. Combine these factors, and of course it makes sense that female squirrels
chew their way into attics in order to have and raise young. In fact, male squirrels or any squirrel at any time of the year may find that an attic
makes a good place to safely spend the night and store nuts. Though the squirrels mostly live in the attic, they’ll also live in soffits, squirrels down in walls,
between floors in the ceiling, and other areas inside the architecture.
How Did They Get In? Squirrels are excellent climbers. Most of the time, they’ve chosen an attic based on convenience or proximity to their
normal home range. Squirrels are excellent chewers, so they often chew through wooden fascia boards or other areas to gain access. If there’s an easy
and obvious way in, all the better. A house with wide-open holes and easy access stands a higher chance of seeing a squirrel enter at some point. Squirrels
can fit through small areas, so most of the time they don’t even need to chew their way in – they just find a gap somewhere in the architecture. Easy
climbing access, such as trees adjacent to the house, also increases the probability of animal entry and habituation. But even without nearby trees,
squirrels have no problem climbing almost anything. The most popular area of entry is any place where an eave meets up against a roof portion of the
house, such as a dormer, or any architectural bend leading sections of the roof to meet. They also often get in where the roofline meets the fascia.
Vents, both on the roof, the gables, and under eaves, are very common entry points, especially if they are not sealed properly.
What Do They Do Once Inside? After a squirrel finds a way in and decides to live in an attic, it basically sets up shop. It establishes areas
in the attic it likes to live in, establishes feeding and bathroom areas, it flattens and clears out insulation in areas it wants to sleep, and if it’s
a female, it finds areas in which to give birth and raise its young. During the course of its time in an attic, it expands all of these areas and uses
more and more space.
What Damage Does a Squirrel Cause in An Attic? The squirrel often finds bedding material by shredding roof or wall paper, and shredding vent
ducts and insulation around pipes. The biggest problem is that they chew, and I’ve seen dozens of cases in which they’ve chewed electrical wires. It’s
estimated that half of house fires of unknown origin are due to rodent chewing on electrical wires. I’ve been to several homes that have experienced
power outages due to squirrels chewing on wires, along with alarm systems being tripped, and PVC plumbing lines chewed through, resulting in big water
damage. Basically, if you’ve got any wires or pipes in the attic, the squirrels will gnaw on them. Also animals that live in houses also sometimes die
in houses, and the odor of a dead squirrel is incredible. I remove many dead squirrels from attics. They also urinate and defecate everywhere. I’ve
seen some attics that have been heavily contaminated with squirrel droppings. This is not only unsanitary and smells bad, but squirrel droppings are
host to a number of zoonotic diseases.
What Health Risks Do Squirrels Pose? Squirrels are typically not important vectors of disease - I don't think there's any documented cases
of rabies transmission from squirrels, for example. Like all animals, squirrels can carry parasites, they leave behind excrement, and they can leave
both in your attic. Squirrel droppings, like pretty much any wildlife dropping, are associated with Leptospirosis and Salmonella.
Why Would I Want To Remove Them? That’s up to you. People who have squirrels in the attic often first object to the noise they hear. That’s
enough for most people. Some people simply don’t like the idea of having wild critters in the attic. However, the main problems are that if the squirrel
lives in the attic for enough time, it almost always starts to cause damage, in particular to wires. They also sometimes chew on various areas outside
the home, especially wood trim, though this is a minor issue. There’s also the issue of the waste, which is scattered prolifically throughout the attic.
It is up to you, but aside from just the noise, the risks of damage and risk of fire make the removal of the squirrel(s) a good idea.
What About Squirrels in a Chimney? Squirrels get into chimneys as well. Some of the same principles as outlined below apply to squirrels in
chimneys. However, odor deterrents are more effective due to the concentrated area. DO NOT START A FIRE if you have squirrels in the chimney - you’d
have to open the damper to let the smoke out, and they will enter the fireplace instead of climbing out. Even if they don’t get into the your house
or fireplace, you will cook animals alive and get a horrendous odor that will last a long time. Many professional wildlife removal experts have special
squirrel in chimney removal systems if odor deterrents don’t work. If you’ve got a slick metal flu that the squirrel has fallen down, the only way to
get the animal out (aside from letting it into the fireplace) is to lower a thick rope, with a weight on the end, down the flu. This will allow the
squirrel to climb out on its own.
Won’t They Just Leave on Their Own? It depends on the situation. If it’s a female with young, she may leave after three months, when the young
are grown. But then she will be back a few months later for her next litter. If it’s squirrels that are just happy to have a good place to live, the
answer is generally no. Are you going to just leave your house in a few days for no good reason?
How Do I Get The Squirrels Out of My Attic? I will now discuss the various methods used to remove squirrels from attics, outlining their various
degrees of effectiveness and the level of expertise needed to successfully achieve permanent removal. Remember, it is my goal to be as humane as possible
to these remarkable and cute creatures.
I get inundated with squirrel emails. I don't
mind your questions, but I don't respond every
day. Oftentimes, your best bet, if you have a
difficult squirrel problem, is to hire a professional - wildlife control is ABSOLUTELY NOT for amateurs, any more than electrical work. Click on
the below banner for a directory of squirrel removal experts, servicing 472 different US cities:
Do Repellents Work? In some cases. This is the first and easiest thing that you can try. Especially when a female squirrel is concerned about
having a safe place to raise her young, a harassing presence including any scent (predator urine is good) and noise (radio) might encourage her to leave
the attic with her young. You can also spread
habanera sauce on any area that squirrels are trying to chew to deter them. I have written more about this
in my how to keep squirrels away page. That said, in general there are many long-standing old wives’ tales about animal repellents
to get rid of squirrels, and there are many modern products
sold meant to evict unwanted critters from property and homes, and most all of them are bogus. Some of the old-fashioned standards include naphthalene
(moth balls), ammonia, bleach, and even human hair. The idea behind these repellents is that they simply create an unpleasant odor that squirrels don’t
like, which encourages them to leave. In my years of experience as a wildlife removal professional, I’ve seen many of these tactics used in an attempt
to evict squirrels. I’ve never seen them work, but that’s also because in the cases they do, I’m not called out. The problem is that an attic is large
and well-ventilated, and the odor isn’t very strong. A squirrel will often just move to another, less offensive part of the attic. Even in cases in
which the odor is strong, it’s not enough incentive to make the animal leave. Once a squirrel has established a home in an attic, it takes more than
a bad odor to make it leave – you wouldn’t abandon your home if someone spread some mothballs inside. This is a wild animal that needs to survive, and
it will tolerate quite a bit in order to keep its home. That includes all of the current repellent and deterrent products sold. If you do an online
search, you will find all sorts of squirrel repellents sold, many with confident money-back guarantees. Most of them are made of …mothballs. In fact,
most animal repellents sold are made from either mothballs or coyote urine. I’ve been to many homes at which the homeowner has placed a great deal of
mothballs in the attic – one had fifty pounds of mothballs! – and the squirrels didn’t care. They also don’t respond to coyote urine. Some people recommend
the use of bright lights, strobing lights, or noises. The most common noise deterrents are regular radios and ultrasonic high-pitch sound emitting devices.
Once again, I’ve seen both of these tactics used multiple times to no effect. In fact, the FTC has issued an official warning against the high-pitch
noise machines, stating that they are 100% ineffective and fraudulent. It’d be nice if a simple product would solve the problem. That goes for almost
any cheap and easy fix for a serious problem. The truth is that repellents very rarely work. Go ahead and try every one of them if you’re not convinced,
and then take care of the problem properly when you discover that cheap repellents are pointless. I have listed a few different squirrel prevention
Does Poison Work? There is no registered poison for squirrels. There is no legal poison for squirrels. There’s no effective poison that I
know of for squirrels, though I admit that I don’t know much about poisoning animals. That’s because I consider poison the worst possible approach to
animal control. It’s ineffective and inhumane. If you were able to successfully poison a squirrel, it would most likely die in the attic, where it would
decompose for weeks, and create a horrible odor throughout the house. It has to be smelled to be believed. Furthermore, the death of the animal would
be very painful and inhumane. Finally, if it’s a female squirrel with babies, the mother will die, and the babies will be orphaned in the attic, where
they will suffer and starve to death, and then die and cause more odor. And poison won’t solve the root of the problem, as I’ll discuss below. Please
don’t try to poison a squirrel or any other animal. I know that people want to try this method, because they ask me, and because I see many internet
searches for the phrase “squirrel poison”. Please, read on, and learn how to handle the squirrel problem without attempting to resort to poison.
Do Traps Work? Yes. But it has to be the right type of trap, and it has to be used in the right way. There are dozens of types of squirrel
traps, some live traps, some lethal traps. I’ll quickly discuss the various types of traps, but before I do, I must point out the single most important
thing to keep in mind regarding squirrels in the attic, and the reason a squirrel in the attic is not such a simple matter.
OFTENTIMES, A SQUIRREL IN AN ATTIC IS A FEMALE WITH YOUNG – Yes, in about 66% of cases of any squirrel in an attic, there’s a litter of 3-5
baby squirrels. The most common reason for a squirrel to enter an attic and choose to live there is the case of a female who needs a safe place to give
birth and raise its babies. The mother squirrel usually gives birth shortly after moving into the attic, within 1-2 weeks, and then spends about 8 weeks
nursing the baby squirrels. At about 6-8 weeks and beyond, the young squirrels start to run around the attic on their own, and that’s when homeowners
really start to hear a lot of noise – one squirrel has now become five! The presence of these young complicates the matter of removing squirrels, because
if you trap and remove the adult female during the first 6 weeks after birth, the young are left behind. I’ve seen several dozen such cases: a homeowner
uses some sort of trap to remove the mom, but the noise continues, and no more are caught. When I get called out to such homes, I crawl through the
attic and find the babies, remove them by hand, put them in a sack, and remove them from the attic. I then bring them to a wildlife rehabber who will
feed and raise them and relocate them to the wild when they are large enough to fend for themselves. If the problem had been taken care of properly
in the first place, the young would be able to stay with the mother during relocation, where they would stand the best chance of survival and being
raised properly. Thus, the presence of baby squirrels makes simple trapping a not-so-simple matter. The babies, as they lay in a cluster in an attic,
aren’t capable of entering traps. If you do trap a squirrel, check for nipples! If you can see them, you’ve got babies up there, and they’ve got to
be found and removed, and it’s often no easy task. The good thing about squirrels is that people don’t often notice or do anything until the young are
up and running around, and at that time it’s easy to trap or exclude the young as well. By 12 weeks old, they are pretty much adult size.
Body Grip Traps: These are lethal traps, kind of like giant rat traps. There are several types, with the most common the double spring-loaded
connibear traps. These types of traps are used mostly by olde-time fur trappers. The basic gist is that they are set over an area a squirrel will move,
such as over a hole leading into an attic, and when sprung, snap down on the animal and kill it via choking or crushing. They are dangerous and difficult
to use, and very few people, other than old fur trappers, would use them. If you hire a wildlife trapper who uses this type of trap, please be aware
that there are better alternatives.
Single Animal Live Cage Trap: This is by far the most common type of trap used by wildlife control companies and do-it-yourself homeowners.
There are many different makes and models of cage trap. Cage traps are generally metal cages into which the squirrel enters, lured in by food. Near
the back of the cage is a trip pan. When the squirrel steps on the pan, it triggers the trap door shut, and the animal is trapped inside, alive. Some
of these traps are made from different materials, such as solid-walled plastic or other materials. Most are made from steel bars. A cage trap needs
to be large enough to hold the squirrel, and most squirrel-size cage traps are at least 16 inches long and 5 inches high and wide. If it’s too small,
the animal won’t fit inside, or may trigger the trip pan, but not allow clearance for the door to shut all the way. If it’s too large, the squirrel
may run around and smash itself against the cage walls and hurt itself. The most commonly sold brand in the United States is the Havahart brand, which
is sometimes sold in large hardware stores. The fact that it’s readily sold to the public often leads people to believe that they can just go out and
trap animals. However, there are many very important considerations when squirrel trapping that one should consider before just buying a trap and setting
Repeating Live Cage Trap: A great trapping option used by professionals. Mount this trap on the hole that the squirrels are using to enter
and exit the house. If all alternative routes of escape are sealed off, the squirrels have no choice but to enter this trap on their way outside to
get food and water. This trap has a one-way door that allows the squirrels into the trap, but not back out. These traps can hold many, I’ve caught up
to six, squirrels at once.
One-Way Exclusion Door: Even better than the repeater, in my opinion. This may be the best method for removing squirrels from attics. The
one-way squirrel door is like the repeater trap, but it is simply open on the end. The squirrels are able to leave the attic, and push their way through
the spring loaded one-way door, but then they can’t get back in. They are all blocked outside, and the problem is solved! The only drawback is if the
home has much wood or is in a bad state of disrepair. In such a case, the squirrels will simply chew their way back in elsewhere, or do a lot of damage
chewing all over the place. If this is a concern, or if you don’t want the animals acclimated to your attic on your property any more, then cage trapping
and relocation is the better option.
1) How To Target The Correct Animal? One problem amateurs encounter is that they set a trap and catch non-target animals instead of the animal
that is causing the problem. This isn’t often the case with squirrels, however, as they are often territorial. Still, the best way to get the squirrels
you want is to set the traps on the roof, near the entry points. Traps set in the attic will not catch the squirrels. They do not enter traps in attics,
ever, for whatever reason. Of course, setting a repeater trap on the exit hole ensures complete capture of the target squirrels.
2) What if I Can’t Catch it at All? Failure to catch the animal commonly arises amongst people who don’t know much about trapping. So many
important and subtle nuances go into successful trapping. The right type of traps must be set, they must have no defects, they must have the correct
pan tension. It must be flush to the roof or bolted to fascia boards with no wobble. It must be set in the animal’s path of travel or exploration. If
it’s a repeater trap, there must be no other alternative areas of exit, the spring must be the right tension with no blockage, etc.
3) What Type of Bait Should I Use? This factor isn’t nearly as important as other factors in terms of success. Squirrels are gluttons, and
they are curious. That said, trapping is still difficult, and bait doesn't really matter. As stated, it's a far better option to mount repeating traps
or exclusion devices on the exit holes. If traps are set, it should be on the roof areas near the entry/exit holes. The best bait is peanut butter smeared on the pan, and whole peanuts, in shell, on the pan, behind the pan,
and leading into the trap. If the squirrel is dehydrated, oranges make a great bait, because they want the water in the fruit.
4) What Types Of Accidents Can Occur With Trapping? With squirrel trapping, this isn’t much of a concern. But if you are working on the roof,
which is pretty much the only way to go for successful squirrel trapping, then there are ladder and roof safety concerns. I would never advocate an
inexperienced person to work on a roof or with ladders.
5) Is it Legal for me to Trap the Squirrel? In most states, no. Or, if it is legal, you must kill and dispose of the animal on your property
at the time of capture. Are you able and willing to do so? It is not legal, in almost all states, to trap a squirrel, stick it in the trunk of your
car, drive it off to the woods, and release it. Check the regulations posted by your state’s department of wildlife (or fish & game) and you will see
that it is illegal to do so if you are not a licensed wildlife control professional. That said, no one is going to set up any roadblocks and call the
hounds after you if you do trap and relocate some squirrels.
6) Okay then, I Want to Avoid the Law and do it Myself – How? Okay, here’s the deal
on how to get rid of squirrels yourself, for
free. As stated, much of the time, a squirrel in the attic
is a mother with babies. Don’t trap the mother and leave the babies up there to die, and cause an odor. First, try to determine if the young are
large enough to go outside on their own. You can watch the exit hole and see if there’s more than one squirrel, or you can listen to see if you hear
more than one running around. If so, set the traps or the repeater trap or the one-way exclusion door. If it’s just one squirrel, especially in August
or February, there’s likely a nest of babies. You then have the option of waiting a few weeks for the young to get big enough to be active, which is what I recommend, or you can
go into the attic and find the babies! That’s right, you explore the whole attic, find the built-up nest of insulation and debris, often near the edge
of the attic near the roofline, and remove the young by hand. Of course, when in an attic, be mindful to walk only on the wooden beams, or you’ll fall
through the ceiling. And be careful not to get insulation on your skin. I wear a HEPA filter mask to avoid breathing in airborne dust particles. And
I wear thick gloves, particularly when handling wildlife, even baby squirrels, which are usually gentle, but can bite and claw. I put them in a pillowcase,
and bring them out of the attic. They can often be very hard to find. The mother squirrel stashes them in a safe place, often down at the very tight
edge of the attic, down in the soffit, or down a wall. I usually find myself climbing through very tight quarters to find the young. It can be hard
to do. I bring the young outside, and then – here’s one of the tricks to solving a problem with squirrels in the attic – I use the babies as “live bait”
to trap the mom! There are usually four babies, so I set two traps (one is backup) with two babies in the back of each trap. They are held back there
by a metal cage divider. A mother squirrel will always enter a trap to get to its young. If I were ever to trap a squirrel with visible nipples, I’d
be sure to go find the young, and if I could not, I would release the squirrel on the spot, so as not to leave orphaned young. I got some additional information
on squirrel removal in cases such as this from a rehabber. Due to
the risk of leaving young in the attic or the risk of the mom abandoning them if they are removed, I often advocate waiting the few weeks until the
young are big enough to run around, or to try repellent/intimidation attempts to get the mom to move them out herself. You can also consult the
squirrel board message board for more squirrel info and questions.
What if I Can’t Find the Litter of Baby Squirrels? They can be very hard to find at times. If you can’t find them, you may want to just wait
it out for a few weeks until they are bigger and moving on their own. If you must find the, now, the only answer is to keep trying. Listening for scratching
is a great tactic. If that doesn’t work, or to pin down the exact spot, I carefully run my hand over the wall or ceiling, and when I feel a warm spot,
I know that’s where the litter of young are nesting! I cut a hole in the drywall adjacent to the area, and remove the young, and then patch up the hole.
Persistence is the key to success. If you can't find them, just wait a few weeks, and they'll be big enough to go out on their own.
What Do I Do with the Squirrel Once I’ve Caught It? First of all, check the traps every day, or several times a day, so that you don’t
leave an animal suffering in a cage for long. Don’t let your fingers enter the cage, or the squirrel may lunge and bite! Some states require that
the animal be euthanized, often under laws regarding the spread of an animal that could possibly carry rabies. Many people and wildlife removal
companies ignore such laws, because they don’t want to kill wildlife, just like many people ignore wildlife regulations out of ignorance or lack of
concern for laws. If you do relocate the squirrel, it should be at least five miles from the capture site. Some people recommend at least ten miles.
Many critters are amazingly adept at tracking their way back to a home range. If you relocate a mother squirrel with babies, the mother will bolt
from the trap and run away as soon as it’s opened. Let the babies go as well, even if they are very young, and the mother squirrel will usually come back for them and bring
them to a new shelter. For additional information on this tactic from a professional rehabber, including the risks, click on relocating squirrels.
Bear in mind, this time period may be tough for her and her young, but the young stand the best chance of survival with their
mother, even over a licensed wildlife rehabber. Bear in mind though, there's a chance the squirrel will abandon the young, so keep an
eye on them. If you do find yourself with orphaned baby wildlife you can do an internet search for a local wildlife rehabber. The site wildliferehabber.org
is an example of a site with a searchable directory.
Is my Job Done Once The Animals Are Out? Ha ha, of course not. There remain three important things to do. The first is to fix the holes that
the squirrel used to get into the attic in the first place. If you leave the holes open, you’re going to get new wildlife entering your attic eventually,
and you have to start out all over again. Repair shut any open areas, and secure any vulnerable areas. Bolt in new heavy-duty steel screen over your
vents. Bolt down your torn open soffits and seal them shut with concrete screws and sealant. Fix the hole in the roof, etc. Second, you’ll want to inspect
the attic and repair any damage in the attic, from torn ducts to cleared insulation. As state, I’ve seen many cases of electrical shortages from chewing
on wires, and water damage from leaks caused in re-plumbing pipes that have been chewed open in attics. Often its this type of damage that caused a
homeowner to call me out to remove the squirrels in the first place. Finally, you should probably clean and decontaminate the attic to remove any parasites
and pathogens that the squirrel has left behind. I remove all of the squirrel poop by vacuum (with decon suit, mask, and gloves of course), remove all
of the urine crusted insulation, and fog the attic with a special enzyme-based decontaminating agent. You can also install a squirrel nesting box on
your property to give squirrels in your area an alternate place to live instead of your attic, though I've found that things like this are not 100%
foolproof. Squirrels will choose on their own where they want to live.
This Sounds Difficult: I know that the above process I’ve described may sound difficult. If you can’t do it yourself, you may want to hire
a pro. There are many available. Some do great work at a great price, and some are lousy. There’s a reason for wildlife removal professionals, whose
level of expertise and knowledge is just as relevant as that of many other professions, such as electricians or plumbers. If you are the type to re-wire
your house or fix the broken pipe, then you may think you can trap wild animals. But without the proper tools, training, and experience, you probably
will not do the job correctly. In fact, a great proportion of licensed wildlife trappers don’t even do the job properly. This is highly specialized
work that requires lots of experience and careful attention to detail, and common sense! There are so many variables that go into each situation. Before
you hire any company to handle a problem with squirrels in the attic, ask them to describe their process. If it sounds as though they just want to set
a trap on the ground and quickly get to the next customer, find someone else. You want someone who demonstrates knowledge of squirrel behavior who you
feel confident in. I have reviewed most
of the companies on this wildlife removal directory and believe most are humane and competent.
Due to requests from readers for competent and honest wildlife professionals to assist with squirrel problems, I have been doing research on the matter, and can confidently recommend
companies in these cities: - Jacksonville Florida, Tampa Florida, Orlando Florida, Chicago Illinois, Austin Texas, Denver Colorado,
Los Angeles California, Fort Worth Texas, Arlington Texas, Indianapolis, Washington DC,
more coming soon, but for a complete list in the United states, click
on the wildlife-removal.com directory.
Are There Any Alternatives? Yes. You can risk chewing damage and wait for the squirrels to grow to at least three, maybe four or five months
old, wait for them to move out, then seal all the entry holes. But just remember, they may not ever move out, and a squirrel that wants back in will
often be able to get back in if there are areas it can chew open. I personally would at least use the one-way exclusion door method rather than wait
for an uncertain departure months down the line.
The Bottom Line is that a squirrel in the attic is a serious problem, and it’s not always the kind of thing that can be solved with a quick
and easy fix. I wrote this guide to make homeowners aware of this, so that they can address the problem in the correct manner. I’ve spent my career
as a nuisance wildlife specialist confronting the problem of orphaned squirrels in an attic, and I don’t like that. It’s usually due to inferior trapping
companies and do-it-yourself homeowners who trap mama, relocate her, and leave the young up in the attic. Then I get called out because I am capable
of finding the young and doing whatever it takes – tight crawls through hot attics, cutting through walls, hours of searching – in order to find and
remove them. I think that the issue of abandoned baby animals is a big problem in wildlife trapping, one that many people overlook – until they hear
the noise or smell the odor that is. So please, if you have squirrels in the attic, do address the problem, but do it correctly. If you aren’t capable
of following the above steps, please hire a competent wildlife expert who can do so properly, and ask them the right questions.
I wrote a poem about a squirrel in a fireplace that turned into a fiasco - Fireplace Squirrel Poem.
Tip of the Week: How to get rid of squirrels without killing them
There is no need to kill squirrels if they have invaded your property. If you were to call up a wildlife control company, especially one that knows what they are doing, they would tell you that killing squirrels is a bad idea. For a start, there are legalities to think about in certain states, and more than that, what exactly are you going to kill it with? You can hardly sneak up behind it and bash it over the head. It's hardly a creature you can sneak up on. Nor is it a creature that can be poisoned, for that matter, which is another method of squirrel-removed you definitely should not attempt. The best and only way to get rid of animals just like squirrels is by using exclusion devices. These are simple, but very clever - a device made in such a way that the squirrel can get out of your home but can't get back in again. This can be in the shape of a door, with or without a trap attached, or in the form of a funnel. Either way, exclusion devices have been shown to be very effective. This is only the case, however, when you work in sealing and repairs of the damage that has been caused by the animal. If you leave a hole or crack un-filled / sealed, not only will your new squirrel friend return, it's squirrel friends will too, and so will a whole host of other wild animals. It won’t take long before the news spreads - that’s how the pheromones in the urine works!
The following notes are helpful tips on successfully trapping nuisance squirrels. Most important is to understand the habits of a squirrel. This allows you to first; make sure your problem is a squirrel, and second; to figure out how they are getting in your home. After you determined it is indeed a squirrel problem, and are certain you do not want to kill them, you must then choose your method of trapping. Live Traps designed to catch a small to medium sized mammals is going to be the best choice. Since you have decided to use a live trap, let's discuss the variety you have to choose from. Single Live traps are typically constructed from a heavy gauge wire or hardware cloth folded into a rectangular cage. It is then fitted with a solid spring hinged door that slams shut on the unsuspecting squirrel as it triggers a pressure plate under the bait tray. This type also comes with two doors.
It will not hold more animals; it just gives more access to the trap. Both doors slam shut simultaneously when the plate is touched. Most live traps catch on squirrel at a time. There are yard sized varieties that feature one way doors that allow the animals to enter, but they can't get out. This allows you to catch a family and move them all at once. The most effective type of trap for getting them out of your attic is s an exclusion trap. This easy to build and install trap is basically a “funnel”. The large entrance allows the squirrel to leave but as it collapses down it makes a smaller end that they cannot return through. They are constructed from inexpensive ¼-inch hardware cloth and a few screws. Exclusion traps can be attached to a cage as well. In this way you are able to catch a large batch of squirrels without having to reset the trap each time. Any trap(s) you use should be checked frequently. You don't want to leave the animals in there with no food or water to suffer needlessly.
Another method of trapping squirrels humanely is to employ the use of a snare pole. This device can be purchased commercially, or you can find plans to build one on line. This manually operated trapping device is most useful for trapping a squirrel that is contained in a small space like your attic, a pipe, your chimney or other confined area. To safely snare a squirrel, first you should corner it. Slowly, so as not to spook the squirrel you maneuver the cable loop over both its head and one front leg. You can also dangle the loop loosely around an exit hole and wait for the squirrel to emerge. When the squirrel leaves from the hole, follow the procedure above. Once the loop is over the creature, tighten the line, and lift up. Deposit the squirrel in a waiting container.
Now that you have decided on your method of trapping, let's decide where to place traps, and type of bait needed. Once you understand the squirrel's comings and goings you will know where to place your trap. Using these frequented paths will guarantee you success. For bait, rely on nuts, berries, seeds, and soft fleshy fruits. If you put the trap in an area where people feed the squirrels like on a porch try using chips or cookies. If you are after a squirrel trapped inside a pipe or chimney, it probably wants a drink more than food. Fruit slices hold a lot of moisture and will be hard to resist. Your bait needs be placed correctly as well. Bait should coax the animal deep into the trap, be firmly attached, and be small enough that the animal cannot remove it from outside the cage. Use a sticky substance like nut butter or syrups on your trip plate and press the bait in it. Once you have trapped your unwanted visitor(s) we suggest you contact animal control. It is not recommended that you relocate a squirrel yourself. You must take them far away, and because they are territorial by nature, most will not survive. Let an animal relocation specialists handle that job.
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||Please be kind to squirrels! They are intelligent animals, and believe it or not, they definitely have emotions!