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SQUIRREL PROBLEMS?
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Last Update: 05/26/14
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             [ Squirrels in Soffits ] [ Repairs to Your Roof ] [ Noises in the Attic ] [ Squirrels in Gable Vents ]

eastern grey squirrel
J
ust in case you haven't noticed, the last  few years have been boom years for
squirrels. You know, those cute, furry little animals that dart to and fro through the trees. That is, of course, unless one (or more) of these creatures decides to forego the tree-thing and comes inside. Hmmmm... Not so cute and cuddly anymore! Now, instead of 'cute l'il guys,' they've become interlopers - non-paying tenants of the worst kind.

Regardless of what the weather guys tell you, nobody knows exactly what the weather will be like this winter or from winter to winter. They are all educated guesses, which means that they don't really know. And the cold weather oftentimes determines your general squirrel problem.

Again this year, we have a problem worsening because of the many weather swings, both hot and cold. The warmer weather, in the summer of 2012-2013, almost guarantees that the local squirrel populations, already at an all-time high, will be seeking more shelter in buildings.

Homeowners, and even commercial buildings, have experienced an influx of these animals, looking for a good place for the winter. And while many squirrels (mostly ground squirrels) may hibernate in the winter, grey squirrels do not.

We'll need lots of severe cold to alleviate over ten years of warm winters. Even mildly cold weather will tend to drive squirrels to warmer quarters. This means that any place that leaks heat will attract these animals, looking for a more secure home, and this year looks no better.
summer coat



QUESTIONS ABOUT THOSE SQUIRREL PROBLEMS?

Everything you need to know, to control these critters, I have put on this page or on the Squirrel Trapping Page. After that, if you have questions, you can always 'ask the exterminator' on our Squirrel Message Board.

Both squirrel pages are geared (more or less) at showing you how to do this job yourself. Both pages cover some of the common problems with squirrels that most people experience.

Our above-described Squirrel Message Board also has many of the other questions (and answers!) that other people have posed. This can be a helpful and valuable resource for your squirrel problems.

OK, SO YOU WANT ME TO DO IT....
First of all, we usually only do squirrel work locally, travel times to other areas can get quite expensive. But if you're reasonably close to us, we will be happy to help. I can
do this several ways, and detail them
on this popup.

(For squirrel control work, our service area is generally limited to this geographical area.)



THE PROBLEM STARTS RIGHT HERE
In the wild, squirrels are arboreal, living exclusively in the trees.  The squirrels around here, in New Jersey, the eastern grey squirrel, will usually have several nests (called a drey) they can go to, and in case they lose one, they will quickly go to the next one.  In the wintertime, you can see their summertime dreys - those collections of leaves and twigs visible in the trees through leafless branches.  They usually abandon these summer homes in the winter and seek something more secure.  A hollow tree somewhere is ideal. But your attic is much better.  Especially here in suburbia, where there is a dearth of hollow trees, and an abundance of squirrels and attics.

The real problem is that once they have a nice, safe home in YOUR home, they aren't going to be satisfied with a hollow tree or a bunch of leaves in a tree.  Would you?

HOW THEY GET INSIDE
As your house ages, this weathering provides the opportunity for squirrels to discover a damaged piece of trim, allowing them partial entrance.  They'll finish the job, quite easily, in a half hour or so, if they want to.  And they don't really need your attic.  An exposed soffit will do just as well.  If it's a soffit, you might not hear them, and they could be in there for months.   They will make their home in any small area, but will investigate whatever they can.  And they can fit through anything they can get their head through. Once inside, their innate curiosity will force them to explore their new surroundings. Trouble in River City.

In the house pictured at the right, squirrels have entered the aluminum soffit at roof level, entered the attic, and have been removing insulation from the walls.  The tree in the immediate foreground is a crabapple tree, a constant attractant for squirrels and other animals.  In fact, this house, and the house next door have both had problems with squirrels and woodchucks.  Click on the detail box to see a close-up view.
Squirrels in the soffit

WHAT HAPPENS ONCE THEY GET INSIDE?

Not much, for awhile. But as soon as they find out that there isn't anything you are doing about it, this is HOME! Then comes the hard part. Getting them out and keeping them out. Oftentimes, this is a very difficult job. The longer they are in there, the harder it is to evict them. If they remain undisturbed for a season or two, it will be especially difficult. Not only that, but such a structure, over a period of time, tends to acquire an odor that attracts squirrels. Houses such as these will often have intermittent and sporadic squirrel problems for years.

These animals, when inside, will destroy many of your possessions and soil the rest. They will search for food, breaking into even sealed containers they suspect of containing food. We find them consuming people's Christmas decorations, decorative pine cones, dried flower arrangements, and other natural items.

THEY LIKE TO CHEW ON THINGS - A LOT

hole in galvanized pipe caused by squirrels
Occasionally, squirrels blunder inside by mistake, and for whatever reason, can't easily get back outside. If water isn't openly available somewhere, they have been known to chew through pipes to get water. Then you'll need the plumber too.

The picture to the left shows where a squirrel chewed
through a two inch galvanized pipe. Luckily, it was a non-pressurized soil line, imagine the problem if the squirrel had picked the copper line in the foreground, a pressure line. Copper is soft, he could go through that in about 30 seconds. And instead of a few puddles with the soil line, you'd run the risk of flooding the basement with a pressure line break.


SQUIRRELS AND FIRES
Squirrels are very curious and will investigate any nook or cranny they can possibly get into.  This squirrel tried to enter a building through an unsecured utility chase.  In his efforts to get in, he attempted to chew through some obstructions. One of those obstructions was a 220 volt AC electric line. By the time we got to him, he had been dead for a week.
Squirrel stuck in wall

MEET THE ENEMY
Squirrels are rodents. Same as rats. They can carry the SAME diseases (plus a few) and squirrels are used to people. At certain times of the year, and if you're patient, you can train a wild (suburban) squirrel to take a peanut from your hand in less than three days. They are quite easy to habituate to humans and their activities.

winter coat
Just remember, however,  that the cute fuzzy tail you see is just about the only difference. The teeth of all rodents are like our fingernails - they are always growing. So they must chew on something all the time. And for some reason, gravid female squirrels favor chewing on metal.  Pipes, wires, nails, anything they find. If they do this inside your house, this will cause you huge problems later on.

Squirrels can climb a vertical brick face. They can also scale a vertical aluminum-sided house just as easily. Their specialized feet and claws allow them to get to areas you can't imagine. They can scuttle over or underhanded, on wires, as easily as you can walk, and they can almost "float," over ninety feet to the ground, absolutely unhurt. I know, I've seen them do it. Squirrels are clever, persistent animals, and one of the very few animals that have increased their populations in the presence of man.
Super Squirrel!


Super Squirrel
Squirrels are omnivores and will eat any kind of food you can think of, and some that you can't.  That means they will scavenge from your open garage, from your trash, fruit and nut trees, and your garden.  Keep them out of your
trash cans
this way.

Squirrels are clever scavengers. Some can tell the difference between red oak acorns and white oak acorns, even though they look exactly alike. Red oak acorns they will bury and store, as these acorns normally germinate the next year. White oak acorns, however, they eat immediately. The white oak acorns germinate right away, so these are an immediate food source. In the years when red oak acorns are scarce, and there's an overabundance of white oak acorns, squirrels have learned to disable the white oak acorn by nibbling the end off, thereby preventing the seed from germinating.




'AGGRESSIVE' SQUIRRELS
What about aggressive squirrels?  Have you had the experience of a squirrel 'chasing'
you?  Why is it they do this?  I put the answer right here
on this popup.




THIS IS IMPORTANT

WHAT YOU CAN DO

TO GET THEM OUT

AND KEEP THEM OUT!
First and foremost, don't feed the birds.  Don't feed any kind of animal outside.  Even pets should be fed inside, never leave their food outside.  Squirrels are very mobile, and a pet dish or bird feeding station is "open" territory, so any and every animal will be attracted to that area to eat the food or to eat the animals that eat the food!

Not only that, but these animals can certainly vector diseases between each other and may also do the same for you. Americans are inveterate bird-feeders, and industries have grown up, catering to those that like to feed the birds. Restrain yourself.

DON'T FEED THE WILDLIFE!
True naturalists will confirm that feeding wildlife (including birds) is not a good idea. So will any exterminator.  The animals will find their food well enough without our help and be better for it.  So will we.  Enjoy them, sure, but leave them alone.



CHECK YOUR

OWN HOUSE
Make a complete circuit around your house, spring and fall, check all the corners closely.  The corners are usually the first areas that fail.


Check all the high spots, binoculars can help you see those spots up close.  If you see a suspicious area, look for the dark "rub marks" around or near the hole, caused by the animal's fur.  You can see the black rub marks all up and down the downspout in the soffit picture.  Squirrel poop looks like this.

HERE'S ONE WAY THEY CAN GET IN

Look for any damaged or missing trim, have it repaired right away.  During repairs, if the damaged area has been chewed, stuff the hole with newspaper for a day or two to see if it is being used.  If it isn't, repair it.

Often, your repairs might be near areas difficult to work with, such as the one shown here, right near the place where your electrical feed comes in....
Squirrel damaged trim



chimney cap
If you don't already have one, have a chimney cap installed.




SQUIRRELS IN SOFFITS
The squirrels made a nice little home here! They mostly stayed in the soffit, but after they entered the attic, and the homeowner noticed it, something had to be done immediately. Soffit repairs such as these are best done by an experienced carpenter, sometimes it can be a veritable jigsaw puzzle. Our carpenter guy, who is pretty good, took about two hours to do this, start to finish.

soffit repair for squirrel exclusion
soffit repair for squirrel exclusion
soffit repair for squirrel exclusion

The above job was done for a real estate settlement - the new owners wanted the squirrel problem solved, so we trapped the squirrels and our carpenter made the repairs. Everything had to be "just right."



HERE'S AN EASY D-I-Y REPAIR ALMOST ANYONE CAN DO

Whereas, if you were just going to make your own temporary repair, using hardware cloth for example, you'd just do a simple repair like the one shown to the right. That way, you can be sure they're gone before you spend the money to have it fixed the right way.

And don't forget, you'll probably have to trap the occupants, they're pretty persistent and may try getting in somewhere else.
open soffit

Once the squirrels are out, you can make a temporary repair, use that hardware cloth I mention so often, it doesn't have to be anything fancy, just something like this.

And when the squirrels are taken care of, and there's been no more attempts on your entry point(s), you can make a permanent repair to the woodwork.

How long do you wait? Tough question, and it depends on a lot of factors, but I tell people it can be "a month or even two" after the last activity, especially if it's been an ongoing problem. Prediction is really impossible, every situation is different.

For the most part, it really isn't difficult to do it the way I show above. You will have to be vigilant to see if they are trying to get back in - or in other spots - assuming you haven't caught all of them. On this job above, we were on scene at least twice a day for the first five or six days, then daily for another week or so, even though we captured the occupants.




A BUILDER CHECKS IN WITH HIS ADVICE....


Dan Turner, a homebuilder since 1954, from Conyers, Georgia, had this input about squirrel-proofing your roof. Check it out right here on
this popup.
drip edge moulding to keep squirrels out




NOISES IN THE ATTIC?
So you suspect you have SOMETHING (maybe a squirrel) in your attic? But you're really not sure, perhaps you hear "noises" up there? What can you do, and how might
you find out?  I put some ideas
right here on this popup.



BUT I THOUGHT SQUIRRELS WERE 'DAYTIME' ANIMALS
They are. They are diurnal, daytime animals. But at night, inside, they can be active throughout the night. They feel safe inside, so just because you hear the noises at night, doesn't mean it's NOT a squirrel. They can roam around, scratch and chew all through the night, at any time. They just won't go OUTSIDE when it's dark.




CONTROLLING SQUIRRELS IN MULTI-FAMILY DWELLINGS
Very difficult, because you are dealing with all sorts of people, some may be the ones actually causing the problem. People are very sensitive to animals, they may not realize
the danger of having them invade the premises...  I put a few ideas
right here.




SQUIRRELS NESTING UNDER THE ENGINE HOOD OF YOUR CAR
Don't laugh. Happens a lot. I have a friend that works in a car dealer. He gets three or four of these every week, especially in the fall and winter. What can you do about
it?  I explain
right here on this popup.




WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO KEEP SQUIRRELS OUT OF MY HOUSE?
Exclusion of the squirrels is the best possible method. Vents not built to code, or building anomalies are often the blame for rogue squirrel invasions. Squirrels are very persistent and often reenter by exploiting the flaws in your exclusion work.  Replace insect screening with hardware cloth and inspect all susceptible areas frequently.
Squirrel Exclusion


HERE'S ANOTHER WAY THEY CAN GET IN...

SECURE THE GABLE VENTS THAT LEAD INTO YOUR HOUSE
gable vent
Have one of those gable vents that the squirrels have gotten to? If so, read how William Justice, a frequent visitor and contributor to the Squirrel Message Board, described how he fixed his gable vent and solved his problem. He used common materials recommended right here. An excellent example, William! The pictures are from William, BTW.



THOSE ELECTRIC ROOF VENTS ARE COMMONLY ATTACKED
Rooftop ventilation fans are also suspect. Most are manufactured with aluminum screening - short work for a squirrel. If they discover it is accessible, and breach it, the fan must be re-screened with the proper material. The only proper material is galvanized steel wire, in the form of hardware cloth, available at any hardware store. Anything less, and they will be able to chew through. Also remove any bird or wasp nests after the first hard freeze.

The two pictures below show how you can screen off these roof vents from the inside of your attic with hardware cloth. Easy. Do it NOW, before they get in. (Make sure they're not already in....

inside roof vent
inside roof vent




One way exclusion device
ONE WAY OR EXCLUSION DEVICES
Sometimes you can use these devices, but many times they just allow your squirrels another chance to get back in, as depicted in this picture.




CHIPMUNKS?  INSIDE?
Ok, you find an acorn or acorns (or some other nut) inside. In a closet, hidden under a couch or chair or somewhere, or maybe even out in the open. What the heck is that?

Well, the acorn is the giveaway. There's an excellent chance it's chipmunks. (That's assuming you have chipmunks around your house and yard, of course.)

The chipmunks shinny up the downspouts to get to the gutters where they often find lots of stuff to eat. It's a smorgasbord up there! They feel safe in your gutters, shielded from sight of you and predators in the air. That's why most people don't know about it, it's largely invisible.

Then, in their travels along your gutters, they often find a way into the house along the roofline and can get in that way. The builder is supposed to leave a small space, for ventilation, but sometimes it's too big or the years have made it bigger. There lies the problem. That lets the chippies inside, where they usually just stash their nuts, but sometimes, depending on construction, they can appear elsewhere too.

FOR THE ONE(S) INSIDE....
If you KNOW they're inside, a few well-placed glueboards hidden along the walls is a good way to catch the ones inside. (Chipmunks can be a challenge to live-trap.) Don't use a bait unless you absolutely HAVE to. Baits will take awhile to work, (5-7 days) and you might not be able to find them after they die. And you know what that will smell like....

HOW TO FIX THIS PROBLEM
First of all, go outside and cut off all your downspouts about 10 inches off the ground. Thet keeps the little buggers from getting up there in the first place. The ones that are already up there will unhesitatingly jump from your shortened downspouts.

If you can find the spot where they got in, use quarter inch hardware cloth, bent to cover the slot, and fastened into the roof.

YOU MIGHT ALSO CONSIDER DOING THIS
In the future, (and this goes for squirrels too) if and when you replace your roof, consider using the hardware cloth around the entire perimeter of the roof, to seal off that ventilation slot to the entrance of vermin.  It will still allow ventilation, while excluding animals from entering. It will be easy to do while the roof is off, ask your roofer if he'll do it for you. This becomes more and more important, especially as your house ages.



Old Wives' Tales

Moth balls aren't even that good for moths, much less squirrels. Not too long ago, we dismantled a recently active nest (in someone's attic) that was over three feet high and laced with hundreds of moth balls.  Didn't bother the squirrels at all.
FORGET THE

MOTH BALLS!

WHAT ELSE DOESN'T WORK?
After all that, you can just forget the moth balls, loud rock music, basil, mint, garlic, marigolds, ammonia, bleach, borax or boric acid, Bounce dryer sheets and catnip. Also forget fox, cat, wolf, coyote, bear, dinosaur or human urine or plastic fake owls. There is also no device, electronic, magnetic, sonic, stroboscopic, or any combination of these, that will consistently deter these critters.  

Did I forget anything?


WHAT DOES WORK
There's just no substitute for good old hard work. Plain and simple, find out where they're getting in, trap the ones around the area, and then patch the hole where they enter. The only REAL cure is "exclusion".  You must EXCLUDE them from the building. This can be tricky, may take several weeks to accomplish, and will require constant patrols to see if they are gaining access somewhere else.  Persistence is the key: You must have more than your adversary. Trapping squirrels can be very labor intensive. Especially if you've never done it before and you have to learn how first. Do it the easy way, complete instructions are on our page, Trapping Squirrels.

KEEPING SQUIRRELS OUT OF YOUR FLOWER BEDS
Quite difficult to say the least.  These critters are used to hunting around, digging up not only their own caches of food, but looking for others.  Some may relish your freshly growing and planted flowers and vegetables and will dig them up as fast as you can plant them.  Not all squirrels are as active as this in some regard, so trapping the offenders may help.

For flower boxes and other small areas, you can use hardware cloth over the dirt areas to keep them from digging up your treasured plants.



OBTAINING SQUIRREL TRAPS FROM UNITED

TRAP  RENTALS,  PURCHASES
We will also rent traps, at a preferred rate, to our Regular Service Customers.  Rentals can include delivery and instruction only, or can include the pickup of trapped animals.

We will also rent or sell these traps to the general public.  Prices will depend on whether you pick this item up or whether we deliver it to your home or place of business.  If you are local to us, prices include instruction in the use of this trap.  You can be an "expert" in no time.  We deliver from our trucks in our regular three-county area.

                           - DETAILS -
Call in for more details, or visit our OnLine General Store for trap purchase information.
Hav-a-Hart Squirrel Trap #1040 (2A)


OUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS
If you are a current Termite Renewal Customer, we will lend you a squirrel trap at no charge if you pick it up at our office, and drop it off after you're finished with it.
Map to United Exterminating Company

CURRENT CUSTOMER AND DOING IT YOURSELF?
Just give us a call, let us know about your problem, and we will insure that there is a trap here in the office, and available for pickup.

One of us will be on hand when you make your pickup, to give you complete instructions on how to use the trap.  For this reason, we would like to have the person who is to use the trap, to pick it up so our instructions won't be second-hand.



Your Final Repairs

Do the best you can to make sure that final repairs are done correctly or the squirrels will rediscover the area and return at some other time. Make sure to check all these same areas a couple of  times a year - the same spots will be subject to failure again.
If YOU can't make the

required repairs.....

get a good carpenter!

Check for trim failures elsewhere, and don't forget to check at ground level too. Squirrels can enter a crawlspace and work their way, up through the walls and throughout the rest of your home.

If air conditioning or other utilities are routed through aluminum gutterspouting to reach the upper floors, be sure that squirrels (and chipmunks) are not able to use these for direct entrance into your house. We have had many calls from chipmunks entering attics by using gutterspouts to get to the roof level. Chipmunks and squirrels are attracted there by the fact that your gutters collect a lot of debris that falls from the trees, many of the same things (food) they're looking for, all in the same place!

So when the air conditioning man has used this technique to get his refrigerant lines upstairs, make sure the bottoms and tops are pinched off. It's also a good idea to caulk both ends, that way you can tell when it's been compromised.

A SPECIAL KIND OF CARPENTER IS NEEDED HERE.....
If you employ a carpenter for squirrel repairs, he should have plenty of "trim" experience. His repairs must be a first quality trim restoration, even though the repair may be thirty feet in the air.  Other squirrels will continue to explore the upper reaches of the structure and will discover and exploit any area that isn't repaired correctly. Make sure those repairs are of the same quality as you would make to your front door. Always remember to specify pressure treated wood and galvanized nails for ANY outside repairs.  (See our information panel on Decks!)


"CLEANING UP" AFTER SQUIRREL INFESTATIONS
I often get asked as to how to clean up after squirrels that have inhabited your home.  I
explain the process you might follow right here
on this popup.




EMERGENCY SITUATIONS

Emergency, meaning a squirrel shows up inside!  In your bedroom, your basement, fireplace or living room.  First thing to remember:  DON'T PANIC!   No big deal, happens all the time.

There is really only one successful procedure, and YOU can do it!  Try to close him off to one area by closing doors, etc.  If there is no door, a hanging sheet or blanket will do. Once he is closed off, go in, open all the windows and screens in that room and leave him alone for a few hours.  He'll go out on his own.  DON'T try to chase him out. He will only hide and it will take longer for him to go out on his own.

Don't be afraid to enter the room he is in to open up windows - he is in a strange environment and will hide from you.  Squirrels are diurnal, and won't leave at night, so if you discover one in your basement, say, at night, just leave a basement window open that night, and he will leave first thing in the morning.  Close the window in the mid-morning, then leave a cracker, smeared with a little peanut butter, in your basement, on the floor, for a day or so, to be sure he's really out.

If your basement window has a ledge, put another cracker up there too.  If a squirrel is still in that room, he will be attracted to a window and will soon discover the cracker. Squirrels trapped in an area of no escape will also be looking for water pretty quickly. Squirrels will be in dire need of water after about three days.  They usually won't last (without water) much longer than about four days and will find a water source if they can, using sinks, open drains, toilets or condensing pipes.

IMPORTANT:  Find out how he got in.  He'll be back.




SQUIRRELS AS PETS

Do not feed any wildlife
Yeah, they're cute little guys. As a kid, a neighbor friend raised one in his garage when her mother was caught and killed by a cat. She barely made it, nursed her day and night for three days with a doll's bottle. "Cutie" made it about 9 months, as I remember, finally running off with one of the neighborhood squirrels, more wild than tame. I saw her all that summer, and she would easily come to a handful of her
favorites, (grapes or cashews) while her cohorts hung conveniently out of range.  I saw her a few times the next summer, she even came to me on a couple of occasions.   After that, I never saw her again.

THEY DO GET OLD QUICK
But once squirrels get to adult stage, which really only takes about 6-8 months, they get to be a real handful. You think a puppy chews a lot? Wait until you see how these little fellows easily put away a 2x4 six inches long, in less than 24 hours. And these are little guys, remember? Very rambunctious animals, the males get destructive and a bit nasty with a tendency to nip. The females, once they become able to breed, are basically unmanageable unless caged. As pets, both genders should be neutered at a young age. Pet squirrels should never be released. Habituated to man, these squirrels will be unable to defend themselves and will quickly fall prey to other animals. They have no conception of "territory," nor do they have any way to sustain themselves the way a wild squirrel can.

In other words, don't try to make a pet out of a "wild" animal, it won't be good for anyone, including the squirrel.




SQUIRREL RECIPES
And finally, somebody's always asking me for 'squirrel recipes.'  I don't always know if they're kidding me or not, but if you're really interested, Jerry's Bait and Tackle Shop has some really good squirrel recipes listed right here.  YUM!



HERE'S A WAY TO GET SOME FREE HELP....

Each house is different, even if they might look exactly alike, and each will experience different problems during its lifetime. We have several ways of helping you handle your squirrel problem. I always encourage visitors to 'do it yourself,' if they can. It really isn't THAT hard, and you have all the help you'll need for the project, right here, and all for free. Use my experience and my squirrel pages, along with the Squirrel Message Board to help you with your campaign. Here is where you can usually find an eclectic bunch of exterminators, trappers, animal control experts, and then there's me. Post your question and get an answer. And if you need an experienced Pro, there's always the Good Guys Page.  

I'll answer any question you may have, just post your question on the board. I add to, and update those pages all the time, so make sure you go through everything again if you haven't visited for awhile. The date of the last update is posted at the top of this page.

For the most part, if you're handy, and don't mind getting up on ladders, you can do just about everything yourself for the cost of just a few dollars and your own time!

Visiting our page on How to Trap Squirrels will give you a leg up on these %#@*&! critters.

Would you like us to send you a price quotation for any of the services described on these pages? Just fill out this form and we will reply by email, with a quotation tailored to your personal requirements. Please include your phone number if you wish us to call you.

All the Popups on the Squirrel Page

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recommendations about my Web site, you can tell me about it
right here.



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