Squirrel Infestations: Signs & Treatment

Squirrels are not likely to create a problem unless the population becomes so large that they begin to inflict damage or invade homes. Then, action must be taken or the results can result in some serious consequences, including damage and potential health-related issues.

Signs of a squirrel infestation

Visual signs you may have a squirrel infestation, include:

  • Seeing nests in trees or hollow openings in tree trunks.
  • Squirrels running along utility lines, on the roof or entering into the attic or chimney space.
  • Small divots in the yard, chewed bark on young trees or eaten garden plants.
  • Seeing squirrels regularly fighting, an indication the squirrel population is too large to support the individual squirrel’s needs for survival.
  • Seeing squirrel droppings. Get the opinion of your pest management professional since some other animals have droppings that look similar. Do not attempt to remove droppings yourself, but get an expert to do this job.

Other signs you may have a squirrel infestation, include:

  • Hearing noises that come from squirrels running, scratching or fighting with each other. Generally, noises will come from squirrels in the attic, walls, chimney or vents. Noise at night probably means a flying squirrel, while daytime noises could indicate a gray or fox squirrel.
  • Holes in a home’s siding or under the soffits; chewed wires; attic insulation damage; and evidence of squirrel nests in the attic. Damage to bird feeders as squirrels try to get the bird food.

Should you need assistance with identifying the cause of any of these indicators, contact your pest management professional for their advice and assistance.

What should you do if you have an infestation?

So, the first thing to do when experiencing a squirrel infestation is to seek out the advice and assistance of your pest management professional. Other things to manage the squirrel infestation include:

Exclusion. Inspect the exterior of the house and determine where squirrels are entering the attic. Look for holes, gaps or other openings and repair them. Use screen or sturdy hardware cloth to seal any openings such as roof vents, gable vents and soffit vents. Have squirrels and their young already made your attic their home? An easy way to determine the answer to this question is to stuff something such as newspaper or foam into the hole that squirrels may be using. If it is not pushed out or disturbed within a day or two, you can be reasonably sure that squirrels are not inside. Then, go ahead and do the exclusion work and repairs. Don’t forget about chimneys because squirrels may crawl into a chimney and get stuck inside. If this happens, call your pest management professional and let him open the fireplace flue and capture the animal before it gets loose inside the home. If you are trying do-it-yourself solutions and the squirrel gets loose inside, open all exit doors and usually the squirrel will run out. However, the best way to keep squirrels out of the chimney is to install a chimney cap and prevent squirrels from getting into the chimney in the first place.

Eviction. Generally, the most effective method of evicting a squirrel is to use a one-way door cage at the site where the squirrel is gaining entrance into the attic. A one-way door is not a trap, but a cage that lets the squirrel exit but not re-enter. Sealing or screening the hole or gap prevents access to the attic.

Habitat Modification. Don’t make it easy for squirrels to get on your roof and possibly into the attic. Any tree limbs growing over the roof or within about 8-10 feet of the edge of the roof must be trimmed or removed so squirrels don’t jump from the tree branches to the roof. Bird feeders are a source of squirrel food. In order to reduce the amount of food available to squirrels, it may be necessary to stop using bird feeders.

Population reduction. Setting traps in the attic is a way to remove squirrels. However, traps must be inspected at least once each day and failure to do this is a violation of wildlife control regulations. Trapping also involves how to handle the trapped squirrels. Does the homeowner simply release the squirrel on-site, relocate the squirrel elsewhere or destroy the squirrel? Whatever is done, there are many state and local wildlife control regulations that must be followed. Therefore, your pest management professional is the best source to answer these questions and assist you in handling trapped squirrels.

Frightening Devices. Using strobe lights, radio noise or ultrasonic sound producers may discourage squirrels in attics or other confined spaces. However, these techniques are rarely effective for long because squirrels quickly get used to the frightening devices or may ignore the device altogether if they have young to care for.

Repellents. Squirrel repellents may be somewhat effective when properly used. However, repellent effectiveness is something that should be discussed with your pest management professional before investing money in repellents.