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Squirrel Control & Removal

Good sanitation and property maintenance will prevent most squirrel problems.

Most urban squirrels owe their existence to humans. Our buildings supply both food, and shelter for them. The squirrel can aviod spending days cutting and hauling twigs up a tree to build a nest, when there is a perfectly good attic to sleep in.

Your attic is warm, out of the weather, and almost predator proof. They can just add leaves and call it home. Pet food left unattended, or an open garbage can, or a full bird feeder is a free meal to any hungry squirrel.

 

 

Squirrel Info: Squirrels are members of the rodent family. The most frequently dealt with nuisance squirrel is the Eastern Gray Squirrel. They measure around 16-18 inches from nose to tail and weigh approximately one pound. Gray squirrels are active year-round and arboreal, meaning that they live primarily in trees. They feed on a great variety of foods, such as nuts, seeds, fungi, fruits, and of course the seed in your birdfeeder. They store nuts and acorns in holes in the ground. Gray squirrels breed throughout the year, but there are two distinct peaks, in the winter and summer. After about six weeks, two to four young are born, and raised in a nest for about three months. They prefer cavities in trees (or homes), and when cavities aren’t available, they will build a nest out of leaves and twigs high in a tree.

Nuisance Squirrel concerns: Squirrels have easily adapted to humans. They frequently use buildings as nesting areas. Squirrels love to break into a house and stay in an attic or soffit. They often find a small opening and will chew a wider hole to gain access to the building. They bring nesting material into the home, and make quite a bit of noise scurrying around and caching nuts. They often fall down the chimney flue and make a lot of noise or enter the fireplace. Sometimes they fall down a wall from the attic and get stuck. They often chew their way into commercial buildings or apartments. They often enter the attic through the gable vent. Squirrels can cause a fire hazard in homes by bringing in nesting material, and by chewing on power lines. Squirrels can leave behind a lot of droppings and urine in the attic. The droppings not only smell bad, but they pose a biohazard, and the smell attracts new squirrels.
I highly recommend attic decontamination services if you've had squirrels living in your attic.

How to Get rid of them: The primary approaches are trapping, prevention, exclusion, or repellents.

Trapping: Squirrels can be trapped in small-size steel cages, and then safely relocated. It's important to use a small trap, because a large trap will allow the squirrel to run around and bang against the walls of the trap and become injured. Plus, large traps tend to have very high pan tension that small squirrels can't trip. The cage should be sturdy, and it's important to set it in the shade - squirrels can die very easily from heat exhaustion. Of course, you don't want to trap every last squirrel in the neighborhood. The truth is that trapping alone isn't an effective solution. New squirrels will replace the removed ones. Plus, please be wary of catching a momma squirrel - she may have helpless baby squirrels in a squirrel nest in your attic, or in the eaves or soffit of the home, even if you don't know it.

Prevention: It may be very hard to prevent a squirrel from stealing the bird seed but you can prevent them from chewing on your house with habanera sauce or Ropel spray. But if your problem is squirrels in the attic or eaves, then the best prevention is to find and seal shut all open areas into your house. The same goes for your chimney. When I do a squirrel removal job, I make sure to squirrel-proof the entire house, and seal shut all open entryways. It has to be done with steel, so that the squirrels can't chew through.

Exclusion: This is how I do most of my squirrel removal work. I identify and seal shut every last opening into the house. Then I install special one-way exclusion devices on the primary entry and exit hole into the house. Squirrels have to leave the attic to get food and water, and when they do, they are excluded. This type of job has to be done properly - no baby squirrels stuck inside (experience with time of year considerations and nesting sign is very important) and chewable areas must be addressed, if the excluded squirrel is determined to chew its way back in. Exclusion is not always the best option, but it works very well in many cases, and it's easiest on the animals.

If you read this far, then you probably have some of these problems already. The first thing to do is, remove the food supply. If it is a bird feeder, move it twentyfive or more feet from the house. Close or cover garbage cans, and if possible make them inaccessible. If you have a barbecue near the house, keep it clean and covered. Squirrels have been know to eat the drippings and sometimes build a nest if they can get inside. It doesn't take very long, sometimes just hours.

Sometimes the squirrels are digging in your garden, or flower pots. While you can't stop a squirrel from digging, you can discourage it. Use hardware cloth, a heavy metal screening with a half inch square grid, to place in the flower pot. Cut it to fit around the stem of the plant, and extend it to the edges of the pot. Place it just below the soil.  Put some small rocks near the edge to hold it in place. This same approach can be used in a small garden.
If the squirrels are eating your fruit as it ripens, about the only way to stop them is to cage the entire plant. Most times this is not practical, and allowing them to have a little may be a small price to pay. I know they can be wasteful, try to accept it as food tasting.
 
Other devices, such as high frequency sound emitters and animal scents may be effective for a short period of time. Once the squirrel gets use to them, and they will. They become ineffective, and you're out a lot of money.
The use of " Squirrel Away" or " Hot Pepper Spray" are also ineffective as deterrents. They can actually do harm to both squirrels, and other animals, especially when these products get into their eyes. Then how do you deal with a blind squirrel?

The use of " moth balls" as a deterrent does work. But again, only temporarily. A determined squirrel will get used to the smell, or simply push the " smelly stuff" out of its way. So if you do try this method, wrap them in a piece of metal screening to form a bag. Then tie the bag to a solid object, make it as difficult as possible for the squirrel to move.  You will have to replace the contents every few days for it to be truly effective.

Another problem area can be exposed wires or rubber hose's. Most common are those on gas grills, and stored motor vehicles. But, low voltage lighting can be a tempting target for squirrels. What the most squirrels are trying to do, is clean and sharpen their teeth. They do this by biting through some material, (normally wood) then they pull their head back so the fibers slide between the teeth. I guess you could call it the squirrel version of dental floss. Most squirrels stick with small tree branches, but some have found the plastic coated wire or rubber hose does a much better job. The only way to stop this problem is to trap and relocate the offending squirrel. Once the squirrel is removed,  the problem should end.
Once a squirrel has chewed its way into an attic or crawl space, again the only practical way to remove it is by trapping (see section below).    Of course repairs should be made immediately to close the entrance hole. It is also important to cut off the access route to the attic or crawl space. This may require trimming tree branches that overhang the roof. Remove firewood that may be stacked against the building. Fill cracks in foundation walls. Even a one inch hole or crack can make a suitable entrance hole for a determined squirrel. When patching wood, use metal plates or flashing where ever possible. On foundations walls use concrete. Avoid plastic or PVC vents when ever possible.

If your only alternative is to trap, and remove an unwanted squirrel, you should first check with your local government agency. Your City, County, or State may require you to obtain a permit. There may be certain circumstances when a professional trapper is needed to capture and relocate the animal. A phone call can save you a lot of trouble.
The other very important part of trapping concerns the time of year. The female squirrel will give birth to a litter of three or four, in the early spring and possibly again in the fall. If you trap and relocate the mother squirrel, you will surely kill her babies since they can not leave the nest on their own. While this alone would be heart breaking, consider what will become of those baby squirrels. They can cause quite a smell. Please give this some careful thought before you proceed. If you're not sure, please ask for help. That's what we're here for. If you are allowed to trap, your next step will be to find a suitable trap. Be sure to find one that is the proper size for the squirrel you wish to trap. Too small of a trap may not completely enclose the squirrel and one too large may not be sensitive enough for a one pound squirrel.

Traps should come with instructions to bait and set them, be sure you under - stand and follow the directions. Peanut butter (crunchy) is considered the best bait for a squirrel. Placing a spoonful on the trip lever usually does the trick.
Your first step is to do a little detective work. Find the path that the squirrel is using to your attic, crawl space or where ever it should not be. To find this path, you must first observe your squirrel's routine. Normally, a squirrel will leave the nest at dawn or shortly after in search of food. This would be the best time to watch and wait. Find a place where you can view your house and the entrance hole. Be very still, and watch how it gets to or from the house. E.g. climbing, jumping or both. Once you discover this path, you should place the trap accordingly. Always set the trap on a stable surface, such as the ground, on a porch or deck. Never hang the trap!
If you have the time, leave the trap opened and without bait for several days, so the squirrel will accept it as part of the landscape. You should also consider what if any other animals might be in the area of the trap. Since a cat, dog, or even a bird may be tempted into your trap.
You must be able to see or hear the trap operate, so it would be best to set it only when you have the time to watch or listen for it to operate. Once a squirrel is trapped it must be removed as quickly as possible to prevent stress to the animal. Be sure you are wearing heavy work gloves while handling the trap. Be prepared to listen to a lot of complaining. This squirrel is going to voice its displeasure non-stop!

You must relocate the squirrel at least a three miles from your location, even further if you are in a heavily wooded area. An ideal location would have a natural barrier, such as a river or lake. If you're moving the squirrel within an urban area, try to place it across several highways or other busy streets. You should give some thought to where you are going to relocate the squirrel before capture. A place where it can find food, water and shelter would be in your best interest. Don't give this squirrel a reason to return!

It may be necessary to repeat this process if more than one squirrel is involved. Please remember that if there are babies in the nest, they can " not" be trapped and must be removed by hand.
Then be sure to correct the problem that led to the squirrel moving in, as quickly as possible. Be sure to wash the entrance area, with a strong solution of ammonia and water, or a household cleaner to remove any scent the squirrel's may have left.
If you have problems, concerns, or questions about live trapping please give us a call we are knowledgeable in this area and may be able to offer you additional advice.
If you do not have the time or are not sure you can accomplish this task, we are professional animal control specialists that can remove squirrels for you. If you consider the time and effort involved, it may be best to contact us for an estimate.

 

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