For the last few nights you’ve been hearing thumps and scratching and scurrying noises in the attic. You’ve also noticed a peculiar smell. Could this be rats or mice, or some other nasty pest? Well, you might be surprised to learn that this brouhaha could be squirrels who’ve decided your home is the perfect place to squat. And once in, these little cuties can turn out to be a real nuisance.
Squirrels are great opportunists, always on the lookout for food and a safe shelter, and if you have bird feeders or nut trees in your garden, then your home will look even more attractive to them.
How do squirrels get into my home?
Squirrels can squeeze through tiny gaps in the walls and chimneys of your home. Any vents that don’t have a protective screen, or holes made by other animals or birds may serve as a perfect entry point; sometimes squirrels even chew their way in the moment they find a vulnerable spot. They can also gain entry to the top of your house by jumping from tall trees close to your building or by climbing and running along telephone, electric and television wires and cables.
Why did squirrels pick my house?
The attic in your home provides a perfect substitute for a hard-to-come-by hollow tree. It’s warm and safe from predators who, for the most part, are unable to penetrate this space. Also, buildings like yours provide a warm, comfortable place to raise young squirrels. Squirrels start looking for nesting sites in mid-December, January and in the early summer. However, if they find the perfect nesting place (like your home), they’ll move in no matter what time of year it is.
What damage do squirrels cause?
Apart from being noisy and smelly and leaving damp patches of urine on the floor of your attic, squirrels have to chew to keep their teeth worn down. And your house has plenty of stuff they can chew on – vents, plastic pipes, wiring, and wood. By chewing through plastic pipes squirrels can sometimes cause flooding. However, probably the biggest threat squirrels pose to homes and other buildings is fire. Wiring that has been chewed through becomes a major fire hazard. Squirrels are also responsible for smelly insulation and warped and damaged ceilings from their urine soaking through the floor. And if that wasn’t enough, they can also chew holes in your roof, gables and fascia boards.
Do squirrels pose a health risk?
It’s unlikely that you’ll encounter a squirrel at close quarters but if you do and you’re bitten, you should seek medical treatment right away. Serious infections such as rabies and tetanus are extremely rare in the UK but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Squirrels also pick up fleas and ticks.
Do I need to get rid of squirrels?
The short answer is: yes. Quite apart from the irritation caused by the noise and their frantic rushing about, they also damage your home: there’s a very real risk of flooding and/or fire caused as a result of chewed electric wiring and plumbing pipes. The transmission of diseases from squirrels and the parasites and other insects that they carry with them may also be a problem.
How do I get rid of squirrels?
Using poison is not a good idea because if the squirrels die in your attic you’ll have created a bigger problem. As soon as you’re aware you have squirrels in your home, contact a professional pest removal company. Don’t delay – the last thing you want is an attic populated with litters of young squirrels.
Squirrel removal is tricky – obviously one animal is easiest to deal with but squirrel infestations can involve 30 animals or more. Depending on how many there are, how long they’ve been there and the extent of the damage they’ve caused, the time it takes to remove them and clean up the area could easily be a few days.
After the physical removal of squirrels and their litters, you need to make sure they can’t get back in again. You could ask the pest removal company to take care of this as well as cleaning up the mess and making any repairs needed to make your house safe again.
A final few words…
You may think you can get rid of squirrels all by yourself by blocking their holes and setting some traps but there’s a lot more involved. Rather leave this to the professionals. They’ll perform a detailed structural inspection, identify all entry points and carry out the physical handling of litters of babies – this is a demanding job and requires specialised equipment. They’ll also repair your home, preventing further squirrel invasions and clean-up all the mess and nasty smells.
Yes, it will probably cost you some money to get a professional company in to do the job but knowing that your home will be squirrel-proof and safe from the risk of flooding and fire and other damage is really a small price to pay.
Article provided by Sara Bryant, an independent content writer working alongside a selection of companies including Brian Gale Surveyors, who were consulted over this post.