Squirrels are delightful creatures, known for their acrobatic antics and nut-gathering forays. But for those faced with the difficulty of removing a squirrel from occupying the upper reaches of a house, the cuteness fades quickly, made frustrating by the creature’s personal habits.
Squirrels typically mate in the fall, and the mother squirrel will seek out a nesting spot to safely contain herself and her kits after they are born in the dead of winter. The squirrel likewise gathers food to maintain itself during cold weather, making the necessity of a safe haven to store food and raise her young the utmost priority in searching out probable nesting sites.
Squirrels are rodents having the ability to flatten themselves to unbelievable dimensions, making it possible for them to gain access to attic spaces through small fissures and cracks, which are often hard to find. The ability of the squirrel to climb trees onto rooftops also makes it easy for them to gain access into the home by way of roof vents that may have degraded screens. Loose wooden siding boards that have rotted at house corners are also soft and easy to claw away, or gnawed through by the squirrel’s large, chisel-shaped teeth.
Observation may give the best clues as to where a squirrel is gaining entry. This entry can also be determined by paying close attention to where the squirrel is seen on the outside of the home. Make sure attic vents have adequate screening: repair holes and replace wood that may have been gnawed through or clawed away. Leave the largest and most obvious main access way open.
Inside the attic, look for droppings and seed hulls to determine the general area where the squirrel is nesting. Look for evidence of insulation that has been pulled away from roof or floor areas in the attic; squirrels will also find friendly lodging in cardboard boxes filled with newspapers and soft packing. Also look for chewed holes in bags of bird or pet food stored in a garage area attached to the house. Remove the food and clean up any that has been scattered about, placing the food into sealed plastic containers.
Purchase a large box of mothballs and sprinkle the mothballs liberally in the attic space away from the open entry hole. Read package instructions carefully before using. The idea is to drive the squirrel away with the mothballs and out the entry. If she has kits, she may have to make several trips, after finding a suitable place to relocate them.
Squirrels also have disdain for noise– it offends their sense of security, and makes it hard for them to relax if they feel their family is in danger. Set up a portable radio near the nest, being careful not to place the radio in the way of escape. Choose opera, death metal or other harsh music; even talk radio programs have been known to work to drive squirrels from their habitat. Make sure to check regularly, and block up the hole once satisfied the unwelcome guests are gone.
If all else fails, attempt to remove the squirrel by baiting and trapping it, after blocking up all possible means of re-entry or escape. This may get rid of adults who have gained access to the home, yet leaves the possibility of young kits in a nest within the attic space which, devoid of food, will eventually die. When this happens, finding the nest may not be so easy; the resulting smell of the carcasses may be a more unpleasant problem to deal with in the long run.
Darren Urman became a professional writer 15 years ago, when he retired as a building contractor. Darren joined the THF team of writers in July, 2009. He enjoys cooking, writing, and traveling.