How to Get Rid of Squirrels Indoors & Outdoors
Squirrels can pose a big challenge when they decide to invade your home. Not only are they difficult to get rid of, but they cause a lot of damage while they’re there. Squirrels in the attic can short electricity or cause structural damage by chewing wires, wood, or insulation. They can cause health problems to your family, not to mention making an absolute racquet inside your walls at all hours of the day and night. Squirrels outdoors can destroy your bird feeders, eat all your bird seed, and even dig up your crops. All of these reasons add up to one very annoying pest, but we’ve got some tips to help you make it out of the grips of a squirrel infestation.
Deterring Squirrels Outdoors
There are a few repellants that will work effectively against squirrels. Having a dog on your property can do wonders, since their marking will deter squirrels from staying in the area. If you don’t have a dog though, you can buy predator urine and put around your property to mimic a marking dog. You could also spread ground chili powder around the yard, which would also repel squirrels. Both of these options will eventually wear off though, and may become ineffective as the squirrels grow used to the repellant.
2. Physical deterrents
There are a few things you can do to effectively force the squirrels out of your area. You can flood their burrows, or potentially trap and relocate them (although this may be difficult). There are also poisons for the squirrels, but you run the risk of other animals – even pets – consuming the poison. You’ll also want to be mindful of how you use these options, as squirrels do hibernate. Placing out traps or poison during their hibernation will be ineffective for obvious reasons, but putting them out directly after hibernation could be doubly effective. For this reason, make sure you know the yearly schedule of your local squirrels – if you live in a very hot climate, some squirrels may even hibernate in the hottest part of the summer as well!
The last way, and probably the most effective way, to stop squirrels from destroying your garden or wreaking havoc on your bird feeders is to work smarter, not harder. Rather than waging war on the squirrels, incentivize them to do what you want them to. This means attracting the squirrels to a different part of your yard. Create their own space, so they will be less tempted by the things you don’t want them to pay attention to.
Do this by leaving out plenty their favorite foods far away from your garden crops or your bird feeders. Squirrels love sunflower seeds, corn, and unroasted nuts. You can just leave these out on trays, or find squirrel-specific feeders available on the internet. Make sure you’re buying bird feed that doesn’t have their favorites in it too, so they aren’t still attracted to it. You could also hang foods they like just above easy-to-reach branches, so they can just sit on the branch and munch. We recommend whole ears of corn or pine cones covered in peanut butter for this.
Dealing with Squirrels Indoors
There are a few ways you can go about trying to get squirrels out of your home. We have to stress though, these are wild animals and it’s always best to call the professionals. If you try to deal with the issue yourself, you’re likely to get injured or even potentially sick, without fully solving the squirrel problem. Professionals have specific equipment and training that allow them to do the job safely. In addition to this, most places have local ordinances that actually mandate that an indoor wildlife infestation be handled by a professional, and that prohibit certain types of trapping or releasing of wildlife, so make sure to check your local laws before you attempt any DIY squirrel removal. Here are the options your professional wildlife removal expert is most likely to recommend in order to deal with an indoor squirrel infestation.
Live trapping is really the only effective way to get rid of squirrels indoors. This is because if you poison squirrels in your attic, they’ll most likely die in the attic (or in the walls) and now you’ve got a dead, smelly squirrel problem instead of a live squirrel problem. When trapping and dealing with squirrels, always wear gloves. Squirrels could bite or become aggressive when cornered, or could also potentially transmit disease.
Like with rodents (for rodent issues check out our blog “Handling a Rodent Infestation”), you’ll want to place traps along travel paths, near food or water sources, and next to or blocking entrance points. The best way to know where these are is to look for signs of traffic (footprints, droppings, worn areas) or to put them where you hear the most activity.
Potential baits for the traps include peanut butter, unroasted nuts, fruit, or rat/squirrel bait available commercially. It’s a good idea to do a “dry run”, where you bait the trap a few times without setting the trap to close, so the squirrel feels comfortable and safe going in and out of the trap before actually setting it to trap the squirrel. You can also lure them into the trap by leaving a small trail of bait outside the trap, so they have a reward for getting closer and closer until they are inside.
Once you have the squirrel trapped, you should relocate it at least 5 miles away from your home, so they will not return.
Avoid trapping if there could potentially be juvenile squirrels with the adults, as they will stay and potentially die in your home after the adults have been removed. Instead, wait until they are old enough to travel with the adult squirrels, and trap them all together.
2. One-Way Exits
One other potential way to evacuate squirrels from your home is to install a one-way door on the vent or any other entrance they’re using to get into your home. This may work, but squirrels are incredibly persistent. Especially once they know they have a warm, convenient home in your attic, they will be very determined to get back in, one-way door or not. So this option does run the risk of causing the squirrel to chew its way back into your home through weak spots in your attic walls or ceiling.
Preventing Squirrel Infestations Moving Forward
So you’ve gotten rid of the squirrels originally plaguing your home. How do you ensure that new squirrels won’t take advantage of the same cozy spot that you just cleared out? The last step in dealing with a squirrel infestation is to squirrel-proof your home moving forward.
1. Remove food sources
Chances are the squirrels found a food source in your home or garden to begin with, which is part of the reason they chose to make a home there. By removing all their food sources in the area, you’ll push them into areas that have more readily available food, and also prevent new squirrels from being attracted to the area by the smell of potential food. Food sources can include sunflower seeds in bird feed, acorns, flowers, berries, or grass. Any seed stored in your attic may be attractive to squirrels.
2. Seal off all potential entrances
Once you’ve evicted the squirrels, you need to do a thorough search of the area they were living to find every possible entrance to that space. Entrances are commonly found close to gutters or around vents leading out of the attic. Check for holes or cracks in the foundation as well, since they may be used to gain access to the walls. Using things like “gutter guards” or placing a screen over the downspout of your gutter can help prevent squirrels from getting in. You also need to patch any holes you find into the area (squirrels can fit through very small spaces). Seal these holes with wood, 1/4 inch mesh hardware cloth, copper mesh wool, or spray foam. Make sure you check these spots regularly though, as they may need to be re-sealed as often as once a year to keep determined squirrels out.
3. Limit access
The last step is to limit the ease with which squirrels can access your house. This may seem futile since squirrels are tiny magicians who can generally get wherever they please (including on top of your roof), but you will benefit from at least making it more difficult for them. Do this by trimming back any trees that may overhang your roof and removing any piles of firewood or other climbable objects up against the side of the house. On this final step, you can also try re-applying repellant to the area.
If you’re struggling with squirrels, let our professional rodent exterminators in Savannah handle it!