How to Get Rid of Squirrels Indoors & Outdoors

squirrel in the gutter

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.

Getting Rid of Squirrels Outdoors

It's important to remove squirrels from your yard because they can cause damage to property and pose potential health risks. Squirrels may chew on electrical wiring, causing fires or damage to structures. Additionally, they can raid bird feeders and gardens, reducing other wildlife's food sources and causing homeowners frustration. Here are our tips on how to get rid of squirrels from your yard. 

1. Repellants

There are a few repellants that will work effectively against squirrels. Having a dog on your property can do wonders since its marking will deter squirrels from staying in the area. If you don’t have a dog, though, you can buy predator urine and put it 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

You can do a few things to force the squirrels out of your area effectively. 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!

3. Re-Direction

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 of 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

You can try to get squirrels out of your home in a few ways. We must stress, though, that these are wild animals, and it’s always best to call the professionals. If you try to deal with the issue yourself, you’ll likely 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, most places have local ordinances that 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 will most likely recommend to deal with an indoor squirrel infestation.

1. Trapping

Live trapping is the only effective way to eliminate 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 the squirrel is trapped, you should relocate it at least 5 miles away from your home so they will not return.

Avoid trapping if juvenile squirrels are present 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

Another 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 enter 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 risk 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 new squirrels won’t take advantage of the same cozy spot you just cleared? 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 thoroughly search the area they were living in to find every possible entrance to that space. Entrances are commonly found near gutters or around vents leading out of the attic. Check for holes or cracks in the foundation since they may be used to access 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 in 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. In 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!

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