Getting Rid of Squirrels

Basic Squirrel Information

Squirrels are one of the few wild animals that have learned to coexist with man. With over 365 species found throughout the world, squirrels live in virtually every park, forest, and backyard. The most common squirrels are the ground, the tree and the flying squirrel. They are omnivores, which means they will eat most anything, scavenging through garbage cans, open garage doors, and gardens. Squirrels come in a variety of colors, including shades of brown, gray and even pure white and pure black. Typically squirrels are most active 2-3 hours after sunrise and again before sunset, resting the time in between. Although when trapped in an attic, they are often active during the night. (Squirrels)

The Damage Squirrels Cause Inside and Outside the Home

Squirrels are on the list of some of the smartest animals, making them masters at the art of deceit. Plus, their specialized feet and claws allow them to climb vertical walls, including brick and aluminum-sided homes. They are persistent and learn quickly, making them especially suited to wreaking havoc inside and outside the home.

These intelligent creatures will work hard to gain access to homes, utilizing their razor sharp claws and teeth to gnaw their way in. Access points consist of damaged trim, exposed soffits, chimneys, gable vents, rooftop ventilation fans, and any other tiny hole. Because of their build, squirrels only need a hole the size of their head to squeeze into your home. Once inside, they will destroy whatever is in their path while searching for food, even breaking through sealed containers. They will eat almost anything made from natural ingredients, including holiday decorations, dried flower arrangements, and decorative pinecones. They will soil the area, making a mess for homeowners to clean and sanitize. Squirrels will even chew through pipes to get to water, which could create flooding and expensive repairs. They can also destroy homes because they start fires by chewing through electrical wires. (Squirrel Nuisance Problems)

Outside of the home, squirrels can do considerable damage to crops, gardens, pastureland, and tree roots. These creatures are used to foraging and hunting for food, and they bury nuts and seeds for future food sources. This can leave gardens and yards in complete disarray, especially if you have more than one offender. Squirrels also enjoy digging up freshly planted flowers and vegetables, much to the dismay of gardeners. They chew on tree branches, as they sharpen and clean their teeth. Squirrels have also been known to cause major power outages throughout the country as they chew through power lines.

Getting Rid of Squirrels

To prevent digging in gardens, you can place garden netting over the soil, cutting out holes to plant your flowers or vegetable plants. While this method has been known to be somewhat effective, it is not simple. A live animal trap or applying an organic chemical repellent are two of the most effective and easy ways to stop squirrel damage. If the squirrel is in your home, the only practical method is an animal trap. (Red & Gray Squirrels)

Choosing the Best Traps for Getting Rid of Squirrels

When getting rid of squirrels, you will want a small live animal trap that’s easy to set and release. Better traps offer a one-handed release, making them far easier to use than ever before. Look for a trap that has a full hand guard and barrier that will separate your hand from the animal. This gives added safety when transporting and, if you are releasing the squirrel back into the wild.

There are three basic types of traps: single entry traps with one open end, 2-door traps with two open ends, and collapsible models. Look for a trap that has smaller openings to prevent the animal from escaping with the stolen bait. A good trap should be able to endure the weather and last many years, so look for one comprised of sturdy rust-resistant wire mesh. Spring-loaded doors with sensitive triggers and smooth internal edges will help ensure a fast, secure capture. (Havahart Easy Set Traps)

Choosing the Best Bait

To catch a squirrel, you will need irresistible bait. Some of the most effective squirrel baits are: peanut butter, almond extract on bread, cereal, grains, peanuts, sunflower seeds, shelled corn, popcorn, and apples.

Trapping Tips

• Outside of the home: Only trap during the daytime to avoid unwanted catches. The best times are just after sunrise and before sunset.

• Inside the home: Set the trap directly under a light that you leave on 24/7. Squirrels will explore more when a light is on.

• Invest in a trap that has a full hand guard and a galvanized steel barrier that separates you from the animal, which is perfect when transporting and if you are releasing the animal back into the wild.

• Place traps within the squirrel’s main territory. This includes where they travel, the paths they make, and where their food sources are. Placement is crucial to success, so if you are not catching anything, try moving the trap.

• Familiarize yourself with the trap and set up properly according to the directions.

• Spread bait slightly around the trap and leading into it.

• Check traps frequently, so animals are not left without food and water. If trapping outside, also monitor weather conditions.

• After the animal is caught, cover the cage with a towel to calm and shield the animal.

• Be sure to check with your local Humane Society or state game commission to determine the lawful method of catching and releasing animals based on your location.

• After every use, wash and disinfect the trap with a bleach solution. Then rinse thoroughly.

Tips to Stop Squirrels From Returning

Once you’ve successfully gotten rid of your squirrels, you want to take preventative steps to keep them from coming back. Here are a few tips for doing just that:

• Close any entry points into your home. This may require you to monitor squirrel activity to locate the holes. Pay special attention to the trim and soffits around your home. Remember squirrels have powerful jaws and can gnaw a small hole open in minutes. This includes chewing through aluminum screening.

• Invest in a chimney guard.

• Secure the gable vents that lead into your home.

• Always staple ½” galvanized hardware cloth over any previously used squirrel access points before covering them with trim. This will prevent sneaky squirrels from gnawing through them again.

• Place ½” galvanized hardware cloth over rooftop ventilation fans.

• Once a squirrel has used an access point, they will return to that area again. Check to ensure the squirrel has not been able to enter through it again. Start by first checking daily for a few weeks, then every month after that.

• Never feed squirrels. If you feed birds, make sure the squirrels are NOT eating the feed. There are many devices designed to keep squirrels out of feeders. Also, a pet dish might be a favorite dining spot to squirrels – make sure they are not in a place that a squirrel can get to it.

• Treat the area with liquid or granular repellents to discourage their return. Make sure you use a repellent that targets both the sense of taste and smell of the squirrel. Look for products that include the ingredients capsaicin, putrescent egg, and garlic, as these types of repellents are the most effective. In addition, this type of repellent is also effective for deer and rabbits, giving you added protection from animal damage. To save time and money on reapplication, look for a repellent that only needs reapplied every few weeks. If you have a vegetable garden, use a repellent with the OMRI logo, which means it is approved for use in organic gardening. (All About Squirrels)

Works Cited

Squirrels. 21 January 2011

Squirrel. 2011

Squirrel Nuisance Problems. 2010

Red & Gray Squirrels. 13 January 2009

All About Squirrels. 21 January 2011

Havahart Easy Set Traps. 3 6 2010

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