“Squirrel in the attic” is one of the most common calls that we receive in the Bristol/Johnson City TN area. Customers who call us have often experienced problems that come with these fuzzy invaders. Chewed wiring, chewed woodwork, accumulated feces, and carcasses of deceased animals are commonly found in homes infested by squirrels. If the invasion has been long standing, these problems will be severe.
We often see evidence of failed attempts to solve the problem when we reach the client’s home. Sometimes, box traps are set inside attics or outside homes. Customers sometimes catch an offending animal which is then released “in the country”; but soon another animals replaces the first. I have even seen bullet holes in the face of homes of extremely frustrated clients in a desperate attempt to “terminate” their problem.
Gray squirrels have, on average, four babies per litter with two litters in a good year. That means that one female produces on average eight young per year with the potential for twice that. Females can reproduce once they reach one year old. Seemingly insignificant food sources provided by humans (birdfeeders, etc.) can help squirrels survive difficulty times. This can increase the population of squirrels available to invade your home. If you have good squirrel habitat in your neighborhood (you probably do if you have squirrels in your home) you probably have much more than one female producing young in the area. Even if all the squirrels in your area were to be removed, there are plenty of other squirrels on nearby properties ready to migrate into your area and into your home. You can see that there is an endless supply of squirrels out there ready to invade your home. Hauling a couple of squirrels “to the country” will not solve your problem.
Often, when we meet our new clients, their first question is “How do we get the squirrels out of the attic?”. This is an excellent question. The secret to success is to make a choreographed effort to get all the squirrels out of your home while sealing it up. This is the technique recommended in professional literature and this is how we handle this type of problem for our clients. First, we make a thorough search of the home to locate as many entrances as possible. Then we seal most of the entrances with a variety of “gnaw proof materials”. Next we set up “one way doors” over the remaining entrances. If two entrances are connected inside the home, one can be closed and the other can have a one way door set up over it. If there is any doubt whether entrances are connected, each should have an excluder (one way door) set up over it. Never seal wildlife inside your home. Desperate animals can do serious damage to your home and may do things that they have not previously done. Animals that perish in your home will begin to stink and can be hard to impossible to remove.
Usually squirrels maintain more than one entrance to a home. Upon initial inspection, I have seen homes that had in excess of 10 entrances. All these entrances must be sealed to have success. Leaving just one entrance will guarantee reinvasion. Often you “chase” squirrels from one entrance to another as you go through the sealing-up process. Finding the last hole is often the most difficult part of this type of work. I often tell customers that the job is finished when you find the last hole. The squirrel’s ability to reach the highest, steepest part of your home makes this task difficult, dangerous, and time consuming. Experience and intuition can go a long way in shortening this process.
Note: The method that is suggested in this article is the preferred method of trained professionals. If implemented correctly it provides long term relief from squirrel problems. If someone visits your home and suggest something other than this, be cautious.