How to Remove and Keep Squirrels Out of the Attic
By : Rita Stadler
Watching a squirrel scurry around outside is pretty entertaining, but finding a family of squirrels squatting inside your home is not. If you hear strange noises coming from your attic or notice other possible signs of damage, pay attention because it’s possible that you have squirrels in your attic.
These bright-eyed and bushy-tailed creatures may look cute and harmless, but they can actually be very aggressive and destructive. They belong outside, but sometimes they get a little too curious and invade your home. Not only can these unwelcome furry visitors cause property damage but they are a potential health risk because they leave behind urine and feces and can potentially spread disease.
In this article, we go over some of the squirrel basics including signs you have a squirrel problem, how to go about getting them out of your attic, and steps you can take to keep them out.
Squirrels are extremely intelligent and have been known to deceive other animals by burying fake mounds that resemble stacks of food in an effort to distract them while they hide their real bounty. They communicate with one another by sounds only they understand, scent markings, and by twitching their tails to alert others of harm.
Squirrels, like other rodents, chew to keep their rapidly growing teeth worn down. They will chew through pretty much anything and don’t have your feelings or bank account in mind when doing so. They’re always looking for a nice, warm place to live and have babies, so your attic is the perfect hideaway any time of the year.
Why They Choose Attics
Attics are easier to find than hollowed-out trees — and if yours has an easier entry point to get into than your neighbors, that’s all they care about. They look for a place where they can give birth and raise a family, with easy access to water and food sources. Your attic provides them a safe space from predators in a temperature-controlled home, what’s not to love?
Signs You Have a Squirrel Problem
Squirrels are determined animals and excellent chewers. If they can find a hole that’s even just an inch and a half around, they’ll chew their way through it until it is big enough for them to make their way in.
They’re most active during the day and can be quite destructive. The top signs you have squirrels in your attic include:
- Hearing the scurrying and scratching of their feet.
- Hearing them chewing.
- Seeing chewed-up electrical wires which can sometimes even cause power outages and fires.
- Seeing chewed-up plastic piping which can cause a leak in your home or even flooding.
- Coming across ripped-apart insulation, roof timbers, and anything that their sharp teeth can puncture.
Are They Dangerous?
Squirrels can be hazardous to humans and pets. It is suggested that they can transfer rabies, although there are no confirmed cases. Since squirrels spray while urinating and defecating, their droppings and urine can become a salmonella danger especially if you or your pet come in contact with contaminated food or water.
These pests also carry fleas and a surplus of ticks that pose the threat of tick fever and Lyme disease. Once fleas and ticks have entered the household it is extremely difficult to rid them from your furniture, carpet, and pets.
How to Get Rid of Squirrels In Your Attic
- Call an Exterminator: The first step to ridding your home of these pests is to have an exterminator or squirrel removal specialist come and take a look. These pests are aggressive and don’t want to leave a place where they’ve made their home, especially if they have babies with them. It is not a job that you should take on yourself. They will likely use live traps to remove them from the attic.
- Clean & Sanitize: Once the exterminator has evacuated all of the squirrels, the area will need to be cleaned and sanitized. Keep in mind that their feces and urine pose a health risk, and should also be handled by a professional.
- Inspect Your Home: Once they have been taken out and the area is clean and sanitized, the next step is to keep them out. Inspect your home from the outside. Look for any access points like holes, rot damage, torn shingles, or openings that lead into your attic. They may have gotten in through a chimney, a vent, or chewed through a much smaller hole. You’ll want to use wire mesh or caulk to patch up any gaps you find so squirrels won’t be tempted to return.
- Clear Tree Branches Away from Your Home: Check soffits, siding, and eaves. Be sure no branches are hanging directly over your home. Squirrels are great climbers and they’re looking for a direct route.
Prevent Future Squirrel Infestations Naturally
Once squirrels have made your home their own, they’re not going to be happy about being evicted. Even with the help of an exterminator, they’re bound to try to find their way back.
After you’ve secured your home, there are some natural solutions you can try to squirrel-proof your home:
- Spices: Squirrels dislike the smell of hot spices like cayenne pepper, jalapeno, and chili powder. You can mix these spices into your birdfeeder mix to deter these pests from being near your home. The birds won’t mind and now you have a squirrel-proof bird feeder. You can also spread pepper flakes throughout your garden for similar results, keeping squirrels away from the perimeter of your home.
- Scents: Squirrels are known to avoid peppermint. Try using a peppermint essential oil spray around your home in areas (including the attic) that you know they may be drawn to and they will start looking for a new place to call home. Create a spray using 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil with 1 cup of water.
Homeowners dealing with squirrels in their attic or crawl space should call the professionals quickly to avoid further damage and potential health risks. Once they are gone, it’s time to focus on proactively preventing squirrels from coming back to the attic.
Using natural, earth-friendly options to keep critters like these away from your home is EarthKind’s number one mission. Stay tuned to our blog for the latest on family friendly pest control methods.