Squirrels are cute, but only when they stick to scurrying around your backyard. Once they make their way into your attic, they become a nuisance.
Squirrels can cause a lot of damage to your home by chewing up parts of your roof and attic, including electrical wires. When squirrels destroy electrical wires, they increase the potential for a fire.
They will use one side of the attic as a nesting space and the other as a bathroom, which can leave your home smelling foul. You may also notice foul smells if a squirrel dies in a small space, like a vent, and begins to decay.
Squirrels living in your attic can be tough to deal with, but it’s not impossible to get rid of them. Let’s talk about what you can do to get squirrels out of the attic and keep them out.
- Why Are Squirrels in Your Attic?
- How to Remove Squirrels From Your Attic
- How to Keep Squirrels Out of the Attic
- Why You Should Treat Squirrels Humanely
- Squirrels, Make Yourselves Scarce!
Why Are Squirrels in Your Attic?
Understanding why squirrels are in your attic in the first place can help you figure out a plan for removing them. Squirrels like attics because they are a safe place to nest and raise their young. The attic is an enclosed space that is dry and safe from predators, making it a prime spot.
Giving birth and raising young is the main reason squirrels will be in your attic. Squirrels typically have their young between February through May and August through October. If you have squirrels in your attic during these months, you should expect that there are babies in your attic, as well.
It’s important to consider this when working on squirrel removal. The way you remove the squirrels could jeopardize the babies’ lives. You also wouldn’t want a nest of dead baby squirrels decaying in your attic.
How to Remove Squirrels From Your Attic
When it comes to getting the squirrels out of your attic, you have a few options. But first, you need to find out how they are getting in.
Investigate the Area
Before you can remove the squirrels, you need to figure out where they are entering from. From inside your attic, do a thorough search to find any openings or entrance points. If there are none, check vents, eaves, and the roof.
Whether you choose to get the squirrels out yourself or call a professional, knowing how the squirrels are getting in is going to be helpful. You should cover all entry points except for one with a material like metal flashing.
The entry point you leave open should be the most obvious or easiest method of escape for the squirrels. Once you’ve rid the attic of them, you can close up the final entry point.
Scare Them Out
Once you’ve sealed off all entry points but one, you can chase out any squirrels that are still in the attic. Usually banging on the rafters or talking in a loud voice nearby will cause them to leave.
However, scaring them out and sealing the exit after they’re gone is only an option if the squirrel has no babies. Be sure to check the nest, which will likely be made of insulation, cardboard, grass, leaves, or any other readily available material.
If there are babies, the squirrels will keep attempting to return to the attic. Mother squirrels can actually be quite frantic about this. If you’ve sealed up your attic and still see squirrels going out of their way to get in, then there are likely babies in the attic. The babies will die without their mother, so you should re-open the attic and wait until the babies are grown before you remove them.
The other way to get squirrels out is to use a live trap. Set it up in front of the only exit you’ve left available so the squirrel will be forced to walk into it (you can also put seeds inside to make it more enticing). If you’re sure there are no more squirrels in the attic, seal the final exit. If there are, set up another trap.
Do not relocate the squirrel. According to the Humane Society, 97% of suburban squirrels that are relocated die. Besides, new squirrels will move into the territory, so relocation isn’t going to keep squirrels off your property.
Hire a Professional
If the squirrels in your attic have babies and you cannot wait until they’re old enough to survive to remove them, then you should hire a professional. A professional will be able to remove squirrels in a way that is safe for everyone involved, including the squirrels’ young.
Depending on the service, they may also be able to help with sealing off entry points and preventing future infestations.
How to Keep Squirrels Out of the Attic
Just as with removing the squirrels, there are a few things you can try to keep them away and prevent future infestations.
Get Your Trees Trimmed
Don’t give the squirrels easy access to your home. If you have trees close to your house, get the branches trimmed so that squirrels cannot jump from a tree onto your roof.
Remove or Squirrel-Proof Your Bird Feeders
One of the main reasons squirrels will stick around your home is because food is readily available. Many people enjoy putting feeders out for the birds, but unfortunately, they also attract squirrels.
If you remove these feeders completely then you will be removing a reliable food source from your property, making the area less appealing for squirrels.
However, we understand that many people enjoy watching birds. In this case, you’ll want to squirrel-proof your feeders. There are many contraptions you can buy at the store to place over your feeder (or underneath, if it’s a standing feeder) to prevent squirrels from getting into them.
You may have to adjust the placement of your bird feeders or try a few different kinds of squirrel-proofing measures before you find one that works. Squirrels can be pretty crafty, after all. Since squirrels like sunflower seeds, corn, and nuts, buying bird feed without these ingredients can also be beneficial.
Make Your Attic Uninhabitable
We’ve talked about making your property a less appealing place to live, but squirrels can be quite determined. Therefore, one of the best ways to prevent squirrels from living in your attic again is to make it uninhabitable for them.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to mess up your attic, you just need to make it an unpleasant place to live. There are a few ways to do this, most of which appeal to the five senses.
Make It a Rave
First, you can try putting a strobe light in the attic. A bright, flashing light can be disorienting enough to make a squirrel think again about setting up a home in your attic.
Similarly, you might try using sound to keep the squirrels out. You can leave a radio playing, and if that isn’t enough, tailor the sounds to be cacophonous or frightening. Playing the sounds of a predator like a hawk or an owl might be enough to keep squirrels away.
The Scarecrow Method
Speaking of predators, you can set up decoys in both your attic and your yard. Set up a fake owl or hawk, and some squirrels will think it’s real and stay away.
Squirrels also don’t like the smell of cider vinegar, so you can soak rags with it and hang them in the attic. However, this last solution may not be as feasible, since you would likely need to change it weekly to keep the scent strong.
Why You Should Treat Squirrels Humanely
Some people see squirrels as nothing but pests, which is understandable. They can do a lot of damage, which can sometimes cost homeowners a lot of money. If they chew electrical wires, for instance, you will need to have an electrician come in to make repairs to keep your home safe.
Because of this, some people may not feel the need to treat squirrels humanely. They want them out of their attics and do not care if such a pestilent rodent dies in the process. They may even think it’s better if they remove a squirrel and its offspring doesn’t survive.
However, like all animals, squirrels play an important role in their ecosystem. Squirrels are omnivores so they don’t just eat corn and seeds from your bird feeder. They also eat fungi, eggs, insects, and even young snakes!
Squirrels’ eating habits help keep the ecosystem in balance. As many know, squirrels also help plant seeds, since they bury food and often forget about it. Finally, squirrels are prey animals themselves, and can benefit other species by being their food.
Squirrels, Make Yourselves Scarce!
Dealing with a squirrel infestation can be a frustrating, stressful experience. Depending on how much damage the squirrels have done, it can also be costly. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, the first step is to get squirrels out of your attic.
If you’re doing it yourself, we suggest you wait until any young squirrels are old enough to survive without their mothers. If you’re not willing to wait, then hire a professional who can safely remove the babies. Squirrels can be a nuisance, but they play an important role in the ecosystem, so it’s worthwhile to keep them safe.
Once the squirrels are out of your attic, the best thing you can do is prevent a future infestation. Make sure to repair and block any entry points into your home, trim trees to make it harder for squirrels to get onto your roof, and make the space uninhabitable using noise or flashing lights.