Squirrels

Facts, Identification & Removal

Latin Name

Family Sciuridae

Appearance

What do they look like?
picture of a squirrel

Squirrels typically have a bushy tail. and common U.S. species are around 40 to 50 cm.

By simply watching a squirrel, one sees a free-spirited daredevil. They playfully scamper across the ground, fearlessly leap from tree branch to tree branch, and masterfully run along power lines without a misstep. Squirrels seem to live a fairly carefree lifestyle, but they can create a number of problems for humans.

How Did I Get Squirrels?

Squirrels are adept climbers that scale houses and trees on the lookout for predators or nesting sites. If they find a way inside, these curious pests will enter a house seeking food, warmth, and safety. Common squirrel entry points include damaged vent screens and uncapped chimneys. If tree limbs are growing over houses, squirrels are likely to use these overhanging limbs to move onto the house roof and then inside the attic.

How Serious Are Squirrels?

Outside, squirrels tear up gardens, eat growing vegetables, and dig holes to store nuts for later use. The pests also chew on utility wires and even gnaw through wooden walls to access homes and outbuildings.

Once squirrels enter a home, they often build nests in attics or wall voids. A squirrel that wanders inside may panic and run around erratically, causing property damage or making so much noise during the night that occupants have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. In addition, the pests can spread diseases like ringworm and carry fleas, mites, and other parasites. If you have problems with squirrels, contact your Orkin office and ask them about using non-lethal methods of squirrel exclusion.

How Do You Get Rid of Squirrels?

Removal & Exclusion Services
Squirrels can be a challenge to control. It’s advised that a professional be contacted to handle the situation.

The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage squirrels and wildlife. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Keeping squirrels out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor.

The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep wildlife in their place…out of your home, or business.

For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact a local Orkin branch office near you.

Signs of a Squirrel Infestation

Aside from seeing the squirrels, signs include their gnaw damage, such as for food and nesting sites, as well as daytime sounds of their activity, such as in attics.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

The most commonly encountered species of tree squirrels are the following:

  • gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
  • red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
  • flying squirrel (Glaucomys spp)
  • fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)

Where do they nest?
Tree squirrels generally nest within trees in wooded areas. As humans expand into natural areas, squirrels are forced to look for alternate means of lodging, including entering buildings. The most frequently invaded areas are garages and attics. Squirrels reach these areas by chewing holes in the exterior of the structure and typically nest, store food or both. Their activity is usually noisy and heard by anyone in close proximity.

When are they active?
Tree squirrels are most active in the early morning and late afternoon hours. They spend this time in search of or storing food.

What do they eat?
A squirrel’s usual diet consists of fruit, bark, nuts, seeds, buds, leaves, bulbs and insects. If immediate nourishment isn’t needed, it will store the food in a cache for winter keeping. Flying squirrels, by exception, are primarily active at night.

Ground squirrels typically do not climb into trees and can cause damage to crops, ornamentals and gardens. These can be trapped and relocated or controlled by rodenticides where permitted.

Reproduction

Most young are born during two periods of the year – early spring and late summer. Tree squirrels generally bear two litters per year, while flying squirrels tend to give birth only once annually. Litters vary in count between three and eight, depending on the species.

Prevention Tips

What can you do to prevent squirrel problems?

Proper prevention is important since whatever is done will prevent damage and possibly avoid health-related problems related to the presence of squirrels.

Inspect for the signs of squirrels.

Signs include:

  • Damage to insulation and wood members of the attic space.
  • Noise in the attic.
  • Squirrels running along utility lines. Seek the expertise of the power company or your pest management professional before doing anything to prevent squirrels from traveling the wires.
  • Gaining entrance to the attic through holes that are about two inches in diameter that you’ve never seen before.
  • Squirrels entering a chimney.
  • Squirrels eating garden plants and damaging bird feeders.
  • Small holes in the yard dug by squirrels
  • Squirrel droppings. The homeowner needs to seek the opinion of their pest management professional since some other animals have droppings that look similar to squirrels. Also, do not attempt to remove droppings yourself, but get an expert to do this job.

Habitat Modification

  • Trim or remove limbs that are within 8-10 feet of the roof of the house. This prevents squirrels from jumping from the tree to the house roof.
  • Remove bird feeders which may serve as a food source attractant for squirrels.
  • If practical, do not plant oak and hickory trees in order to reduce the amount of nuts and seeds that will attract squirrels.
  • Install a wire fence that is no more than ½ inch square meshed to keep squirrels out of the garden. If possible, electric fences are very effective.
  • For young trees, use a tree collar to prevent squirrels chewing and stripping tree bark.

More Information

Squirrel Infestation
Squirrel Damage
Flying Squirrels