The outdoors Group // Blog

Do You Have Squirrels In The Attic?

Since the holidays are approaching, I am sure most of you are climbing into your attics to retrieve all the lovely holiday decorations – such a festive and joyous time! What you wouldn’t want to find would be leftover destruction from squirrels doing a little decorating of their own. You find shredded boxes, chewed wires and cables, squirrel droppings, and everything is destroyed! Now, instead of decorating your home and sipping hot cider, you are cleaning your attic and trying to figure out how to stop it from happening again. This frustrating situation happens to a lot of homeowners and especially this time of year. Squirrel mating season is December–February and June–August; those times are when your home is at the greatest risk of being invaded by furry, unwanted guests. So, how can you tell you have squirrels in your attic BEFORE they have wreaked havoc on your home? What are the signs? What should you do?

Signs of Squirrels Living in Your Attic

There are several ways to tell that you may indeed have squirrels trying to live rent-free in your attic space. Here are a few of the things to look out for to keep your home free from these cute, but destructive, little animals.
  • Hearing scratching, chewing sounds, or even the noises of the squirrels communicating with each other. They are most active in the early morning and late evening. Those are the times they are most likely to visit the nest.
  • Smelling something not-so-pleasant that you cannot find a source. The smell of squirrel urine and feces will absolutely start to smell if not cleaned properly. It will be a musty, stale odor, and you may even notice it coming out of your vents.
  • Seeing more squirrel activity than normal in your yard. That is usually a sign that they are looking for places to store their food and find a suitable nest. It also could mean they are already nesting in your yard and that could put your home at risk as a new nesting site.
  • Finding nests in the trees around your home. Squirrels will usually have several nests in their collection of homes. Some of them are used for storing food, some of them are used as a safe place to escape predators. Either way, they will always want to have more than one nest so your attic will be on their radar as possibility. The nests are usually near the tops of trees and are made of a combination of materials (e.g., leaves, branches, grass, moss, pine needles). When a nest is in your attic, it can be a fire hazard. Squirrels will chew electrical wires, cables, and pretty much anything that is in their way. 

Traditional DIY Remedies and Why They Are Not Effective

There are many different things that people will try to remove the squirrels themselves to protect their home from the destruction that will occur with this type of nuisance. Some of these classic techniques can be harmful to your household, can fail and end up costing you more money, or can be against the law. We want to help you save some time and money by outlining the classic ways of removal and telling you why they could be ineffective:
  • Mothballs are one of the oldest tricks in the book. However, contrary to popular belief, they do not deter squirrels at all, and they are extremely hazardous to your health. The main ingredient, Napthalene, has been proven to be toxic and can be airborne. Many HVAC units are in the attic, so when people place mothballs in their attic, they are actually poisoning the air throughout the entire home and endangering the whole family.
  • Live cage traps are a good idea in theory, but they usually result in death of the squirrel due to the trap not being properly monitored. Subsequently, if they had a nest with babies, the babies would die as well. This approach can be time-consuming and end up being very expensive with minimal results.
  • Using poison in the attic or along the roofline seems like a simple solution to most and it can be purchased at most major home improvement stores. But you should be warned, it is illegal to poison squirrels. Yes, the squirrels will die, and that problem is solved. However, they do not die immediately and can hide in your walls where it will cost a significant amount money to find the body. Also, if they die outside the home, other animals will eat the dead squirrel and then they will die as well. This is not good for our wildlife.
  • Closing the opening where they got in is the most logical approach for the average DIY homeowner. This is not recommended either because squirrels could still be inside and then they are trapped inside ultimately leading to their death and the recovery efforts for their bodies.
  • Shooting the squirrels is sadly another thing people will try to get rid of squirrels. This is definitely a huge NO! There are state regulations for pursuing both grey squirrels and fox squirrels. There is a legal season for hunting them and a license is required.

The MOST humane, safe, and legal thing you can do is just call a local professional to do all the dirty work for you. The Outdoors Group offers a FREE inspection and is highly trained to get rid of these bushy-tailed guests and return your attic back to its original state–maybe even better!

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