Why Do Squirrels Live in Attics
Squirrels are a very common sight in most cities and towns. While population densities can vary widely from one neighbourhood to another, it is not uncommon for 50-60 squirrels to live within a square kilometre. Traditionally, squirrels preferred to live in densely forested areas with high amounts of acorn and nut producing trees like walnuts, pines and oaks. A think and continuous canopy of mature, mixed forest allows squirrels to travel, nest and forage above ground where they are protected from predators.
Squirrels, like any successful urban wildlife species, are incredibly adaptive. As human development has expanded, squirrels have altered their behaviour to thrive in new habitats. Squirrels use telephone and power lines as well as roof tops to travel above ground. While squirrels would traditionally build nests in the forks of trees or cavities they now often make their home inside attics.
Attics and soffit areas make ideal nesting location for squirrels. Their height provides protection from predators and humans and allows squirrels to remain warm and dry through inclement cold weather. Using their incredibly powerful teeth, squirrels are easily capable of chewing through plastic, aluminum and wood to create holes that allow not only themselves, but also rain and snow, to enter your home. Squirrels are able to gain entry into the attic though any hole larger than two inches. Once inside, their nesting habits and fondness for gnawing down their incisors can cause thousands of dollars in building damage.
One of the primary reasons female squirrels build nests is to raise their young. Squirrels breed twice per year and babies are born after a 44 day gestation period. In general, the first litters of babies are born between late March and early May with the second litters are born in July and August. The average litter contains between two and six babies.
Baby squirrels are born hairless and with their eyes shut. They are immobile for the first six weeks of their lives and will not venture outside the den site for at least eight weeks. In that time, they are capable of creating quite the mess inside your attic.
Homeowners living with a squirrel intrusion will report hearing noises primarily during the day when they are at their most active. The peak period for noise and activity is first thing in the morning as the sun rises. Common noises include chewing, scratching and scampering inside the attic. These noises will amplify as babies mature.
Our process begins with a 35-50 point inspection of your property to determine how the squirrels getting in. We then provide you with a no obligation written quote that details our findings and explains exactly what is required to humanely get rid of the squirrels in your attic. If you suspect your home or attic is playing host to furry houseguests, give Skedaddle a call at 1.888.592.0387.
How Do Squirrels Get into Houses
An experience wildlife control technicians knows that squirrels are capable of entering homes through dozens of potential entry points. Below are some of the more common points of entry:
The plastic and aluminum vents on your roof are installed to allow for proper attic ventilation. Unfortunately, curious squirrels are able to feel the warm air escaping the attic and know that they can find a cozy place to nest by chewing past the vent cover.
The edge is where all the rain and melted snow that on your roof eventually ends up. Ice dams, clogged gutters and vegetation all serve to keep this area more wet for longer periods than any other point along the roof. As a result, shingles and roof boards in this area tend to deteriorate more quickly, allowing squirrels the opportunity to create openings.
The way a squirrel’s mouth is designed makes it difficult for them gnaw holes through the top of your roof. The roof edge provides an angle for them to work and chew at until they can create a space large enough for them to enter.
Roof-Soffit Intersections are most often found where two roof meet. At these points, shingles from the lower roof meet with the soffit from the upper section. When soffits are installed they often fail to meet flush with the shingle below. The resulting gap allows squirrels to run straight into your attic.
Like roof vents, gable vents are designed to help circulate air through the attic. They are usually installed in pairs at opposite ends of the home. Constructed from wood, plastic or aluminum, the slats provide an edge that can be easily chewed by squirrels.
The exhausts for kitchen, bathroom and dryer fans are often positioned on the exterior walls of homes. The plastic covers installed over top of the openings do little to stop squirrels from moving in. The vent pipe inside your home resembles a tree cavity and is a perfect place for squirrels to nest but can also create unsanitary conditions and fire hazards.
The cylindrical vents on your roof connect to your plumbing system and are used to exhaust sewer gases. When installing a plumbing vent, a hole is cut through the roof to extend the pipe outside. To make it easier to run the plumbing, the hole in the roof is usually cut much larger than necessary for the pipe. The open space at the base of the roof is then covered with a rubber matting. Squirrels will chew at the soft rubber mat to nest in the attic space below.
Uncapped chimneys are an open invitation for squirrels. Depending on the materials used to line the chimney, squirrels may or may not be able to come and go. Squirrels will often fall and become stuck at the bottom of chimneys. This is often the case with smooth steel and clay lined flues. When it comes to chimneys lined with brick, squirrels are able to ascend and descend with ease, allowing them to nest on top of the fireplace.
Skedaddle begins every job by performing a thorough inspection of your home. Our technicians are trained in roof and ladder safety to access even the most hard reach places. Call Skedaddle to find out exactly how squirrels have got into your home 1.888.592.0387.
How to Get Rid of Squirrels
The first step to getting rid of the squirrels in your attic is to determine how they are coming and going. Once you know how they have got it in, you can begin the removal and repair process. During the birthing season, this begins with a complete search of your attic for babies. It is important to remember that baby squirrels do not exit the den site until eight weeks of age. That means the only way they can be removed is by hand.
Locating baby squirrels can be tricky. To protect them from predators, their mother will have been sure to tuck the babies away in a hard reach place. This will require wading through itchy fibreglass in the dark to locate their exact position.
Keep in mind:
- Attics are extremely dusty, so you should always wear a dust mask before entering any attic.
- Heat stress. Attics temperatures during spring and summer can soar to over 45 degrees Celsius. Make sure to hydrate well and take frequent breaks.
- Watch your step. Make sure your weight is always on a floor joist. Stepping off of the joists could cause you to fall through the ceiling.
- Most attics have no lights, so you will need a flashlight to guide you.
The search should begin in the areas where the most activity has been heard as they are where the babies are most likely to be stashed. Mother squirrels can be extremely aggressive, especially when it comes to their babies. They may charge or attack if they feel threatened.
Skedaddle wildlife technicians are trained to scare mother squirrels out from the attic as we collect the babies. If the mother retreats to another part of the attic or refuses to vacate, we will use her babies to lure her from the attic. Mother squirrels have a strong maternal instinct and by placing the litter in a heated baby box on the outside we can be sure to attract the mother out of the attic.
To prevent the mother from turning around and re-entering the attic a one-way door is installed over the exit point. Skedaddle’s squirrel one-way doors are specifically designed to allow the adults to exit their den sites while locking them out in the process. The mother squirrel will then begin to relocate her babies one by one to a pre-established alternate den site. For security, squirrels maintain as many as five to ten alternate den sites at any given time. It won’t be long before they are all settled in again elsewhere in the neighbourhood. We then deodorize the attic and the entry point so that the other squirrels in the area won’t recognize it as a place to live.
As part of any removal process it is important to secure any other potential points of entry. It is impossible to get rid of the all the squirrels in your neighbourhood, but you can protect your home from invasion. Skedaddle technicians are trained to identify and squirrel proof all potential access points on your home. Click here (Link to How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your House) to learn more about how Skedaddle can humanely protect your home from squirrel invaders.