DIY Squirrel Control Guide
The first topic to address, is why are we having this problem with squirrels at our home or in our attic? Well the answer is actually a lot simpler than you would think, Squirrels were here first, they were here before we were, simple. Squirrels are wildlife animals, they are used to living around trees, forest, bushes, shrubs etc. But as we have populated and continued to grow we have moved into their setting. We have taken away the squirrel’s natural setting and replaced it with homes, HOA’s, Apartment complexes, Malls, just regular growth and construction. Well by doing this we have created a hand full of OPTIMAL settings for squirrels and nuisance wildlife. As humans we create garbage, mess, waste, all of this creates additional food for squirrels. So now you take their natural setting of a forest, replace it with homes, and then add food. Well what do you think the squirrels are going to do? THRIVE! And that is what they are doing we are providing the squirrels with an abundant amount of food, our trash, and we are desensitizing them, meaning they no longer have to hunt and be resourceful to eat and stay alive, but just the opposite. All they have to do is knock our trash can over and buffet!
Well now let’s talk about why the squirrels are getting into your attic. It’s simple, the attic is a PERFECT place for the squirrels to create a shelter. It’s hot, it’s nice and comfy with the insulation, there are no outside elements like rain or wind so they are protected, and best of all, there are no predators or enemies. If I was a squirrel I sure would rather live in an attic then a tree! So you take the perfect conditions of your attic as a shelter, then you add your trash cans right on the outside of the home, and you just gave the squirrel all the things that they want to live. Why would they ever want to leave your residence? Free Rent, Free Buffet, Cozy bed, and that’s why you have squirrels in your attic or rummaging around your lawn and home.
How to fix your squirrel problem and how to remove the squirrels: 10 Simple Steps for Effective squirrel Removal & Control
1st step is to Identify that you do indeed have the problem. Are you seeing a lot of squirrel poop in the garage, are you starting to notice chew marks around your facia? Are you hearing light noises in the attic? Are your trash can being torn up or ripped open every night and trash being taken out of the cans? Do you hear the noises in your attic during the day vs during night? Well if you have the tell-tale signs of a squirrel infestation then keep reading. What I normally like to do and tell my customers when they suspect that they are dealing with a nuisance squirrel is document it. This way we can make sure it is a squirrel, since all animals’ removal method is different.
Check the property, the attic, the roof and lawn for Feces: Are you seeing squirrel poop in your yard or in your pool? Are you seeing squirrel paw prints on your trash can, on the wall, on the pavement, do you see squirrel tracks? Are you noticing light chew marks on your roof or Facia?
Confirm the activity on the exterior is indeed squirrels. The next step that you are going to want to take is to see if they have made it into the attic or not. You will not always hear squirrels in the attic. They can be agile, they can be quiet squirrels in the attic are not always loud. So what you are going to want to do is get into the attic and perform and inspection. Any time you think that you have animals in the attic, especially squirrels in the attic, you want to be 100% careful and safe. If you do not feel safe or do not want to take the chance call me, or any of the wildlife control companies in my directory, and I or them can talk to you over the phone and even do an inspection for you or send you one of my inspectors to help out. I recommend hiring a squirrel removal specialist for safety reasons, but if you do want to do the inspection then continue reading?
Anytime that you enter an attic for squirrels there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. squirrels are dangerous, they are territorial, they are nasty and have tons of bacteria, so you want to make sure you are prepared. Squirrel feces is one of the most Bacteria infested feces that we deal with on a regular basis, so you will want to make sure you wear a respirator to ensure your lungs and respiratory system are protected, Squirrel poop has a TON of bacteria and diseases associated with it. There are a few issues with squirrel feces that I will touch on to make sure you are protected, but you will need to make sure you get the squirrel poop removed, and the attic cleaned to ensure your home is contamination free.
Wildlife are known to carry many different zoonotic diseases, meaning they can be transmitted to humans. We will discuss each of those in detail. We are not intending to scare you by discussing the diseases associated with squirrels, but feel you should be informed of the health risk to you and your pets. The following articles list some of the zoonotic diseases that you and your pets could be exposed to from wildlife in your attic. Learn More
Here are some of the common Zoonotic Diseases that we encounter when having nuisance animals in the attic or in your home:
So with all of these Diseases and Bacteria MAKE SURE YOU WEAR YOUR RESPIRATOR AND MAKE SURE YOU STAY PROTECTED AND REMOVE ALL THE BACTERIA POOP AND CONTAMINATION FROM YOUR ATTIC.
Next step, once your lungs are protected, you will want to make sure you wear safety glasses and gloves. I ALSO strongly recommend you take your phone in the attic with you or even a blue tooth speaker and you should blare some music. Squirrels in the attic will be afraid of all this noise. They will think that there was a party in your attic and will become afraid and want to hide or leave. This is what you want when you do an inspection, if you are doing an inspection of squirrels in the attic yourself you do not want to come in contact with a mother squirrel she may get defensive and you do not want to run the chance of her attacking you. So, blare some music, have a disco in the attic, whatever just make sure you make a lot of noise to scare the squirrel. Once you are certain the squirrel is out of the attic, go ahead and take out your flashlight and do an inspection remember to walk on the beams in your attic, you don’t want to fall through the attic like my buddy James did when he was doing an inspection. Walk around the attic and look for the evidence of a squirrel infestation. Do you see squirrel poop do you see urine, do you see squirrel trails? If you do then you can confirm that you are having an issue with squirrels in the attic. If you do not see any of the sign, great, you caught the issue before it became a real big problem. Either or what you are going to want to do is continue ready for the steps below for how to trap and remove the squirrel from your attic, lawn or property. Then next you will want to close off any of the openings on the home to prevent future squirrels from coming back. If you do not have them in the attic but just on the lawn you still want to close off these openings or access points otherwise it’s only a matter of time that the squirrel will want to explore and go into your attic. It's always a good thing to be proactive and preventative when dealing with squirrels. The damage and destruction squirrels can cause can get into the thousands of dollars.
Ok so Next Step: Removal of the squirrel via Trapping! Trapping is the most successful and humane way to remove squirrels. There are deterrents for squirrels that you can use, and I will discuss tools to trap squirrels, but in all honestly the best way to remove squirrels is to Trap them or install a one way valve that will allow the squirrels to leave the attic but not gain access back in. I prefer Havahart squirrel Traps. You generally want to buy and use at least 2 traps when dealing with squirrels in case there are several in the area. You want to put the traps around the property where you are seeing the signs of a squirrel infestation. So, put the traps around the trees that lead onto the roof, put them on the areas on the lawn where you are seeing the activity. Once you have determined the correct place for the squirrel traps you will want to set those squirrel traps.
Next you will want to make sure that you properly bait the trap. There are several different baits you can use. Peanut butter works very well, I also like to put seeds and corn in the peanut butter, sometimes I will even use shelled peanuts. Honestly squirrels will eat anything.
*Note- Sometimes Squirrels are smart enough to steal the bait from the traps by reaching through and grabbing handfuls of bait without setting it off. They will also try to flip the traps. If you run into this, there are a few tricks you can use to fool them. Stake the traps down in the ground with Rebar stakes. It will prevent them from being able to flip the trap.
Take the bait of your choice and wrap it in Hardware cloth, or put it into a lid into the back of the trap. You can use the wire that is wrapped around the hardware cloth to hang the wrapped bait from the roof of the trap above the trip pan. They get frustrated that they can’t just grab the bait and will sit on the pan, and thus trip it and get caught!
Live squirrel Trapping and removal can take some time. I generally give it a total of two weeks trapping from start to finish until I catch all the squirrels. Normally squirrels travel in pairs or groups, so even if you catch just one squirrel I would recommend keeping the squirrel traps out there for an extended period of time. Be patient, give it time and don’t mess with the traps. Let the bait sit there for a few days and try to catch the squirrel. Bait will normally stay good for about 72 hours depending on weather conditions, but remember squirrels are used to eating acorns, trash, or whatever they can get their hands on, so the squirrel will not be picky if it smells a little.
Generally, give yourself about 2 weeks for squirrel trapping. When you're in the Attic set the traps in all the areas where you're seeing squirrel feces and urine these are going to be the areas in the attic and in the insulation that seems like there's trails or if you look in the insulation you see little holes in the insulation. Please note though, if you set traps in the attic you will need to check them every day. Squirrel removal requires, in most cases, live trapping. You don't want to leave a live squirrel stuck in an attic all day in a trap, it will die, and that is not Humane and we are 100% opposed to that. Make sure you take humane responsibility and check live traps every 24 hours as required by law and local ordinances.
Trap Placement: When in the attic take a look at the insulation and find out where they are running and place the traps there. You can also see where the squirrels are digging and burrowing under the insulation and you can put a trap right in this opening.
Next Step: I caught the Squirrel what do I do next?? Simple – Humanely relocate the animal. Squirrels have a great sense of smell and direction. So when you catch the Squirrel you will want to make sure you relocate it from far away from your home, 25 miles or so should do the trick. Every state and county is different, you will want to contact your local wildlife management agency like fish and wildlife commission and get their state statutes on squirrel relocation. Generally it’s a 40 acre plot of land where you have written consent from the owner. You want to relocate the Squirrels to an area that you know they will thrive in and be safe. Examples of good areas would be like wildlife management preserves, forests and areas that are their natural habitat.
When you have the animal in the trap you want to make sure that you handle the animal safely. DO NOT put your fingers in the trap, do not mess with it, the animal can scratch or bite you which would then be a rabies scare to cause you to need to go and get tested. What you need to do is buy good Kevlar Gloves like THESE PICTURES, these are rated for animal handling. If you caught the animal the law states that the animal has to be released from the trap within 24 hours of the Squirrel being caught. The sooner the better for the longer that the animal is in the trap the more it will suffer. We want to focus on humane and safe animal trapping.
Traps have a handle on the top of the trap and a safety plate. You want to grab the handle of the trap, NO OTHER AREA of the trap. The Squirrel may try and stick its arm out of the trap that is why you want to wear the Kevlar animal handling gloves and only hold the handle. Be careful when you are holding the trap, don’t keep it to close to your legs or it may reach out and try to grab your legs or shoes. Be very safe when holding the trap and transporting the animal.
Finally, when you have chosen the area in which you are going to want to relocate the Squirrel you will want to safely set the Squirrel trap down. Point the trap away from you, and in the direction in which you intend to relocate the animal. ALWAYS stand behind the trap when you are ready to release the animal. You will want to push down on the safety bar and spring, this will then allow the door to be pulled up. Then you will want to pull the door all the way up, this will allow the Squirrel to safely exit the trap. Generally, the Squirrel will run right out of the trap. In the event that the Squirrel slowly leaves the trap and is facing you put your arms in the air as if you are a bear and make several loud predator sounds this will scare the Squirrel causing the Squirrel to leave and run away.
Once it is confirmed that all the Squirrels are gone, trapped, and removed, the next step in How to Remove Squirrels is going to be an Exclusion. An exclusion is where you seal up the home from any of the openings, damage or access points that the Squirrel or other animals have used to gain access to your attic and home. This is more on the handyman side of things. If you are not good at handyman or construction work you may want to give me a call, or any of the companies listed in the location pages, and we can go out there and take care of the Squirrel damage for you. If you want to try it, then keep reading and good luck! You want to use only the best materials anytime you are dealing with Squirrels. They are strong and fierce, and very determined. The foam that they sell at the hardware store is 100% GARBAGE. Squirrels can chew right through this, this just makes them laugh.
You want to use only Steel, Metal, and Concrete products. Identify all the areas on the home that have gaps or openings, anything that is more than ½ inch open you will want to close off. Seriously, everything that is open will need to be closed off otherwise they will get back in! You then want to seal off these areas ensuring that future animals cannot get into the structure. Take your time and do a good job closing off your home from the Squirrels, take a look at the roof, walk the soffits, and really make sure you locate any spots that can be potential access points. Roof Returns are common areas that Squirrels generally use, you will want to close these off using metal and concrete. See the way I closed off this Roof Return on a home, this is how you do exclusion work to guarantee that you will not have a future issue with Squirrels!
Final and Last Step! Clean up the mess left behind. No one said this was all fun and trapping games, squirrel removal is hard and dirty work, but it’s got to get done. Now that you have trapped the squirrel, gotten the squirrels out of the attic, did the animal exclusion and repair work, you are on the final steps to completing the job. The last thing that you want to do is remove all the mess that the squirrel left behind in the attic. This is honestly one of the most important parts of squirrel removal and my how to guides for removing squirrels and getting rid of squirrels, but so many times homeowners skip this step and have more and more issues in the future.
Why should I clean up the poop in the atti? Well it's simple, Feces and Urine are contaminates, this is all bacteria in the attic. Do you want this over your head at night when you sleep? NO! That is why it must be removed. There is duct work and airways that lead from the attic into your home. Just look up, you see those vents in your ceiling? Where do you think the ductwork and vents are? Your attic, and what if there is an opening or cut in the ducts from the squirrels, well then you're breathing in all that bacteria that was left in the attic. Remember the harms from the squirrel poop I was talking about before? Well that’s in your attic, you want to remove that asap. Breathing in bacteria from a squirrel infestation can be fatal and cause many other severe respiratory issues. You will want to wear a full Protective suit and make sure you are fully covered and protected, you can use a shop vac with a HEPA filter or use your hand and bags and start removing all the insulation that has been contaminated and also all the feces and urine areas, these are called Latrines, when squirrels defecate in one single area. Once ALL the contaminates from your attic and from the squirrels are removed you will want to apply a product such as DSV to all of your attic. You can use a little pump spray like this one from your local hardware store and apply all the product to the insulation and attic. Make sure you read the label and use the correct amounts. Professional Wildlife Control Companies will use heavy duty equipment like an atomizer when doing any type of attic sanitation. For my customers I want to make sure that EVERY single section in the attic is fully taken care of and nothing is left behind. If you are reading this how to article and want to do this yourself just make sure you do a very good job, don’t cut any corners, and be extremely proficient to ensure the safety of your family.
And that is my How to Guide when it comes to squirrels in the attic or your property and how to remove squirrels and make sure they never get back in! Like I have mentioned I have been doing pest wildlife and squirrel removal now for over 6 years, it's not easy and it takes practice and experience, if you need help just give us a call. I have worked and trained 100’s of people over the past several years. It takes time, skill, and patience but removing squirrels can be very fun, dangerous, but is also something that we deal with on the daily here. Squirrels have learned how to thrive and do great in the urban setting. This is not something that is going away. With more and more houses coming up every day, more land being constructed and developed we will always have issues with squirrels in the attic. Just read and learn how to protect yourself, your family and your home and you should be good to go. If you have any questions you can email directly at Brendan@CenturianWildlife.com or call my Office at 1-844-247-WILD any time of the day or night Centurian THANKS!