Though squirrels may seem to be cute, ‘harmless’ furry creatures in cartoons like the Secret Squirrel or Scrat from the Ice Age movie, they are truly not as adorable in real life especially if they live in your home as uninvited houseguests.
Squirrels – Who Are These Furry Free-Spirited Daredevils?
These are small to medium sized furry creatures belonging to the family of Sciuridae. They are related to chipmunks, woodchucks and prairie dogs. Did you know that there are more than 300 kinds of squirrel species in the world? However, the most common species are ground, tree and red squirrels.
Appearance – Ground Squirrels are usually 9 to 11 inches in size. They have semi-bushy tails. Their fur is brownish grey speckled with off-white along the back. The sides of their head are light grey and sometimes white. Their diet changes with season but primarily they are herbivorous and feed on grass, plants, nuts and grains.
Habitat – Ground squirrels live in burrows which are usually built around buildings, near crops, fencerows and ditch banks. The opening of the burrow is about 4 inches in diameter, 5 to 30 feet in length and extends 2 to 4 feet below the soil’s surface.
They prefer to live in colonies. So, if you see one squirrel in your home, there has to be more of them somewhere.
Reproduction – Ground squirrels breed only once a year. Their average is 7 to 8 kittens (yes, that’s what they are actually called) per litter.
Appearance – Tree squirrel also known as the Eastern grey squirrel or fox squirrel is commonly found in the US. The upper part of the body of the tree squirrel is grey with a reddish orange underside. Tree squirrels may range from 18 to 27 inches from the head to the tail. They are also considered to be the largest among all the other squirrel species. They feed on plants, seeds, acorns, berries, twigs and leaves.
Habitat – Unlike ground squirrels, the tree squirrels like to construct their nests in hollow trees, attics, buildings and nest boxes.
Reproduction– Tree squirrels mate from winter to late spring producing a litter of 2 to 4 young squirrels.
Appearance – Red Squirrels are small, furry creatures ranging between 12 to 15 inches in size. They are reddish brown in color with white underbellies. They love to chew wood, larch, spruce, pine cones, fruits of shrubs and sometimes may even eat eggs.
Habitat – Red squirrels build nests in forks of tree trunks. However, they don’t mind interacting. They would love to share your home space and dwell in your attic.
Reproduction – Red squirrels usually breed in spring but they have the ability to reproduce a second batch in summer. They have up to 6 babies per litter.
Signs of Furry Intruders in Your Home
As mentioned above squirrels live in colonies so if you identify signs of these furry intruders in your home you must take immediate action before they become a menace for you.
Here are some tell tale signs of a squirrel invasion:
- Unexplained chewed holes- If you spot chewed holes around your home and in roof eves that look suspiciously like entry holes, then you might have these unwanted houseguests in residence.
Wood and insulation damage- Red squirrels like to gnaw wood and insulation. So, damages to it may be a clue.
- Squirrel droppings- Another sign of their existence in your home is their droppings. If you have squirrel problems, you may find brown oval shaped ½ inch long droppings in your attic.
You hear the ‘tsik tsik’ Squirrel Call- They announce an intruder’s presence with call sounds that sound like tsik tsik.
- Encounter with the Squirrel- If you find a squirrel traveling along the electric lines near your home or swiftly making its way into a small hole in your garden, then it’s time for you to gear up.
Do Squirrels Cause Any Harm?
- Squirrels may damage many of your fruit bearing and ornamental plants as they love to chow down on plants. Particularly nut and fruit trees bearing apples, oranges, apricots, walnuts, almonds and pistachio.
- They can also devour vegetables in the seedling stage.
- Squirrel burrows around shrubs and trees may damage and dry out roots.
- They are also known to harbor harmful diseases to human. A major concern is the bubonic plague that they can transmit to humans and animals by fleas that they often carry.
Ways to Prevent and Suppress Squirrel Invasion
As squirrels can be dangerous, it is best to take immediate action to remove them from your home. Here are some effective ways to suppress squirrel invasion:
- Squirrel Trapping – There are several traps available on the market to catch and kill squirrels like tunnel traps, conibear traps and box traps. You can bait these traps with food like walnuts or fruits to attract squirrels. The conibear traps have jaw spread triggers that may serve as an effective squirrel kill trap.
- Use the Squirrel Exclusion Technique – When using the squirrel exclusion technique, first find all the small openings in your home and seal them properly. Now use and install a one way squirrel device to the opening that they are currently using. This device is similar to a one way valve. It helps squirrels exit your home but prevents them from re-entering.
- Use Squirrel Repellents – To ensure squirrels don’t come back and infest your home, you can place squirrel repellents in your home. These are like moth balls that repel squirrels.
Besides there are also powerful strobe lights with ultrasonic sounds available on the market that repel squirrels. You can set this device up in your attic and protect it from being invaded by squirrels once and for all.