How to get rid of squirrels in attics
How to get rid of squirrels will depend mostly on the build of your home, and more particularly, of your roof. Getting rid of squirrels is normally quite straightforward. We can do it from within the roof space, or from outdoors.
However, as we are trying to get the most of our housing stock, roof conversions and split-level homes and roofs are becoming more commonplace. So how do you get rid of squirrels in attics when there is no roof hatch to get to them? The solution is to cut through the plasterboards and create an inspection hatch through which to place the bait.
Are Grey Squirrels vermin?
First and foremost, the grey squirrel status in the UK is an invading pest. And the grey squirrel UK invasion has pushed the red squirrel UK native population to the brink of extinction. So, there should be no doubt that grey squirrels are vermin.
The most common complaint about grey squirrels in London is the associated noise that prevents the tenant from sleeping the night through.
Are squirrels nocturnal?
Squirrels are normally most active during the night, possibly around 1-2 am, and 4 am. And a squirrel infestation may take place at any time of the year.
But we have all seen grey squirrels in parks getting on with their business all day long. Also, when I survey roof spaces, I can often see them jumping about or looking at me.
How to get rid of squirrels in the attic?
In London, getting rid of grey squirrels that may be looking for shelter or possibly for a suitable nesting location will normally involve trapping, poison, and proofing. For squirrels, attics are particularly attractive. During the breeding seasons around February and May, the squirrel nest can often be found within the insulation wool. The squirrel nest can take the shape of an igloo.
When the squirrel pups arrive, the noise issue can be exacerbated because of their playfulness. And by the time the cubs are ready to leave the squirrel nest, they will be that much bigger and louder. But the other critical aspect of a squirrel infestation is the subsequent damage to the property. Squirrels in attics can easily tear apart the insulation wool to make a squirrel nest.
To get rid of squirrels in the attic, the first step should be to inspect the integrity of the roof space. If you see the daylight shine through, it may be the telling of a possible access point. But before you start blocking the entry points, you need to eradicate them. We normally use Fenn traps baited with peanut butter in the first stage. Alternatively, we can place grey squirrel bait down. But ultimately, the best long-term solution is to stop more squirrels from getting in. Hence, we can proof the attic from within with mesh.
Are squirrels rodents?
Grey squirrels are also rodents, and it is part of the squirrel’s physiological need to gnaw materials to wear their teeth down.
The most vulnerable items to squirrel damage are the electrical cables. It is often how clients actually find out they have squirrels getting in their roof space to start with.
Most people are concerned about fires being started by squirrels in attics. And it is a true possibility, though, in my years in pest control, I only came across two instances of fire in the form of melted/burned out cables that had not spread further. Sometimes, I only have the account of an electrician who actually found a dead squirrel that had been electrocuted in the spot. In other instances, I see the damage the squirrels cause not only on electrical but also on the beams that hold the roof.
In the most extreme squirrel damage I ever saw, a large beam had been eaten through to half its original size. And the similar attack on the wood could be seen elsewhere, too. Knowing how to get rid of squirrels in such a context is not only critical but essential.
Grey squirrels in the UK are a real threat to our lives, our native species, and our properties. Outdoors, they may be quite cute, but indoors they are ruthless pests.
So, there are four strategies for Grey squirrel control:
1 – Place squirrel deterrents inside the infested attic.
2 – Place squirrel traps or squirrel bait in the area that is infested.
3 – Block the entry points that allow them to get into the roof space.
4 – Get rid of squirrels before they can even get close to your home.
And the order of the four squirrel control strategies above goes from straightforward to nearly impossible.
Grey Squirrel deterrents
The most commonly used grey squirrel deterrent is a sonic device. Sonic squirrel deterrents are easily installed and often run on batteries.
The most efficient sonic squirrel deterrents are possibly the ones that have a sensor associated with them. As a squirrel would approach, it would send a very high pitch and hopefully send it running.
But I personally do not find them an efficient way of getting rid of a squirrel infestation. Once, I found a full family of squirrels in a loft that had two sonic devices. Since then, I stopped advising my clients on the usage of squirrel deterrents.
Grey squirrels removal vs Grey squirrel treatment
The UK squirrel trap legislation requires the trap to be monitored daily, whatever the type of trap you use.
I strongly advise against the use of squirrel trap cages that would trap the squirrel alive. Grey squirrel UK law is clear; they need to be dispatched. In other words, it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild.
To make a point on how to get rid of squirrels safely, I found that the best way to deal with a squirrel infestation is to place Fenn traps baited with peanut butter or trays of warfarin by the ceiling hatch. You do not want to come face to face with a squirrel. And you can be certain that the squirrel will have no trouble coming to the squirrel traps.
Squirrel traps are quite dangerous to handle for an untrained person, but they would kill instantly, offering a painless death.
A variation on the squirrel Fenn trap is a squirrel tunnel trap. Basically, you couldn‘t hurt yourself by setting it up. The only way to break your fingers would be to purposefully put your hand all the way through the tube and trigger it.
The downside of that squirrel trap is that they are expensive, and the tunnel shape makes it quite bulky.
Then we come to placing grey squirrel bait down. You place it on a tray, and you wait for the next squirrel to come.
Often the grey squirrels will leave and die away from the building. In other instances, the squirrels will die in there, and that is more likely to happen if they are nesting in your building.
Recurring squirrel infestation
Squirrels can have a really negative impact on residents who struggle to sleep because of the noise. Once a property has been infested by grey squirrels, the likelihood to be reinfested at some stage is very much absolute.
The pressure on grey squirrels in the UK to get a suitable breeding site is enormous. So, the reality is quite simple. If there is a way to get into your loft, soon or later, a squirrel will find it.
Often, it is because the branches of a tree are close enough to the edge of the roof. As most homes are terrace houses, then the grey squirrels can run along until they get in somewhere, anywhere.
Otherwise, grey squirrels can climb up the drain pipes, and I have seen them often enough holding straight off from the bricks.
Can squirrels swim?
One of the most gruesome things I ever have to do is to fish out a decomposed squirrel that happened to have drowned in the water tank.
It is not that the squirrels can‘t swim. But if the squirrel slips and falls in the water tank, it may not be able to get out and eventually drowns from exhaustion.
I try not to think about the tenants taking a bath in it or brushing their teeth with it. But on the bright side, this is as unfrequent as it gets. In my career, I may have done it less than ten times.
The real issue is down to the squirrel droppings and hairs that contaminate the insulation wool. In most cases, the tenant just ignores the issue. But if you suffer from allergies, or spend a lot of time in there, that can trigger health issues.
Squirrel droppings are roughly round and the size of a small pea. Typical squirrel droppings are not black, but rather a lighter shade of brown. Often I see squirrel droppings scattered all around.
How to get rid of Squirrels by proofing your roof from the outside?
This is no surprise. If there are no entry points, squirrels won‘t come in. If you have squirrels in attics, then there must be an access point or more, and therefore we can possibly find it and block it. Squirrel proofing can be carried out from the outside at fascia level, either from ladders or from scaffolding. But more often than not, it is carried out from within.
The level of skill involved is brutally low. Take the chicken wire, and stuff tightly all the gaps. But the job is as hard and unpleasant as it gets. You would need to place a platform on which to lie down. Also, you must wear a carbon cartridge mask. It will be uncomfortable but will protect your lungs from the fiberglass fibers and squirrel droppings, and hair.
Inoculand Ltd. has a dedicated team that can provide you with the required advice. For more information on the services we provide, get in touch with our team today.