Is there a nest of baby squirrels? Yes. Pretty much every time squirrels are in the attic, it’s a single female who has a litter of young. She finds her way into the attic twice per year, when she has the litter of young. This is usually around February and August. The young are born, and they grow quickly. They reach adult size in only six weeks, at which time they start to run around the attic. This is often when homeowners first notice a problem, because they’ve suddenly gone from one squirrel to five! You must be aware of the young. If you remove just the female squirrel while the litter of young is less than six weeks old, you will have a problem. The young may scratch or claw, maybe through the ceiling, or they may starve to death and rot and stink. It is very inhumane to remove a nursing female squirrel and leave the young behind. Read more about nest of baby animals in the attic.
What kind of damage is caused by squirrels in the attic? The primary problems are trampling down insulation and creating tunnels, leaving feces and urine in the attic, bringing plant matter and nesting material into the attic, chewing on wood beams in the attic, and chewing on electrical wires in the attic. Some of these activities are merely unsanitary, but some can cause a risk of fire hazard. Also, be aware that if you have squirrels living in your attic, they might die in your attic, and cause a big odor problem. Read about How To Find a Dead Squirrel in the House. Read more about damage from squirrels in the attic.
How do I trap squirrels? Trapping is helpful in some cases of squirrels in the attic, but actually not the majority. In most cases, your best option is to perform a squirrel exclusion – this means that you install a one-way door on the squirrels’ primary entry/exit hole. To do this, you must first seal up all secondary points of entry, and make sure there are no vulnerable areas to chew back in. But if an exclusion isn’t possible, or the risk of chewing on wood is too high, then a repeater trap, which can catch up to eight squirrels at once, and mounted directly on that main entry/exit hole, is best. If that isn’t possible for some reason, only then are baited cage traps the best option. They should be bolted to the roof or fascia boards. Never place a trap inside an attic – squirrels will NEVER enter there. I don’t know why, but it is a guaranteed fact. You should set 5-6 traps, to catch the female and all the young. Never set traps if the young are immobile in a nest in the attic. Read more about squirrel trapping and about the best type of squirrel bait.
Can’t I just use a squirrel repellent? No. In my 15+ years as a wildlife removal professional, I have seen it all: attics filled with strobing lights, blaring radios, ultrasonic sound machines, and every type of over-the-counter repellent, from coyote urine flakes, to ammonia, to the end-all-be-all el cheapo scam, mothballs. I once went into an attic in which a desperate old lady had dumped close to 100 lbs. of mothballs in her attic. The squirrels didn’t care! Here’s the problem with repellents in general: once a squirrel lives in your attic, and has a nest of babies there, that’s it. That’s the only option for survival. There is no device, no repellent that will make them leave. Go ahead and buy a squirrel repellent at Home Depot, or a squirrel deterrent device online – waste your time. But they have zero demonstrated effectiveness. Read more about squirrel repellents.
Can I kill the squirrels? Possibly, but it’s actually much more difficult than exclusion or trapping. You could set lethal traps by the squirrel holes, but these traps are very difficult to set, not to mention dangerous. And they only get one squirrel at a time, so they are ineffecient. What about poison then? There are no registered rodenticides for squirrels. Squirrels never eat food in an attic, so unlike with rats, they will not consume rat poison. And rat poison is not designed for squirrels, so if they did eat it, they may not die. Also, if you do manage to kill one with poison, the smell of a rotting squirrel is terrible. Any of these attempts are inhumane of course, if you care, which you might not if your top interest is killing them. I understand if you hate the squirrels, and call them “just rats with fluffy tails” and so on, but seriously, it’s a lot more challenging to kill squirrels than to install a one-way exclusion door or a repeater trap. Read more about killing squirrels.
How do I keep squirrels away from my house? Maybe you want to prevent squirrels from coming to your house, roof, garden, or property in the first place, before they get in the attic. Well, it’s hard to keep squirrels away from a property. They can pretty much go wherever they want, and they will, if there’s adequate food and water sources. The real key, regarding squirrels in the attic, is to prevent them from getting inside. On the roof is fine. Inside is not. To do this, you must inspect the house and seal shut any potential squirrel entry holes, with steel, which squirrels can’t chew through. Install a steel chimney cap to Keep Squirrels Out Of A Chimney. There are some hot sauces that can prevent squirrels from chewing on wood and some plants, and you can read more about how to keep squirrels away if you want.
How do I do this myself, for cheap? Follow the 4 steps. First, use a ladder and inspect every inch of your house, especially the roof vents, plumbing stacks, eave gaps, soffits and soffit vents, etc. Then inspect inside the attic to find out more clues. Note the time of year. Listen for the sound of one animal or several. If it’s just one, search the attic for the nest and remove them by hand and place in a sack and bring the young to a rehabber or reunite them with the mother squirrel if you trap her within 24 hours. Or you can wait for the young to grow. It takes only six weeks. Second, repair all the secondary entry holes in the house, so that no squirrels can easily get in and out. But leave the primary hole open. It’s the one with the most chewing, the most activity. Now, mount a one-way exclusion door or a repeater trap directly on this hole. In the rare event that there’s no way to mount such a device on a hole, set 5-6 cage traps, bolted to the roof or eaves, near the entry hole(s), and bait with peanut butter and whole peanuts in shell. If trapping, check the traps diligently, and don’t leave a squirrel outside, especially in the sun. They can die of heat stroke. Relocate any trapped squirrels at least 10 miles away. Third, after you are sure all the squirrels are out, remove the trap or traps and seal the final hole shut. Fourth, repair any chewed electrical wires in the attic, and clean the feces and urine. Read more about squirrel feces. The whole process is difficult, and it took me a couple of years and dozens of jobs before I got very good at it, but if you are very careful and work hard, you can do it!
How much does squirrel removal cost? It varies by the complexity of the job and by the company doing the work. The job requires several service visits, as outlined above. It will certainly cost at least a few hundred dollars. If you want to find out a ballpark price in your town, click here for your local wildlife pro and call, and they will be able to tell you. Our wildlife experts have special licensing & certification regulated by state wildlife laws, as well as all applicable state and local business licenses. They carry liability insurance, due to risks of climbing on roofs, in attics, dealing with dangerous wildlife, etc. They will perform professional grade repairs which results in a permanent solution so you don’t have squirrels again. It is a good investment in your home and protection against further damage. Read more about how much does squirrel removal cost.