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How to Get Rid of Squirrels in the Attic


We have all seen a squirrel at some point in our life and thought to ourselves “what a cute, fuzzy little creature”. Some of even thought squirrels could be kept as pets. Although some people do, it is illegal to trap squirrels or keep them as pets in most areas of the United States. If you haven’t seen one in real life then you’re missing out on these nutty animals and their mischievous antics.

You might have seen one in movies such as “The Ice Age” movies or “The Nut Job”, which is one of my all time favorite movies, but the animation can never really do justice to the squirrel. But the most famous squirrels of Hollywood have to be Willy Wonka’s nut cracking squirrels. Even if you haven’t seen those movies, you couldn’t miss the underwater squirrel Sandy Cheeks from the kids’ show Spongebob Squarepants.

What do they look like?

Squirrels are from the rodent family and consist of more than 200 species worldwide. They usually have slim bodies with big eyes and long bushy tails. They have sharp paws, large teeth and very sensitive hearing. Squirrels are small, quick and elusive and it can prove to be a real challenge to capture one without killing it. It terms of intelligence, the squirrel is one of the smartest animal in the entire animal kingdom. January 21 is the annual Squirrel Appreciation Day.

Types of Squirrels

Squirrels can be a nightmare for homeowners and landlords. They can cause serious, sometimes irreparable damage to the property. Squirrels are efficient climbers equipped with sharp paws. They love climbing trees, pipes and the sides of the house. They also have strong teeth which they use to gnaw through wood and make entry/exit points to shelters.

The most common types of squirrels are tree squirrels, red squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. Yes! Some of them can actually jump off trees and glide for immensely long distances. This way they can enter attics and access the upper storey of the house easily. Although most squirrels die during their first year, some can live about 5 to 10 years. They are excellent food gathers and hoarders.

Where do they live?

In nature, squirrels mostly live in trees. Forests which provide an abundant source of food are infested with them. But they adapt to their particular environment. Squirrels can also be found in the cold polar regions as well as the hottest deserts.

Eating habits

Squirrels are famous for eating nuts. Their strong jaw and teeth help them penetrate even the toughest shells. But they also eat fruits, berries, vegetables, insects, birds, eggs and seeds. A squirrel would eat just about anything to survive but when a food source is plentiful they can be very picky about what they eat. Squirrels go ape shit for peanut butter though. You could say, “It drives them nuts!”

Identifying squirrel activity

Squirrels are mostly active during the day when the sun is out but often hide in trees and bushes to avoid being seen by humans. If you hear sounds from your attic mostly at nights, chances are you have some other rodent problem like mice, rats and bats which are nocturnal creatures. It is also possible that there might be a raccoon up there. Squirrels make a lot of noise early in the morning and when rolling nuts across the attic floor and making their way out of the structure to forage during the day.

You might also need to scan the attic for any small holes and cracks in the floors, walls and roof vents which might be dug up for entry and exit purposes. These access points can sometimes be very hard to find and you would need to clean your attic to find them all. Squirrels are hunter gatherers and become increasingly active during autumn as they hoard food for the coming winter. Squirrels do not hibernate like bears but become less active in winters.

The damage is nuts

Squirrels can damage the exterior of the house and the inside of the walls causing costly repairs. They use their large teeth to chew holes in wood and the electrical wiring. This can also start fires and short circuit the electrical grid. They also remove home insulation to build their nests with. Flying squirrels that live in groups are often active at nights. They can gain access to the roof, the chimney and the ventilation system. Flying squirrels can also get to your bird houses and bird shelters and eat their food, or eat the birds themselves.

The best way to remove Squirrels – for good

Being proactive is the best way to do it. If you know you live in an area that has a lot of squirrels, make sure to take certain measures as soon as you move in.

  • Inspect the house for cracks and holes and seal them with steel mesh or wiring.

  • Place one way gutter guards on all pipes on the outside of the house

  • Inspect the chimney and the fireplace

  • Clean out the attic of wood, twigs and other nesting materials to discourage squirrels

  • Clip tree branches that are to close to the house

Setting your own traps

Trip cages can be very effective to catch squirrels. Lure them with food or peanut butter and once captured take it at least 10 miles away from the house and release it into the wild. You might also want to use one way door trap. Seal all entry and exit points except one. Place the trap at that one. The squirrel would get out but won’t be able to come in. If you don’t want to deal with traps, you might want to use motion activated lights and radios to scare them away.


If you catch a squirrel, make sure there aren’t any baby squirrels left behind. If the parent is shunned out, it can become very aggressive and cause extensive damage to reach its offspring. It is not advised to use rat poisons against squirrels because they just crawl into tight spaces and you’re left with a stinking corpse. Squirrels are endangered species and it is always best to set them free somewhere else.  Once you are sure they have been removed or left the structure seal up the entry point.



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