February 6th, 2013
Whether you love the fuzzy inchworms or loathe the rats in fur coats with better PR, you need to protect your home from the damage that squirrels can do.
They like to gnaw on wood because rodents’ teeth never stop growing, and if they don’t file them down, they’ll soon be unable to eat.
Unfortunately they also gnaw on wiring which is a major fire hazard especially if they’re living in your attic space. They can also gnaw through phone wiring, television cable, plastic sidings, PVC, and copper pipe, and just about anything else they feel like chomping on.
Poisoning is not the recommended course of action. Why? They won’t die immediately, and likely will crawl into your home and die causing a horrendous stench which could last for days or weeks depending upon the weather conditions.
Trapping and releasing is the best bet, and ensuring all holes into your house are properly blocked. You should ensure that nothing is in your attic when you block up the holes, otherwise, you’ll either have a dead squirrel (icky stench) or you’ll have a new hole in your house where the squirrel gnawed through to get out.
A professional exterminator can help you with this. But understand, squirrels live in colonies, and it’s going to be expensive to try to trap and relocate the whole colony.
Unfortunately, squirrels don’t respond to predator urine, mothballs, or any of the other old tricks. So when you have all the squirrels out of your home, it’s essential that you block up the holes with steel mesh or hardware cloth. Then trim back trees or vines that they can use to jump over to your house. Another suggestion is to put porcupine wire around over the areas that the squirrels usually sit (and gnaw). This should keep them off the ledges and gutters, and hopefully away from your attic.
Here are the recommendations from the Home section of MSN.com:
An ounce of prevention
The best way to keep squirrels away is to thwart them in the first place. There are several effective ways to do this:
- Cut back: “Squirrels can climb wood siding or brick siding pretty effectively, but the most common thing they’ll climb is tree limbs,” McNeely says. So a good rule of thumb is to cut branches until they’re six feet away from a home’s roof lines — too far for most (nondaredevil) squirrels to leap.
- Collar that tree: Stop squirrels from climbing trees or even power poles by wrapping them with a 2-foot-wide collar of metal, six feet off the ground, says the University of California: “Attach metal using encircling wires held together with springs to allow for tree growth.”
- Trip up tightrope-walking rodents: Wildlife expert Jackson says you can stop squirrels from running along electrical wires by installing 2-foot sections of lightweight, 2- to 3-inch diameter plastic pipe. Slit the pipe lengthwise, spread it open and place it over the wire. Since this outer pipe fits only loosely, it spins on the wire, and squirrels can’t cross it.
- Fix that feeder: If the home’s birdfeeder is the attraction, put an end to that by buying one of several varieties of squirrel-proof feeders. Or, give the squirrels something else to target: Nail up a corncob farther away, Jackson suggests.
- Block ’em out: You need to seal out the varmints so they won’t waltz back inside. How? “Areas of concern should be covered with metal flashing, or quarter-inch mesh or even half-inch mesh,” McNeely says. Extend the patch several inches beyond the hole in all directions to stop the squirrel from gnawing around it.
Caution: “One should always make sure that the squirrels are not present before sealing a hole,” he says. Translation: Don’t accidentally block them inside! Here’s how to make sure you don’t: Ball up a newspaper. Put it in the hole the squirrels have been using. Now wait, probably two days. If the newspaper remains intact, McNeely says, you can be more certain the squirrels are outside. Now seal up the hole.
In some places, it gets cold enough in the winter for the squirrels to hibernate. If that’s the case, you will need to do squirrel abatement in the Spring.
Will you be trimming your trees this weekend?