HUMANE SOLUTIONS TO SQUIRREL PROBLEMS
Weight: 16-24 oz.
Length: 8-11 in.
Home Range: 1-7 acres
Reproduction: 2 litters (2-5 young) per year February-April and July-September
Life Span: 1-3 years
Food: Tree nuts, plant seeds, fruit, flowers, bulbs, mushrooms, tree bark, 2-11% animal matter.
Our local variety is the fox squirrel. They are relatively unsociable, very territorial and aggressive to other squirrels. Fox Squirrels den in tree cavities or leaf nests in the branches of trees. After mating, the female drives the male away and raises the 2-5 young by herself. Babies are born naked and helpless and do not leave the nest for 7-8 weeks. They are weaned at 10-12 weeks. Fall litters may stay with their mother in the nest through the winter. Fox Squirrels do not hibernate through the winter months.
Public Health Issues:
It is important not to handle squirrels. Fox Squirrels can be host to a number of parasites and be carriers of bubonic plague. Take responsibility for your families’ health by preventing contact with wildlife and keeping your family’s tetanus vaccinations up to date. Rodent bites are not tested by the health department
Problems and Solutions:
Any habitat altering methods must be employed consistently for 2 weeks and monitored closely. If you are not consistent, problem squirrels will become more aggressive and persistent. The first step is always determining the culprit. The best way to start determining the culprit (if visual identification is not available) is to identify when the damage occurs. If damage occurs over night, the culprit is another animal.
*The best method of preventing squirrel damage is habitat modification.
Common Squirrel Attractants
· Pet food
· Deciduous trees
· Plant seeds
· Rags soaked in ammonia
· Socks filled with mothballs
· Cayenne pepper
· Mammal Repellents
Squirrel nest in the Attic:
Females will often enter buildings to build a nest. They only need an opening with a diameter of 1.5 inches. The invariably find an entrance high on a structure and exploit an existing hole or enlarge one by gnawing on it. A homeowner’s first sign of squirrel presence is usually the sound of scampering in the attic.
1. Thoroughly inspect the inside and outside of attic to find opening.
2. Try to locate the presence of babies .
3. If no young are present, try to frighten the adult out by banging on rafters and wait until all have left. (This needs to be done during the day).
4. If young are present it is best to wait until they are able to leave by themselves (usually at 6-8 weeks old).
5. Seal up the opening and any weak spots with 1/2 inch wire or sheet metal. Extend metal 6 inches beyond opening to prevent gnawing by squirrels
6. You may want to apply the mammal repellent mixture around the covered opening. The mixture may stain, but it is effective.
Squirrel in Chimney:
It is assumed that the squirrel is trapped in the chimney unless there is clear evidence that the squirrel can climb in and out on its own. Such evidence would be watching squirrels exit the chimney and nesting materials or babies inside the chimney. DO NOT try to smoke a squirrel out of the chimney. Dead animals create a stench in the house which will be far worse than a live squirrel in the chimney.
If the squirrel is not trapped in the chimney proceed with the following steps:
1. Thoroughly inspect the chimney to find the opening.
2. Try to determine the presence of babies
3. If no young are present try to frighten the adult out by banging pots inside the fireplace and waiting until all have left (this is best accomplished during the day).
4. Open the flue a little and place a bowl of ammonia near it, allowing the smell to rise up.
5. If young are present, it is best to wait until they are able to leave by themselves (usually at 6-8 weeks old).
6. Seal the opening and any weak spots with 1/2 inch wire or sheet metal. Extend metal 6 inches beyond the opening.
7. You may want to apply the mammal repellent mixture around the covered opening. The mixture may stain, but it is effective.
8. You may also need to cap the chimney.
If the squirrel is trapped inside the chimney proceed with the following steps:
1. Tie a 1/2 in thick rope to the top of the chimney and lower it down through the chimney. Make sure the rope reaches the flue damper.
2. Open the flue a little and place a bowl of ammonia near it, allowing the smell to rise up.
3. The squirrel should climb up to rope and escape
4. After removing the rope, screen the chimney with 1/2 inch mesh hardware wire or a commercially made chimney cap.
If the squirrel is trapped inside the fireplace, proceed with the following steps:
1. Call Animal Protection and Control at 970-226-3647. They will try to retrieve and release the animal on your property. Do not try this by yourself. Please note: there is a $35 fee to remove nuisance wildlife.
2. After the squirrel is removed, screen the chimney with 1.2 inch mesh wire or a commercially made chimney cap.
Squirrel Loose in the House:
Most squirrels that have entered the house have done so by accident. They want to leave just as much as you want them to. If the exact location is known, close all interior doors to limit its movement, and open all exterior windows and doors from that room. If left alone the squirrel will find the opening and will readily jump from a second story building without harming itself. If this advice is not possible or is not working in your situation, call Animal Protection and Control at 970-226-3647. They will capture and release the animal on your property.
Squirrels raiding the Bird feeder:
Squirrels often become nuisances at birdfeeders because they are particularly adept at overcoming obstacles when food is the reward. A fox squirrel can jump 8 ft sideways, 4 ft straight up, 15 ft straight down, and can hold on to whatever it lands on.
· If a feeder is placed more than 8ft from a tree or building, for from something the squirrel can jump from; or if the feeder is on a pole, or has a Squirrel baffle at least 18-24 inches wide, it will discourage squirrel raiding.
· You can also try squirrel proofing your feeder by inclosing it in a wire cage and cutting holes big enough for birds but not for squirrels. They will work at the wire, so you will need to impede their progress by making repairs when needed to make this method effective.
· You can also add cayenne pepper to the bird seed. This will deter squirrels but will not affect birds.
· Hang feeders from a horizontal wire that is protected by loose sleeves of small diameter smooth metal pipe. If the swiveling pipe sections are 28 inches or longer, most squirrels cannot jump across.
Squirrels Damaging Gardens and Trees:
Tree bark, fruits, and nuts are important food sources for squirrels. Squirrels can cause damage to vegetation, but they can also be very beneficial as natural tree trimmers. They prune branches and twigs when feeding and making nests, which promotes vegetation growth.
To keep squirrels away from your plants, try the following ideas:
1. Plant your bulbs in a coating of cayenne pepper
2. Spray mammal repellent directly on plants
3. Place a 2 foot band of sheet metal (forming a cone, large opening downwards) around the trunk approximately 6 feet off the ground. (For this to be effective, the tree needs to be at least 10 feet from other trees).
TRAPPING AND RELOCATING
Relocating individual squirrels away from their home range, without altering the habitat, is merely a short term solution. Relocation animals will cause more long term problems for the homeowner by actually increasing the local population. By removing existing squirrels you invite others to come in and compete for new resources created by the available territory, resulting in more squirrels than you had before, in a relatively short period of time. Due to increased resources, litter sizes tend to increase as well.
Larimer Humane Society does not trap and relocate nuisance wildlife.