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Preventing squirrels from getting into your home

Chad Gore PhD Rentokil Regional Technical Director/ Entomologist Rentokil North American Pest Control
Preventing squirrels from getting into your home

A dip in temperature usually forces people indoors to keep warm and stay safe. But the need for warmth is not limited to humans. Cooler weather can cause many pests and wildlife to scurry indoors for warmth and food, including squirrels. While squirrels seem harmless enough, they can chew through loose roofing or foundations or slip through chimneys and other existing holes into your attic, chimney or crawlspace to nest. Once inside your home or business, they will shred insulation and gnaw on most anything, including electrical wiring, causing significant damage to property and a hazard to people. Here are a few simple tips to prevent squirrels seeking warmth from entering your home.


Do keep tree limbs trimmed away from the house

One entry point for squirrels is your roof or chimney. Tree squirrels run fast and can jump long distances on small branches. It is important to keep tree limbs cut at least six to eight feet from your roofline.

Do screen vents and openings to chimneys

In order to keep squirrels from coming in to your house, do a full inspection from top to bottom. Any openings that lead into your house should be closed off in some way. Pay close attention to vents, such as roof vents, dryer vents, ridge cap vents, and gable vents. These types of openings are often closed off by flimsy screens that corrode over time. Also, squirrels can chew through most screening materials, so consider a stronger, reinforced material when buying new screens if need be.

Do seal all cracks and small openings

Squirrels can squeeze through small spaces and openings, so inspect your home for openings such as siding or flashing pulled loose that would allow pests to enter. You can prevent entrance by sealing the cracks and holes or replacing molded trims outside of the house.

Do contact a pest management professional should you suspect an infestation

As cute as they look from a distance, squirrels do bite. If you find any hint that a squirrel is around, such as feces, sounds of scurrying in the walls, or see them in your home or close to an opening, contact a licensed squirrel control professional so that they can safely inspect and treat the pest problem.


Do not ignore sounds of scurrying in the walls or attic

Squirrels are noisy, so if you hear scampering or running in the walls in your attic or your garage, do not ignore the sounds. It could very well be a squirrel infestation. Once in the attic, they may build nests where they create a mess with droppings and urine. Even worse, they can chew through wires, creating a potential fire hazard, or destroy furniture or other household contents if they get into living areas.

Do not forget to inspect wires and insulation for signs of infestation

Squirrels have long, sharp teeth that grow rather fast. They will gnaw on many things like trees, twigs and even electrical wiring, cables and insulation. Inspecting your wires and cables often will help you determine if there is an infestation in your home. As they search for entry points, squirrels may damage siding, fascia boards, chimney flashing and more.

Do not forget to keep garbage bins sealed

Eliminating a food source, such as access to garbage cans will go a long way in preventing squirrels from thinking of your home as a convenient snack bar. Metal trash cans made out of galvanized steel that include tight-fitting lids are best. Put all of the food refuse in these cans. If you have food refuse in plastic cans, wash them out frequently so the squirrels will not mistake them for another food source.

Do not leave natural debris on your lawn or garden

Squirrels can use lawn debris as bedding, and will nest nearby or in your garden. Keep your lawn and garden in good condition to prevent squirrels from nesting or feeding on leftover seeds and nuts. Another popular area for squirrels is gardens. Full of free food and shelter, a garden is a home away from home for a squirrel, and once inside it will begin to gnaw on plants and flowers and eventually ruin your garden.

Jumping cartoon

Urban, suburban and rural areas are typical places where squirrels live close to humans, which makes a home an easy and accessible shelter for them. Though tree squirrels are named because they are found only in areas where there are trees, they will often make your house a shelter for them, especially during a cold climate. Some of the tree squirrel species include fox squirrels, gray squirrels, red squirrels, flying squirrels, and pine squirrels. No matter which species is in your area, they can be problematic during the colder seasons as they are trying to seek a warmer shelter than outside. Aside from the damage they can cause on the inside of your home, they also cause considerable damage to electrical and telephone cables, and also tend to take food from feeders intended for birds.

To make sure your home is safe and secured from a squirrel invasion, keep tree limbs cut, add screen vents and openings to chimneys, seal all cracks, keep garbage can lids closed tight and never hesitate to contact a pest management professional if you suspect an infestation.

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Photo Credits: ClawsAndPaws/; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Chad Gore PhDRentokil Regional Technical Director/ Entomologist

After graduating with a B.S. in Biology, Chad continued in the graduate program at California University of Pennsylvania where he earned an M.S. in Biology. During this period, he worked on the biological control of gypsy moths in Western PA and...

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