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Squirrels in Attic

After years of experience and thousands of jobs performed by Mario Ramirez and his crew at Forsyth Wildlife, we have desired to write an article on why? and how? squirrels get inside attics, fireplaces, walls, and even inside homes.

Understanding that having noises and or animals in your attic is a problem, many home and business owners do not really understand the seriousness of the issue since it is the first time they have had to deal with it. Most people are mislead to solutions such as poisoning and trapping that will cause more harm than good at the end. Poisoning creates unhealthy environments, and odors; trapping may leave young alone to die. When animals nest and take control of an attic they do not understand the functionality of cables, pipes, or insulation. Animals are nesting, searching for food and for materials suitable for building comfortable nesting sites. Cable and piping chewing and damaging building useful resources such as insulation, siding, and wood are just the natural way animals survive.

Why are squirrels inside attics, crawl spaces, or houses? Starting with attics and crawl spaces, squirrels get there because of a nice temperature difference, the height, and the abundance of nesting materials. When animals are searching for food and a place to nest, they find comfortable the fact that through openings they can sense either a cooler or a warmer space inside the opening (hole in foundation, siding, roof, or soffits.) depending on the season. Based on experience squirrels will get into homes and businesses around fall and winter more than in the summer, but they still get inside year round.

Squirrels inside a house or a business are more of an accidental entry, a door left open, a window left open or an attic door left down for a long time are normal accidental entry ways. More than once squirrels have found ways to get inside homes through the fireplace or chimney, they will find that a chimney is comfortable and gain access inside by chewing holes in the siding or under the chimney. When inside fireplaces and chimneys, squirrels find easy access inside homes.

How do squirrels get in attics, crawl spaces, or houses? Contrary to many assumptions squirrels, rats, and other small animals can easily climb walls, pipes, stucco, brick, and any construction material used to protect a building from the elements. Initially one assumes that squirrels have to jump from trees in order to get to an attic, and even though commonly we face the case where squirrels and rats jump from trees to roofs; more often than not, we find that squirrels climb up from the ground to the roofs. My understanding is that most homes are high and squirrels are used to the climbing trees to get to nesting sites, a home compares to a tree with a really wide trunk and that is why squirrels climb up to attics.

Other articles Related to this one are:

  • Attic and Wall noises
  • Squirrel and Rodent Damage inside walls, attics, and crawl spaces
  • Health Risks associated with animals inside human environments
  • Should I hire a professional (Forsyth Wildlife) or a roofer or a gutter expert to secure my house against animals?
  • What are electronic and liquid repellents, and do they work?
  • Traps vs. Poison for animals
  • Identification of animal droppings
  • Risks of DIY trapping and repair work
  • Squirrel, rat, and other animal nesting season

Pest Removal and Animal Removal for Squirrels

It would be wonderful to be able to predict the behavior of squirrels and other wildlife. Some people are confident  that squirrels will leave after a few days or months.  However, based on our 30 years of experience and research, unless structures are sealed and protected against squirrels, the persistent animals will live and nest inside for long periods of time (usually years). It is common to see squirrels return to the same spot year after year, as they prefer to have their young in the same spot they were born.
Many homeowners try poisons, repellents, rat traps, and/or live cages to rid their structure of squirrels.   While all of these are pest control techniques, in the case of squirrels the approach should be totally different.  The use of poison is definitely a “no-no”.  Poisons are many times slow acting and will be carried out by the squirrels into other environments where other types of animals could gain access to it, including pets.  In addition, poisons that have been consumed by the squirrels could be ingested by non-target animals that will eat or carry dead squirrels in their mouths.  This secondary poisoning could be fatal to other animals.  Forsyth Wildlife cautions homeowners that poisons should not be used to control squirrels.
The use of repellents is common, but could be toxic to humans.  A prime example of a repellant is moth balls.  For years this poison has been used to repel snakes, squirrels, and other animals, but the negative effects moth balls have on humans far outweigh the benefits.  Squirrel repellants usually work for a very short period of time and are carried away from target areas by rain or other environmental factors.
Using snap or rat traps to control squirrels may work in some cases, but killing the squirrel is not the easiest or best way to control these animals.  Squirrels many times are a little bigger than what snap traps are designed for, so the squirrels may not die and will carry the trap to areas where human access is restricted.  The injured squirrel many times carries the trap into areas like wall voids or under insulation, and once it finally dies, can be difficult to locate.  Now you have a problem that still hasn’t been permanently resolved, and a foul smell to deal with.  Snap traps are also hard to set and dangerous to remove.  Human injury can occur for those who are not trained to set and/or remove traps.
Live cages are a better option, but if not combined with a full home exclusion this can be a never-ending job.  Squirrels leave pheromones behind when they infest attics, which are highly attractive to other animals,  making it almost impossible to catch all squirrels.  Rats and mice are also attracted to this scent, which sends the message that says, “Come live here, it’s nice and cozy!”  Other animals will also figure out the location of the trap, or the way it works and will avoid the devices altogether.  Professional trappers will know how many traps to place, the optimal placement for them, and more importantly what entry areas to seal to prevent re-infestations.

Pest Control and Animal Control for Squirrels

Since controlling animals from entering human environments is important, Forsyth Wildlife has prepared some information that may help you to understand squirrel control.  Trapping alone for squirrels is not recommended.  Our recommended method is exclusion.  Unlike small insects and pests, squirrels are large enough to allow professionals to perform exclusion and trapping methods in order to completely eliminate their entry points to attics and buildings.
Forsyth Wildlife strongly urges you against the use of poison to attempt to control squirrels.  The outcome of its use is more often detrimental than helpful.  Squirrels commonly die inside walls and underneath insulation, causing fly and odor problems that could last for weeks or months.
When squirrels have young, controlling them gets more complicated.  Exclusion and hand-removal of the babies is the preferred option.  Our professionals at Forsyth Wildlife relocate newly born animals while attempting not to harm them.  They then attempt to relocate the young to suitable natural environments.

Nuisance Squirrel Removal and Prevention

Forsyth Wildlife has performed nuisance squirrel removal service in the Metro Atlanta area since 1980.  For the past 30 years our company has had the required licenses, insurance, and trained experts necessary to solve even the most difficult cases of squirrel invasions.  These rodents will damage property on a daily basis and will not stop until physically removed and prevented from re-entering.  Gray Squirrels are active in the morning and afternoon, Flying Squirrels are active at night, and both kinds of squirrels will chew wood, cables, and pipes; nest indoors; and destroy the R-value of insulation.
It is common for squirrels to be present in attics around Metro Atlanta, especially cities like Alpharetta, Duluth, Suwannee, Buford, Atlanta, Cumming, Roswell, and surrounding areas where growth and construction have been increasing for years.  The most common scenario of all conflicts between squirrels and humans is the presence of squirrels in the attic.  Nevertheless, sometimes Forsyth Wildlife finds squirrels that actually have entered living spaces and have hurt people and pets.
What is in your attic?
Squirrels chew, scratch, and chatter both in the daytime and at nighttime depending on the squirrel species.  Most people become aware of squirrels in their attics when they hear some of these signs at night due to the fact that humans are quiet and resting at this time while the squirrels are fully active.
Determining if you have squirrels?
Determining if you have a squirrel in your attic is simple when the noises and signs you hear are in the daytime.  Gray squirrels are the most common animal that lives in attics and makes noises at night.  All other animals invading attics and structures are known to be active at night, so the chances of you having Gray Squirrels when hearing noises during the day are better than 95% (based on our 30 years of experience).  If on the other hand, noises are heard at night, in most cases it is a combination of flying squirrels and rats, since these two animals frequently co-exist in attics.  Other animals such as raccoons and opossums will live inside attics, but the noises and signs will vary drastically.  Either way, if you have any signs of animal activity in your home, call Forsyth Wildlife for help!

Determining if you have a squirrel in your attic is simple when the noises and signs you hear are in the daytime.  Gray squirrels are the most common animal that lives in attics and makes noises at night.  All other animals invading attics and structures are known to be active at night, so the chances of you having Gray Squirrels when hearing noises during the day are better than 95% (based on our 30 years of experience).  If on the other hand, noises are heard at night, in most cases it is a combination of flying squirrels and rats, since these two animals frequently co-exist in attics.  Other animals such as raccoons and opossums will live inside attics, but the noises and signs will vary drastically.  Either way, if you have any signs of animal activity in your home, call Forsyth Wildlife for help!

Humane Squirrel Removal

Have you reached your wit’s end with those pesky squirrels in your attic?  If you are ready to permanently evict these annoying and destructive pests, please read on.  Forsyth Wildlife is aware that squirrels are an important part of Georgia wildlife and always places an emphasis on removing the animals in the most humane way possible.  The company has used in excess of thousands of live traps to remove squirrels form attics and other areas.  These traps work by attracting the animal inside and capturing it without harming it.  After squirrels are captured, they are relocated to a natural habitat away from structures where the animals can thrive.  All our professional wildlife trappers have a true love for animals and nature, while at the same time are well-trained and aware of the damage they do to homes & structures. It is important to note that despite our efforts to save as many squirrels as possible when removing them from attics and other places, these animals could be already sick or weak when we trap them, so we can not guarantee that all animals will survive the trapping process despite our efforts.

Squirrels: Diseases, Preventions, and Cures

Many home and business owners are concerned with the health risks of having squirrels and other animals invading their living environments.  Some squirrels are known to carry diseases that can be passed along to humans through pests such as mites, flies, and mosquitoes.  In addition to carrying disease-carrying pests into living environments, squirrel excrement can be toxic to humans.  Diseases such as Leptospirosis and Salmonella are known to be transferred form squirrels to humans through their feces.  Other health risks include the animals scratching or biting, which can be especially dangerous if eye tissue is damaged from scratches.
Preventing squirrels from spreading diseases requires exclusion of these animals from living environments.  The only method of entry for some mites, flies, and other parasitic animals is by squirrels or other animals carrying them into the home, so if the squirrels can’t get in, neither can the other pests that they carry! If you already have a problem with squirrels and the contamination of your environment by excrement is severe,  Forsyth Wildlife recommends the disinfection and/or removal of affected areas and insulation.
To cure diseases such as Leptospirosis and Salmonella, the aid of a doctor is required in many cases.  Please consult a doctor if you have been exposed to severe infestations and or large amounts of excrement in a confined area.