Know your squirrel
The best way to get rid of squirrels in your house is to seal up all entry points. However, it’s not that simple.
You won’t want to seal them up while they’re inside your home, so observing your intruder’s habits will help you decide when to take action. (If the problem isn’t inside, here’s how to keep rodents out of your garden.)
- Do they go out for food in daylight or at night? Knowing when they’re out tells you the best time to seal up their doorways. Ask your local cooperative extension service for info on the species’ habits in your area.
- Make sure shrubs and trees are farther from the house than your particular species of squirrel can leap. About 5 feet deters squirrels from jumping.
- Squirrels come in through holes as small as 2 inches or as big as a baseball. During daylight, head up to the attic and look for light shining through cracks or holes in home’s exterior. Can’t access the attic from inside? Use binoculars and watch from your lawn chair. Are they going in through siding, soffits, fascia, roof vents, or the foundation? Here are more tips on removing pests from attics.
Seal all but one entry point when squirrels aren’t home
Once you know when they come and go, seal up all entry points except the one they’re using most. Some sealing options:
- Stainless steel mesh, sheet metal, or aluminum flashing can’t be chewed through.
- Use caulk or foam sealant to close up holes. Caulk and foam can be painted over.
When you’re sure all the squirrels are out of the house, close off their main entry.
Figure out if baby squirrels are in your house
If a mother with a litter is involved, getting rid of the squirrels is more complicated. If you seal up your house so the mother can’t return, the mama will spend all her waking hours trying to get them out. Plus, you’ll end up with dead baby squirrels inside your home.
Here’s how to check for babies:
- Put on a headlamp, gloves, and a dust mask, then head into the attic or under the house.
- Look for a nest within 20 feet or so of the squirrel’s doorway.
- Don’t get too close because if the mama squirrel thinks you’re after her young, she’ll attack.
- Make some noise and listen for babies.
If there’s a squirrel family, the humane thing to do is to let them continue to live in your house for two months or so until the babies are old enough to leave on their own.
Otherwise, call in a wildlife control professional (starting at $250) to trap and remove them.
Drive them out with sound and light. Even squirrels like a peaceful night’s rest. You may be able to get your intruders to leave by putting a radio tuned to a talk station and a lamp in the area where the squirrels have nested. Use a cool-burning LED bulb, not a hot incandescent.
Try a trap or one-way door. For about $65 you can buy a one-way door or a trap. The one-way door lets squirrels out but not in. The trap catches them so you can release them at least 3 miles away.
Put out predator urine. Farm supply stores and online retailers sell predator urine ($20). Putting some rags soaked in predator urine near the entryway or nest while the squirrels are out of the house may make them think a fox moved into the neighborhood.
Shooting squirrels with a pellet gun isn’t recommended. There’s the story of the neighbor who took a pellet gun to the attic and shot at a squirrel. The bullet bounced off a joist. Guess who got hit in the unmentionables? Hint: it wasn’t the squirrel.
Setting off a smoke bomb in your gutter is definitely the wrong way to go about it. Just ask Robert Hughes of Richton Park, Illinois, who set his roof on fire doing just that.
A squirrel pot pie recipe may come in handy in areas where it’s legal to discharge firearms. If your taste runs to it, try squirrel pot pie.