How to Get Rid of Squirrels

how to get rid of squirrels

Squirrels are amusing to watch when they’re chasing each other down a fence and energetically jumping from tree to tree. But you’ll start to wonder how to get rid of squirrels when you spy them digging holes in your garden and eating from your bird feeders, or hear them scampering around your attic. Since they gnaw on anything (including your attic wood and wiring), make a mess, and carry diseases and parasites, a squirrel that comes indoors needs to be dealt with ASAP. Find out how.

Identification

The first sign that you have a squirrel as your new roommate is usually the scurrying noise above your ceiling. If you haven’t seen the rodent but suspect it’s a squirrel, check for signs in the attic such as droppings, gnaw marks and vegetable matter (leaves, twigs, nuts and pits) that they’ve carried indoors. There may be nesting materials, evidence they’re setting up house in your house.

Squirrel Prevention

Sometimes the best way to keep the rodents from inside your home and out of your garden and bird feeders is to manage the number of squirrels around your yard. Here are some suggestions about how to get rid of squirrels from your property and how to control the ones that do come around.

  1. Control outdoor food sources such as pet foods, garbage and insects.

  2. Plant seedless varieties of trees to reduce your yard’s food supply, which will in turn cut back on your yard’s squirrel population.

  3. Trim tree limbs at least eight feet from your home to keep squirrels from jumping on your roof and gaining access to the indoors.

  4. Install porcupine wire wherever necessary, since its sharpness will keep squirrels from climbing.

  5. Hang bird feeders away from trees on a large-diameter metal pole and on a chain. Include at least one squirrel baffle, a device constructed to make it hard for squirrels to climb the pole. 

  6. Avoid setting up feeding stations for squirrels to lure them away from bird feeders. This will only encourage a larger squirrel population and increase the chance of damage around your home.

  7. Fill in any holes or cracks in your home's exterior. Some squirrels can fit in an opening the size of a golf ball ... and gnaw it bigger if need be.

How to Get Rid of Squirrels Inside Your Home

Since there’s no way to control all the squirrels in your neighborhood, there’s always a chance one or two will make their way into your attic, chimney and maybe even your walls.

Deterrents include:

  • spray that smells like their predators' urine and chili peppers
  • high-intensity strobe lights
  • electromagnetic ultrasonic technology, a high-pitched sound that is supposed to drive rodents away

Some homeowners claim they’ve had 100 percent success with one or another of these strategies while others have resorted to trapping and removal.

Squirrel traps sell for about $25. Bait suggestions and relocation instructions are included. A recommendation for how to get rid of squirrels that are familiar with your location are to take them at least eight miles from home and to make many turns in the drive to confuse the rodents before releasing them. It’s worth a try.

Hire an animal relocator as the most reliable solution for how to get rid of squirrels. The professional will trap and relocate the animals as well as find the point of entry and seal it.

After Trapping and Removal

A good rule to follow before repairing a hole in your wall, fascia, etc. is to make sure all the squirrels are gone from the space. Cover the hole with newspaper for five consecutive days of good weather. If the newspaper is intact after that period, you can be reasonably sure your home is squirrel-free.

Unless, of course, there are babies. Make sure none were left behind; otherwise, they will die inhumanely. Also, they will leave an odor in your home and attract other animals. Mother squirrels typically have 4-6 babies twice a year, usually in spring and late summer. If you find a nest of babies is left, check with a vet for the name of a local rehabilitator who is trained to care for orphaned animals.

When the squirrels are out, cover roof vents with stainless steel screen and air vents with hardware cloth. Install vent caps over chimneys. Wear gloves and clean the area thoroughly to get rid of insects, waste and to assure the scent does not attract more squirrels that’ll drive you “squirrelly” all over again.

Updated August 1, 2018.

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