Though they may be cute from a distance, squirrels can be quite bothersome when they reside in your gutters. Oftentimes, squirrels will use tree branches as bridges to get to your home’s roof. They’ll then make nests in the gutters, soffits, eaves, fascia, chimney, or even chewing through part of the roof to get into the attic! If you have squirrels in your home, you’ll likely hear scratching noises regularly. Pay attention to what time of day you hear the scratching to help you guess if this is a squirrel or possibly sparrows, or something larger. When you hear noises from up above you, sounds always seems louder than they actually are. So a person might think they are hearing an elephant in their attic, when it turns out to be a couple of birds. Squirrels can seriously damage your gutters and roofs over time. Thankfully, you can prevent all of this from happening if we take some simple steps each winter to ensure that we don’t inadvertently advertise our homes to the squirrels.
Keeping Squirrels Out of the Garden
1.) Practice good sanitation and maintenance: As is so often the case in the garden, prevention is the best solution. Don’t leave pet foods out in the open. Cover garbage cans and barbecues. Prune branches six feet away from the ground and from the roof of your property.
2.)Squirrel proof your trees and shrubs: Trees that are sufficiently far apart from each other can be squirrel-proofed by fastening a 12-inch-wide band of sheet metal around the trunks six feet from the ground. Some folks completely cage-off their bushes and small trees before the fruit ripen. Others suspend aluminum pie plates from their woody plants, and dare squirrels to run the gauntlet.
3.)Cage your bulbs: Before planting bulbs, set homemade or store-bought metal cages into planting holes. Alternatively, place a wire mesh over the entire bed once you’ve finished planting. To avoid interference with new growth, ensure that the mesh holes are 2 1/2 inches in diameter, or simply remove mesh in spring. Bulbs can also be dipped in RO-PEL®, a commercial repellent, prior to planting.
4.)Use barriers for your flowers and vegetables: Various barriers—chicken wire, hardware cloth, 1- to 2-inch metal mesh—can be spread over the ground and cut to fit around plant stems. Or completely cover over newly planted vegetables with a chicken wire fence.
5.)Experiment with repellents and deterrents: Sensory barriers like hot pepper, cayenne pepper, bitter apple spray, mothballs, Ropel and predator urine can be used around the garden, but need to be reapplied and alternated on a regular basis to keep the squirrel thinking that the threat is still around. Some folks will use a coyote decoy, or an owl, but unless moved on a VERY regular basis to new places it is not going to work. Sometimes even if you are moving it once a day, the squirrels eventually figure out that it isn’t going to hurt them.
6.)Set up a diversion feeding station: If it took the squirrels just a few minutes to figure out how to break into your fancy new “squirrel-proof” bird-feeder, distract them with their own alternative feeder somewhere else in the yard.
Keeping Squirrels Outside of the Home
Momma Squirrel starts house hunting for the impending birth of her babies in December and January. Before March she will give birth to her first litter of the year. Squirrels typically only have two litters a year at maximum. Squirrel mothers are extremely dedicated and loving, and being able to watch Mom raise the kids is an amazing experience…. Unless that ‘amazing experience’ is happening through your roof, or while destroying the attic floor! They’re very cute, we know. But squirrels in a home, left unchecked, will eventually travel/burrow down into walls, and whatever new areas they can find. This leads to squirrels getting stuck in the bottom interior of a wall, and panicking because he can’t get out before he finally dies inside the wall. It can also lead to squirrels getting into electrical wires in the attic and walls and chewing through the wires is a major fire risk! Luckily there are some simple solutions that can prevent the squirrels from choosing your home, and hopefully will send them packing over to the neighbor’s house instead!
1.) Remove the squirrels’ food source. Feed pets inside only. Get rid of bird feeders. Keep garbage cans well covered. Don’t feed any kind of animal outside. Squirrels are very mobile, and a pet dish or bird feeding station is “open” territory, so any and every animal will be attracted to that area to eat the food or to eat the animals that eat the food!
2.) Determine if holes are currently being used. Stuff newspaper in the holes, and leave for two or three days. Then check to see whether the newspaper has been disturbed. If it has not been moved, repair the hole.
3.) Inspect your home for entrance points. Check corners for any failings. Use binoculars to check high spots. Look for black rubbings around suspicious-looking areas. These rubbings will be animal hair. Install a chimney cap. Repair or replace any damaged or missing trim.
4.) Rooftop ventilation fans are also suspect. Most are manufactured with aluminum screening – short work for a squirrel. If they discover it is accessible, and breach it, the fan must be re-screened with the proper material. The only proper material is galvanized steel wire, in the form of hardware cloth, available at any hardware store. Anything less, and they will be able to chew through. Also remove any bird or wasp nests after the first hard freeze.