Squirrels may be furry and cute when you are out on a hike, but these small creatures can cause big problems if they decide to make your attic their home. If you are wondering how to get rid of the squirrels that have made their home in your attic, you aren’t alone. Many homeowners struggle with squirrel infestations and effectively dealing with them will probably require the services of a professional for rodent proofing.
Understanding the Damage Squirrels can Cause
You might scoff at the idea that squirrels living in your attic can pose a serious problem, but before you completely dismiss the threat that squirrels face, let’s take some time to fully understand the scope of the problem.
Exactly how do animals get in the attic? Rodents like squirrels are attracted to attics and other unfinished spaces in houses because they offer a refuge from both predators and the elements. Once squirrels have gained access to your attic and crawl space, they can use it as a base of operations to keep their young safe during breeding seasons while the adults go outside of the home to forage for food.
Attics and unfinished spaces are also appealing because they offer a variety of nesting materials. Squirrels will turn pretty much anything in your attic into nesting material, including insulation and items that you might have stored up there. This is one component of the damage that squirrels can cause. Simply by living and nesting in your attic, squirrels can cause enormous damage to your insulation or any items that might have been stored in the attic space.
Squirrels are also notorious for damaging electrical wiring and drywall in unfinished spaces. Electrical wiring can be chewed or destroyed to incorporate into nests. Drywall is often damaged from urine and feces left behind as the squirrel colony in your attic gets established. If a squirrel travels or falls into an area they can’t get out of, like a wall, they’ll become trapped there and eventually die. As they decompose, their body will give off unpleasant odors and cause damage to the surrounding surfaces that it is resting on.
The Health Risks of a Squirrel Infestation
It is important to understand that squirrels pose a health risk to any residents living in the building. All rodents, including squirrels, are capable of transmitting diseases to humans. These diseases can be transmitted directly either through a bite or through exposure to the urine and feces of the rodent, or indirectly through the bite of a tick or flea that is carried on the rodent.
Squirrels are foragers, so while they may have a nest in your home they will be leaving it regularly to go out and gather food for their young. Don’t let this idyllic image fool you, these gathering trips are regular opportunities for the squirrels to pick up and bring new diseases back into your home.
These are some of the most common diseases that can be transmitted directly or indirectly from squirrels and other rodents:
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- American canine hepatozoonosis (ACH)
- Canine ehrlichiosis
One thing that is notable about squirrels and other unwanted pests in your home is that they bring in fleas and ticks, which can transmit harmful diseases to other animals in your house. If you have dogs or cats living in your home you will want to be very aware of the warning signs of a squirrel infestation in your attic and move quickly to address it.
How to Tell When You Have an Infestation
Now that we’ve outlined the harm that a squirrel infestation in your attic can cause, you may be wondering how you can tell whether you have one. The earliest indicator that most people have is sound. If squirrels are making their home in your attic, you’ll most likely hear them scratching and moving around. You may hear them walking across your ceiling, or moving in the walls of your home.
Pets like your dogs or cats will probably hear the sounds of a squirrel infestation before you do. If you notice your cat or dog paying close attention to your walls or ceilings, it’s a good indication that you have unwanted pests in the unfinished spaces of your home.
Once a squirrel colony has become established in your home, you may begin to notice strange and unpleasant smells. This is one of the later signs of a squirrel infestation in your attic. As squirrels live and nest they will produce urine and feces that will give off an unpleasant odor. At first, you may not notice this unless you are up in your attic, but as the nesting materials and surrounding surfaces become saturated in urine and feces, it will become more apparent.
Depending on the length of time that the infestation has been allowed to take root, you may also notice the smell of decay. Squirrels may die from natural causes or because they get stuck in hard-to-access areas like the walls of your home. Regardless of the cause, as those squirrels decay, they will give off a very unpleasant and unmistakable odor.
Sound and smell are two of the most common indicators of a squirrel infestation, but you may also tell simply by going into your attic. If you have a squirrel infestation you will most likely be able to see the damage caused as they nest. But, given the fact that attics are difficult to access and navigate if you are worried you might have a squirrel infestation it is usually better to have your attic professionally inspected. Our professional staff at Attic Construction can quickly assess the state of your attic and provide you a detailed description of whether an infestation exists and what steps you need to take to remedy it.
How to Deal With Your Squirrel Problem
There is a wide range of recommendations out there for how to get rid of squirrels in attic. These range from laying out rodent bait to poison them to putting strobe lights in their nesting area to drive them out. Many of these suggestions are questionably effective at best. While sprinkling fox urine around your attic may discourage the squirrels from nesting in your attic, it may not while also leading to further contamination.
To deal with a squirrel infestation in your attic you’ll need to identify where they are coming into and out of your home. This will require a ladder to inspect the eaves, vents on your roof, and any chimneys you might have. Once you have identified where they are entering your home you can begin closing off access points. Some sources recommend closing off all entry points but the one the squirrels use most, then installing a one-way door that allows squirrels in your attic to exit but not re-enter.
If you don’t choose to install a one-way exclusion door, you will probably need to use live traps to get rid of the squirrels that are still in your attic. Squirrel traps are effective, but not easy an easy task. Depending on whether you use a kill-trap or a live-trap, you’ll also need to figure out what to do with those squirrels after you trap them. Simply dumping them in your backyard isn’t wise. You will also need to be very careful since trapped critters can become very agitated and pose a danger to themselves and to you.
If you’ve trapped and removed all of the squirrels from your attic and sealed off all of their entry points, you’ll then need to clean up the contamination left behind by their infestation.
Why You Should Use a Professional to Remove Your Squirrel Infestation
We strongly recommend using a professional service to remove a squirrel infestation you are dealing with. Here are the main reasons why it is a good idea to use professionals for this task:
- Safety – Dealing with a rodent infestation can lead to exposure to harmful pathogens if you don’t use proper safety equipment and safe removal techniques. Our professional staff at Attic Construction have the equipment and expertise to safely remove a squirrel infestation without spreading pathogens or putting animals or humans in the area at risk.
- Effectiveness – Professionals are trained to understand exactly what steps need to be taken to remediate a rodent infestation. Rodent-proofing an attic isn’t easy. Our staff at Attic Construction have years of experience rodent-proofing unfinished spaces in homes. We know what works, what doesn’t, and what the most effective methods are to ensure that your rodent problem goes away and stays away.
- More Humane – While you may want the squirrels in your attic removed, you don’t want them to suffer. Relying on professionals to remove the infestation will ensure that the removal process is conducted in the most humane way possible. This is particularly important when dealing with nesting rodents who may have many generations of rodents living in the same space.
If you have heard scratching or movement in your attic or walls, you may be dealing with a squirrel infestation. Squirrels and rodents love to make their homes in attics, but allowing them to do so can pose a real risk to the people and pets that live in the home. Squirrels can carry communicable diseases, and cause enormous amounts of damage to electrical wires, insulation, and any items stored in your attic.
Dealing with a squirrel infestation can be difficult if you don’t know what you are doing. Many recommended techniques for driving squirrels out of your attic simply aren’t effective.
If you suspect that you have squirrels in your attic, we recommend scheduling an inspection with Attic Construction to help with squirrel control. Our professional staff will be able to assess the scope of the problem and outline the steps that are necessary to return your attic to an uncontaminated state.
To learn more about our rodent-proofing services or to schedule an inspection, please contact Attic Construction today.
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