It is not a common preconception for squirrels to be considered pests - most often all anyone knows is the comedic and cartoon-like rivalry between squirrels and bird enthusiasts; as they often steal the fruits, nuts, and seeds left in gardens to attract wild birds.
Although squirrels are seemingly sweet little animals, with their bushy tails and amusing antics of running amongst trees and burying acorns, they can in fact be incredibly destructive creatures and an undeniable nuisance as pests, should they wish to invasively inhabit your garden or home.
Differentiating between pests and trying to identify exactly what animal it could be haunting your home isn’t always easy! Spotting squirrels is of course a key indicator, but perhaps you can’t see what it is scratching about in the loft. Upon investigating, we tend to look out for the following telling signs:
The signs of a squirrel infestation
Squirrels in the house
The smell of urine, this can be an indication your infestation is more severe and has been going on for a long time
Squirrel droppings - these will not be immediately noticed as different to rats and mice, however, your local pest control specialist will be able to tell
There are scurrying or scratching noises that can be heard from the loft or wall cavity
There are chewed materials such as loft insulation and wires
Squirrels in the garden
There are lots of squirrels surrounding your property, usually on fences or the roof.
The bark on your tree has been noticeably stripped - this can prevent your tree from getting its necessary nutrition, ultimately killing it
Any bird feeders appear significantly emptier, potentially having been knocked over or disturbed
Saplings may appear, where squirrels have buried their nuts
Bulbs may be dug up from the ground
Unfortunately, squirrels in the garden are something you will be encouraged to live with - they are cute after all! It is likely that upon removing the family of squirrels bothering you, another one will have admired your property from afar and decide to move in… If you are truly desperate to rid your garden of these furry invaders and are concerned that they may begin to enter your property, get in touch with a pest control specialist right away!
Upon receiving a call from a concerned property owner, I will make my way to them to inspect the area in question - we usually already have a pretty good idea of what it could be, but we’re prepared for anything! After establishing there is a squirrel problem I ask the dreaded question, “So how long have you been noticing the property damage and hearing scratching?”
“About 3 months”.
Brilliant! It is fundamental that if you suspect there is a problem with squirrels taking place on your property, that you act immediately due to the following behaviours and habits. Do not be deceived by their fluffy tails and big brown eyes; I often have to tell customers that this is the squirrel’s house now…
The behaviour and habits of squirrels
It is imperative that if you suspect you have a squirrel infestation you contact a pest control specialist as quickly as possible, due to the alarming rate at which these creatures reproduce and expand in numbers. Additionally, the longer the Scurry (a group of squirrels) is left, the more damage they will do to your property, and the chance of other squirrels following their scent and inhabiting afterward increases significantly.
Squirrels have two mating seasons; between February and March, and again between June and July. Pregnancy lasts a period of approximately 40 days, and litters can be between four to seven babies. There are likely to be more babies born to litters inhabiting lofts and enclosed spaces, due to the safety and stability of the environment.
Pest Interceptors would like to again emphasise that informing a pest specialist sooner can significantly reduce the severity of your infestation and any ongoing disruption.
As you can probably tell, the sooner the better when it comes to acting on an infestation of this kind. More squirrels of course leads to more damage and further complications. Additional disruptive habits and behaviours include:
Additional disruptive habits and behaviours of squirrels
If surrounding squirrels have noticed that a desirable area has been vacated of other squirrels, they are likely to move in!
Upon finding a seemingly safe and habitable area, one squirrel will enter first. They will build a dray, then find a mate to have a little with. If you hear any suspicious squirrel noises, act quickly - you may be able to catch the first and prevent a family from entering!
Their ever-growing teeth enable squirrels to chew through an impressive array of solid materials.
Smaller squirrels will smell their old home within your property and be able to re-enter, should you have neglected to fully replace and repair damaged areas.
Squirrels are incredibly clever. Should they notice their access point has been repaired, they will attempt to access from the opposite side of the property - they will assume the weakened material is the same.
You’re likely here as you’re apprehensive to call a specialist in the field; you’re thinking maybe this is something you can sort yourself? Below is some UK legislation to consider before you find yourself branded a ‘squirrel murderer’ in the eyes of the law.
Laws surrounding handling Squirrel infestations
Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 Live capture needs to be legal, humane, and completed with sensitivity. It is illegal to cause the creatures any suffering - using the incorrect traps for the animal is a criminal offence as it will not be equipped to kill it immediately, ultimately making it suffer both a slow and painful death. It is illegal to drown pests too.
Animal Welfare Act 2006 Traps must be inspected every 6 hours. Traps must be suitably sheltered from any extremes of weather and must contain food and water sources.
Only pest professionals can use poisons on animals.
You cannot move your property’s squirrels onto someone else’s land - including public parks.
Any target species pests must be removed humanely by a competent person.
Any non-target species must be released unharmed. You must be able to identify the animal you have caught correctly.
The above methods are of course illegal, and rightly so! Employing a pest control specialist will ensure the animals are moved on competently, with sensitivity, and not made to suffer in any way. Here are further benefits of employing a Pest Interceptor:
No brute force what so ever (strangulation, crushing, drowning, etc)
Use of the correct and humane trap made specifically for the animal in question (this ensures an instant and pain-free death for the pest. There will be no suffering).
Traps are laid in strategic and accessible locations. This can prevent being unable to find a carcass and it causing an awful lingering smell.
The animal is not transferred to someone else’s land.
No use of incriminating or cruel methods of removing the pest problem.
The initial discovery of a potential pest problem can be alarming. Although it is best to call a specialist right away, especially when it comes to squirrels, helping actions you can take into your own hands include the following:
Trimming any branches overhanging your property
Seal all entry points
Poke the drays of the squirrels to get them out
Move anything rested against the property
Although it is an unlikely call for the Pest Interceptors to receive, if the inhabitants are red squirrels we would like to detail you on just how lucky you are!
Are your inhabitant’s red squirrels?
Sciurus vulgaris, more commonly known as Red Squirrels, are native to this country however are estimated to have a population of only 140,000 - whereas Grey Squirrels have a staggering population of 2.5 million!
The significant decline in the number of Red Squirrels is due to their difficulty competing with the superior Grey Squirrels (Sciurus Carolinensis) that were introduced to the UK from North America between the 1870s-1930s. A grey squirrel’s superiority is owed to the fact they can outcompete a red squirrel for both food and shelter as they are much larger and stronger. Additionally, grey squirrels can transmit squirrel pox virus to their red acquaintances - unfortunately, red squirrels are not immune, whereas grey are.
Red Squirrels are a rare species to see; they are most often spotted in Northern Ireland, Scotland, The Isle of Wight, and The Forest of Dean. Should you be so lucky to have a garden engulfed in red squirrels, it is best to admire them - they are an incredibly rare sight to see! Red squirrels are considered a protected species therefore any killing is a criminal offence. If you are encountering an internal invasion from red squirrels, it is best to advise a pest control professional immediately so they can assist you in the best way for all involved; including your inhabiting furry friends.
Should our initial consultation and all of the above information not be enough to convince customers to act on getting rid of their furry inhabitants, the following additional facts usually do the trick:
You have to legally apply to keep a squirrel as a pet! Although the prospect of having a dog-like squirrel may be tempting, it probably isn’t worth the hassle as they likely won’t take kindly to domestication - they are wild animals after all!
Rodents living in the loft, including sweet little squirrels, are responsible for 20% of house fires.
Squirrels can contaminate your water tank with their urine and droppings - yuck!
Although these woodland creatures can make for a fairy-tale-like addition to your garden or home, their fierce inhabitants can soon turn sour. It is fundamental that you act quickly upon having one too many squirrels scurrying about, due to their nature of reproducing. Should you find yourself in need of a pest control professional, either to inspect your property or just to ask some advice, the Pest Interceptors would be happy to help. Our extensive expertise in all household pests ensures your furry friends will be dealt with quickly and effectively, with the utmost respect and compassion.