There’s a Squirrel in the House — Now What?
Cute and playful are some words that many people associate with squirrels. But, just as these critters can be innocent, they can become a nuisance if they make their way inside your home. These tips can help you prevent squirrels from entering your home, and show you what steps to take if you suspect one has already made its way inside.
How Can a Squirrel Get Inside?
Squirrels can chew through shingles, aluminum and wood siding, which can provide access to a home’s attic, says The Spruce. Attics are desirable to squirrels because they provide a warm and dry atmosphere to build a nest, away from threatening outdoor elements.
Sometimes, squirrels also climb into chimneys to nest. In some cases, they may get stuck, forcing them to find an alternate route out. This means you may find that a squirrel has entered your home through a basement duct, or even through your home’s fireplace, states The Humane Society of the United States (Humane Society).
Finally, while some squirrels may intentionally invade your home, they can also make their way inside by accident — sometimes through an open window or door, says the Humane Society.
How Can I Deter Squirrels From My Home?
To help prevent squirrels from getting indoors, trim back any tree branches that could provide them with an easy path to your home and roof, recommends Angie’s List. Have a professional inspect the edge of your roof for any cracks or gaps that may need to be filled, and avoid putting easy food sources (like trash cans or bird feeders) near the exterior of your home, notes Angie’s List.
To help keep squirrels out of your chimney, consider having a chimney cap installed, recommends the Humane Society. But, be sure to check local building codes before a chimney cap installation and ask a professional if the chimney will still vent properly after a cap is placed on it.
What Should I Do If a Squirrel Gets Inside?
Squirrels can cause considerable damage and pose a health risk to your family if they get inside your home, according to HomeAdvisor. So, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. Here are a few methods to help squirrels find their way out:
- Make noise: If you suspect a squirrel is in your attic or chimney, making loud noises may help scare the squirrel toward the exit, says the Humane Society. But first, you may want to have a professional determine if they have a nest with babies. This is because female squirrels can be territorial over their offspring, and may make numerous attempts to get back inside. A pro will likely inspect the area for piles of leaves, or even piles of materials from your home (such a cardboard or insulation), which can be signs of a nest, notes the Humane Society. If you continue to hear noises in your attic, be sure to contact a pest control company for help.
- Use vinegar: Try soaking rags with cider vinegar and placing them near the attic door or at the bottom of the fireplace. Squirrels do not like the smell of vinegar and may choose to leave on their own, says The Spruce.
- Aid the squirrel in finding the exit: If a squirrel is on the loose inside a room of your home, it may be best to let it try to find the exit itself, states The Spruce. Open windows or doors in the room that lead outside, and then block interior access points to that room. This may help the squirrel find its own way out. Remember to stay away from the squirrel and call pest control if it does not find its way out.
Once you confirm the squirrel is out of your home, be sure to locate and seal their access point. It may also be a good idea to have your electrical wires and insulation inspected to see if the squirrel has caused any damage, especially if it was living in the attic.
While squirrels may appear innocent in nature, they can turn into a problem when they gain access to your home. Be sure to take preventative measures when you can and contact a professional for help if one gets into your home.
Originally published on October 3, 2014.