How To Get Rid of Squirrels
The most common conflict with squirrels occurs when
they enter the attic of a house, though squirrels
cause nuisance issues in other ways as well. Below
we explore techniques to solve squirrel problems. In
some cases, professional help is recommended. Need
squirrel removal in your town? Now serving over
400 US locations - updated for 2018
Info: Squirrels are members of the
rodent family. The most frequently dealt
with nuisance squirrel is the Eastern Gray
Squirrel. They measure around 16-18 inches
from nose to tail and weigh approximately
one pound. Gray squirrels are active
year-round and arboreal, meaning that they
live primarily in trees. They feed on a
great variety of foods, such as nuts, seeds,
fungi, fruits, and of course the seed in
your birdfeeder. They store nuts and acorns
in holes in the ground. Gray squirrels breed
throughout the year, but there are two
distinct peaks, in the winter and summer.
After about six weeks, two to four young are
born, and raised in a nest for about three
months. They prefer cavities in trees (or
homes), and when cavities arenít available,
they will build a nest out of leaves and
twigs high in a tree.
Squirrels in the Attic? Click here for my special
guide on How
to Get Squirrels Out of an Attic, the most
comprehensive guide to attic squirrel removal on the
Nuisance concerns: Squirrels have easily
adapted to humans. They frequently use buildings as
nesting areas. Squirrels love to break into a house
and stay in an attic or soffit. They often find a
small opening and will chew a wider hole to gain
access to the building. They bring nesting material
into the home, and make quite a bit of noise
scurrying around and caching nuts. They often fall
down the chimney flue and make a lot of noise or
enter the fireplace. Sometimes they fall down a wall
from the attic and get stuck. They often chew their
way into commercial buildings or apartments. They
often enter the attic through the gable vent.
Squirrels can cause a fire hazard in homes by
bringing in nesting material, and by chewing on
power lines. Squirrels can leave behind a lot of
droppings and urine in the attic. The droppings not
only smell bad, but they pose a biohazard, and the
smell attracts new squirrels. I highly
recommend attic decontamination services if you've
had squirrels living in your attic. If you
want to hire a pro after you read the below info,
check out How
much does squirrel removal cost?
How to Get rid of them: The primary
approaches are trapping, prevention, exclusion, or
repellents. I discuss these methods below:
Top 5 Tips for How to Get Rid of Squirrels:
Trapping: Squirrels can be trapped in
small-size steel cages, and then safely relocated.
It's important to use a small trap, because a large
trap will allow the squirrel to run around and bang
against the walls of the trap and become injured.
Plus, large traps tend to have very high pan tension
that small squirrels can't trip. The cage should be
sturdy, and it's important to set it in the shade -
squirrels can die very easily from heat exhaustion.
Of course, you don't want to trap every last
squirrel in the neighborhood. The truth is that trapping
alone isn't an effective solution. New squirrels
will replace the removed ones. Plus, please be wary
of catching a momma squirrel - she may have helpless
baby squirrels in a squirrel
nest in your attic, or in the eaves
of the home, even if you don't know it.
- If in the attic, use a one-way exclusion door
mounted on the hole, instead of cage traps.
- Never set cage traps inside the attic itself -
it won't work. Cage traps are usually a bad
- Bait is not nearly as important as trap
placement. Mount the traps right on the squirrel
entry/exit holes, or on the roof or in the
- If squirrels are chewing wood or plants or
wires, use a paintbrush and spread super hot
- Always be aware of the baby squirrels in the
attic, and wait 4-5 weeks for them to grow up
and be mobile before you attempt an exclusion or
Prevention: It may be very hard to prevent
a squirrel from stealing the bird seed but you
can prevent them from chewing
on your house with habanera sauce or Ropel
spray. But if your problem is squirrels in the attic
or eaves, then the best prevention is to find and
seal shut all open areas into your house. The same
goes for your chimney. When I do a squirrel removal
job, I make sure to squirrel-proof the entire house,
and seal shut all open entryways. It has to be done
with steel, so that the squirrels can't chew
Exclusion: This is how I do most of my
squirrel removal work. I identify and seal shut
every last opening into the house. Then I install
exclusion devices on the primary entry and
exit hole into the house. Squirrels have to leave
the attic to get food and water, and when they do,
they are excluded. This type of job has to be done
properly - no baby squirrels stuck inside
(experience with time of year considerations and
nesting sign is very important) and chewable areas
must be addressed, if the excluded squirrel is
determined to chew its way back in. Exclusion is not
always the best option, but it works very well in
many cases, and it's easiest on the animals.
SUMMARY: Step-by-step guide for getting rid of squirrels in a house or building:
Step 1 - Inspect the entire house (plus roof!), and find any and all entry holes, as small as 1 inch.
Step 2 - As you find these areas, seal them shut with steel mesh, which squirrels cannot chew through. But leave the biggest most obvious entry/exit hole open. It will often have chewed edges.
Step 3 - Mount either a repeater trap or a one-way door directly on that main hole.
Step 4 - If it's a trap, remove and relocate caught squirrels. If an exclusion door, just wait 2 or 3 days.
SUCCESS - Once you hear no more scurrying noises in the ceiling or walls, you know you've done it!
FAILURE - If you still have squirrels, it means you failed steps 1 & 2. You must find remaining holes.
Step 5 - Optional. Clean and disinfect the attic, which is now full of squirrel urine, feces, debris, etc.
DO NOT - Use rat poison. It not only fails to get the job done, it usually causes extra problems.
DO NOT - Set cage traps inside the attic - for some reason squirrels won't enter traps in the attic.
SHOULD NOT - Set cage traps outside or on the roof - these will often fail to work, or will catch non-target squirrels. It's simply a dumb way to attempt a squirrel removal project.
DO NOT - Use any kind of repellent spray, powder, sound box, flashing light. These gimmicks fail.
Wondering how to get rid of squirrels? There is no magic spray or device that you can use to make them
go away. Some people try to sell predator urine, such as coyote or fox urine to get rid of squirrels,
but that doesn't work. They also try to sell ultrasonic sound emitters. These devices are
worthless at eliminating squirrels. Some old wives' tales recommend the use of mothballs or
ammonia-soaked rags to make them leave, but I've been to countless homes where these techniques
failed - biologists know that these attempts won't work. The ONE AND ONLY WAY to take care of your
problem is with trapping and removal of the animals, or n some cases, exclusion. People ask me - how do
you get rid of squirrels in your attic - If you have squirrels in your house, chimney, attic,
on the roof or other areas, you need to catch and remove them. The same goes if you want to get rid of
squirrels in the walls, ceiling, or garage. Many people as me how to catch squirrels,
and as usual, the key is to set the correct types of traps (6x6x18 cage traps)
in the right areas (usually on the roof or bolted to the squirrel entry holes) with the right
bait (peanuts and peanut butter). Trapping is really the only way to get rid of squirrels in a
garden. But there's far more to squirell control than just trapping. The identification
of entry points, sealing shut entry holes and prevention, droppings and urine cleanup, and the
removal of babies in nests all factor into complete squirrel solutions, especially when the animals are
in the house. It's often very difficult work to do properly. Most do-it-yourself jobs that I've ever
seen do not solve the complete problem, and often create more problems. If you need to find a professional trapper in your hometown, just click our comprehensive
list of hundreds of wildlife removal professionals, and you can have your problem quickly taken care of!
HUMANE HINTS FOR GETTING RID OF SQUIRRELS
- Avoid trapping squirrels in cages when possible. Once in a cage trap, they become
frantic and hyper, and often bang their heads against the side of the cage, severely injuring
- If you must trap, use a smaller trap. Also, always set the trap in a shady area to prevent
death by heat stroke, and check it diligently, and relocate the animal quickly.
- Relocation is stressful, and sometimes the animals won't survive. Select your relocation
point carefully, in an area with water. It can be hard to know if an area is suitable.
- Your best bet for the removal of these rodents from a house is to use a one-way exclusion door,
which humanely lets them out, but not back in again. This eliminates the need for harmful trapping or relocation.
- If you have squirrels in the attic, 90% of the time it is a female with a litter of babies. DO
NOT remove the mother squirrel before the young are grown enough to move on their own, or they
will slowly starve to death then decompose and cause an odor problem. Always be sure to wait
until you hear 4-5 squirrels running about in the attic.
- Prevention is always the best when it comes to wildlife control. Be sure you have no openings
or vulnerable areas on your home that allow squirrels inside. Don't leave out bird seed or
feed the squirrels, or leave attractive crops fruit on the ground, etc.
- If they are in the chimney, don't start a fire! Read How to Remove a Wild Animal in the Chimney.
Read more articles I wrote about squirrels:
What do squirrels do with their tails?
What kind of noises and sounds do squirrels make when they live in your house?
How big do squirrels get?
How to scare a squirrel away
How To Get Rid Of Squirrels Without Killing Them
Do squirrels remember where they bury nuts?
Do squirrels kill mice, rats, or birds?
What to do about a squirrel in the fireplace
How smart are squirrels?
How Long Does It Take To Remove Squirrels In A Building?
Home Remedies To Keep Away Squirrels And Get Rid Of Them
Should I Feed Squirrels For Fun?
What does squirrel feces look like? Where is it found?
The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of Squirrels
How to stop squirrels from chewing on your house or plants
Will a squirrel chew through the ceiling?
Do squirrels attack or bite people?
What attracts squirrels?
Are squirrels ever active at night?
Remember, you can use my above how to guide, and follow the five steps for how to get rid of
squirrels yourself. But it is not very easy for beginners without experience. I am a professional
who has performed hundreds of squirrel removal jobs, and it took me more than a year, and over 50 jobs,
before I really started to get the hang of it. There are many subtleties when it comes to building
architecture, squirrel behavior, etc. Understanding the animal's behavior and how it relates to the
architecture and the traps or exclusion doors matters a great deal in solving the problem
effectively and permanently. For this reason, with squirrel removal, I am certain that a professional,
with experience and proper tools, is the best option.