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A squirrel WILL chew through the ceiling, given half a chance, and they're not the only animal known to do something like that either. Rats and mice are both chewing rodents, and they, alongside squirrels, can cause a great deal of damage in your home over a very short period of time.
Squirrels are quite small creatures, so they have the uncanny knack of being able to get themselves stuck in the weirdest places, and sometimes in the weirdest of positions too. We have come across squirrels in the attic, in wall cavities, crawl spaces, in the roof, and much more, and if they get stuck in there, with no way of getting out, they will use the only tools they have to hand. In this case, it will be their sharp teeth and claws. They will use a combination of both to try and escape, although sometimes this could mean them delving even deeper into the wall cavities and unexplored spaces of your home.
The thing with animals like squirrels, is that they are very good climbers as long as they have something that they can grip on to with their claws. This makes them perfect animals for living in trees, because trees have a soft, wooden surface that their claws easily grip onto and sink into. If a squirrel were to fall down a wall cavity, however, or down the chimney, the inside will generally be quite smooth — smooth drywall or metal, perhaps. When this is the case, the squirrel can get in, but can’t easily get out again, and it helps if you then intervene. For the most part, a snare trap pole will help to get them out, but you could use other methods also. If the animal was stuck own the chimney, for example, a long piece of rope could be all the leverage the animal needs in order to free itself, as long as it hasn't become injured.
If you can't get to the wall cavity, however, or you don't get to the animal in time, there's a good chance the squirrel could chew right through the hard materials, and right through the ceiling too! It could actually start raining … squirrels!
The thing with wild animals is that even when you can't see them, you can still be very aware that they are there. Squirrels are daytime-active animals, not nocturnal, like raccoons and foxes. Squirrels tend to be more active in the morning and then in the afternoon, hiding away from the heat of the midday sun at lunchtime. You will probably hear the animal moving and scuffling around; this is what gives the game away in a lot of cases.
Squirrels don't just make a lot of noise while they're hanging around inside your wall cavities, sadly. They'll be wreaking havoc in there too, chewing, breaking, and leaving waste matter all over the place. These will be areas that you'll need to fix later on, cleaning away the debris and waste, alongside repairing any damage. The longer you allow the squirrels to hang around, the more waste and damage you are going to be faced with.
From the Top
If you're lucky, you'll be able to access the squirrel inside the wall cavity by heading up into the attic and looking down. This is often not the case, sadly, and only happens in really rare cases, but there is still a chance it could happen. It's worth going upstairs to have a closer look.
If you can reach the squirrel from the top — in the attic — the job will be relatively simple. A snare pole can be used to reach down longer than your arms can, and a large enough trap will safely house any squirrels you manage to retrieve.
From the Bottom
In other cases — most of them, in fact — squirrels will not be so easily accessed from the attic looking down, and this means that you will need to get a little inventive with your removal methods.
If you know exactly where the squirrels are hiding, you can cut a piece of the wall out, remove the squirrel family (it is likely to be one), repair the hole you have just created, and then take action to prevent any further wildlife getting in the building.
How will you know where the animals are hiding? You'll need to use your senses — sight, hearing, and sound. These three combined will give you a great chance of locating which room the squirrels are hiding behind, and then it's some clever monitoring work to pinpoint the exact spot.
Of course, you can make sure the hole is made in the right spot first time by hiring a professional. Wildlife removal technicians and rehabilitators are experts at removing random wild critters from behind walls; they're the perfect people for the job!
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does squirrel removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of squirrels - my main squirrel removal info guide.
Example squirrel trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Squirrel job blog - learn from great examples of squirrel jobs I've done.
squirrels in the attic
What would happen if squirrels were to get in my building?