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A squirrel on the roof means the animal has either already busted right in to your attic to make the space its territory, or it's about to. It doesn't really matter either way, because there's a chance the squirrel is going to stick around for a while, unless you do something about it …right now.
To start with, there's really no reason to waste your money on expensive “one-size-fits-all” solutions, such as using deterrents or squirrel repellents. Pest animal removal doesn't come with one magic solution that fits every problem. Each removal approach should be tailored for the specific animal you're dealing with, not only to ensure that the job is done the right way, but also to ensure the safety of the animal itself too. Animals that are trapped and released back into the wild usually don't survive for very long in a brand new territory, without the familiarity of their peers around them.
Animals that are trapped and released back into the wild are usually mothers. Their youngsters are still safely confined to the nest — which may or may not be in your home or building — and they will die without their mother to feed and support them.
Repellents and deterrents, if they work at all, will just move animals from one spot to another — you can't determine where those animals end up. There is a chance that the repellent will just move animals to another place in the building, not solving the problem at all.
There are actually three approaches to removing squirrels on the roof that DO work:
1 - Using raccoon eviction fluid.
Although better suited to raccoons, raccoon or wildlife eviction fluid can actually scare female squirrels into moving the entire nest. The fluid gives off a smell which impersonates predatory animals which would usually prey on a nest filled with young squirrels, and may even prey on the adult, female squirrels too.
An area that smells like a predator will not be considered safe. Using this fluid in the right spots of your home/attic/roof can encourage the squirrel to leave, taking the whole nest with them.
2 - Using exclusion devices.
Exclusion devices can be bought in hardware stores and online and are built in a very similar way to rectangular live cage traps. The difference is, the live cage trap captures the squirrel and leaves it unable to escape, whereas the exclusion device just shuts the door behind the animal, leaving it free to scamper off wherever it likes. It just won't be able to regain entry again.
Exclusion devices are not great for squirrels that are too young to leave a nest, and it is not unusual for squirrels to have two litters in any one spring/summer period, so you must make sure you're not trapping vulnerable youngsters in the roof or attic as you lock the mother out.
3 - Calling in wildlife rehabilitators.
You can use traps to remove squirrels from the roof, but you will usually be met by restrictions as far as removing, releasing, or euthanizing the animal is concerned. You must check the laws for the state in which you live before taking squirrel removal action.
By using a fully licensed and insured professional, you can be sure that your squirrel removal job is done safely, effectively, and successfully, creating minimal mess and repair work, alongside fixing anything that the squirrel itself might have broken along the way.
Sitting back and doing nothing isn't an option, unless you want your home to look a little bit like a wild animal hotel. Trapping and releasing wild animals isn't always the safest or most humane option either.
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 to do to solve the problem.