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How to Get Rid of Squirrels in the Attic?

If you’ve ever had squirrels eat through your garage roof and chew through your belongings, you know how much damage they can do – and how long it takes to get rid of them. If they’re around long enough to nest, it can be a real problem. It’s best to evict them as soon as possible! 

How to get rid of squirrels in the attic? Options for removing squirrels from your attic include using loud noises, shining bright lights in the area where the squirrels live and setting traps. You may also choose to hire a professional if you are unsure of how to deal with them yourself.

Whatever method you choose to get rid of these pesky creatures, make sure that you do it in a humane way. There is no need to harm the animal. Most states even have laws to prohibit you from harming squirrels. Let’s talk about the humane and effective ways to give those rodents the boot!

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How to Get Rid of Squirrels

There are at least a few ways to effectively get rid of squirrels. You can try a method on its own, or you may want to put multiple methods together and give the combination a try. My suggestion would be to combine at least two of these methods together to have the best effect. Let us take a deeper look at the different methods with which you can chase those squirrels from your attic!

Smell

In researching what smells chase the squirrels away,  I found some conflicting information regarding a squirrel’s sense of smell. Here are some of the odors suggested:

  • Ammonia 
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Mothballs
  • Household cleaner

Some research suggested using rags soaked in one of these liquids or bowls with the liquid in them inside the attic. The idea is that squirrels dislike these strong scents and if they encounter them, they’ll abandon the attic. 

However, there were other articles that negated the above statement. Their opinion is that because the squirrel is territorial, whether they like the small or not, they won’t be deterred from making a home in your attic. 

I guess there is no harm in trying this method to see if it works for you. If it does not, no harm was done, right?  But if it does work, at least you will be rid of squirrels!

Loud Noise

In this case, a loud noise may include anything from talking loudly to banging on the walls or even playing loud music in your house. The best effect is when you put a speaker in the attic or in the area where there are squirrels at so that they get bothered by it as much as possible.

Loud noises are known to scare squirrels away because they think of humans as predators, so when they hear noises, they think we are there to harm them and they skedaddle out of there. 

It sounds easy, but it is not a one-time thing. You have to be persistent and consistent in making sure you disturb them until they are gone.

Light

Squirrels take over your attic because it is warm, dry and dark. This helps them hide from possible predators outside. So, when you add a light to a dark area, the squirrels feel exposed and vulnerable. They definitely do not like that. They will try and move or escape from that area of your house and look for another shelter. 

The best way to do this is to install a temporary light in your attic directly where the squirrels hide. This hiding spot is easy to find by keeping an eye out for a significant amount of debris in a particular area. You may even spot their nest. 

Squirrel Spray

There are plenty of sprays on the market today that you can use to aid you in your mission to evict the squirrels! We’re not talking harsh chemicals here. We’re talking about sprays that contain predator urine. You want to spray this near all entry and exit points.

When the squirrel comes “home” and smells that spray, they might think a fox or another predator has been in their safe and cozy living space. That is enough to make them feel like your attic is an unsafe area – so they flee.  

Seal Off Entry Points

One of the most important, if not the most important, things to do is to seal off all the entry and exit points except for the main entry point. The way you can determine which ones are secondary entry points is by looking at the size and damage of each of these entry points. 

The main entry point will be larger and more damaged than the rest of the entry points. 

Once you have determined that, what you want to do is repair the damage everywhere else except for that one main entry hole. This way, when the squirrel is trying to go out to look for food and water, it only has one place to go and come back from.

At this point, you can also set a one-way door system at the main entry point this will allow the squirrel to leave but not come back in.

Setting Traps

Setting up traps is also a great way to get rid of the squirrels. The way this works is that you would look for an entry point and set up the trap right below it if you can. Or, depending on the space you have to work with, you may put the trap right next to the entry point.  

Sometimes, there is not enough room in your attic to be able to set up a trap inside. If you’re short on space, you want to set up these traps outside of the main entry point as well as the other entry and exit points that you think the squirrels are coming in and out of.  

To lure the squirrels into the trap, use a bowl of nut and put it inside the trap. And when the squirrel goes in to get the nut, bam! They are caught. And your troubles are over. 

Of course, nothing is failproof. If this method doesn’t work for you the first time, try again. Squirrels are tricky; you have to just keep at it. Once you finally trap your little stowaways, you can release them back out into nature where they belong

An important tip for traps: Be sure that you are always checking the traps. You do not want the squirrels dying because you left them in the trap for too long.

Hire A Professional

If all else fails, hire a professional. A professional exterminator is skilled with removing squirrels humanely without causing any harm to the squirrels, and babies if involved. 

The professionals come in, take a look, and give you an estimate based on what they see. The quotes are sometimes dependent on how easy or hard it will be to remove the squirrels and babies if present. 

Always make sure that you ask your professional how they will get rid of these squirrels and go from there.

Whenever you are not sure of how to handle any situation where living creatures are concerned, it is always best to consult professionals so that no unnecessary harm or damage is caused. 

Also, this goes without saying, please hire a reputable professional to save yourself the trouble of scams and other issues that can be easily avoided. 

Beware of Mama Squirrel 

The squirrel in your attic is probably a mama squirrel who has just had her babies and gone out to find food. If you block off those babies somehow, she is likely to fight her way in another way. 

Mama squirrels are extremely protective of their babies and will do whatever it takes to get reunited with them. Also, if she is not able to reach them to feed them, then the babies will die since they are not fully grown and not able to move around until about 7 weeks after birth.

Option 1: Kick them all out
If you find babies and want to remove the whole family right away, it’s best to hire a professional who will go in and physically look for those babies. Once found, the professional can take them out and relocate them. They may or may not survive in nature, but they’ll definitely starve in your attic without a mama. Not to mention when they die they will produce a very bad odor.

Option 2: Let the babies stay
If you are okay with the squirrels staying there for a few more weeks, then I would give her roughly 7 weeks, depending on when she had her babies for them to grow up and roam around on their own. Once you hear plenty of squirrel feet then it is time for you to set about the one-way door and try and get rid of these pesky creatures once and for all.

Once the Squirrels Are Gone – Clean That Attic!

After you get rid of the squirrels from your attic, you need to make sure you clean up the whole area right away. Removing the odor from the squirrels is important. You don’t want other animals attracted by it – and you probably don’t want to smell it in your attic anyways!

If you don’t clean up right away; then the odor can lead to more squirrels attempting to take up residence in your home, rent-free. The odor will signal to them that your house is a safe place where they can stay as well.

How Do You Know You Have Squirrels?

Great question! Well, there are two main things that will clue you in to the fact that you have squirrels living in your attic.

1. Noise

When you start to hear scurrying feet and scratching noises. The scratching is from the squirrels trying to climb about your attic. Unlike in nature, your walls are smooth, and so it is a bit difficult for the squirrels to grab on to the walls easily.

The scurrying feet sound is those squirrels running around your attic either to relieve themselves or to go in and out of your attic in search of sustenance.

2. Entry and Exit Points

Sometimes you will be able to tell when you have squirrels if their entry and exit points are in plain view. You will most likely see a hole in a place where it is not supposed to be. 

On top of that, you might even see a lot of mess around the holes since the squirrels might be bringing back leaves and other natural elements to make their nests.

So, if you happen to notice either one or both of the above clues then you definitely have a squirrel problem.

Why Do Squirrels Love the Attic?

Now that you know how to get rid of these squirrels that make their homes in your attic, but do you know why they love to be in that space? There are a few things that squirrels are looking to do when they are trying to look for a place to stay. Let’s look at some of the important ones:

Warmth

Squirrels are always looking for a warm place that they can call home, especially during the cold winter months. 

For the better part of the summer and some of the spring, you will see the squirrels in your yard climbing trees, looking for food and taking back nesting materials to their hideout – In this case your attic. They seek to build a warm shelter for themselves and their young ones because come fall and winter the squirrels are looking to hibernate, and the female squirrels are getting ready to give birth.

A Safe Place to Give Birth 

Female squirrels get ready to give birth to their young ones normally around late spring and sometimes early fall. They want a safe place to deliver and tend to their babies. Your attic makes a pretty nice nursery!

After birth, it takes the babies about 7 weeks to grow to a size where they can freely move about and fend for themselves. In the meantime, they fully rely on their mama to take care of them and provide food and water.

During this time, the mama squirrel is extremely protective of her kids, and if she detects any danger, she will go on the defensive and attack. 

Therefore, be very careful when dealing with mama squirrels during removal.

A Safe Place to Live

Like us, squirrels like to feel safe.

They are always looking for ways to try and get away from prying eyes and keep themselves safe. That is why they try to make their homes in places where they are not visible to anyone who wants to prey on them.

Most squirrels are not nocturnal creatures. They like to go out during the day get their food, water and come back to their home (otherwise known as your home) and stay there for the night. 

How Do Squirrels Get In?

I am sure you have heard the saying where there is a will, there is a way. In the case of squirrels, they have a lot of will and some really sharp teeth that they need to keep trimmed. And they do that by chewing. Their will and their teeth help them get into places you would least expect them.  Let us look at some of their favorite places to chew through to get into your home.

Roof Vents

These are made of either plastic or aluminum. Both these materials are easy for the squirrel to chew through. Another thing that these roof vents are good for is releasing all the warm air from your home. 

This serves, like a smoke signal for the squirrels who are looking for a warm and cozy place to inhabit. So, this is one of the ways they get into your home.

Roof Edge

This is the part of your roof closest to the gutters. It is the part of your roof that stays wet the most and therefore gets more damaged. Because of this, it is easier for the squirrels to chew through that part of your roof. 

That is why it is extremely important to always maintain your gutters and keep them clean. If they are free from any clogs then the water from rain, or snow if you live in an area where you experience winter, will drain easily and not stay in that area longer.

Roof-Soffit Intersections

A roof soffit is the ceiling that is formed from the top of the exterior wall of your house to your roof’s outer edge. Soffits bridge the gap between a home’s siding and the roofline. At the intersection of these ceilings often times there are gaps through which squirrels can squeeze themselves.

Because of the position of these soffits, if the squirrel is able to squeeze through, it will most likely end up in your attic and that, my friends, is not good!

Gable Vents

These are vents that you will see in some homes, maybe yours as well, that are all the way at the top. Some may think that they are an architectural element, but they actually serve a purpose. 

These vents are mounted on opposite sides of your house in order to help circulate the air in your attic so that it does not get too hot up there. The gable vents are made with either wood, aluminum or plastic and they are quite easy for a squirrel to chew right through them.

Wall Vents

These are exhaust vents that are linked to the exhaust fans in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. Most times, these also emit warm air and so can attract squirrels. Another reason that these are popular with squirrels is that they can feel like a tree cavity and so the squirrels can easily escape here to hide from predators.

Wall vents can be a very dangerous place for a squirrel hideout because it is directly linked to areas that you and your family mostly frequent. Squirrels can cause unsanitary conditions that can affect these areas. Also, they can cause fire hazards being so close to electric fans. 

Plumbing Mats

These are mats that are used to patch large holes in your ceiling that are created when installing plumbing pipes. These pipes remove sewer gases that can build up through various chemical reactions. 

These mats are made with rubber and so can be easily chewed through by squirrels. Once they chew through the mat, they get easy access to enter your attic because of the gaping hole the mat was covering. 

Chimneys

Last, but definitely not least, chimneys. If you have a cap on your chimney, then great you do not have to worry about this. But if you do not, then this is one of the entry-way that the squirrels like to use. 

Access through the chimney also depends on the kind of chimney you have. If you have a chimney lined with bricks, then it will be easier for the squirrels to go in and out the chimney since bricks are rough and can provide footholds, or paw holds, that the squirrel can easily grab onto.

On the other hand, if your chimney is made with other smoother materials, then it will be hard for the squirrels to find a point of entry. They can either scratch their way in and out, and you will hear every bit of it. Or, they might not be able to do it and fall in and get stuck at the bottom of your chimney. 

How do I Keep Those Pesky Squirrels Out?

There are a few steps we can take that will help keep these nuisances at bay or away completely. You just have to make sure that you are diligent in these steps and hopefully, once you get rid of these creatures, they will not come back.

Maintain The Cleanliness of Your Yard

This is very important: squirrels feed on nuts, berries, acorns and such that have fallen from the trees. If you have a bird feeder in your yard, then that is also another great source of food and water for the squirrels.

These things are what attract the squirrels to party in your yard in the first place. So, if you are having squirrel issues, removing these things from your yard is beneficial. This way, the squirrels might be tempted to move somewhere else, where food is plentiful.

Keeping your yard cleaned up is not only helpful in keeping away the squirrels but other pests as well.

Trim Branches

If you have low hanging branches, especially the ones that are close to your roofline, then you should definitely get those trimmed. 

Squirrels use branches as their main mode of transportation to get to the place they need to go by jumping from one branch to another. Removing these from the perimeter of your home will limit their access to your roof and in turn, access to your home.

Seal Entry Points

This is important in order to keep the squirrels away. Whether you are in the middle of getting rid of the squirrels or you have just gotten rid of them. It is important to patch any holes and damage in general that was left behind by them so that they do not have a way to re-enter your home.

On the other hand, if you are proactive, just make sure your home is secure, and there are not any possible entry points for the squirrels. Always make sure you take care of repairs right away and do not leave any gaping holes for too long, even if that means finding a temporary solution.

Chimney Covers

There are a few kinds of covers that are easily available for purchase and installation. I would suggest getting the metal one. Those are hard and not easily damaged or chewed through even by squirrels. 

These covers are important since they block the entry of any large creatures. These are safe to use and will still allow air to escape your chimney and not cause any blockage.

Plastic Tubes Around Low Hanging Wires

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked things when it comes to protecting our homes from squirrels. Whether it is a cable wire or an electric wire, low hanging wires like branches can be a mode of transportation for the squirrels. 

So, if you have any low hanging wires, it is best to ask the companies that the wire belongs to, to put a plastic tube around the wires that are close to your home or roof. 

This will deter the squirrels from coming too close to your house since when they step on the plastic tube it will rotate and they will not be able to hang on to the wire. 

It is important that this is done by a professional since they are trained to do this and have the right kind of plastic that is used to wrap around the wire. 

Cover Any Outside Vents with Steel Mesh Screen

Just like the chimney, vents can also be covered so that the squirrels can not chew through them easily. There are mesh screens that are made with steel that you can purchase and install on all vents on the outside of your house. This will keep squirrels away since they can not chew through steel. 

Persistence is Key

Whichever way you choose to send the squirrels packing, you have to be dedicated to the case. Once you get them out, make sure you keep them out by following the advice above, “clean up and seal up!” With patience and persistence, you’re sure to have good luck ridding your attic of these rodents!  

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