How to Humanely Prevent Squirrels From Invading Your Home

Updated December 29, 2021
Squirrel on the roof
Photo: leekris / Adobe Stock

Keep uninvited house guests out of your house 

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There are few animals that are cuter or more fun to watch than a frisky squirrel scampering across a park bench or scurrying up a tall tree. But when these critters take up residence in your home, the damage they can inflict isn’t so cute. 

But there are ways to humanely prevent squirrels from invading your home; we’ll show you how.

Squirrels Can Cause Significant Damage

It’s hard to imagine that these tiny, happy little creatures can be destructive, but squirrels are still members of the rodent family and, as such, are considered a pest animal. And with good reason, because squirrels can cause significant damage to your home.

Squirrels often like to nest in attics because this gives them a safe place to care for their young away from predators. At the same time, attic spaces often give great access to plentiful food sources. The danger comes, though, when the critters begin feasting on your woodwork or your insulation. A gnawing squirrel can easily chew through electrical wires, too, potentially leading to fire.

Not only that, but squirrels are quite fertile. One or two of the little critters can quickly become dozens, and that makes for a significant health hazard due to exposure to the critters’ urine and fecal waste.

Spotting Signs of a Squirrel Infestation

Squirrels on the roof
Photo: Fabrique Imagique / Adobe Stock

It’s not always easy to detect signs of a squirrel infestation unless you know what to look for. Among the biggest clues that you might have some unwanted house guests will be unexplained sounds, particularly coming from the attic. 

You might hear little feet scurrying around, particularly in the morning or evening, when squirrels are most active. The time of day you hear these sounds is important because it can help you determine whether what you’re hearing comes from squirrels or rats or mice. If the sounds are most prevalent at night, then you may have a rat or mouse infestation rather than squirrels.

In addition to the tell-tale sounds of squirrels, you can also look out for signs of chewing damage in and around your home. You might notice chewing damage to your roof shingles, your fascia boards, and your trees. If you have a garden or bird feeders, you can also look for signs of damage there, as squirrels love to feast on birdseed and on the goodies of a garden.

Prevention Strategies

Although squirrels are ubiquitous throughout the U.S., there are things that you can do to humanely prevent them from invading your home.

First and foremost, you should focus on your roof because squirrels love to nest in attics. These critters are smart and agile, and can easily penetrate even the smallest gaps in your walls and roofing, so prevention should begin by finding and sealing up potential entry points to your home.

You’re also going to want to ensure that you don’t have tree limbs or branches too close to your roof, because these can act as a squirrel superhighway into your home.’

Once you’ve made your home less easy for squirrels to penetrate, you should also focus on making your digs less attractive. Easy access to a food source is one of the biggest attractions for squirrels, not surprising–who doesn’t love a quick and easy meal! If you have bird feeders, try not to position them too close to the house. And if you have a garden, try installing a fence to help deter squirrels from entering and making your property their home.

Another humane and effective way to repel squirrels is to spray ammonia in your attic. Squirrels will think a predator (like a hungry cat) lives there and will keep away.

Humane Removal

Sometimes, all the prevention in the world won’t be quite enough to prevent squirrels from setting up house in your home. In that case, you’ll need to know how to remove these little ones in a safe and humane manner.

Removing squirrels is something many homeowners choose to do themselves. One of the best approaches is to employ a humane squirrel trap. These traps can be baited with treats that are irresistible to squirrels, such as nuts and seeds. 

The most important thing, though, is to ensure that you’re able to check the trap regularly, at least three to four times a day, to ensure the little critter doesn’t linger too long in the trap. You should also ensure that the trap isn’t placed somewhere where the squirrel could be exposed to excessive heat or cold or damp. 

When it’s time to release a trapped squirrel, make sure that you’re releasing at least five miles away from your home. Otherwise, those clever little creatures are likely to find their way back home! Look for a secluded, densely wooded area, not on private property That way, your little houseguest will have plenty of places to find food and shelter!

If you’re not quite confident in removing the squirrels yourself, you can always call in a local animal removal service. On average, the cost of animal removal can range from $150 to $600, though squirrel removal is typically priced at the lower end of this spectrum because of their small size.

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