Squirrels in the Attic

“Help! I have squirrels in my attic.” Many phone calls to Creature Control begin this way. Squirrels certainly are adorable in their natural habitat. but a squirrel that has decided to move into your attic can be very disruptive and destructive.

The southern Wyoming-northern Colorado area is home to nine distinct species of squirrels, although not all of them are typically nuisance’s to home and property. Common nuisance squirrels in Wyoming-Colorado are: the flying squirrel, fox squirrel, red squirrel, Abert’s squirrel, and the thirteen-lined ground squirrel.

Though obviously distinct, these species have a lot in common. They are solitary until breeding season. All tend to find their way into the house looking for shelter from adverse weather or a safe location to hoard food; fox, Abert, red, and flying squirrels will find entry points into the attic around roof lines and doors, or sometimes by the foundation (the striped-squirrel is a ground squirrel with more in common with chipmunks; they come in at ground level). All five squirrels can be destructive once they get into the home. They can move insulation around, chew wires, gnaw wood, chew drywall, chew through drop ceiling tiles, and bring in debris (like leaves, seeds and nuts) from outside. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest to say that having a squirrel around wires can constitutes a real electrical hazard. The Illinois Department of Public Health has estimated that 25% of all fires attributed to “unknown causes” may have been started by rodents gnawing on gas lines and electrical wiring.

Despite these similarities, each species has different behaviors proper to it (as well as the sorts of damage they can do).  A little background information on the various species is helpful.

Abert’s Squirrel

Abert’s squirrel (named for naturalist Col. James J. Abert) is tree squirrel native to the Rocky Mountain region. They are 18-22 inches long and have a dark gray fur (sometimes appearing black) with a white underbelly and a distinctive orange-red stripe down their back. Their most notable characteristic is their tufts of dark fur above their ears, which stand straight up to 1.5 inches off their head. They prefer cool, dry pine forests. They typically range over an area of 18-20 acres, so a home within a few acres of a pine forest is potentially at risk for becoming a squirrel home.

Flying Squirrel

Flying squirrels are the smallest the nuisance squirrels found in Colorado-Wyoming. Flying squirrels are nocturnal and are rarely seen, though they are fairly common. They can be identified, however, by their huge eyes and the membranes under their arms that allow them to glide. Flying squirrels tend to prefer larger attics that can give them the space they need to glide.

Fox Squirrel

The fox squirrel is one of the most common North American squirrels. They can always be identified by their tawny orange fur and large size. The fox squirrel  averages 10 – 15 inches in length. They prefer farm and country habitats adjacent to fields, but mainly in areas with nearby deciduous trees. They are not as prevalent in areas with lots of pine.

Red Squirrel

The red squirrel is the most destructive squirrel by far and is the most likely squirrel to get into the home. They have orange fur like the fox squirrel, but can be distinguished from the fox squirrel by its white belly; they also are much smaller than the fox squirrel. The red squirrel can and will chew through anything; here in the office we refer to them as “chainsaws with paws.” They are constantly looking for nooks and crannies in which to hide their food and are much more persistent than other squirrels in finding and exploiting entry points. Their habit of constantly biting and chewing make them the most destructive of the region’s species. Like Abert’s squirrels, red squirrels prefer pine trees and are very common throughout Colorado, but less so as one moves into Wyoming.

Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel (“Striped Squirrel”)

The thirteen-lined ground squirrel (also known as the “striped squirrel”) is a small burrowing squirrel that is distributed throughout much of the American west. It is brownish in color, with 13 alternating brown and whitish longitudinal lines (sometimes partially broken into spots) on its back and sides, creating rows of whitish spots within dark lines. They are burrowing ground dwellers; they do not so much get into attics as they damage gardens by their burrowing and their voracious appetites. The striped squirrel is known for sometimes standing upright when surveying its surroundings.

How squirrels get in

There are three reasons squirrels get into the home: (1) They sometimes “fall” in accidentally and get stuck, usually through the chimney (2) They will occasionally try to get into the house to get out of the elements (3) Usually squirrels will get into the home in order to use it to store food.

Except for situations when squirrels are actually stuck, the squirrel will come and go as it pleases; in many cases, homeowners will actually see the squirrel coming and going out of roof gaps by the ridge line. Most squirrels initially get in by means of shrubbery or trees that grow near the house, enabling them to prod about the exterior of the home in search of entry points. Common entry points are roof gaps, places where siding is pulled back or not cut properly, can vents on the rooftop, and gable vents.

Signs of a squirrel problem

Aside from physically seeing the squirrel coming in or out of your home, the best indicator of a squirrel problem is loud noises in the attic: lots of movement, scurrying around, scratching, and even the sound of objects (nuts) rolling. Since raccoons, mice and bats will also take up residence in an attic, a good rule of thumb for identifying a squirrel is that any noise or movement during the day must be a squirrel (or a domestic animal ). Squirrels are the only common attic pests that are not nocturnal (with the exception of the flying squirrel).

Squirrels are generally not aggressive; they may “chatter” or bite if cornered, however. They are usually not dangerous, but they are very quick and difficult to catch without trapping.

Squirrel removal

Creature Control’s technicians are experienced at identifying entry points, evicting squirrels and excluding them from your home. After locating where the squirrels are coming in and out, our techs will perform a point of entry exclusion process that often involves one-way trapping mechanisms that catch the squirrels as they come out of the home. These squirrel exclusion traps are the most common, humane and effective method for getting rid of squirrels. Call us today at 1-800-441-1519 to schedule an appointment or for more information on our squirrel removal process.

Repairing squirrel damage

An essential aspect of successful squirrel management is repairing entry points to permanently exclude squirrels from getting back inside your home. Creature Control’s technicians have the expertise necessary to not only evict troublesome squirrels but also repair the damage they may have caused in your home, as well as sealing off entry points. Because of the vast amount of damage that squirrels can cause and the variety of ways they get into the home, estimates and details for repair of squirrel damage will be given on a case by case basis.

Colorado-Wyoming Squirrel Removal

Creature Control is a family owned and operated business based in northern Colorado. We service five counties in Wyoming and Colorado and have technicians skilled in squirrel removal all over the region. Reach us toll free at 1-844-774-3284.