We’ve been providing squirrel removal in Toronto and most of the GTA for years now and it has been one adventure after another. With all our years of experience we thought it would be a good idea to give you, our readers, the top 10 signs you need squirrel control and if you find you are harbouring them, what you can do about it.
Year after year home owners from all over Canada discover they have squirrels and other wildlife in their home and that these animals have lived in their home for quite some time. If that’s the case you’re looking at quite a bit of damage to deal with.
That’s why knowing the signs you need squirrel removal is actually quite important. Don’t believe me? See what happened to this home owner who didn’t get the squirrel removed for more than ten years even though she knew it was there!
Sign #1: You hear strange noises in your home
A bump in the night or a settling piece of floorboard every now and then are normal sounds you’ll hear in your home, but wild animals like squirrels make a whole different set of sounds. For one, occasionally you can hear them gnawing away at any number of things they’re trying to get their teeth through like the wood frame in your attic.
The two most common sounds you’ll hear are either a bunch of scampering and jumping sounds in your attic, or the sound of persistent scratching if one of them have become stuck in your wall cavities or down chimney your sweep. The majority of our squirrel calls come from home owners who hear scratching but for the most part if they aren’t stuck anywhere they can go undetected for a long time.
What do you do if you hear strange noises? Be careful, but if you can, inspect your attic, your roof, and the perimeter of your home for intrusion points and compare with the other signs below.
Sign #2: You see squirrel droppings here and there
Squirrel droppings are quite similar to and can be mistaken for bat droppings. If you see piles of droppings you may be able to determine if they’re from squirrels or not but generally a wildlife removal company will be able to tell with 100% accuracy.
What do you do if you see droppings? If you see droppings in your attic or anywhere inside your home including your garage, you’re going to need removal and control services. Remember, like most wild animal feces, there is the chance of contracting salmonella if you’re not careful or if you don’t practice proper hygiene and cleanliness after handling it.
Sign #3: Damaged entry points
Most people don’t know that squirrels, like raccoons and mice can almost chew through any material – at least the material that a home is built with including metal.
Their teeth and chewing capabilities are quite strong but their entry points have different characteristics over the other animals.
Mice will sneak in through small holes, raccoons will create larger holes, but squirrels can get through smaller holes which at first glance don’t even seem to be there until an actual inspection is done.
You’ll see damage around the fascia boards, shingle damage, damage to eavestroughs and outer panels with all kinds of damage along the roof line.
What do you do if you see signs of damaged entry points? If you see these signs, you need to call the experts because there are a set of strategies that need to be implemented in order to repair the entry point, remove the squirrel humanely and to prevent future damage.
You could try to apply prevention methods yourself but because of our experience with customers who have tried this themselves, we suggest you call the professionals so the job is done right, and with a guarantee.
Sign #4: You see interior damage
Most of the interior damage you’re going to see from squirrels will be in your attic which means you need to inspect it yourself from time to time. Other times they’ll be stuck in walls or chimney sweeps. If there are squirrels living in your attic you’ll find damage in the form of chewed out wires, wood chips all over the place from chewing through the attic structure, air vent damage or damage to virtually anything in your attic. We’ve never seen a customers home catch fire because of electrical damage caused by a squirrel but it’s been known to happen for obvious reasons.
If squirrels decide they want to enter other parts of your home, you can expect a lot of damage being done to the wall-boards leading into your home or ceiling. The longer a family of squirrels is living in your attic, the higher the chance they’ll cause substantial damage and the need for an attic cleanup and repair will be in order.
What do you do if you see damage inside your home or attic? Call the experts because it’s a clear sign your squirrel problem needs to be controlled immediately. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may also need to pay for repairs so if you see any of these signs, arrange for the removal as soon as possible.
Sign #5: The food in your garden is being eaten
Squirrels like fruits and vegetables like the rest of us. Some of their favourite treats are corn, strawberries, flower buds, pears and apples to name a few. They’ll also dig up areas of your garden where they’ve previously stored the foods they’ve helped themselves to and leave traces of their work in the form of lumps in the soil and half eaten fruit and vegetables.
When a squirrel has chosen your garden for its daily meals, there’s a 50/50 chances he’s living in your attic too. If your garden is being damaged and you see some of the other signs mentioned above, you can assume your wildlife problem is squirrel.
What do you do if your garden is damaged? The only way to determine if garden damage is done by a squirrel is to either see him in action and combine this with a few other signs that he’s in your home. If you see a connection, you know it’s time to make the call.
Sign #6: Your shingles are chewed and ripped up
When we say squirrels are determined animals, we mean it. In an hour or less they can chew through a layer of shingles and gain entry into your attic to start nesting. If you apply weak steel barriers or screening to prevent them, they’ll chew right through it again. As mentioned above, squirrels can chew through steal and will if they’re determined to get in, or back into their nest.
Squirrels will chew through the shingles around roof vents, ridge vents, dormers and around chimney and plumbing vents. Wherever they feel they can get in through your roof they will and the shingle damage will be obvious.
What do you do if you see shingle damage? If you see shingle damage done by squirrels you’re going to have to do two things, one is the process of humanely removing the squirrel and securing the entry point and, two, you’ll need attic repair.
Most of the time severe shingle damage is done after squirrel has been locked out of its nest and its babies which clearly points to the fact that careful and professional squirrel removal is necessary. Call the experts.
Sign #7: You see squirrel footprints
It’s pretty easy to determine if the footprints you’re seeing are from squirrels or not. The front paws have four fingers and are slightly shorter than the hind paws which have five fingers.
You’ll see tracks in the snow, on your deck, in your garage, in your attic and even in your garden. You won’t always see squirrel footprints but if you do, just be aware that there’s a potential problem.
What should you do if you see squirrel footprints? If you see footprints combined with a number of the other signs in this list it’s time to take action to protect yourself.
Sign #8: Your outdoor furniture is damaged
Unlike raccoons, squirrels will chew through and gnaw different outdoor furniture like wooden lawn furniture, pool sidings and deck railings just for the sake of it. It’s assumed it’s a teeth strengthening process but for whatever the reason it can be frustrating to home owners and a sign squirrels are living in your attic as well.
Outdoor furniture damage is not a sign in of itself because the squirrels could be living elsewhere but considering the close proximity with your backyard to your home, there’s a good chance they’re living in yours.
What should you do if your outdoor furniture is damaged? Do a DIY inspection for the other signs in this list. Note that for the most part squirrels can’t contract nor spread rabies, but you don’t want to get bit by one because their bite can be pretty nasty. If you encounter a squirrel while doing your rounds back off and give the experts a call.
Sign #9: You smell a strange odour in your home
Sadly sometimes squirrels fall into gaps behind the walls and in the attic. If they’re not heard scratching for a way out, they eventually die. That’s when you’ll start smelling a pungent odour coming from somewhere in your home. Another way squirrels die in a home is by being accidentally locked in by a home owner or a roofing company that’s done repairs. If the squirrel is young and isn’t able to fend for itself there’s a chance it will die there too.
What should you do if you smell a dead squirrel? If you can find out where the smell is coming from, protect yourself appropriately with gloves and a mask and safely dispose of it yourself. If you can’t find it you’ll need to have experts inspect and trace its tracks from the entry point to its resting place in order to find and remove it.
Sign #10: You see “water damage” on your walls and ceilings
The longer squirrels live in your attic or walls, the longer their going to leave behind their trails of feces and urine. In larger homes and mansions, a family of squirrels can go unnoticed and unheard of for years and when the damage is finally realized could cost the home owner a lot of money.
This waste buildup by squirrels and other wildlife will eventually have to go somewhere and it’s going to be in the home. When it does, the insulation and wood needs to be replaced and the entire area that’s affected needs to be cleaned and decontaminated.
The cleanup is a big process and quite expensive but if you let squirrels live in your attic without removing them, you can basically expect this to happen.
What should you do if you start seeing damage to your ceiling or walls?
At this point the problem is urgent and you need to call the experts. You’re going to need to do a lot of repairs and also find out how the squirrels are getting into your home. No one ever wants to see this happen to anyone but it occasionally does.
That’s our top ten list, but if you’ve experienced anything else you think home owners would like to know, share them below. If you’re a home owner in the Toronto area of the GTA, find out more about our squirrel removal services and let us humanely put an end to your problem for you.