Most people do not seem to have the same level of fear at hatred for squirrels as they do other rodents, but squirrels can be just as troublesome and destructive as any mouse, rat or raccoon! In fact, when rodent proofing in New Jersey, December and January tend to be the most problematic months for dealing with squirrels. In those months, pregnant squirrels start looking for new nests in which to give birth and raise their litters. The cold weather can easily lead them to the warmth and safety of an attic. In addition, groups of eight or more squirrels can start “denning” during this same time of year – basically nesting and storing their food indoors, away from the bad weather.
Just like any other rodent, squirrels in a home will eventually tear up insulation, chew on electrical wires and burrow into walls. This can lead to an increased risk of electrical fires, not to mention the terrible smell that can permeate the house from a dead squirrel caught behind a wall. Squirrels have also been known to block chimneys with their nests, which can cause a carbon monoxide hazard. On the bright side, squirrels tend to carry fewer diseases than other rodents, although humans still run the risk of contracting salmonella from their urine or feces. They also carry a lot of ticks, which are known to spread Lyme Disease. Once a tick infestation has taken hold in a home, it is extremely difficult to abate it.
To avoid these and other problems, rodent proofing and rodent control in New Jersey should never overlook squirrels. Homeowners can take a few simple steps to make sure squirrels do not take up their winter residence in their attics, eaves and gutters:
- Cut tree branches back away from the roof. Squirrels use branches as bridges and ladders, making their way onto a roof. From there, they can easily build nests in your home’s gutters, eaves, soffits or chimney.
- Watch for signs of droppings in the attic. This is one of the most sure-fire ways for a home owner to spot a rodent problem, including squirrels. Squirrels have been known to chew through roofs or siding to gain access to a warm, comfortable attic.
- Listen for scratching sounds – squirrels in an attic will make regular scratching noises. Noting the time of day and intensity of the scratching can help a professional exterminator determine if the noise is coming from squirrels or something larger, like a raccoon.
- Remove bird feeders, or keep them a minimum of 20 feet from the house. Even “squirrel proof” bird feeders aren’t a challenge for most squirrels, and they provide an easy, ample supply of food during the lean winter months.
- Clean and cover grills. The leftover crumbs and grease provide another tempting source of food for squirrels and other rodents.
In most cases, squirrel removal is best handled by a professional exterminator or wildlife control operator. Do some online research to find someone who is licensed, and someone who can also help perform the waste cleanup, repair any damage, and offer a permanent solution to prevent re-entry.
Rodent proofing in New Jersey is a year-round responsibility. Contrary to popular belief, homeowners cannot relax just because the weather turns cold and the rodent population declines.