Squirrels may be cute and fluffy critters, but they’re also highly destructive rodents that can quickly wreck your garden and home. Squirrels are notorious for laying siege to our gardens by happily eating growing fruits and vegetables, along with any recently planted bulbs.
So, why are squirrels so destructive? Like many rodents, their teeth never stop growing, so to control the growth and keep their teeth sharp, squirrels must constantly gnaw and chew on anything reasonably hard. Squirrels are particularly notorious for chewing up wires. It’s even estimated that squirrels are responsible for nearly two-thirds of all power outages, which is an impressive feat!
Homeowners don’t have to suffer from a squirrel’s destructive nature, though. There are many options out there, including squirrel deterrents, repellents, and various squirrel control measures we can take to prevent squirrels from taking over our yards and even entering our homes.
Our guide on how to get rid of squirrels includes the following:
- How To Get Rid of Squirrels
- How To Keep Squirrels Away
- How To Identify Squirrels
- Signs & Causes of a Squirrel Infestation
If trying to get rid of squirrels on your own becomes too challenging, we recommend Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive. These exterminators have some of the best-trained professionals that can use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY methods.
For Terminix quotes, you can reach them at 866-577-5051 or with this form.
For quotes from Orkin, call 866-701-4556, or fill out this form.
For a free quote from Aptive, call 855-521-7075 or visit the company’s website.
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
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How To Get Rid of Squirrels
Squirrels are tricky pests, but they can be dealt with. Here are our top tips on how to get rid of squirrels:
- Use ultrasound to repel squirrels. Squirrels are susceptible to noise, especially high-pitched frequencies. Consider looking into ultrasonic squirrel repellents, which can help to ward off squirrels from your yard. Humans cannot hear the noise from these sonic squirrel repellents. However, be aware that your pets may be able to hear the noise, and it could affect them. Ultrasonic squirrel repellents may be a better option if you are a pet-free home.
- Try a motion-detector water spray. Squirrels do not like to be shocked by water. Try using a motion-detector water spray or motion-activated sprinkler to scare squirrels off of your property. The motion sensor sprinkler system will detect motion from squirrels or other wildlife pests and give them a surprise dousing.
- Scare them away with your pet. If you have a dog or cat, consider letting them have some extra outdoor time. Many dogs and cats are protective of their loved ones and territory and will happily chase after squirrels. Dogs are especially great at barking at squirrels and giving them a scare.
- Use plastic owls around your property. Plastic owls can be placed around your property, such as fence posts or the roof. Owls are a natural predator of squirrels, so plastic owls can trick a squirrel into staying clear of your property.
- Repel squirrels with natural deterrents. Squirrels dislike the smell of mint and peppermint. Try using peppermint essential oil near plants in your garden, but not directly on plants you plan on eating. This will help to keep squirrels away. Squirrels are also repelled by cayenne pepper and capsaicin in many peppers. Try making a DIY solution of half water, half cayenne pepper, and spraying this on plants and the outside of your home to repel squirrels from your flower beds and property.
- Remove food sources immediately. Squirrels are typically on your property searching for food, so they’re unlikely to stick around if you cut off their food source. Keep up on your landscaping and clean up any fallen fruits, nuts, etc. Make sure that birdseed is not scattered on the ground but secured in a squirrel-proof bird feeder.
- Seal off all entry points using a caulking product. Take a look around your property and look for cracks, crevices, and torn window screens. Replace window screens and fill in cracks, gaps, or crevices with a caulking product to prevent pests from entering your home.
- Shooting squirrels. This is not typically a suggested way to deal with a squirrel problem, especially if you live within the city limits, where it’s probably illegal to use a firearm against wildlife. However, depending on your location and area’s laws and regulations, you may be able to shoot at squirrels. However, even if this is legal in your area, this is a time-consuming method of dealing with squirrels and will require carcass cleanup.
How to Keep Squirrels Away
Prevention is always less of a headache than having to deal with an infestation later on.
Here are our top tips on how to keep squirrels away:
- Look for a squirrel-proof bird feeder. Squirrels are attracted to birdseed and will raid a bird feeder if given a chance. If you plan to feed birds birdseed or put up a bird feeder, look for a squirrel-proof option. Often, this means your bird feeder will have a surrounding cage that squirrels cannot get through, but birds can still get to.
- Choose plants that squirrels hate. Squirrels will eat most plants but dislike the taste of daffodils, snowdrops, hyacinth, and allium. Planting these bulbs is a great way to ensure that squirrels do not dig up these bulbs and can help deter squirrels from your other plants because of the strong scent.
- Block squirrels from entering your property. Squirrels love to walk on utility wires, so try placing lightweight, plastic pipes around non-electrical wires. This will cause squirrels walking on the wires to fall, preventing them from using this as a means of entry.
- Use baffles to prevent climbing. Baffles, also known as plastic or metal collars, can deter squirrels from climbing trees and accessing your roof.
- Try strong-smelling squirrel repellents. Soaking rags in ammonia and putting them on your tree branches can repel squirrels. There are also various predator urine products that can be used to scare squirrels away from your property.
- Use a squirrel trap with bait. Purchase a squirrel trap and place it outside. Use an effective squirrel bait, such as peanuts, peanut butter, or sugary sweets, inside the squirrel trap to attract them. Please check with your local laws first because different areas have regulations about trapping wild animals.
- Remove easy access to your attic. Squirrels are incredible climbers, so it’s crucial that you prevent access to your roof and attic to prevent them from invading your home. Remove tree branches that are in contact with your roof or close to the roof so that squirrels cannot jump onto your roof.
- Use metal and wire mesh to your advantage. Place sheet metal and wire mesh over areas, such as eaves, chimneys, and attic vents to prevent squirrels from climbing inside.
- Build a fence. If you choose to build a fence, make sure it is at least 30 inches high and goes six inches below the ground to prevent ground squirrels and chipmunks from entering. An electric fence is another option for deterring squirrel activity.
- Seal off all trash cans and garbage. Trash can attract squirrels and many other wildlife pests. Make sure you regularly empty your trash cans, clean the inside and outside of your trash cans, and make sure your trash cans are tightly sealed so that critters can’t get inside.
- Place chicken wire around flower bulbs. Use chicken wire to protect your flower bulbs from being dug up by squirrels.
Are squirrels dangerous?
Squirrels can be dangerous to human health because they can carry diseases that could be transferred to a human via bite or saliva.
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How To Identify Squirrels
Squirrels and chipmunks are often confused for one another, even though their physical differences are pretty stark. They’re both a part of the Sciuridae family, also known as the squirrel family. However, they should be dealt with in different ways, which is why identification is important.
Squirrels are typically grayish and have a prominent, bushy tail, while chipmunks are characterized by a shorter, flat tail and distinct stripe on their back. Chipmunks live in the ground, while squirrels are tree lovers who live in holes in trees left by woodpeckers. They create nests made up of twigs, moss, leaves, and other materials packed into these holes. In general, they prefer to live high up in trees, while chipmunks create burrows in the ground. Squirrels are also notably bigger than chipmunks and can be up to 20 inches long and weigh a pound and a half.
Squirrels are most active during the early and late parts of the day when they gather and store nuts, seeds, grains, and more for the upcoming winter. Despite storing food, they do not hibernate during the winter and are active throughout the year.
Common types of squirrels in the United States include:
- Fox squirrels
- Gray squirrels
- Flying squirrels
- Ground squirrels
- American Red Squirrel
- Douglas Squirrels
Please note that squirrels can be dangerous to human health because they can carry diseases that could be transferred to a human via bite or saliva. Squirrel bites are rare, but it’s best to seek out immediate medical attention for your injury if you’re bitten. The larger health risk that squirrels pose to us is their habit of chewing up wires. If they get into our cars or homes, they’re likely to damage wiring with their constant chewing, which can present a severe fire hazard to anyone living within the house.
Signs & Causes of a Squirrel Infestation
Squirrels are crafty rodents who are challenging to get rid of, making prevention ideal. So, how do you know if you have a squirrel infestation and what attracts squirrels to your home? Here are the signs:
- A strange odor
- Damage to your garden, flowers, or fruit trees
- Spotting an increasing number of squirrels
- Gnawed wires (even inside cars parked outside)
- Strange noises, such as scratching in attic or walls
- Damaged entry points (likely due to chewing)
- Damage to roofing, ductwork, insulation, or other areas outside
- Spilled bird seed from your bird feeder
What attracts squirrels to my home? In short, food. While squirrels will also be on the lookout for easy areas to use as shelter, food is the number one motivator for taking over your yard versus another outdoor space.
- Remnants of human food, particularly sugary treats
- Dog or cat food
- Eggs (they may steal them from chicken coops or wild birds)
Your best bet in preventing squirrels is to prevent their access to easy food sources. If you’re continuing to have a squirrel infestation problem, reach out to a local pest control professional to have your situation assessed. Your pest control professional can then go over your squirrel control options and what they can do to help with the squirrel problem.
While cute, squirrels are major pests who can destroy our flower beds, yards, wiring, and homes if left untreated. If you have a squirrel problem, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional pest control exterminator for help.
Squirrels are also a health hazard to us, so they should be dealt with quickly before they have a chance to chew through wiring, causing a potential fire hazard.
Don’t wait — act today to take care of your squirrel infestation!