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As with most battles in life, the more you know about your opponent, the better. The more knowledge you have about how they work, live, breathe, eat, sleep, everything, the easier your job will be when it comes to finding the right strategy to overcome them.
This is absolutely the case when your opponent is a pest animal, and even more so when you're talking about an animal that is as unpredictable, as volatile, and as cheeky as a squirrel can be.
What Squirrels Eat
When you know what squirrels are eating, you can take that out of the equation. That's an important step in wild animal removal, because all the time you have food lying around, the original animal and probably many others will come right along.
For squirrels, food sources could be bird feeders that are easily accessible, food left out for chickens, certain flowers, fruits and vegetables that grow in the back yard, cat or dog food, rabbit and guinea pig food, leftovers and bad food that has been thrown out in the trash …
We could be here for some time. The short version of the story is that squirrels, much like other wild animals, will eat pretty much everything and anything. And, no, squirrels are not herbivores. They eat meat too, especially ham in sandwiches at the park, leftover chicken from the Sunday roast in the dumpster, or insects that congregate in your back yard after a good rain. The more you know, the more you can remove, and the less attractants you will have right in your own back yard.
Where Squirrels Live
Squirrels live in the trees, out in the wild, but squirrels actually rarely live out in the wild these days. We — people — have cut down so many trees that many wild critters are finding it tough to bed down for the night, and this, combined with the extra food sources, have driven them right into urban areas. You are more likely to see a squirrel right in the back yard than you are in the forest at the edge of town.
Squirrel nests can be found in many places on your property, but chimneys, attics, and other areas on the roof and upper levels of your home are very hard-hit areas. If you can find a comfortable, warm, dry, quiet and dark spot, so can the squirrel, and those spots are great nesting spots for a female with youngsters.
Noises Squirrels Make
It won't take long before you recognize the sounds that squirrels make, particularly if you have one hanging around on your property. Adults will make different noises to their baby counterparts, the latter being more vocal (think chirping, whimpering sounds), and the former being more scuffling and rustling around.
You won't need to keep an ear out for vocal noises alone. In fact, you probably won't hear any vocal noises at all from squirrels. It'll be the rest of their activity that causes a noisy commotion, including, chewing, scratching, ripping, scratching, thudding, and more. This is usually just a sign that the animals are moving around, chewing or moving around materials to build a nest, or just generally living their best life, in the words of Cardi B.
You can use the sounds of squirrels to work out where they are hiding. More than that, you can use the sounds of squirrels to help you find the nest containing baby squirrels. Finding and removing the mother is just a teeny-tiny part of the job; wait until you need to find and remove the youngsters too. Knowing roughly where they are hiding will really help when you need to move them along.
Destruction Squirrels Cause
The noises aren't the tip of the iceberg, sadly; it's just a symptom of a much bigger scene of chaos. When squirrels make that chewing noise, they could be eating nuts and seeds. There's a bigger chance that they are chewing through wood, drywall, or other materials in your home. If they are in the attic, they might even chew through the personal belongings stored up there. With some time and dedication, these animals can destroy wooden beams and other structures/foundations, and this can soon cause structural problems which, in turn, also leads to dangerous situations for your and your family. Who knew squirrels could be so dangerous?
You might think that city or county services are the best people to call for a squirrel problem, but in more cases than not, those aren't the right people for the job. They're not designed to get rid of squirrels in attics or chimneys. County and city animal services usually deal with stray cats or lost dogs, perhaps the odd dog bite here and there.
You probably shouldn't think about calling any kind of company with “pest control” in the title either. There are a few companies out there who will have an expert wildlife rehabilitator on hand, but many of them do not. Pest control companies deal with pests, and when you think about it, squirrels are more of a wild animal than a pest — bigger, bigger teeth and claws, etc. Pest control companies are great for pests — insects, bees, wasps, cockroaches, fleas, ants, that kind of thing. Pests are easily taken care of with fumigants in many cases. The same approaches do not work for wild animal control.
If you have pest squirrels, the best people to call upon are wildlife removal experts or rehabilitators. These people will help to trap the animal, releasing it or euthanizing it afterwards, depending on the laws and situation, and then assist (or complete) cleaning away any waste, repair damage, and seal spots that had previously been used as an entry spot. Those steps aren't just important — but necessary — to ensure this animal and others like it can't come back.
If you want to call the right people, look for wild animal removal or wildlife control operatives/rehabilitators. You'll usually find the prices are much cheaper than you'd think and the entire job will get done much quicker than trying to attempt it alone too. With most operatives happy to offer advice over the phone, you may just find that the “most expensive" choice really is the best choice. You'll only know if you pick up the phone.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does squirrel removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of squirrels - my main squirrel removal info guide.
Example squirrel trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Squirrel job blog - learn from great examples of squirrel jobs I've done.
Squirrels in the attic - what to do to solve the problem.