Squirrels in the Attic

“Squirrel in attic! Help!” At Creature Control, this is a phrase we see frequently in our email subject inbox. While squirrels may be adorable in their natural habitat, a squirrel that has taken up residence in your home can be very destructive and disruptive. Michigan is home to four distinct species of squirrel: grey squirrels (also known as black squirrels), flying squirrels, fox squirrels and red squirrels.

These four species share much in common. All squirrels are solitary until breeding season. All tend to get into the home seeking shelter from the elements or a place to store food; usually they get in around doors and roof lines, or by the foundations. They frequently end up in the attic, but can also get into drop ceilings, walls and basements. Once inside the home squirrels can be very destructive. 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 is no exaggeration to say that the presence of a squirrel around wires constitutes a very real electrical hazard. In fact, the Illinois Department of Public Health estimates that 25 percent of all fires attributed to “unknown causes” are probably started by rodents gnawing on gas lines, electrical wiring and matches.

Despite these similarities, the behavior of each species does differ (as well as the type of damage they can do to the home). A little background information on the various species is helpful.

Grey Squirrel

Grey squirrels (sometimes called black squirrels) are grey in color and 8 to 10 inches in length. They are happiest outside in the trees and prefer forested areas, though they are frequently seen running around on power lines as well. The grey squirrel lives most of its life in a single tree and seldom ventures more than 300 yards from its nest. They are not as apt as other species to use an existing structure to create a home; if they do get into a house, it is usually by accident.

Flying Squirrel

Flying squirrels are the smallest the four species of squirrels found in Michigan. Flying squirrels are nocturnal and are rarely seen, though they are very common in Michigan. They can be identified, however, by their very large eyes and the membranes under their arms that allow them to glide. Flying squirrels tend to get into large attics; they are attracted to these larger attics because they give them the space they need to glide.

Fox Squirrel

The fox squirrel is identified by its tawny orange fur and large size. The fox squirrel is the largest of the four squirrels native to Michigan (on average they reach 10 – 15 inches). Unlike the grey squirrel, they prefer farm and country habitats adjacent to fields.

Fox squirrels and grey squirrels become problematic further inland where deciduous trees are more prevlent. The demand for squirrel removal services (especially for fox and grey squirrels) is high in the greater Ann Arbor and Lansing areas due to dense concentrations of oak, walnut, and hickory. Though squirrel activity in central Michigan is more varied, the red squirrel (also know as the pine squirrel) is still the predominant nuisance squirrel in this region.

Red Squirrel

The red squirrel is the most destructive squirrel by far and is the most frequent 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 four Michigan species.

Red Squirrel removal is very common in shoreline communities such as Holland and Muskegon. This is because the western shoreline communities of Michigan have an abundance of pine trees that fail to adequately support other species of squirrels that do not properly digest pine cone seeds, resulting in an plentiful red squirrel population.

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 (here is a video of a squirrel “chattering”). 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 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 integral part of squirrel management is repairing entry points to permanently exclude squirrels and other pests from getting back in to your home. Creature Control’s technicians have the expertise necessary to not only remove squirrels but repair any 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.

Michigan Squirrel Removal

Creature Control is a family owned and operated business based in southeast Michigan. We service ten counties and have technicians skilled in squirrel removal all over southern Michigan.