Squirrels can be an enjoyable sight at the park, hopping around with their bushy little tails. Or maybe you see one comically hanging from a bird feeder while it steals sunflower seeds. But squirrels are not so cute when they get up close and personal with your property and home.
If you find a squirrel in your house, the first thing you should do is not chase the animal. Instead, try to close the squirrel in a room, put your pets in a different room, and give the squirrel a way to get outside. Open a window or a door that leads outside and let the squirrel leave on its own.
Once the squirrel leaves, it’s time to get to work on sealing the hole it came in. We’ll go over all of that in this article, plus give you tips on how to keep squirrels out of your home for good. Let’s get to it!
Why Are Squirrels In Your House?
Squirrels are wild animals. Aren’t they supposed to be, you know, in the wild? Unfortunately, squirrels sometimes have other plans, like making a nest in your attic or chewing on your electrical wiring.
The most likely reason a squirrel is in your house is that it’s looking for a nesting spot, or it entered your house by accident while foraging for food.
According to a study by Urban Ecosystems, they found that urban squirrels exhibited less fear of humans and more intraspecific aggression than rural squirrels. The more exposure to humans, the more bold these little rodents are.
Once inside your home, squirrels can cause a lot of damage both inside and out. Squirrels are terrible roommates for several reasons.
Most notably, squirrels can damage your home by:
- Chewing on wire
- Chewing on wood
- Making holes in your siding
- Leaving messy droppings
- Leaving a bad smell
- Having kits inside your home
- Destroying gardens & yards
- Ruining insulation
- Causing roofing damage
- Attracting predators
For more information on all the damage squirrels can do, check out our article 7 Ways Squirrels Can Damage Your House (With Prevention Tips).
With that in mind, squirrels don’t want to be inside your house. They’d much rather be nested in a tree cavity or their underground burrows.
But life doesn’t always go the way we plan. Sometimes you find $20 lying on the ground, sometimes you have squirrels in your house! Life is unpredictable…
So, if any of the damage listed above sounds undesirable to you, which we’re guessing they do, then let’s check out all the things you should do if you find a squirrel in your house.
What Kind Of Squirrel Is In Your House?
Knowing the type of squirrel that’s in your house isn’t necessary to remove it from your home. However, it’s good to know which squirrel broke inside for future prevention.
Two broad categories of squirrels will invade homes: Ground squirrels and tree squirrels. While there are many different subspecies of ground and tree squirrels, there isn’t too much difference between them.
For our purposes, we can just go with ground squirrel and tree squirrel.
As the name suggests, ground squirrels stick to the ground while tree squirrels stick to trees. However, these bushy-tailed rodents have more differences than their preferred landscape.
Ground squirrels tend to cause problems in a home’s foundation due to digging burrows beneath houses. Ground squirrels will climb trees to find food, but if they’re pursued by a predator they’re more likely to go underground rather than climb a tree according to the University of California.
Tree squirrels are most likely to enter your home through the attic or chimney as they spend a lot of their time in the tops of trees. Not only is it their favorite means of travel, but it’s also where they live.
These two distinguishing characteristics will be important later when we talk about how to prevent these acrobatic rodents from getting back inside your home! But first, let’s get to the heart of this article.
7 Steps To Take If You Find A Squirrel In Your House
If late-night noises are keeping you awake, the culprit could be a squirrel. The little rodents could be scurrying around in your attic or stuffed into your walls, chewing on electrical wires.
It’s enough to give anybody nightmares!
But rest assured, if you find a squirrel in your house you have options that don’t include chasing it around the house like a cartoon. Chasing squirrels is not recommended as this could make the squirrel feel like it is being hunted, and it may try to defend itself.
Instead, check out the below tips on what to do if you find a squirrel in your house:
1. Locate The Squirrel Inside
You can’t solve a problem without first locating it, right? Squirrels may be bigger than mice, but they can still be tricky to locate.
The most common places you can find a squirrel in your house include:
- Beneath eaves/overhangs
The attic is the most likely spot as people rarely enter and inspect their attics regularly. There are more likely to be unknown openings or damaged roofing tile/boards in the attic than in your living room.
It’s easier to use your ears than your eyes to locate a squirrel.
Listen for the pitter-patter of their little paws running across a beam or the attic floor. Listen for scratching, chittering, and squeaks that may alert you to the squirrel’s location.
You can also check for squirrel droppings in hot spot areas like your attic or basement. Squirrel droppings are similar to mice droppings – black pellets. But they are slightly larger than mice droppings.
2. Lock Your Animals Away To Prevent Pet-Squirrel Interactions
Having a squirrel in the house can be like hitting the lottery for your house cat. It will likely try to hunt and catch the squirrel if it can. Dogs are no better, either wanting to hunt the squirrel or be curious about it.
Neither of these is desirable as your pet may come in contact with the squirrel or its very sharp claws.
As soon as you realize there is a squirrel in your house, lock your pets away in a different room or their kennel so you can address the squirrel problem without worrying about your pets.
This is better for both you and your pets.
Another reason for isolating your pets from the squirrel is that squirrels can carry fleas, which can hop on over to your beloved pet or even onto you. All it takes is a few fleas to infest your home.
3. Isolate The Squirrel Inside
Squirrels are pretty, well, squirrely. They’re agile and acrobatic and can easily jump, run, and squeeze into places we don’t want them to be.
To get these wily rodents out of your house, you’ll want to try to isolate them to a single room if possible. Whatever room they are in, shut the door and open it only when necessary to avoid accidental escapes.
Isolating the squirrel to a single room makes the problem easier to handle because you know exactly where the intruder is. If they’re running all over the house it can be difficult to control the situation.
4. Give The Squirrel An Escape Route
You may be thinking about putting on your old football helmet, shin guards, and thick gloves to get a squirrel out of your house. Don’t worry, you can keep your safety equipment tucked in your closet as you don’t need to handle the squirrel to get it out of your house.
All you need to do to get the squirrel out of your house is give it an escape route. If there are windows you can open, do so. If there’s a door that leads outside or even to an integral garage, open them and allow the squirrel to get through.
Like we mentioned before, squirrels don’t want to be in your house. Especially if they realize you’ve found them. As soon as they get the opportunity to leave, they will likely do so.
5. Find Out How The Squirrel Is Getting Inside
Once the squirrel leaves, it’s important to figure out how they are getting inside. If you don’t locate and close the opening, the squirrel won’t hesitate to move back in, especially if it’s cold outside.
Likely openings that squirrels can enter the home are:
- Broken windows
- Broken screens
- Drain pipes
- Areas where electrical or plumbing leads outside
- Damaged roofing tiles
- Damaged siding
- Crawl spaces
If the way the squirrel is getting inside isn’t obvious like a broken screen or window, you may need to check out more obscure areas such as your roofing tile or electrical lines.
Squirrels getting in through crawl spaces are likely to ground squirrels burrowing beneath your home. This can be very difficult to control as plugging the hole will not fix the problem. If this is the case, you may need to consult a professional to help you with your problem.
Other areas are much easier to fix like replacing a broken window or screen and covering the top of your chimney. Let’s get into how to seal any squirrel-sized openings…
6. Seal All Openings From The Squirrel
Once you find the opening where the squirrels are getting in, the next step is to seal them up so your home remains squirrel-free.
You’ll want to make sure all squirrels have vacated the building before sealing any holes. If you’re not sure whether the squirrel has left yet or not, try pushing loose newspaper into the hole. If the squirrel is still in there it will be able to push the newspaper out, leaving evidence of its departure.
When you’re sure no squirrels are in your home, it’s time to get to work. You can use 1-inch wire mesh such as Amagabeli 48in x 50ft Hardware Cloth 1inch. 1 inch is the correct size to keep squirrels out, barring them from squeezing through the holes.
If you’re sealing openings where piping or electrical lines come out, you can place wire mesh as close as you can to the wiring/piping and then seal the immediate area with caulking.
For the tops of chimneys, you can purchase something like Generic Cone Top Chimney Cap with Screen. This will allow smoke to get out while keeping squirrels, birds, and other critters from getting in. Squirrels are more likely to use chimneys in the winter when the warmth of the chimney attracts them out of the cold.
Replace any damaged roofing tiles or siding, as squirrels can easily chew them to make bigger holes so they can get inside. Replace all broken windows and screens and check for chew marks on your other window screens.
For crawl spaces, you can try to place mesh wiring over the wall or floor of your crawl space to avoid letting squirrels climb out from the depths and into your home. If nothing else, you can try to seal the hole in the crawl space with wire mesh.
However, as we said before, problems like this may require a professional’s touch.
You’re probably getting the point by now: seal all your openings! This will not only keep out squirrels but it will help keep out any other pesky animals like mice and rats that can waltz in uninvited.
7. Modify Your Yard To Attract Less Squirrels
The last step to making your home squirrel-free for good requires a bit more effort, but the payoff is worth it!
Modifying your yard and your habits can be tough, especially if you are used to doing things a certain way, but squirrels will take advantage of any possible situation. So, we have to outsmart them!
Modifications for squirrels are two-fold. First, you must look up high, then you must look down low. To keep tree squirrels and ground squirrels from loitering in your yard is almost impossible, but there are a few steps you can take to make your yard less attractive.
Yard Modifications For Tree Squirrels
Let’s look up high first. Tree squirrels often use tree canopies and cable wires to traverse their world. With a few modifications to your yard, you can slow their highway down to a one-lane country road.
Trim your trees: Trim any branches that hang close to your roof or a window. According to Nebraska University, gray squirrels can jump 8 feet sideways, 4 feet up, and 15 feet down. To be safe, they suggest trimming any limbs within 8 feet of your home.
Wrap wiring with plastic pipes: Have you ever seen small sections of plastic piping wrapped around wiring and wondered just what the heck they were? Those are to stop squirrels. You can install small sections (2 feet is preferred) of plastic pipe on the wire. Slit it down the middle and wrap it around.
If the squirrel tries to traverse the wire, the plastic pipe will spin and prevent them from traveling across.
Yard Modifications For Ground Squirrels
Now, let’s look down low:
Let your grass grow: Ground squirrels like to make burrows in the ground, often ruining parts of your lawn. Because they stick to the ground, they like to be able to see any potential predators.
For this reason, they like making their homes on manicured lawns where no snakes or raccoons can sneak upon them. Consider letting your grass get a bit higher than usual to keep ground squirrels from burrowing in your lawn.
Remove brush piles: removing brush piles and other debris may seem counterproductive to our last statement, but ground squirrels like using these as a cover over their burrow entrances. Try to remove these items from your lawn to avoid giving ground squirrels a reason to move in.
Yard Modifications For Any Squirrel
There are some modifications you can make that will be effective against both tree squirrels and ground squirrels. For example, both love to raid gardens and bird feeders. Let’s start there. You’ll need a few tools:
- 1-inch Wire Mesh
Squirrels love sunflower seeds. If you have this type of seed in your bird feeder, it’s likely to attract squirrels.
You can prevent those rascally rodents from getting into your birdfeeder by using a baffle like Woodlink Audubon Wrap Around Squirrel Baffle. This allows birds to get to the feeder but not squirrels. A simple yet effective tool.
Your garden is an all-you-can-eat buffet for a lot of animals: deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and squirrels all want a plate full! Squirrels can damage buried bulbs, seeds, and the fruit and vegetables themselves.
They’ll also gnaw on bark, sometimes killing young trees. But possibly the most annoying thing about squirrels is their obsession with catching food. They’ll dig holes all over your garden to bury nuts for the winter.
To protect your underground bulbs and seeds, consider busting out that 1-inch mesh wiring and placing it both above and beneath your bulb/seed.
For gardens, you can try to construct a fence with your wire mesh, but squirrels are excellent climbers and are likely able to climb over it. Instead, you can try to use frightening devices or scent deterrents to keep squirrels out of your garden.
Check out the 10 Scents That Squirrels Hate (And How To Use Them) for more information on natural scent deterrents for squirrels.
You can also make a wire mesh fence with a roof over specific plants if they are being preyed on often by squirrels.
To protect your trees, consider purchasing a squirrel baffle for your tree or using a tree bark protector like Voglund Nursery Mesh Tree Bark Protector. Just be sure to give your tree room to grow.
That’s A Wrap!
Hopefully, your mind isn’t too squirrely after soaking in all that information! Squirrels can be pretty annoying to deal with when they get inside your home. They’re messy, noisy, and certainly don’t help out with cleaning duties.
For more information on how to repel squirrels in the first place consider checking out our other articles such as, “Why Peppermint Repels Squirrels”, or “Vinegar: Why It Works To Repel Squirrels And How To Use It.”
If you find yourself dealing with a squirrel inside your house, there are 7 things you should do to get the squirrel out quickly and effectively. To recap, here they are:
- Locate the squirrel
- Put pets in a different room
- Isolate the squirrel to one room
- Allow the squirrel to escape – open a window or door
- Find out how it’s getting inside
- Seal any openings
- Make yard less desirable through habitat modification
Squirrels are cute to observe in parks and forests, but not in your home! If your squirrel is too rascally to handle yourself, you can consult a professional by using our nationwide pest control finder.
Dunn, M., Marzano, M., Forster, J., & Gill, R. M.A. (2018, June). Public attitudes towards “pest” management: Perceptions on squirrel management strategies in the UK. Biological Conservation, 222, 52-63.
Hale, M. L., Lurz, P. W.W., Shirley, M. D.F., Rushton, S., & Wolff, K. (2001, September 21). Impact of Landscape Management on the Genetic Structure of Red Squirrel Populations. Science, 293(5538), 2246-2248.
Koprowski, J. L. (2005). The response of tree squirrels to fragmentation: a review and synthesis. Animal Conservation, 8(4), 369-376.
Parker, T. S., & Nilon, C. H. (2008). Gray squirrel density, habitat suitability, and behavior in urban parks. Urban Ecosystems, 11, 243-255.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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