If you spot a squirrel in your home, it can be jarring since they typically belong in trees and scurrying along telephone poles! You’ll want them to leave, pronto! But how do squirrels get into your house in the first place?
Squirrels get inside your home through common entry points like chimneys and attics. They do this by chewing your siding or shingles or entering gaps. You may see them indoors because they’re lost, having gotten stuck in a space where they were searching for food, shelter, and nesting.
The moment you discover you have squirrels as house guests, you’ll want to take action immediately. Read on and find out the steps you need to take!
Why Do Squirrels Get Into Your House?
Typically, it’s a case of getting trapped in a space like a chimney or a part of the roof that didn’t fully lead into the attic. They are small, fast creatures with flexible soft bones.
Squirrels can move quickly without much analysis of where they’re going and are small enough to get trapped. When this happens they’ll chew through spaces to get out and end up coming through a vulnerable area…that’s where you’ll see them.
So, why would they be attracted to your house in the first place? This is the first step to understanding how you could start preventing additional visits and to know where to look for potential entry points.
In Search Of Food, Shelter, And Nesting
Squirrels love the great outdoors, naturally. They also like to live, also an instinct. When they are loose and free they suffer the malice of their many predators.
They get eaten and so do their babies! That is if they can’t find suitable shelter and safe places to nest where they can get in and out to gather and bring food back.
Your home is a great attraction for them. After all, you provide warmth, shelter from elements, and even predators. So, you are a prime target.
The good news is this: Since you know exactly what they’re looking for, you can certainly prevent them from returning. There are enough houses in the neighborhood and squirrels don’t play when they’re on a mission. So, making it nearly impossible for them to enter or stay and they’ll gladly find greener pastures.
A study done by Science.org explains how habitat and landscape manipulation eventually has an impact on the genetic structure of Red Squirrels in the New Forest Region of the UK. It’s complicated, but the point is to study how habitat modification will affect many aspects of the squirrel population!
How Do You Know You Have Squirrels In Your Home?
The first order of business is to inspect the home and take note of the signs the squirrel is present or has been there. Even if you haven’t seen them yet, but suspect they’re around, take note of all you see, hear, and observe.
What to look for when you think you have squirrels:
- Open your ears. Do you hear scratching or a scurrying noise? They love to run across your rooftop. You may even hear them dropping acorns on the roof!
- Strange animal poop that you don’t recognize. Typically, brown/black feces are over one-half inch.
- Inspect the outside of the home. Look for holes in the siding, fascia, or any area that is raised from the ground. Squirrels are on the ground often, yes, but they’re more likely to enter the house from above.
- Ripped and or chewed shingles.
- Inside the home, look for the same damage on the ceiling and walls.
- Any rotting smells? That may denote a squirrel that could not get out.
Now that you know you have a squirrel, let’s dive a little deeper into how they got into your house! Below are the ten most common areas you can inspect and prevent or capture and release. We’ll go through the best solutions afterward in the last section.
Before going deeper, I do encourage you to check out our guide on the different ways that squirrels can damage your house so you can easily identify any potential squirrel damage to then prevent them more effectively!
10 Ways Squirrels Get Inside Your House
1. Damaged Roof Vents
As we stated, our homes are an ideal environment for squirrels. They will chew through things if they have to, but typically, they move quickly yet deliberately and seem to prefer the path of least resistance.
This means anything that is already pre-conditioned for them will be the first choice for the point of entry. The first order of business for discovering squirrels in the home or where the one you saw got in is to inspect the roof and surrounding areas.
For safety reasons, is a good idea to avoid getting on a roof yourself and instead secure a builder or contractor that has proper insurance to inspect the roof. They will charge a fee, so shop around!
They will look at damaged roof vents. Any of the roof-related aspects listed here will need a contractor to inspect so keep that in mind for most of the list.
Roof vents get damaged in a multitude of ways. Violent or extreme weather; trees and tree nuts and seeds; age and lack of maintenance are what can damage roof vents.
There are ways to keep squirrels out of all the areas we discuss here which we will outline in the last section.
2. Roof Soffit Intersections
Roof Soffit Intersections, or RSI for short, are common entry point for squirrels. It’s where the roof and ceiling connect internally. Depending on the construction, this is an area of vulnerability.
Wood and superficial coverings can be chewed into easily. Take great care inspecting this area. A contractor or exterminator is recommended to provide this service as it’s a bit more nuanced than your typical DIY.
3. Damaged Roof Edges
A damaged roof edge is a hollow space that may have some deliberate holes with screens over them. This is where a multitude of vermin love to live and walk around. Yuck!
This is an essential area of inspection due to the various animals that like to frequent that are just as, if not more, damaging than a squirrel.
The inspection and prevention can ward off rats, squirrels, and raccoons to name the common few.
4. Gable Vents
A Gable Vent is any vent or deliberate hole with a screen on it. Screens are typically easy to chew! Not that I would know from personal experience…
It may or may not be an accurate description of your home, but to avoid confusion, you would treat these the same as in entry-point two.
5. Dryer Vents or Any Wall Vent
One vent type that is often overlooked is the dryer vent from your utility room. Yes, they can technically enter, but it’s less common than that of the roof vents.
Addressing the vent and inspecting it for damage, will also stop rats, snakes, lizards, scorpions, spiders, and more from entering.
Dryer vents will smell like dryer sheets if you use them. That attracts a lot of creatures. In some cases, depending on the scent, it may repel some of them.
Yes! You get lucky when it comes to dryer sheets and squirrels. Snuggle dryer sheets packs a potent smell that may just help run them away.
You can simply use them on clothes, or you can clip them to a wire mesh cover you place around the vent. You would have to match it to your dimensions and type then look for the one that’s best for your home.
Irish Spring Original Clean Body Wash for Men, 30 Fl Oz is a great one that you can put in a water bottle and spray. You can simply buy the body wash and mix a small amount with water. Easy peasy!
Spray it liberally around the space and keep it handy to top up regularly.
You can view our full list of scents that squirrels hate if you don’t want to use the above smells!
6. Chimney Tops
Chimney tops are a wide and warm space for a mama squirrel looking for a comfy place to nest. There is easy access and it serves as a great hiding place.
Mother squirrels will nest if the flue is closed. If they feel intense heat they may not venture there! However, depending on the way your fireplace is made, they may find a safe space well above the damaging flames.
7. Plumbing Mats
Plumbing mats are the flat, square rubber mats that cover the larger hole in the plumbing outlet on the roof of some homes. They are easily chewed.
The squirrel may be attracted to this space for any moisture, fungi that they like, and any moist airflow coming from the pipe.
This is a good thing to cage and protect anyway due to the issues that can occur with your plumbing if it’s clogged with anything preventing airflow.
8. Damaged Attic Windows
Your attic is one of those places we list in the next entry-point as a place less used. Typically they are made with a ventilation spot in the form of a small window.
These windows are apt to be damaged and go unnoticed. They can be damaged by weather, age, and falling projectiles from nearby trees during high winds, storms, and snow.
They can also have damaged wooden covers over the glass. The glass may not be tight against the frame. This makes an easy target for squirrels, raccoons, and rats which you do not want. They get in by simply pushing on the glass in that case.
You can also apply a peppermint spray to repel squirrels near potential attic entries as well.
9. Less Used Areas May be secret entry Points for squirrels
The best places for the squirrel to make a stealth entrance are in places less used. Attics, basements, and crawl spaces are the most common.
Inspect and secure these areas as you would the rest listed to ensure no reentry.
10. Trees Near the House Are a perfect jumping-off point for squirrels
Get it? Just as important as the entry points are the bridges they use to get there. Even a flying squirrel needs to start up high–not on the ground like a bird.
So, inspect the property that is around the house. Are there trees that are close enough for a creature that can jump far distances? You may feel it’s too expensive and would destroy the property to deal with the trees.
Ideally, trees should be at least 15ft away from the side of your home.
The good news is, dealing with all the entry points mentioned is far better and you’ll prevent or deter other creatures from entering!
As an added note, squirrels frequently chew Christmas lights, so just keep that in mind when the season is around when you have lights close to your home on your trees.
Just another thing that draws them in!
How to Get Squirrels Out of Your House
Now that you know how the squirrel may have gotten in, there are several steps you can take to get them out. They aren’t that challenging and the squirrel is unlikely to return.
For a more detailed guide, I highly recommend checking out our step-by-step guide: 7 Things To Do If You Find A Squirrel In Your House.
During my apartment living, there were several instances where our downstairs roommates had a squirrel enter the house. Literally the best thing to do is close them off and give them ANY possible exit out of your home.
Before going to deep on that, the first thing you need to understand when addressing any form of wildlife in your home is precautions and remove yourself from the area as quickly as possible.
And it goes without saying, but you shouldn’t touch a squirrel at all during this process.
If you have pets, this is one of the best ways to encourage exit. Dogs barking and cats running after them is one great ways to scare them away.
Just be sure that they don’t get too deep into the fray and get a scratch or bite. Typically, the noise and commotion will be enough to stop them.
You’ll want to make sure you have an exit point laid out for the squirrel. If they came in through the window, just leave that room alone, shut the door, and leave while checking back in 15-30 minutes to see if the squirrel is gone.
Practice Habitat Modification
There are ways to modify their habitat so that there aren’t any easy squeezy ways to get their little bodies into your vents, attics, or roofs. Caging around chimneys and vent hoods like the Deflecto HR4W 4″ Vent Hood is an effective way of keeping them out.
Cutting tree limbs that are too close to the roof is also a step you could take. Make sure you don’t have bushes they like to play in that are too close to the house.
These two steps alone can discourage them from continuously attempting entry!
Again, a professional exterminator with this type of wildlife experience for overall habitat modification would be the most effective decision.
That’s A Wrap!
As you can tell, ridding yourself of squirrel invasions isn’t as challenging as some other creatures. They do cause some damage if left uncontrolled, but the old squirrel is a creature with a mission and is unlikely to stay around when there are greener, (easier, in squirrel language) pastures to conquer.
I hope you are relieved at what you found out today and can rid your home of those unwelcome squirrels!
Hirsch, B. T., Kays, R., & Jansen, P. A. (2013). Evidence for cache surveillance by a scatter-hoarding rodent. Animal Behaviour, 85(6), 1511-1516.
Niu, H., Wang, Z., Huang, G., Peng, C., Zhang, Z., & Zhang, H. (2020). Responses of a scatter-hoarding squirrel to conspecific pilfering: a test of the reciprocal pilferage hypothesis. Animal Behaviour, 170, 147-155.
Martín, J., Barja, I., Rodríguez-Ruiz, G., Recio, P., & García, L. V. (2021). Soil pollution by heavy metals correlates with levels of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites of a fossorial amphisbaenian reptile. Conservation physiology, 9(1).
Roth, J. D., Dobson, F. S., Neuhaus, P., Abebe, A., Barra, T., Boonstra, R., … & Viblanc, V. A. (2022). Territorial scent-marking effects on vigilance behavior, space use, and stress in female Columbian ground squirrels. Hormones and Behavior, 139, 105111.
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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