Animal Health & Welfare

Common Squirrel Questions & Answers


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First thing you want to do is determine where the Squirrel is getting in and out (the chimney is fairly obvious). If there is more than one entrance/exit, block all of them except for one easy-to-locate spot. Obtain six to twelve, one inch strips of fabric, tie them in tight knots and soak them in household ammonia. Then, wearing rubber gloves, place these in the attic, chimney, or wall where the Squirrel has been seen or heard. Next, buy cayenne pepper at 90,000 heat units which can be found at your local natural foods store, Whole Foods or Sun Harvest. Sprinkle the pepper generously in areas that the animal has been seen coming and going near the hole, on the roof, or around trees that give the animal access to the attic. Animals cannot tolerate the presence of the pepper and they will vacate the area. Note: pets and children should not have access to the pepper! Lights and loud music at night also disturbs Squirrels who sleep during these hours. Once these techniques are used for several days, tape a piece of newspaper over the hole. If it is not disturbed for several more days, you are now safe to cover the hole or cap your chimney securely, preventing Squirrels or other animals from coming back in.

The best way to keep Squirrels out of your feeders is by installing feeders that are not easily accessible to them. Hanging feeders are not recommended because Squirrels can climb down the line or shake the line until the food falls to the ground. Instead, install a free-standing feeder on a metal pole at least 6 ft high. Squirrels are excellent climbers and jumpers so you want to install it away from tree limbs, shrubs, and other easy "boosters." And remember, Squirrels often eat the same things as birds, like seeds, nuts, and fruit, so try not to blame the animal. To him/her "bird" feeders might as well be "squirrel" feeders.

This is a fairly common problem that can be solved by some simple repel techniques.

  1. Cayenne pepper: you will need the 90,000 heat unit cayenne pepper that can be obtained in natural food stores such as Whole Foods and Sun Harvest. Sprinkle the pepper all over the wiring in your car, this should deter any chewing. Apply liberally and often.
  2. Moth balls: Keep socks with moth balls under your hood when the car is not running. This acts as a repellent much like ammonia soaked rags; Squirrels detect the chemical and find some other place to chew. Remember to remove the moth balls before starting your car.
  3. Store-bought repellent: You can buy certain products at hardware stores that act as animal repellents. Make sure that the one you choose is non-toxic to pets, children, and wildlife. Look for products that simulate or contain urine of predator species such as foxes and coyotes. Use as directed and the Squirrel(s) should make home elsewhere.
Reasons NOT to Live Trap

Live trapping is an ineffective means of controlling wildlife in your yard. By trapping and removing and wild animal you are simply creating a vacancy for more animals to move in. It is more effective to ask yourself why the animals are finding your yard appealing (the answer will probably be either food, water, or shelter) and what you can do to remove what it is that the animal is finding appealing, repel the animal from your yard, and prevent them from returning. Exclusion methods and some degree of tolerance are ultimately more successful and lasting.

Live trapping should never be an option between early spring to early fall. This is the time when most species of native wildlife are having their young and there may be babies in, under, or around your house that are entirely dependent on their mother for food and protection. Any action that prevents the mother from caring for her young will result in suffering for her and a slow death for the babies. Since the family will not stay forever, or even for a very long time (a month or two, perhaps less), it is better to wait until the family vacates and then take action that will prevent the same thing from happening again.

Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc.

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