The fact that the grey squirrel has pushed away the red squirrel and is constantly trying to find nesting places in people’s lofts and yards is what makes those squirrels a pest. Despite their appearance, which is often found appealing to people, squirrels are regarded as more serious pests than rats. Squirrel infestations can be found typically in lofts, which they infest intentionally, unlike rats, which are usually not found in such areas.
Squirrel infestations can be difficult to eradicate, due to the squirrel behaviour, which could be described as determined and persistent. The typical signs of a squirrel infestation are damage on surfaces from chewing and gnawing (when looking for new places to nest or store their food), noises (while looking for food or storing it). A squirrel infestation might also cause damage to the electrical wiring in your property, which might result in a fire breakout. Another typical damage caused by squirrels in domestic premises may also be the removal of bark around tree trunks, digging up newly planted bulbs and making holes in the lawn to store food caches
Their faeces and urine also pose risk of salmonella infection to anyone coming into contact with it and it is essential that a deep clean is done in the area of the infestation. When witnessing a squirrel infestation in your loft you should look for the entry point of the squirrels. Then at a time when they would most probably be away from the nest (usually in the mornings) make some noise to make any squirrels that might be still inside come out and block the entry point. In case you hear noises again, un-block the entry point as a young one might have been trapped in and the mother squirrel will come back to take it to another nest.
If you are not sure how successful you have been dealing with the squirrel infestation yourself or you are not sure whether you would be able to help the situation on your own, it is always best to call a professional pest control company. In Prime Pest Control we have experienced and professionally-trained by the BPCA pest technicians, who have been tackling squirrel infestations in London and the surrounding areas for many years now.
Squirrel treatment and control
When you call a professional pest control company in cases of squirrel infestation, you will have your property inspected first. This is to find the type of squirrel infestation present, the entry points of the squirrels, the amount of damage caused and the level of the infestation. These steps are vital for making the right selection of eradication method. Depending on the infestation and your personal needs, we will tailor our methods, so that you could achieve high success rates, no matter what your situation or preferences may be.
There are different methods that we would use for the removal of squirrel infestations. Some of them are:
- proofing of the loft/infested area - blocking all entry points of the area that is infested by the squirrels allows for the long-term removal effect; it will ensure the long-term effect of the treatment and will not allow for any squirrels to go back and nest there again
- drey poking is a method, which includes a gun to shoot the grey squirrels; it is usually done in the winter months when the tree leaves have fallen off, so that the squirrels are easier to spot; it can also be done with a rifle or air rifle
- spring trapping is a method that uses a spring trap to catch the squirrels; it is convenient to use in lofts and gardens
- live catch trapping - unlike the spring traps, the traps used for live catching of pest squirrels do not kill the squirrels
There are also other methods available, such as warfarin poisoning, baiting, bark stripping prevention, proofing, etc…
In the case of red squirrel infestations, the methods are chosen in a way that no squirrels are harmed and after catching the red squirrels are released back in the nature. All methods mentioned above are discussed with the customer, so that a common agreement can be made on the exact method that is going to be used for the removal of the squirrel infestation.
When using methods that involve a lethal end for the squirrels, Prime Pest Control operates a strict policy for humane dispatch of the squirrels, which is a general requirement for all pest control companies dealing with squirrel pest control.
Squirrels become popular in Europe after being introduced from America in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century. They then become widely-spread, especially in places with green areas and parks, such as the United Kingdom. The wide variety of places where squirrels can settle down has made it easy for them to spread around quickly. As a result, the grey squirrel, which was introduced from America, pushes away the red squirrel, which is widely-found locally at the time and is now close to extinction. Other kinds of squirrels are also considered pests but they are not popular in the UK. Those are the flying squirrel and the fox squirrel.
How to differentiate between red and grey squirrels:
In case you encounter or suspect the presence of a squirrel infestation, here are some tips how to recognise which kind should be eradicated and which one should be released into the wild.
- The grey squirrel, (Sciurus carolinensis),which should be eradicated, is larger than the red squirrel, they have spots of brown and white underparts and they do not have ear tufts. The grey squirrels typically breed from December to January and from May to June, reproducing once or twice a year. The number of squirrels born may vary between 1-5. Usually the female squirrels live longer than the male ones – 4 – 6 years, compared to 2 – 3 years lifespan of the male squirrels.
- The red squirrel, (Sciurus vulgaris) which should be released in the wild, is smaller in size, than the grey squirrel. The colour on their backs may vary from black, through to chestnut brown. They have typically fluffy tails and long ear tufts. The red squirrels also breed twice a year: March – April and July – August. Each breed consists of 3 to 4 squirrels. The req squirrels start breeding when they reach one year of age. In general, their lifespan is about 6 years.
Both kinds of pest squirrels have similar habits – they chew holes in the exterior of buildings and structures in search of new habitat. There they nest or store food, or sometimes they could do both things in the same place. Typical places for squirrels to settle into are lofts, garages or roofs.
Another fact about the behaviour of this pest is that they are active in the early mornings and late afternoons. During those times the squirrels are in search of food sources or storing the food that they have found but do not need to consume immediately. Preferred foods are nuts, seeds, leaves, barks, insects, and even fruit.