7 things homeowners should know about squirrels

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7 things homeowners should know about squirrels

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Fox squirrel

Some people enjoy seeing squirrels at the local park. While watching the rodents scurry about in search of food can be cute, hearing them scampering around the attic or roof is not. Homeowners should keep the following in mind.

1. Squirrels gnaw through wires. The animal may bite its way into the attic by way of the eaves. Females use insulation for nest building. Squirrels occasionally gnaw on the wiring that runs through the attic, which creates a dangerous fire hazard. Squirrels can cause significant power outages. The University of Maryland suggests the installation of one-quarter-inch mesh hardware cloth over any vents, openings, and fans. The material allows airflow to continue but discourages squirrels from taking up residence in the attic.

2. They fit through a hole the size of a quarter. If the homeowner intends to take the experts at their word and install the mesh, it pays to heed the warning of Rhode Island's Department of Environmental Management. After observing the comings and goings of squirrels, these experts concluded that an opening the size of a quarter is big enough to admit an adult squirrel into the home.

3. Squirrel won't disturb flowerbeds that are covered with dog hair. Rhode Island's expert squirrel watchers also discovered that the animals would not uproot and chew freshly planted bulbs or seeds -- if the homeowner spreads a thick layer of dog hair over the soil. Build a good relationship with a professional dog groomer or vet today, and tomorrow's crop may be safe from the rodents' teeth.

4. Squirrels can be encouraged to move out with lights and a cat. Keeping an attic brightly lit around the clock can dissuade squirrels from living in your home. If a squirrel is thought to have taken up residence there, bright light could encourage the animal to move out. To speed up the process, put a cat in the attic as well. Of course, this latter bit of advice may not sit well with the cat if it is accustomed to a much more stress-free existence in the home.

5. Squirrels cannot climb sheet metal. The homeowner can keep tree squirrels off the trees -- and therefore off the roof -- with the application of a 2-foot-wide band of sheet metal, according to the Wyoming Fish and Game Department. To minimize access between trees, gaps should exceed 10 feet.

6. Darkness may not allow for proper tapping. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife discovered that eastern gray and fox squirrels easily miss the entrance to an enticingly baited trap if it is too dark.

7. Some squirrels enter roof traps; others respond to indoor traps. These same experts also noted that the Eastern gray and fox squirrels should be trapped on the roof rather than inside the attic. The same is true for the Douglas squirrel. A flying squirrel should be trapped inside the attic, near the entrance the animal uses.

Even if the trapping procedure is successful, the homeowner must continue to repeat it with another baited trap. Who knows if there was just one squirrel in the attic? If there were more of these rodents taking up residence in the home, and if the homeowner closes up the entrance the rodents use, the squirrel will do quite a bit of damage in an effort to get out.

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