If you hear scampering, scratching, or other signs coming from your attic, chances are you have unwelcome squirrel guests. But, how to get rid of squirrels in the attic? Getting rid of squirrels from your attic can be a challenge, but this comprehensive guide will walk you through the process step-by-step.
In this blog post, you’ll learn exactly how to get rid of squirrels in the attic through humane trapping and exclusion methods. I’ll also share tips to squirrel-proof your home to prevent future invasions.
Table Of Contents
How to Get Rid of Squirrels in the Attic in 3 Steps
Here is a quick summary of the 3 main steps I recommend for getting rid of attic squirrels by using the so-called exclusion method:
- Inspect the attic and find potential entry points squirrels are using
- Install one-way exclusion devices at entry points to allow squirrels to leave but not re-enter
- Seal entry points shut once you are sure all squirrels have exited the attic
Read on for more details on each step in the process.
Why Are Squirrels in My Attic?
Before learning how to remove attic squirrels, it helps to understand what attracts them to attics in the first place. Here are some of the top reasons squirrels may invade your attic:
- Shelter and protection – Attics provide a warm, dry place for squirrels to build nests and take shelter, especially in cold weather.
- Availability of food – Squirrels may find attics near oak or hickory trees with acorns or nuts they can store for winter.
- Safety from predators – Attics get squirrels away from predators like hawks, foxes, coyotes, and cats.
- Good nesting spot – Female squirrels looking for safe places to give birth may choose attics for their nurseries.
Do you suspect that squirrels have made their residence in your attic? Here are several distinctive indicators to be watchful for:
- Noises – Scratching, scampering, thumping, or gnawing sounds from the attic, often at dawn or dusk when squirrels are most active.
- Droppings – You may find squirrel droppings in the attic or near entry points.
- Damage – Chewed electrical wires, damaged insulation, or gnaw marks on wood and other materials.
- Odor – A musty, urine-like smell coming from the attic.
- Nests – Twigs, leaves, nuts, and other debris piled up in a corner.
How to Confirm Squirrels in the Attic
Hearing noises in the attic isn’t definite proof of a squirrel problem. Other possible culprits include rats, mice, raccoons, bats, or birds. To be 100% sure you’re dealing with squirrels:
- Inspect the attic with a flashlight to look for visual signs like droppings, damage, or nests.
- Place a trail camera or wildlife camera in the attic to get photographic evidence.
- Have a professional pest control technician inspect the attic and confirm the type of animal.
humane methods for removing squirrels
When it comes to attic pest control, it’s important to use humane, non-lethal methods whenever possible. Here are the main squirrel removal techniques to know:
This involves baiting and placing live traps in the attic, then releasing unharmed squirrels outdoors once captured. There are a few considerations with this method:
- Use squirrel-sized traps labeled safe for live capture.
- Check local regulations, as relocation guidelines vary by state.
- Release squirrels within 100 yards to avoid territory conflicts.
- Be prepared for the process to take longer than exclusion methods.
Exclusion involves installing one-way doors or barriers at entry points that let squirrels out of the attic but prevent them from getting back inside. This technique offers several advantages, including:
- Doesn’t require handling squirrels.
- Prevents re-entry once squirrels leave the attic.
- Is passive and low maintenance for homeowners.
The one-way doors can be homemade or purchased ready-made. I’ll give you instructions on how to make those DIY later in the article!
Squirrel repellents create unpleasant sensations like taste, smell, or touch to make areas less inviting. Some options include:
- Menthol/peppermint oil sprays
- Predator urine granules or sprays
- Hot pepper sprays like capsaicin
- Ultrasonic repellers
Repellents alone are rarely effective for removing attic squirrels but can be used alongside exclusion methods. Avoid toxic products not designed for indoor use around pets and humans.
Choosing the Best Squirrel Removal Approach
Exclusion is usually the quickest, most effective DIY option for attic squirrels. Trapping works too but takes more time and effort. Repellents help deter squirrels but don’t physically block them from re-entering.
For severe infestations, professional squirrel removal services employ humane techniques while saving homeowners time and hassle. They can also address entry points and structural issues beyond a typical DIY project.
Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Attic Squirrels
Once you commit to evicting your attic squatters, follow these steps to get the job done right:
1. Inspect the Attic
The first step is investigating the attic to find where squirrels enter and assess the extent of the problem. Look for:
- Potential entry points – holes, gaps around pipes or wires, uncapped chimneys etc.
- Signs of activity – droppings, chew marks, nesting areas.
- Damage – gnawed wires, shredded insulation etc.
Conduct attic inspections in the daytime before dusk when squirrels become active. Take precautions against inhaling airborne particles by wearing a protective mask.
2. Install One-Way Exclusion Devices
After locating probable entryways, install a one-way exclusion device at each spot. These gadgets act as squirrel-sized doors, allowing squirrels to leave the attic but not re-enter.
To DIY simple exclusion doors:
- Cut a hole around 2 inches larger than the entry point in a piece of 1⁄4” plywood.
- Cover the hole with 1⁄2” metal mesh hardware cloth and staple into place.
- Attach the plywood piece over the entry point using screws or construction adhesive.
The squirrels can push through the hardware cloth to exit but not get back in. Leave exclusion devices in place for a week minimum to ensure all squirrels leave before permanently sealing holes.
3. Seal Entry Points
Once exclusion devices remain undisturbed for over a week, you can seal entry holes permanently. Use the following materials:
- Steel mesh, sheet metal, copper, or galvanized screening
- Cement, urethane expandable foam, or epoxy for gaps
- Weather-resistant sealants for roof vents
In some cases, you may need professional help sealing large damaged areas. The goal is to “squirrel-proof” your home by making it impossible for them to chew or claw their way back inside.
4. Clean and Deodorize the Attic
Once squirrels vacate, thoroughly clean the attic to remove contaminants and nesting materials using:
- Broom and dustpan
- HEPA-filter vacuum
- Disinfectants and deodorizers
- Protective gloves and mask
Discard vacuumed debris in sealed bags. Wash hands after cleaning. Removing odors and droppings eliminates lingering smells in living areas and reduces disease risks.
5. Make Repairs
Inspect for structural damage or compromised insulation after attic cleanup. Make any necessary repairs to holes, gnawed areas, damaged vents etc. Replacing ruined insulation improves energy efficiency and prevents drafts.
6. Install Prevention Measures
To discourage future squirrel invasion once they’ve been excluded, take these prevention steps:
- Trim overhanging tree branches near the roofline.
- Keep gutters clean and install gutter guards.
- Install chimney caps and vent covers.
- Seal additional holes or gaps with weather-resistant materials.
Ongoing exclusion maintenance checks will catch new problem areas early before serious issues arise.
But this is not all. Later in this article I will give you more suggestions on how to prevent a new squirrel invasion of your attic.
When to Call a Professional Squirrel Control Company
Although the exclusion method outlined here is DIY-friendly, not all attic squirrel jobs are created equal. Get professional help for:
- Severe infestations – If you’re hearing dozens of squirrels or dealing with a multi-year issue.
- Inaccessible entry points – Openings high on the roof that require tall ladders to reach.
- Hazardous electrical damage – From chewed wires in walls and ceilings.
- Major structural repairs – Like rebuilding damaged roof vents.
Licensed professionals have the experience, equipment, and knowledge to resolve severe squirrel problems safely and effectively.
Questions to Ask Squirrel Control Companies
When interviewing professional squirrel removal services, ask these key questions:
- Do you use humane squirrel exclusion techniques?
- Are you licensed for wildlife control in my state?
- Will you repair damage caused by squirrels?
- What prevention measures do you recommend?
- What are your service guarantees if squirrels return?
Avoid any company that uses lethal methods like poisons or needs to kill squirrels onsite. A reputable service will be upfront, professional, and stand by their work.
Cost to Remove Squirrels from the Attic
For DIY squirrel removal, expect to spend $50 to $150 on supplies like exclusion doors, sealants, hardware cloth, and lumber. Renting an attic cleaning machine can cost $40 to $75 daily.
Hiring professional squirrel removal costs $300 to $600 on average based on the severity of the infestation and the repair work needed. Complex jobs with re-entry prevention can run $1000 or more.
Preventing Squirrels from Re-Entering the Attic
Taking measures to squirrel-proof your home after removal is critical to keeping them from chewing their way back to your attic. Here are some essential prevention tips to consider:
- Install galvanized steel mesh over roof vents, chimneys, and soffit openings.
- Use metal flashing around roof edges, gables, and ridges.
- Seal cracks around fascia and penetrations with caulk or expandable foam.
- Keep overhanging trees trimmed back from the roof.
- Replace damaged or missing shingles right away.
Conduct an exclusion inspection at least annually and after major storms to find and fix potential new entry spots proactively.
For permanent, durable squirrel exclusion, use these heavy-duty materials:
- Copper Mesh – Flexible and resistant to corrosion and chewing.
- Stainless Steel Mesh – Withstands gnawing better than standard galvanized steel.
- Aluminum Flashing – Long-lasting and easy to install around vulnerable areas.
- Concrete – For filling channels around chimneys, vents, and roof peaks vulnerable to chewing.
Natural Squirrel Repellents
Although exclusion is more effective, natural repellents can also make areas less hospitable to persistent squirrels. Safer DIY options include:
- Peppermint oil – Strong scent squirrels dislike. Use pure oils and avoid skin contact.
- Ammonia-soaked rags – Place near entry points but avoid inhaling fumes.
- Fox or coyote urine – Mimics natural predator scent. Look for products marketed for outdoor use.
- Hot pepper spray – Contains capsaicin; avoid skin and eye contact.
- Loud music or radio – Deters squirrels with annoying noise. Place a boombox in the attic.
Heavy-duty commercial squirrel repellents use ingredients like capsaicin at higher concentrations but require caution to use indoors.
Lethal Squirrel Removal Methods (to Avoid)
Some old school methods of removing attic squirrels can seem quick and effective but cause needless suffering. Avoid these inhumane tactics:
- Posion bait blocks
- Moth balls or chemical fumigants
- Glue traps
- Drowning traps
- Hunting or shooting squirrels indoors
It’s much better for both the squirrels and homeowners to use passive exclusion and relocation techniques.
Dangers and Damage Caused by Attic Squirrels
It might be tempting to just leave a few squirrels alone in your attic. But these uninvited guests can cause significant problems if allowed to stay, including:
- Structural damage – Squirrels gnaw on wood, create holes, and burrow through insulation. This can compromise the structural integrity of your home over time.
- Electrical hazards – Squirrels may chew through electrical wires in walls and attics, increasing fire risks.
- Plumbing leaks – If squirrels access areas with pipes or HVAC equipment, their gnawing can cause costly leaks and water damage.
- Disease risks – Squirrels can carry diseases transmittable to humans like salmonella, Lyme disease, and even bubonic plague in some regions.
- Allergies and asthma – Droppings, dander, and nesting debris can stir up allergies and asthma symptoms if particles make their way into living areas.
The longer squirrels remain, the greater the potential for property damage, health hazards, and costly repairs down the line. Acting quickly to remove them is key.
How did squirrels get in my attic?
Common squirrel entry points into attics include holes in eaves or roofing, gaps around loose panels or fittings, uncapped chimneys and vents, damaged soffits or vents, and access through the walls from nearby trees. Squirrels are agile climbers and persistent chewers.
How do you keep squirrels out of an attic?
The most effective way to keep attic squirrels out for good is through exclusion – sealing off all possible entryways except for a one-way exit door. Then permanently closing off the final exit point once the squirrels are gone. Prevention measures like tree trimming, vent covers, and maintaining the roof helps keep new ones out.
What smells deter squirrels?
Squirrels dislike strong scents from ammonia, vinegar, pepper sprays, predator urine, peppermint oil, and capsaicin. Milder scents of lavender, lemon, and tea tree oil may also help deter them from yards and porches. Avoid mothballs, which are highly toxic.
What happens if you don’t get rid of squirrels?
Letting attic squirrels remain will lead to increased structural damage as they gnaw and chew to enlarge entry holes. More droppings and debris build up, raising disease risks. Squirrels give birth to litters twice per year, so populations can quickly multiply. Ignoring infestations leads to costlier repairs down the road.
Do ultrasonic repellers get rid of squirrels?
While there is no scientific evidence that ultrasonic pest repellers actually drive away squirrels, rodents, or other wildlife, people know thast the truly work The sounds are above the range of human hearing but it bothers squirrels, that will usually prefer to leave.
How to get rid of squirrels in the attic? Dealing with annoying, destructive squirrels in the attic requires diligence and patience. But by following the process of exclusion, sealing holes, cleanup, and prevention outlined here, you can reclaim your attic and peace of mind.
With prompt action and the right tools, attic squirrels don’t stand a chance!
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