PESTS - SQUIRRELS
Maine has three squirrels that can be pests: grey, red and flying. All members of the squirrel family except the flying squirrels are diurnal, which means they are active during the day–this is rare among wild mammals!
Squirrels are considered pests when they enter homes and buildings to nest; when they raid birdfeeders; when they feed on gardens, trees and landscape plantings; and when they dig holes in gardens and lawns to bury and retrieve food.
"There are more than 200 species of squirrels, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), and they are categorized into three types: tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. "
Gray squirrels raid fruit and nut trees, and vegetable and flower gardens, where they eat both flower bulbs and buds.
Eastern Grey Squirrel
Red squirrels are often culprit inside homes, where they use insulation for nest building and sometimes chew electrical wiring.
Flying squirrels are a cute nocturnal critter. They are quite common, but since their normal hours of business are from dusk to about midnight we don’t see them very often. The Northern Flying squirrel is the larger of the two species and comes in at a plump 4 ounces (which is about half the weight of our Red Squirrel).
MANAGEMENT AND PREVENTION
The most common problem associated with squirrels is their ability to take up residence in people’s homes. They associate holes in eaves, soffits and roofs with a tree cavity, their natural nests, and move right in. Once inside, they consider it theirs, and they can be very difficult to get rid of.
Squirrels will tear up insulation in an attic and use it to make a nest. They will also chew through electrical lines. If squirrels are in your dwelling or building, it’s usually because of an existing problem, such as a small hole in a soffit or eave. One could also have a rotted louver that enables them chew through to gain access to your attic. Scratching, gnawing, and pitter-patter sounds are a sure clue that you have a squirrel problem.
NOTE: Be sure the tree or shrub species can be pruned at the time you wish; e.g., do not prune oak between April 15 and September 15 because of the risk of oak wilt. Also since carpenter ants can travel from branches to lines and electrical wires and use them like a highway to buildings, branches that touch electrical lines or other wires should be trimmed. You should NOT trim those brances yourself; this triming sohould be done by professionals.
Prevention is key to keeping squirrels, or any other animal, from taking up residence in your home or building. Keep trees and overhanging branches away from your structure. Make sure all parts of the exterior of your building are maintained, and repair any rotted or damaged areas of eaves and soffits. Also, make sure your roof is in good condition.
The best approach to take, if you have an infestation of squirrels, is to live trap them at their access point, if possible. Nail a live/box trap at the opening and bait it with peanut butter, nuts, apple slices, etc. If heights aren’t your thing, you can place the traps in the heavily traveled areas they are using to gain access. Once you’ve caught a squirrel, check to make sure there are no young or other squirrels inside your home.
It is critically important that you check for more than one squirrel before sealing up any opening. They are very excitable and will cause extensive damage if trapped inside. Also, no one wants to leave behind defenseless young in a nest. The young will most likely die, and the adults will try to gain access to the area by any means, leaving you with more damage than you had before you started.