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Learning Centre

Squirrels

Introduction
There are 2 types of tree squirrels in southern Ontario, Eastern grey squirrels and red squirrels. Basically they are a rodent with a big bushy tail and the most visible animal in our area. They are known to be very clever, and very persistent. Anyone who has owned a bird feeder and has tried to keep them away knows, just how inventive they can be. The Grey squirrel has a melanistic (black) colour phase, for which they are sometimes mistaken for a different species.


Eastern Grey Squirrel

Red squirrel
Physical Characteristics
The average squirrel weighs 18-28 ounces. They are about 50 cm in length (half of that would be their bushy tail). This tail however plays a very important role in their survival. It helps keep them warm, works as an umbrella, a parachute, a signal flag, and also helps them keep their balance for example when they run across a hydro wire.

They are most active during early morning and late afternoon. During the late summer and fall they are mostly busy finding food to tide them over the cold winter months. Their favorite foods are walnuts, butternuts, and acorns. A squirrel track is easily identified by the fact that they place their feet next to each other rather then one behind the other. They can scamper around at about 12 miles per hour and love to scurry about and play. The grey and red squirrels are quite vocal, the most commonly heard sound is a sort of clicking sound when agitated.

Habitat
Their natural habitat is deciduous woodlands, rich with nut trees. Primarily arboreal they are very good climbers, particularly on surfaces that are rough in texture, (gives them a good grip) like a brick wall. The female squirrel can occupy ranges of approximately 5-15 acres, and males between 50 -55 acres. The female squirrel prefers to nest in cavities, because they are safer, drier and warmer, if this is not available the familiar leafy nests high up in a tree is the next best choice. They are usually made of tightly packed leaves and lined with shredded vines and grasses, sometimes twigs on the bottom.

Life Cycle
Grey Squirrels breed when they are 1 year old, late January or early February. Gestation period is 42 45 days. One squirrel averages 2 - 4 young born each time.

Damage and Disease Risks
They are excellent climbers often seen jumping from branch to branch which makes your attic and walls, the perfect selection for a den site. They have extremely sharp teeth and love to gnaw anything if it is edible or not therefore, if left, can do extensive damage in an attic. They are often the cause for electricity outages and fires, as they can not seem to tell the difference between a live electrical wire or a tree branch.

Pest Control Services
Aanteater Pest Control and Wildlife Services strictly adhere to a comprehensive and sustainable integrated pest management strategy when dealing with squirrels. Live trapping is rarely a viable option as it does not prevent other animals moving in to replace the original occupant. The scent of a den site is a powerful attractant to other animals looking for a place to live. Our goal is to provide the best long term solution to the problem, and based on our data and record keeping, animal exclusion has shown the most effective and cost efficient method of permanent squirrel removal. Our approach is humane in nature, and our best efforts are made to prevent any harm from befalling on the squirrels and guaranteeing that a new animal will not replace it. Our knowledgeable technicians will install a one-way door on the entry point. This allows the squirrels to leave, but they will not be able to get back in. The door is temporary, and has a trigger to let the technician know when the squirrels have left. The technician will also let you know of other potential entry points, and will recommend fixing these problem areas. Squirrels can be very determined to get back to their den site, so it is always recommended to do a complete exclusion on your home or business. Once the squirrels are excluded from your premises, we recommend "fogging" the area with a deodorizer, this helps to remove the scent of the den site.

Exclusion Vs Live Trapping
It is illegal to move a squirrel more then 1 kilometer away from the point of capture. Not only is it illegal to move them more than 1 kilometer, but it is ineffective without proper exclusion work on your home or business. Live trapping is effective in catching squirrels, but doesn't provide a long term solution in keeping them out of your home or business. Another squirrel or other animal in the area will smell out the den and take up residence. Live trapping is effective in a few rare situations, but on the whole, exclusion provides the best results for the lowest cost. We guarantee all our work and will protect your financial investment.

Squirrels and Their Babies
During the spring and summer the squirrels will usually have babies. Babies create a new set of challenges. The babies MUST be removed from the attic area in conjunction with our one-way door and exclusion system. In order for our technician to determine if the squirrels have babies or not, we conduct an attic search. If babies are found, they will be taken out by hand and placed in an incubation chamber. The chamber will then be placed outside the one way door so when mother exists, her babies are easily found. If she is unable to do this her persistence trying to reenter will be magnified ten fold, and may cause serious damage to your home or business.

Tips For Prevention
A good way to reduce the attraction of your property to squirrels is to check your roof for wear and tear by looking for missing shingles or gutters that have fallen off. If gutters are plugged, the wood is more likely to rot quicker, giving the squirrel an easy entry point. Don't feed them if you don't want them around, and be aware of bird feeders, as they are a food source for squirrels and other pests as well. These steps won't necessary prevent squirrels from coming around completely, but should help curb them from becoming a long term problem.

Squirrels In An Attic
An attic vent is an easy access point which they can squeeze under or gnaw through to gain access to the attic.


This attic vent has been severely gnawed by squirrels

At the base of the plumbing stack is a plastic or rubber seal that prevents water leaking into the attic space. Squirrels will gnaw through the the seal making a large hole in the roof and creating an entry.

Since squirrels are incredible climbers, they have access to some of the most remote parts of the home or business. A majority of chimneys do have some sort of cap on them, but some aren't "squirrel proof", and some chimneys don't have any protection from wildlife. Squirrels will sometimes either fall down a chimney and become trapped in the fireplace or take up residence in a chimney and even raise a litter of young directly on top of the damper.

In some cases, squirrels will gnaw at the fascia vent gap at the edge of the roof to gain entry.

Specific areas of the soffit are vulnerable to squirrel entry. There may be gaps large enough for them to squeeze in or they may be able to gnaw a hole in which they can squeeze through. Once they are through the hole, they have free range to set up a den site in your attic.

Squirrels are most active at around 6:30 am. Running around in the attic and jumping several feet from the joists is usually loud enough to hear from 2 floors below. That is only the beginning of the problems associated with squirrels in your attic.

Attic Restoration
In some cases squirrels may establish a den site in your home or business undetected. Nearly all houses built today have blown in insulation which is very delicate and easily damaged by being trampled. If the animal is not removed from your house, heating bills will gradually increase sometimes by 100%. Re-insulating may become necessary and is very expensive The squirrels can cause extensive damage over the coarse of several months, especially if there are babies. Squirrels also gnaw through vapour barrier and drywall, and gnaw or damage electrical wiring. They are a major cause of fires. At this point, after the animals have been removed our technician will recommend conducting an attic restoration. This is an additional service offered by our company.

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