Grey Squirrel Control – FAQ’s
How Do Squirrels Get Into Your House?
Just like mice and rats, Squirrels climb almost anything they can get their claws into or compress themselves against and around.
These additional climbing opportunities include: drain pipes, satellite cables, aerial cables, soil stacks and fences together with overhead power, phone lines and climbing or overhanging vegetation and trees!
How Do Squirrels Enter Your Roof?
Overhanging tree branches or climbing plants are the most common routes, along with highly textured surfaces.
Textured walls are easily scaled by determined squirrels. This helps these pests enter your loft, attic and crawl spaces. Look for them entering through holes in fascia boards, soffit boards and lead flashing.
Existing gaps and holes in and around the roof that the squirrels can quickly enlarge will always be preferable.
Homes with undulating tiles with high ridges and bigger holes for the squirrels to squeeze through seem to be more at risk of infestation.
Properties that are older, also appear to be preferred, for a couple of reasons. Firstly not all loft hatches in older properties are easy to fit through, so the squirrels are rarely disturbed. Secondly, timber is the primary material used for fascia and soffit boards.
Timber rarely receives appropriate maintenance, and rotting wood is easy to chew through.
Why Do Grey Squirrels Enter Your Loft?
Your roof with its abundance of lovely, warm loft insulation – perfect for nesting – is the primary point of focus and reason for squirrels to enter.
A good supply of fresh drinking water is another resource that squirrels will value. Gutters that have not been adequately maintained quickly fill with moss and leaves that act as a substrate for plants to grow, trapping water in small pools, ideal for drinking.
We are rapidly building a picture of bliss for our squirrels: freshwater, easy access, warm roof cavities, and an insulated bed of loft insulation – Perfect!
How To Get Rid of Grey Squirrels?
The most common methods of Grey squirrel control include poison, traps and methods of exclusion, designed to repel these common rodents from your attic, yard and garden permanently.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, because prevention is only ever temporary where a physical barrier is not present.
In practice, we see areas where heavily controlled squirrel populations were becoming quickly re-colonised – and sometimes this is within days!
Humane Squirrel Repellents and Exclusion
The term “humane” gets misused in almost every way. We do not believe that any rodent can be killed painlessly and would never sell a service-based an assumption that an animal will never suffer.
Control of rodents carries uncertainties. Traps don’t always kill cleanly. Glue boards and live capture cages are rarely checked every 12 hours or sooner as required under new best practice standards.
We always promise to do all we can to reduce the suffering of an animal, and we do this by always looking for a lasting solution to a given rodent problem, instead of simply selling you a temporary fix, like most other providers offer.
Is Humane Squirrel Control Possible?
Exclusion is, and will always be the most humane form of control – all other types of control will either be ineffectual or carry the risk of some period and level of applied suffering.
Proofing your roof to ensure grey squirrels remain permanently excluded, will always be the most humane and desirable form of control.
In the short term, this option does have a significant drawback, though, COST! Safe access and the right team of installers don’t come cheap, and the average cost of proofing is between 500 GBP and 3000 GBP.
Squirrel Exclusion is often far more costly than poison or trapping, but because it’s a complete solve, it will almost always pay for itself over many years.
Do Squirrel Repellents Work?
Squirrel repellents are usually a complete waste of time. Strobes, ultrasonic scarers, scented sprays, herbal powders and all manner of other products get sold as cheap, simple solves that almost never work. So be warned, don’t waste your money!
There will always be miracle claims and promises, but you should avoid anything that might delay direct intervention because electricians and plumbers are often far harder to find than we are.
What Are Squirrel Traps?
Squirrel traps come in many forms that include: the cage or the break-neck.
The cage trap directly captures the squirrel that must then get destroyed humanely. Drowning squirrels is illegal in the UK, and professionals do not permit live release for fear of prosecution.
Cage caught squirrels will often get shot with an air rifle. Air pistols are a terrible alternative and rarely deliver enough trauma to effect a clean and humane kill in a single shot.
Break-neck traps – the name says it all.
The challenge is choosing which is the right option in each situation. The squirrel trap won’t always deploy as expected, so on the rare occasion a squirrel is trapped by a limb or its tail, it will inevitably suffer.
Can You Poison Grey Squirrels?
Only one type of squirrel control poison or pesticide exists for legally poisoning squirrels in the UK.
This pesticide contains the anticoagulant Warfarin, the same chemical used for the treatment of blood clots (thrombosis) in humans.
Because nuts contain the antidote to warfarin in the form of vitamin K, the bait comes as wheat grains and is clearly marked for Professional Use Only.
It’s worth noting that poisons can often leave the squirrel dead somewhere inaccessible where it will likely rot and stink.
The horrible smell will often coincide with maggots falling through light fittings and a plague of flies. The horror of a rotting squirrel explains why trapping is a more attractive option.
Can You Shoot Squirrels?
The shooting of grey squirrels is something we are equipped to tackle and where required, offer a service that compliments our other methods of control.
Shooting squirrels is a last resort because it is rarely a simple or viable process to ensure this is carried out legally and humanely where the squirrels are within a residential building or public area.
Using an Air Pistol to Kill a Squirrel?
Air pistols are unlikely to deliver the required level of trauma to swiftly dispatch an adult squirrel, making the air rifle a clear choice for a quick and humane end.
You must always endeavour to reduce as far as possible any suffering, and an air pistol fails that test!
What Damage Can Grey Squirrels Cause?
Always be aware of the damage “already” caused to your belongings, wiring, roofing felt, membrane and insulation. If left unresolved the squirrels can continue to generate thousands in damage that insurance will not cover.
By far the biggest risk with squirrels is damage to cables. The average cost of repairs to cables is 500 GBP to 1000 GBP.
Cables are becoming more expensive because they are increasingly and frequently fibre optic based and calling out electrical, phone and aerial engineers won’t be cheap. This will exclude how much control and proofing will be.
Gnawed cables are expensive to replace, but the consequences of damage caused to damaged plastic pipes will be far worse! We’ve seen a rise in the number of properties severely damaged by the effects of gnawed plastic water and waste pipes.
Squirrel control is more in demand now than ever before, driven by an increasing appetite for homeowners to build up into loft spaces rather than buy a bigger home.
Any roof needing repair, now requires scaffolding, costing hundreds before any work has even started, and you won’t know the full scale and costs of any damage until the roof gets stripped back.
Fire is another risk in homes without modern electrical trip switches. In properties that still have wire fuses, the risk of accidental electrical injury and fire remain significant and shouldn’t get neglected as inconsequential.
Squirrel Lifespan – How Long Do Squirrels Live?
Squirrels live for many years in comfortable conditions, but nature is cruel and unpredictable, so the lifespan of any wild animal can vary. In practice, and as an average, grey squirrels live for 1-2 years from birth.
Squirrels that make it to adulthood without disadvantage, injury or disease could live from 10 to 20 years!
Do Squirrels Eat Mice?
Squirrels will almost certainly attack and eat mice.
We see this behaviour in Grey squirrels that destroy mouse and rat populations. Rats fair badly against the larger Grey Squirrels. We have a series of barns on the farm and when squirrels are nesting, there are no rats!
As squirrels disperse, rats and mice return. This could be a coincidence, but we feel very strongly that predatory behaviour in grey squirrels is natural and essential to maintaining territory, no different any other animal.