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Advice on Squirrels

Grey squirrels are found in a wide range of situations, from urban parks and gardens to rural woodland. They spend part of their time foraging on the ground but are always within easy reach of trees.

Grey squirrels do not hibernate but are less active during periods of cold weather. Food eaten includes acorns, nuts, fruit and bulbs.

Their nests (dreys) are normally built in trees but they may also breed in roof spaces where they use loft insulation or other available materials.

There are usually 2 litters each year, the first between February and March and the second between June and July.

The average litter size is three to four and the young are independent at about three months old.
 

Squirrel Nuisance

Although many people regard squirrels as an attractive part of urban wildlife, they can be a nuisance when they cause damage in gardens.

More serious problems may be experienced when squirrels:

  • find their way into lofts and roof voids where quite apart from the disturbance caused by their nocturnal activities
  • gnaw structural timber
  • foul insulation material
  • gnaw of electric cables

If the first problem experienced is one of noises in the loft and if no squirrels have been seen then the noise could possibly be due to birds, rats or mice.

An inspection of the loft to look for evidence such as droppings or nesting material may help to determine the cause of the noise.
 

Proofing

If squirrels have definitely taken up occupancy in a loft then measures should be taken to exclude them. The first thing is to determine where the squirrels are gaining access.

This will involve careful observation or even arranging for someone to stand outside the property while someone else enters the loft and makes enough noise to scare the squirrels out.

The person standing outside will hopefully see where the squirrels emerge. Any access points must be sealed or “proofed” to prevent squirrels getting back in.

Where squirrels have gained entry via defective brickwork this should be made good with sand and cement.

Crushed wire netting, metal sheeting or other suitable materials can also be used to block entry points.

If the work involves re-instating timber e.g. fascia board, suitable thin-gauged galvanised metal may have to be fixed over the top of it to stop the squirrels gnawing the timber.

Make sure that there are no squirrels trapped inside when the proofing is carried out.

If this work is beyond the capacity of ‘DIY’, then local builders may have to be approached to undertake the necessary work and several quotes may have to be obtained.

Trees near or overhanging the house provide convenient ‘highways’. In some situations judicious pruning will cut off routes but always check that there are no tree preservation orders in force.
 

Control Measures

If proofing is not successful or practical then it may be possible to control grey squirrels in other ways using traps or poison bait. These methods are strictly controlled by legislation.

The services of a professional pest control company specialising in this type of work are therefore recommended but ensure that you obtain several quotes and you are clear exactly what the control work involves.

Environmental Services may be able to help with control measures, please contact us.
 

Further Information

Further advice on controlling grey squirrels in urban situations can be obtained by contacting the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Wildlife Management Team on 0845 6014523.

For any other queries or advice on pest related matters please do not hesitate to contact us.

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  • Modified: Apr 2, 2013 8:50:41 AM