Squirrels in My Attic – How to Deal With Problem Squirrels
The gray squirrel population in Manchester, Lancashire & Cheshire has rocketed over the last twenty years to the beeee that they are now a major pest species.
The gray squirrels which we see in our parks and gardens (Sciurus carolinensis) are not native to the UK, having been imported here less than 200 years ago from America.
Like many members of the family Sciuridae, the Gray Squirrel is a hoarder; it hoards food in numerous small caches for later recovery. Some caches are temporary, especially those made near the source of a sudden surplus of food.
Other stores are more permanent and are not collected until many weeks later. It has been observed that each squirrel makes several thousand hoards each season. The squirrels have very accurate spatial memory for the locations of these caches, and use distant and nearby landmarks to locate them. Smell is used once the squirrel is within a few centimetres of the cache.
The nest of the squirrel is called a dray (or drey) and it is normal for the female to have two litters per year, each of two to four young ..
They are minor problems, rooting bulbs and stealing food intended for birds but they become major pests when they enter our homes.
It is increasingly common for pest controllers to be called out to homes where a nest has been built in a loft or attic space.
Squirrels are true rodents and as such have continuously growing teeth; the word rodent comes from the Latin 'rodere' meaning 'to gnaw o eat away' and this they do very well indeed.
It is rare to enter a roof space where a dray has been made and find that they have not chewed electrical wiring, indeed it is estimated that up to 40% percent of fires without an obviously attributable cause may be started by rodents chewing on the wiring .
Unfortunately they can also chew through water-pipes, especially with the modern trend towards plastic push-fit piping.
As if that was not enough, many household insurance policies specifically exclude damage by rodents so if a squirrel floods your house by chewing through a water pipe in the attic you may find yourself without insurance cover.
Removing squirrels requires professional help, not least in as much as the law regarding squirrels restricts your options. You can not simply buy a packet of rat poison from your local hardware and deal with them that way as you would be committing a criminal offense.
Furthermore, you can not trap them and relocate them some distance away, not only removing a squirrel from the area of its food caches would probably condemn it to death by starvation, it is also a criminal offense under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it illegal to release a gray squirrel in Britain.
That applies also to rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing injured squirrels.
In the priority cases trapping is the option of choice and this must be done in a specified manner with routine, timed inspections of the traps.
Trapped squirrels are then humanely dispatched.