FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I hear something in my attic. Whatís in my attic?
Frequently Asked Questions
Eastern Grey Squirrel
American Red Squirrel
The best place to start when you hear an animal in your attic is to try and identify what it is. There are lots of different animals in urban environments but only a few infest our attics. The most common are mice, raccoons, squirrels and birds. Squirrels tend to wake up between 6:30 and 9:00am. You will hear them running quickly across the ceiling during those hours of the morning.Squirrels are not often heard at night. Sometimes they also make a very odd and distinct sound like a crying human baby. Call Toronto Pest Control Services and our knowledgeable staff can help identify your pest over the phone.
How do we remove squirrels from your home or business?
A Toronto Pest Control Services technician will come out to your home, go up on your roof and do a thorough inspection. He will provide you with a free quote detailing how we will remove the squirrels from your attic and secure your roof to ensure that they do not get back in. The technician will show you where the squirrels have gnawed a hole to gain access. He will then attach a one way excluder door over their hole. Squirrels do not hibernate and must eat and drink every day regardless of the time of year. They will leave your house looking for food but, once they come through the one way door they will not be able to re-enter. The technician will also secure any other places on your roof where squirrels may be able to gnaw a new hole to ensure they do not gain re-entry. After a week or two he will return to remove the temporary excluder door and patch up the hole. This process will quickly and humanely remove the animals from your house. It is a permanent solution.
Why donít you just trap and remove them?
There are a lot of good reasons not to trap squirrels. All animals have free will. A squirrel may decide not to go in your trap for a week or it may not decide to never go in your trap. You may have 30 squirrels around your property and you could be trapping squirrels for months wondering if you have caught all the animals that live in your attic. You may catch a skunk in your squirrel trap or your neighbourís cat. The bait may turn rancid and the trap may sit for a day or two attracting nothing to it. Mice may get in the trap eat the bait and then leave through the bars without ever setting the trap off. Each time the trap is triggered and needs to be reset or the bait needs to be changed, a technician has to make a visit to your home. Each visit costs you more money. Live trapping is a long slow unreliable approach to animal control. Many of the animals caught in live traps also die from exposure or shock. Exclusion worksin one day because all squirrels eat and therefore they must leave your attic every day.
What can I do to prevent squirrels from getting on my roof?
Squirrels are excellent climbers and can get on any roof. There is no way of absolutely preventing it however there are a few things you can do to discourage them. Leaves clogging an evestrough provide a water source for squirrels to drink and may cause fascia wood to rot prematurely. Squirrels will gnaw through rotted fascia and infest your attic. Always clean your evestrough at least once a year. Trim branches back that may be too close to your house. Branches make it very easy for squirrels to get on your roof. Although squirrels can climb your house if they want to, you can make it more difficult by trimming branches. Squirrels eat seeds as well as nuts and a bird feeder is an almost limitless food supply. Even if squirrels canít actually get in the feeder, birds are such notoriously messy eaters that they will spill on the ground at least as much as they eat.
Where do squirrels get in my attic?
One of the easiest places for squirrels to get in your attic is through the attic vents. Whether they are plastic or metal squirrels will gnaw through and gain entry into your attic.
Squirrels also gnaw through the rubber base on the plumbing stacks and then squeeze in between the plywood sheeting and the pipe to get in.
Sometimes where the soffit meets the roof there are construction imperfections that allow squirrels to squeeze through the crack and get in.
These are some of the most common ways that squirrels get in however there are many other less common entry points as well. Squirrels are excellent climbers and can access the most remote points on your roof.
How much damage will squirrels do to my home?
Damage depends on how long they remain in your attic.They will not cause a lot of damage if they have been in your attic for less than 2 weeks. Over 6 months will require an attic restoration which can get very expensive. Houses built over the past 30 years almost all have blown insulation in the attic. This insulation is very delicate and once a squirrel has run over an area the insulation becomes compressed and losses R value or its ability to insulate. Over time as squirrels run back and forth throughout your attic they will trample the insulation completely and this may significantly affect your heating bills. Urine and feces will soak into insulation as well which can be a significant health hazard. Perhaps the biggest risk of squirrels in your attic is the risk of fires. Squirrels incisor teeth grow constantly and they must gnaw in order to keep their teeth sharp. Often the tiny hole around an electrical wire is the spot that a squirrel will choose to gnaw a new hole. It is estimated that 10% of all house fires are caused by electrical shorts due to rodent gnawing.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT SQUIRRELS
There are 2 species of squirrels that commonly enter our homes in southern Ontario, the Eastern grey squirrel and American red squirrels. Both are tree squirrels however red squirrels will also live under ground.
EASTERN GREY SQUIRREL
The Eastern grey squirrel is a very adaptive and prolific species whose range has grown dramatically over the past 50 years. Thirty years ago in Canada Greys existed only in the east as their name implies however today they are a common species all the way to Vancouver.At some point they were introduced to Europe and their numbers there have exploded fueling fears that they may even cause the native European red squirrel to become extinct.
The Eastern grey squirrel is predominantly grey with several other colour morphs quite common including an almost entirely black squirrel found in mostly urban areas and even some brown individuals. They are 23-30 cm (9-12 inches) in length plus the tail and weigh between 400 and 600g (14-21 oz).
Grey squirrels stash nuts during the summer over a wide area to be retrieved hours or even months later. They have excellent spatial memory and use local landmarks to remember locations of hidden nuts. Greys may accurately remember the locations of hundreds of different hoards of nuts. Like raccoons they are able to descend from trees head first. Very few other mammalian species are able to do that. During the summer greys live primarily in leaf nests that they build in trees. They will relocate regularly in the summer to avoid the inevitable invasion of mites and fleas in their nests. They are more likely to gnaw their way into our attics during the spring, fall and winter months when a permanent home will not infest as quickly with parasites. They do not hibernate and actively forage outside for nuts most days during the winter. They are generally active during the day and early evening and almost never at night.
Eastern Grey Squirrels mate in February; gestation is 44 days with an average litter of 4 babies. Babies are weaned at 4 weeks. Young squirrels will stay with their mother until they are about 5 months old but even then they stay close by for a few more months. Female Eastern grey squirrels may reproduce in their first winter but most will not reproduce until the second winter. Average lifespan in the wild is 12 years.
AMERICAN RED SQUIRREL
Red squirrels are less common than Greys in southern Ontario. The American Red squirrel is very distinct from Eastern Grey in several different ways. Red squirrels are much smaller than Greys allowing them to gain entry to houses and commercial buildings through much smaller holes. This gives them more opportunities to get in. Whereas Grey squirrels store nuts in hundreds of different places over a wide area, Red squirrels store a much larger number of their nuts inside the attic space during the winter which makes them more determined to regain access to your attic. Red squirrels will often squeeze into a crack and never gnaw to make the hole larger unlike Grey squirrels which almost always gnaw around their entry point. This makes determining exactly where reds are getting into a structure much more challenging.
The Red squirrel is about midway in size between a Grey squirrel and a chipmunk. They weigh on average about 225g or 8ozs. They are reddish in colour with a white underbelly. Their fur is noticeably shorter than a Grey squirrel.
Reds are fiercely territorial and will attempt to drive away all the grey squirrels in the immediate area. They eat a wide variety of foods but prefer coniferous cones and are seldom found on properties that do not have large coniferous trees. Unlike greys squirrels, red squirrels are tree and ground squirrels, sometimes even entering houses at or below ground level.
Red squirrels mate in February and March with gestation lasting about 38 days. On average 4 young are born and are weaned at about 4 weeks. Females generally have one litter per year but under ideal conditions may have 2. Average lifespan is 3-6 years.