One of the most common issues that people contact wildlife removal professionals about is having flying squirrels in attic. Although many people see these animals as cute, they can become a problem very quickly if left unchecked in an attic area. some of the most common complaints include:
- Large colonies in the attic that cause odors because of their droppings
- Staining walls and ceilings because of their urine
- Making a lot of noise at night due to their nocturnal nature
- Destructive behavior like chewing on wires and wood
- Causing permanent damage to insulation
- Damaging gardens and raiding bird feeders
- Digging in lawn areas, often leaving unsightly holes
- Chewing the bark off trees, resulting in the damage or death of the trees
- Transmitting diseases like typhus and, less commonly, rabies
- Infecting people and other animals with parasites
Understanding Flying Squirrel Behavior
Understanding typical flying squirrel behavior is a good way to determine whether you are coping with flying squirrels and what steps you need to take to end the problem. When you understand more about why they behave as they do, you’ll have a better idea of what to watch for.
- Flying squirrels in particular need good vertical surfaces for climbing, making roofs and attics prime targets
- They will often live with others that include groups of up to fifteen adults, excluding any litters
- The squirrels can build nests for babies, solitary nests, and nests for groups
- There is usually a common bathroom area, which often leads to problems in attics
- The babies usually remain with their mothers for about three months
How Do You Tell If You Have Flying Squirrels?
You might have difficulty telling the difference between having problems with flying squirrels and other squirrels without actually spotting one of them. Both species engage in many of the same behaviors, and both are destructive, with health risks associated with the large number of droppings they leave behind. Some of the differences between grey squirrels and flying squirrels include:
- Flying squirrels having a stronger preference for traveling from tree to tree, instead of on the ground as grey squirrels might do
- Unlike other species, they have extra skin flaps behind their front legs, and also have large eyes
- Although they don’t actually fly, the skin flaps help them glide between trees
- Groups of flying squirrels are usually larger than other species
- Flying squirrels also tend to be smaller than many other species
However, these animals are nocturnal and somewhat skittish around people, so you might not spot one that easily. Because they are not as likely to be seen, you can get a better idea of whether you have an infestation by checking your attic area thoroughly.
Signs of Flying Squirrel Damage
The attic and your yard are both places that you need to check out thoroughly for signs of damage. There is likely to be a strong urine and/or feces odor that may escape the attic area. You might notice visible chewing marks. If there are any holes in the attic that are too small for other squirrels to fit through, but close to trees, there is a good chance flying squirrels are what is visiting your attic. Also, listen for scurrying and scampering noises at night, although other animals may cause these noises.
There are also some possible indicators that you can see out in your yard, including:
- Tree branches close to your roof, which make it easier for the squirrels to glide to the roof area
- Fallen nuts and fruit from your trees are a major attractant
- An unfenced garden will also attract squirrels
- Food for outside pets left out overnight is also attractive to squirrels
- If you notice that fallen nuts, fruit, or spilled pet food disappear overnight, squirrels are a likely culprit
Removing the Squirrels
Once you’ve determined that you have flying squirrels in your attic, trapping and removal work very well. Removal works well because, if done right, you can keep the squirrels from coming back without killing them. Use a live trap, and bait it with something the squirrels have been eating to begin with.
After you have them caught, take them to a location far enough away to discourage them from returning. Most experts estimate that 10 to 25 miles away from your home is a distance that will discourage them from coming back. If you have to trap multiple groups, you can release them in the same location, but should check to make sure it is okay to release them into your chosen location.
Keep the Squirrels from Returning
Once the squirrels are gone, you will need to take some steps to secure your home against further squirrel visits and also clean up after them. Decomtaminating is important for health reasons, but should be done after securing your home to keep from having to repeat the process.
- Clean up any fruit or nuts in your yard, and make sure your trash barrels have secure lids
- Seal off any holes in your walls, roof or eves that provide attic access for squirrels
- Make sure your chimney is closed off when not in use
If you follow these steps, you will have a good chance of eliminating your squirrel problem for good.