- Active during the day and sleep at night.
- Have been known to live up to 20 years in an urban setting and three to six years in the wild.
- Do not hibernate over winter.
- Squirrels have adapted very well to city life partly due to bird feeders – eliminating this food source may encourage them to move on.
- Remove old TV antennas – the tower provides easy access to your attic.
- Any open vents or holes in a chimney or house roof should be repaired with 1.25cm (½”) mesh hardware cloth or sheet metal that exceeds at least 15cm (6″) beyond the hole. Check the area for loose roof vents, rotten or loose soffits, loose shingles and have them repaired.
- Overhanging tree limbs should be trimmed back. Squirrels are great climbers who can scale a brick wall with great ease. They have been known to nest on apartment balconies that are 20 storeys above the ground. If you see a squirrel on your balcony, check again in 24 hours, if it is still there, look at our checklist of preventive wildlife measures for humane methods to encourage the squirrel to leave.
If your chimney has holes or open vents, a squirrel can move in.
Trapped above the damper
If the squirrel is above the damper, you can hang a 1.25cm (½”) thick rope down the chimney. The squirrel will usually climb the rope and leave the chimney.
Squirrel is in the damper
- Cover the stove or fireplace door with a barrier to keep the squirrel from escaping into your home until you are ready.
- Open the damper to give the animal access into the stove or fireplace.
- Close the damper once the squirrel has moved into the stove or fireplace to avoid it from trying to re-enter.
- Prepare your home. The idea is to create an easy and attractive escape route for the squirrel. If possible, close off the room that the fireplace is in (i.e. close the doors to other rooms or hanging a sheet in open doorways to act as a barrier). Remove all valuable or breakable items from the room. These could be knocked over or broken. Turn off all lights in the room and draw any blinds that may provide light but not an escape route.
- Open all windows and doors to provide an escape route for the squirrel.
- Arm yourself with thick gloves and a thick towel or blanket. Open the fireplace door slowly so you don’t scare the animal. The squirrel should run toward the light coming from open windows or doors and escape.
- If the animal takes a wrong turn and ends up running around the room, don’t panic! Try following it and directing it to the outdoors or capture it with a blanket if possible and quickly carry it outside in the blanket.
- It is better not to catch the squirrel in a net because the squirrel may get tangled in netting.
- Never grab a squirrel, even if you have gloves on. Squirrels can bite through any glove.
- Never corner a squirrel – it may become aggressive.
- Never light a fire while a squirrel is trapped in a stove or fireplace – you may injure or kill the animal leaving you with a smelly dead animal to remove.
Having open holes and unsecured closures to an attic is an invitation for many wildlife species including squirrels.
Note: Always use caution when entering an attic, if the flooring is unsecure or you do not feel safe, do not enter. Contact a local animal removal agency to help you humanely remove the animal.
If you do choose to enter the attic, follow these guidelines:
Step 1: Encourage squirrels to leave on their own by making the attic uninhabitable.
- Entering the attic making a lot of noise to scare the animal away. Playing a radio at the entrance using an all-talk radio station. Sprinkling Naphtha Flakes around the area (babies must be mobile) or distribute urine-soaked kitty litter in and around the den. Keep the area brightly lit. If there are very young baby squirrels in a nest, make sure they are able to exit on their own.
Step 2: Before permanently blocking any entrance, check to see if the squirrels have left.
- Spread flour near their nest site and check for tracks.
- After 24 – 48 hours. Block one hole with loosely crushed newspaper. Block all other holes completely, with strong material. Wait another 24 – 48 hours. If the newspaper has not been disturbed, you can assume all the animals have relocated.
Step 3: When you are sure the squirrel has left:
- Make the necessary repairs to prevent other animals from getting into your attic. Call a professional to make necessary repairs if you are unable to. Check the home for loose roof vents, rotten or loose soffit, loose shingles or holes in the garage. Make sure your chimney is capped securely.
- Remove overhanging branches or trees, old TV antennas, etc. (anything that may give an animal a way to get in your house).
- Do not to touch relocate baby animals.
- In most instances the animal’s mother is close by and the baby is not in any real danger.
- If the squirrel looks pale, shivering (sign of cold and/or shock), mangled, covered with fleas or bleeding call 311.
- Not known to be carriers of rabies. However, the young often exhibit friendly behaviour to people or pets. Young squirrels are naturally curious and are on their own at a very young age.
- Young squirrels have no fear of humans and will sometimes approach people and try to climb up their leg. They still may bite if handled or grabbed.
- A mother squirrel who is protecting a nest or young babies may feel threatened and be protective of her young.
- Missing hair on backs and shoulders is normal for a nesting female squirrel because she uses her own fur to line the nest.
Unusual behaviour and signs of illness
- Tumors on the squirrel’s body
- Paralysis of hind legs
- Seems weak or is lying on the ground
- Call 311