Squirrels Invading Our Farmhouse!

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Question:

Hi Mark,

First of all, your website has been very helpful – I found it this morning & also signed up for your newsletter.  I like my squirrels but of course not in the house. What is most amazing is that all the activity is at night after we go to bed – the kitchen is part den with a TV.

We live in an old farmhouse & I have been feeding birds for years – and squirrels then too.  The squirrels have less access to feeders now because of tree trimming.  Two months ago a sweet potato was moved across the kitchen to a baseboard hole & we surmise by a squirrel.  My husband sealed the hole – 2 days later it gnawed thru. It moved 4 clementines a couple days ago – onions – ate grapes on the table. This when we forgot to put food elsewhere.  My husband used a havaheart & moved 5 outside squirrels about 5 miles away.  We still see one squirrel around the feeders & trees so that must be the one coming in at night.

He set the 2 door trap on the kitchen floor &  tried the table but it is not entering & reading your info. we need to clean & remove our smell from it.  He caught the outside squirrels with PB on bread.

Last night we hid all the food & this morning I see a ceiling hole near the refrigerator.  I keep dog biscuits on top & just a day ago baked cookies & placed there in an open container.  It did not make it to the refrig but it’s just a matter of time I guess to make it’s entry over the refrigerator.

I thought it was coming in thru the foundation but maybe now it’s the attic roof area – we have low roof areas to check.

So – they are amazing & clever.  Am I correct thinking the squirrel is outside all day in the yard – comes in at night (doesn’t sleep) and then does food searching in the kitchen?

A friend lent us a camera we will set-up; but it must be a squirrel – mice & rats can’t move these large onions & 2 lb potatoes across a room.  Oh, it is a very neat eater – no poops anywhere – and when it ate the grapes the stems were left in the bowl on the table.

Thank you,

Answer:

Thank you for describing your problem so thoroughly. The benefit of living in the country is getting close to nature. The problem with living in the country is that nature sometimes invites itself in.

The first thing that comes to mind, though, is that  if any animal can’t climb to the top of your refrigerator, it might not be a squirrel. It might be a raccoon coming through a different entrance.

Well-fed raccoons are often bold enough to barge into houses at night, and they are certainly strong enough to carry a sweet potato or an onion across the floor. Maybe they heard you stirring and made their get-away before they made a clean escape.

Another thing that comes to mind is that squirrels are diurnal, active during the day, while raccoons are nocturnal, active at night. Animals actually do need sleep. If the activity in your den and kitchen occurs at night, it’s probably not a squirrel.

And for heaven’s sakes, it you are trying to get rid of an uninvited animal, don’t feed it cookies. Any food you leave out has to be a sealed container, not in an open container, and not wrapped in wax paper, cling film, or foil.

An easy way to tell the difference between a squirrel and a raccoon is by the scraps they leave behind. Squirrels hold food between their paws and rotate it round and round, with pieces falling to the floor. Raccoons also hold food between their paws, but they bite through the food, leaving chunks rather than bits when they don’t eat the entire morsel.

Either way, here is what you need to do:

  • Close the ceiling hole near your refrigerator. Your efforts will be wasted as long as the squirrel (and her babies, as they grow up) have a way to keep coming back in.
  • Check your attic. Chances are you have a mother squirrel and babies. If you do, trap the mother squirrel (taking care with your fingers when you pick up the trap), and relocate her and her babies as far away as possible. Then close any entrances she has gnawed into your attic with metal, not just wood.
  • If you don’t find a squirrel nest in your attic, get an ultrasonic squirrel repellent and put it in your attic. It is still essential to block any passages to your attic from the outside.
  • Trim trees that have limbs within 15 feet (5 meters) of your house.
  • Pretend your nocturnal visitor is a bear. It isn’t, of course, but what keeps bears at bay works even better with squirrels and similar small creatures. Close all food containers. Keep trash cans covered.
  • Don’t just put food on top of the refrigerator or on a high shelf. Suspend it in the air, if necessary, or keep it behind a refrigerator door or a closed cupboard door.
  • Always close the door behind you when you leave, anytime day or night.
Mark

Mark has a strong background in Engineering and a huge interest in Pest Control as a way of getting rid of rodents and other unwanted pests who can cause a nuisance in your home and garden. You can subscribe to his free daily paper on Pest Control Solutions and follow him on Facebook or Twitter

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