The squirrels running around your neighborhood are harmless, right? Generally speaking, yes – squirrels are very common here in the Portland area, especially the Western Gray Squirrel, and will typically keep to themselves.
On the other hand, our wildlife control team has worked with countless homeowners who have gone months without realizing the damage these “harmless neighborhood squirrels” are inflicting on their property.
The key is to stay aware of squirrel activity around your home so you can catch and control any issues right away. In this blog post, we’re outlining 7 tell-tale signs of squirrels wreaking havoc on your home.
1. Strange noises around your homeIf you’re paying attention, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a squirrel before you see any visual evidence. This is especially true during the winter or rainy months when you’re less likely to notice exterior signs of squirrel problems. Throughout the year, keep your ears open for unusual noises in your home. The two most common types of sounds you’ll hear are:
- Scurrying and scampering
- Scratching or chewing (squirrels inside your home will chew on everything from wood beams to drywall and electrical wiring!)
2. Damage around your homeInside your home, evidence of squirrel damage can be difficult to see. Most of the interior issues caused by squirrels are hidden away in your attic or walls. Take a peek in these areas and you may notice…
- Teeth marks in wires, wood, and walls
- Chewed electrical wires
- Nests in your insulation
- Wood chips scattered everywhere
- Air vent damage
- Holes in your shingles
- Roofline damage
- Chew marks on the outer panels of your home
- Ripped open garbage bags or garbage scattered around your yard
- Damage to bird feeders
- Chewed up outdoor furniture
- Chewed bark on young trees
- Eaten garden plants
3. Squirrel droppings in your garage or attic
Squirrel droppings are a great indicator of an infestation issue and are most often found in your garage, attic, or near entry points around your home. However, identifying squirrel droppings can be difficult, as they look similar to other critters like bats, raccoons, and rats.
If you notice any type of droppings around your home, exercise caution. Wildlife droppings of any kind carry dangerous diseases and bacteria, such as salmonella. Avoid coming into contact with these droppings. Instead, immediately call a wildlife control company to come inspect the issue and identify the culprit.
4. A foul, decaying smellIf squirrels are finding their way into your home, there’s a good chance some of them aren’t making it out. Some squirrels get stuck while others are just too young to fend for themselves. Whatever the reasoning, soon these squirrels will die and start to decay. Many of our customers call us when they suddenly notice a strong, terrible odor in their house. This can be the smell of a dead squirrel stuck under your home, in your walls, or up in your attic. This squirrel needs to be found and removed in order to rid your home of this unpleasant smell. Pro tip: If you’ve tried to take care of a squirrel problem on your own by using a poison, you’ll likely eventually be faced with dead squirrels (and a horrible smell) inside your home. It’s always better to call an expert to take care of the issue naturally in order to avoid this issue.
5. Squirrel footprints
Squirrel tracks are fairly easy to identify. They’re small, with the front paws having 4 toes and the back having 5. In the winter, you may notice tracks in the snow or mud. During the rest of the year, you can often see tracks from their wet feet on your deck or driveway.
If you want to do some extra sleuthing, put a piece of cardboard covered in flour in the area you suspect the squirrels are inhabiting. If you have a squirrel problem in that area, you’ll soon notice tracks in the flour.
6. Signs of water damage on your walls or ceilingHave you noticed water damage on your ceiling or walls? We hate to tell you this, but it might not be water damage at all, but rather signs of a squirrel population living in your attic. The longer a squirrel lives in your home, the more feces and urine it produces. If left unnoticed, eventually this waste will build up and seep into your insulation and wood. Just like water damage, this can cause staining, peeling, and bubbling in your walls.
7. Squirrel fights around the neighborhoodSeeing squirrels fighting in your yard doesn’t inherently mean you have a squirrel infestation, but it’s a good indication your home is at risk. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have all the great natural resources a squirrel needs to live a long and happy life. However, if a squirrel population is too large in one area, these critters will start fighting to defend their resources and rights to survival.
What to do if you have a squirrel problemIdentifying if your home has a squirrel problem (or is susceptible to a squirrel problem) is the first step in managing the issue. From there, it’s all about removing the squirrels currently living in your home and causing problems followed by exclusion work to prevent any future access. Here in Portland and Vancouver, there are laws dictating how you can control squirrel populations around your home. For example, did you know it’s illegal to:
- Relocate squirrels from one property to another
- Keep a squirrel as a pet