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8/02/2016 12:10 pm  #1

How to Get Squirrels Out of the Attic

How to Get Squirrels Out of the Attic

‘‘The first thing you’ll notice is the noise,’’ says David Seerveld, a wildlife-removal specialist in Orlando, Fla. If you hear daytime scratching, you probably have squirrels; most other rodent intruders are nocturnal. According to Seerveld, attic squirrels are ‘‘the most common nuisance-wildlife problem.’’ They can bite through plastic water pipes and cause leaks; gnaw at electrical wires and spark fires; and at times even chomp through the ceiling until they fall, panicked, into living quarters.

Most tree squirrels breed at least once and often twice a year. A pregnant female then looks for a safe place to nest. Don’t overreact and put out poison when you realize she has chosen to raise her litter in your attic. Poisons, which are illegal in some states, can be ineffective or lead to a ‘‘slow, drawn out death,’’ Seerveld says. Be skeptical of products — whether 100 percent pure red-fox urine, high-pitched sound makers, electromagnetic emitters or strobe lights — marketed as squirrel repellent. Seerveld has crawled inside attics that looked like scenes from a rodent rave, with multiple sound machines, flashing lights and potions. ‘‘The squirrels just don’t care about any of it,’’ he says.

Figure out how they’re getting in and out for food and water. You’ll need a ladder to inspect the underside of eaves, roof vents and chimneys. Look for golf-ball-size holes. Cover all but the main entry point (usually marked by feces and teeth marks) with steel mesh. Set a cage trap or a one-way exclusion door outside the house, over the last hole. (Once all the squirrels are out, seal up this hole, too.) Seerveld prefers this exclusion method, which lets the animals exit freely but not re-enter. Squirrels in the wild are skittish; caged, they’re manic. ‘‘They’ll kill themselves running around smashing their head against the wire,’’ he says. If your state’s trapping laws allow it and you opt to trap the squirrels, Seerveld recommends driving 10 miles away before freeing them, to preclude homecomings. You have every right to evict your squatters, but try to be nice about it. ‘‘With power comes responsibility,’’ Seerveld says. ‘‘You should not mistreat an animal just because you can.’’

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

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