How to Get Rid of Grey Squirrels in Loft or Attic
Grey squirrels are probably the most spread squirrel species in the UK. Many consider them cute and innocent fluffy animals but among the pest control industry, grey squirrels are known as damaging pests which in certain cases have to be dispatched.
This article is helpful to those of you who have been experiencing a squirrel invasion in your loft, attic, or even the garden. We answer questions such as why grey squirrels should be controlled, what are the signs that you have squirrels in your attic or loft, what methods work best to get rid of them, and some preventative tips against future invasions.
Why Control Grey Squirrels in the First Place
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) grey squirrels are among the top worst 100 invasive species.
In the last few years, the number of grey squirrels has increased and the damages they cause as well. So, here are three reasons why we as a pest control company control grey squirrels in the UK:
- Grey squirrels cause structural damage to homes, and commercial buildings and in some cases can threaten your health.
- They influence the native red squirrels' population: grey ones are one of the main reasons why red squirrels might become extinct in the UK.
- Grey squirrels are the most destructive to the UK forests and wildlife.
If there’s access to your loft or attic, grey squirrels will most certainly enter it to search for food or shelter.
Some of the most common damages they cause when they get inside your attic or loft are:
- Nibble electrical wires;
- Leave droppings and urine which contaminate the loft or attic area;
- Destroy woodwork, ceilings, and insulation;
- Make noises because they trot around which can irritate your sleep at night.
Squirrels are most active a few hours before dawn which is the time when you can most certainly hear them.
Sometimes you can spot squirrels get closer to humans and let the people feed them. It’s because squirrels link humans to food.
In the garden or backyard, grey squirrels take bird food, attack bird nests and eat young babies or bird eggs, take fruit and dig holes in the lawn. They are scavengers which means they will search for food in trash cans if they are accessible. This means they make a mess around the garden.
Grey squirrels are not native to Great Britain and were introduced years ago from North America. In the country and in Europe, grey squirrels are classified as Invasive Alien Species (and any animal that is not native to the United Kingdom). For that reason, per the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019, it’s forbidden to release grey squirrels if it was trapped or caught alive. So, if you happen to trap a grey squirrel, you are obliged to humanely dispatch it.
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Signs of squirrels in your attic
Usually, grey squirrels are searching for food during spring and autumn which is the time when you might notice some signs of squirrel activity in your attic.
So, if you assume there are squirrels scurrying in your loft or attic, here are a few signs you can check for:
- Scratching and other strange noises from your loft or attic;
- Damage to the insulation foam;
- The smell of urine in the loft or attic;
- Droppings which you can barely distinguish from the other rodents’ droppings.
- Nuts and seeds have been stolen from the bird feeding stations;
- The trees' bark in your garden is peeled;
- Spotting squirrels around the house very often. Usually on fences or on a tree branch that is close to the attic or loft of the house.
How to Get Rid of Grey Squirrels in the Attic or Loft
After you are familiar with the signs they leave behind, it’s time to learn the most effective methods to get rid of squirrels quickly and according to the law.
In the UK, grey squirrel control costs approximately £14 yearly and the most popular methods used to get rid of them are drey poking, shooting, and trapping.
Trapping is well-known and probably the most effective way to get rid of grey squirrels. Here are the steps to follow in order to trap a squirrel.
- Choose an appropriate trap: the first and foremost step is to select the trap. For the best results pick a live trap big enough for the squirrel to get inside.
- Decide where to place it: choose a flat surface where you can block the path of the squirrel. When trapping grey squirrels you can place the trap on the attic or loft, the base of the property, or the tree where they climb.
- Select a bait: to trap a wild animal you need something appetizing to attract it inside. Choose a bait that the squirrel won’t be able to grab and take out of the trap. For example, you can put peanut butter as it’s sticky and not solid. However, if you use a solid bait, make sure it’s bigger than the opening.
- Make sure doors are wide open.
- Check the trap regularly so that the squirrel is not trapped for too long.
- Don’t release the grey squirrel as it’s forbidden in the UK. Instead, dispatch it humanely. The two humane dispatch methods in the UK are shooting or cranial dispatch. More information you can find on this Trapping protocol. Dispatching the animal might be distressing to some of you, so we recommend hiring a professional squirrel control company to do it instead of you.
Read more: How to dispose of a dead rodent.
You can spread sunflower or other seeds to trail a line leading to the trap and leave some seeds in front of the trap. This way, the squirrel will become more confident to get inside. Make sure you wear protective gloves when handling the trap with a squirrel inside.
Exclusion of squirrels
Right after you have trapped the squirrel you have to inspect for entry points. The next step is to seal every opening with a mesh or metal flashing. If you are not able to do it by yourself, you can always hire professional help to block the entrances.
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There are few natural and commercial repellents that might work but not for a long time.
For example, ammonia is repellent. If you’ve found the squirrel’s nest, place some amount of the ammonia close to it. The strong smell will disturb the squirrel and make them see the attic as not that attractive place. This way they might not visit it for a decent time of period.
Other domestic cleaning products with a strong smell may work the same as ammonia (in case you don’t have one at your disposal).
Other natural repellents use the scent of a squirrel’s predator such as foxes, cats or dogs. This smell will keep the rodents away.
You can check online or in specialised stores (for gardening tools) for other chemical repellents. Always follow the instructions on the bottle and use the repellent as directed.
Other DIY Methods
Grey squirrels build nests in trees called dreys. So, one of the most effective ways to move squirrels from your loft is by poking their dreys. If you’ve noticed one in your backyard, try this technique.
It’s recommended to poke the nest, instead of shooting it, because it might be inhabited by other birds or animals. Also, if the nest is not properly demolished, squirrels can still occupy it.
Use lights in the attic or loft
As we’ve mentioned above squirrels are more active during the night before dawn. They don’t feel comfortable and rather feel exposed if there’s a light on. You can install lightning temporarily, use a flashlight or a standing light in your attic or loft. For better results, try this way alongside other methods. Also, if you know where the drey is, point the light toward it. It will bother the squirrels and they most probably will leave the drey and look for another shelter.
Make your attic or loft noisy
You can place a small radio in your loft or attic so that it makes a noise in the room. Squirrels will think there are people inside and force the animals to go elsewhere. You can also place the radio closer to the nest. If you choose to put it in your loft or attic, there’s no need to turn it up. It’s fine to volume it as long as it can be heard in the attic or loft.
Combine it with bright lights for the best results.
Professional grey squirrel control
This method to get rid of the squirrels from your loft or attic is the most effective. Especially, if you don’t have the necessary experience with trapping or dispatching a squirrel. In case you’ve already tried everything and still get bothered by the annoying squirrels, hire a professional squirrel pest control company. They might use different methods such as live traps, drey poking, shooting, spring traps, and proofing. Usually, the experts have the ability to inspect and trace the squirrel’s path. The pest specialists know where exactly to place the trap and always follow the laws in the UK.
How to prevent squirrel entry into buildings
Here are few preventative measurements you can execute against future squirrel invasions:
- Seal all entry points, carefully check for openings, big cracks and close them in order to block the squirrel’s way to your property.
- Remove any tree branch which is in close proximity to your attic or loft.
- Remove bird feeding stations or block them for the squirrels. You can use food which they don’t like such as chilli flakes or millet.
- Block the chimney: sometimes squirrels get inside by climbing down the chimney. Make sure you cover it so that they are unable to use it.
Squirrels seem to be very cute but actually can be destructive and annoying. They are mostly attracted by food and look for secluded places. Your loft or attic is such a spot. The above methods are among the most effective but based on our practice, people can barely cope with the squirrels by themselves because they don’t have the necessary experience and know-how. That’s why professional help is the best choice you can make to get rid of the squirrels in your loft or attic.