- Squirrels are common, bushy-tailed, rodents that are frequently seen in urban areas. There are only red and grey squirrels around here (one species of flying squirrel too).
- The bushy tail is nearly as long as the head and tail combined.
- They are excellent climbers.
- Squirrels tend to eat seeds, fruits, nuts, eggs, and meat.
- Their nests are usually about 2 feet in diameter and built in a tree hollow, perched on a branch or stuffed in the fork of a tree.
- The young (2-5 per litter) are born between February and April, with another in midsummer (April-August). The gestation period is about 44 days. The mother will nurse the young for as long as 10 weeks.
- Squirrels can live up from 15-20 years in captivity but seldom live longer than a year in the wild.
- They have powerful teeth and can do a great deal of damage with their chewing.
- They also tend to carry squirrel fleas Orchopeas howardi, so be careful.
- They can fit through openings measuring 2 square inches. They may require heavy exclusion material due to their gnawing ability.
- Why are there some black squirrels? No one really knows for sure, but there are several theories out there: black coloration coincides with colder weather, so the black fur absorbs more heat than the grey fur. However, there are squirrels that turn black when they do not need to (i.e. those that live in more southern regions). A connection between black fur and fearlessness has been suggested as well, perhaps explaining why black-furred squirrels are rampant in downtown areas (Toronto especially). Or, it could just be a genetic hiccup, producing a black-furred baby that just happened to be a good survivor.
IS THERE A PROBLEM? HOMEOWNER SHOULD ACCEPT NORMAL, UNOBTRUSIVE BEHAVIOR
Refer to SELF-HELP if:
- The problem is repetitive.
- Anyone is feeding the squirrels.
- There are any established activity patterns causing problems.
Refer to PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE if:
- The squirrel is confined and unable to leave without hands-on assistance.
- A young animal is orphaned.
- The animal is injured.
- A bite has occurred.
- If animal is in wall or attic: Hang lights, play loud music, place ammonia-soaked rags in the area (although attics are usually too large for airborne deterrents to work) and fix the entrance hole(s) after the animal has left (during the day). Squirrels will often leave attics in the hottest days of summer, so you can wait until then to exclude them. One-way doors are quite useful in this situation.
- If the squirrel is eating your plants: Construct a cylinder of hardware cloth to protect the plants. Bury the bottom and close the top. Encircle tree trunks with a 2-foot-wide collar of metal approximately 5 ft. off the ground and spray non-edible plants with Ro-Pel®.
- If the squirrel keeps digging up the bulbs: mix bloodmeal fertilizer in with the topsoil. This should put an end to excavations. Available at nurseries.
- If the animal is in the chimney: Hang a rope to allow the squirrel to climb out.
- If the animal is feasting at your bird feeder: Place a squirrel feeder away from the bird feeder. A hard piece of corn on the cob usually suffices. It can be suspended by a chain or placed on a rotating device. Also, you can purchase a "squirrel-proof" bird feeder, or place the bird feeder on tall pole with a squirrel guard.
Removal of Attractants
- Stack firewood off ground or inside buildings.
- Remove birdfeeders or clean up fallen seed.
- Remove accessible water sources.
- Remove pet food (squirrels look for the protein).
Habitat Modification & Exclusion
- Fencing is generally ineffective because of their excellent climbing and digging ability. It may be more effective if sheet-metal barriers are used at the top.
- Discourage gnawing by covering trees with sheet metal or hardware cloth.
- Trim branches so that they are at least 6-8 feet away from the house (but only if the animal is away from the nest and off the roof).
- Patch entryways into buildings (coarse steel wool, wire screen, or sheet metal).
- If trapped in a room, open an avenue of escape.
- Spray the squirrel with water (garden hose).
- Place ammonia-soaked rags where the animal is known to rest or den.
- Loud noises (clap hands, etc.) tend to scare them off.
- Spread sticky substances - they dislike the footing.
- Spray their areas and burrows with 1 cup regular Pinesol per gallon of water.
- Dilute Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper in water and spray on plants that are being eaten (a few tsp. of each in about 1 litre of water).
- Human hair or urine is a strong repellent. Urinate around the area in which you want them to stay away from or have sachets of human hair (a barber shop is handy) tied up in nylons.
- Spray area with Ro-Pel® and Critter Ridder®.
- Plant daffodils, bearded irises, hot peppers, catnip and peppermint (both members of the mint family). This is a natural method to keep squirrels out of the garden.
- For more great tips visit Squirrel Controls
- This is not recommended.
- Homeowners may trap and relocate the animal but should contact the Ministry for an appropriate release location before transporting the animal. However, relocating squirrels is not a good alternative, since almost 80-100% of relocations end in mortality. In addition, another squirrel will probably just take its place.
This is suggested when all other measures have been taken and it is determined that the squirrel may need to be removed from the property.
Self-help tactics should be attempted first in all cases involving property damage. If these remedies are not sufficient, removal of the animal may be the only option available.
- Humane Wildlife Control (514-395-4555)
- In the case of a bite: If a domestic pet has been bitten, bring the pet immediately to the vet. In off-hours, emergency cases can be brought to DMV, a 24-hour veterinary service. If a human has been bitten, bring them directly to a hospital.
Orphaned Squirrels: First ascertain whether the baby is in fact abandoned: pinch the skin on the back of its neck. If it remains standing, the baby is dehydrated, indicating that the mother has not tended to it in days. Bring it to a rehab clinic ASAP. If the skin flops back down, the baby is well hydrated and probably not abandoned. Place the baby in a box lined with paper towel and place it in a shady tree. Keep children and pets away from the area. The mother will usually come retrieve the young when no one is around. Do not try to feed the babies. If the mother does not show up after a few hours (observe from a distance), bring the baby to a rehab clinic.