What are squirrels, and why are they considered pests?
Squirrels ーyou’ve probably seen them. They are tiny rodents usually found on trees, scurrying round and round. While they may look cute and harmless at first, they can be such a nuisance in your home or business. But why? How can these little mammals cause significant damage to their surroundings? Let’s find out!
There are two significant classifications of squirrels: the tree squirrels and the ground squirrels. These two types of squirrels look similar. Their main distinction is where they retreat to when threatened. Ground squirrels can climb trees too, but will generally go to their burrows when they sense danger. On the other hand, tree squirrels will always climb up the trees and never go into a burrow.
Tree squirrels are active during the daytime. They are arboreal creatures, meaning they spend most of their time in the trees. Tree squirrels can be distinguished from ground squirrels and chipmunks by their long, bushy tails that help them maneuver themselves above the ground. They also lack markings such as spots or stripes. Their diet consists of various fruits, nuts, crops, and other plants. They are active throughout the year and do not hibernate during winter.
Tree squirrels nest in tree cavities or enlarged woodpecker holes. They can also construct their own nest high in trees using twigs, leaves, and shredded bark.
The breeding season of tree squirrels occurs in late winter or spring, depending on their species. They can produce up to two litters per year with 3 to 5 young.
Their burrowing traits can be used to identify Ground squirrels. They can grow from 14 to 20 inches as adults. Their fur is mottled brown, with white and gray markings on the back. Ground squirrels here in California have distinctive white rings around their eyes. Their tails are less bushy than that of tree squirrels.
These squirrels build burrow systems with lengths between 5 to 30 feet. Most of these burrows don’t go deep, though, usually just within 2 to 3 feet from the surface, but some may reach up to 6 feet deep or more. These burrows can be single tunnels or branching systems and may be occupied by a single squirrel or several ones. Ground squirrels use these burrows to sleep, rest, store food, avoid danger, and care for their young.
Ground squirrels are also active during the day. But unlike tree squirrels, most of them hibernate during winter. They also have a period of dormancy during the hottest times of the year, called estivation. In this period, they stay inside their burrows and plug it from the inside.
These squirrels have a long mating season, starting from January until July, but peaks from March to June. They produce one litter per year that have 5 to 8 young.
Squirrels are usually shy creatures. They would typically run away when threatened. However, there are instances where they may bite. Attempting to feed them is one. And you wouldn’t want to get bitten by these rodents. They have big, sharp, strong teeth that can easily hurt you. Aside from that, they carry diseases that are transmissible to humans. Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, rabies, salmonellosis, and tularemia are among them. You should stay away from squirrels if you don’t want to catch such diseases.
Bites are uncommon. And if you aren’t going near squirrels, you don’t have to worry about them. But they may harm you even without biting you. Squirrels, like most mammals, carry pests and bacteria with them. They may also have ticks that can make their way inside your home and affect you and your pets.
As squirrels seek to build nests, they may cause damage to homes and structures by chewing holes through the siding and eaves. Chimneys and vents are also potential areas where they may chew through and build nests. In creating these nests, squirrels may chew on wires and cables that may induce a fire risk. Their droppings can also be a problem as they can attract other pests and harbor bacteria and molds that can further damage your property. Aside from that, squirrels often run along telephone and power wires, which can cause them to be short.
These rodents can also cause severe damage to your garden. Ground squirrels love digging holes on the ground, and that may destroy your landscaping. Squirrels also love chewing on bark and twigs of trees and shrubs. They may search for your planted bulbs too. The worst part, however, is their insatiable appetite. A single squirrel can quickly decimate the crops in a garden, let alone several ones. They also wait until fruits and vegetables are ripe enough to eat, making the loss even worse.
How do I keep squirrels away?
If you hear noises from your attics, chimneys, walls, or vents, or seeing holes in sidings, damaged bird feeders, chewed-up wirings, and damaged attic insulation, you probably have squirrels nesting inside your house, and you need to remove them soon. The same goes if you find damages in your garden and burrows on your lawn.
You can apply several steps to prevent a squirrel infestation inside your home. The first thing you can do is seal all possible entry points around your house. These include small openings and cracks on your walls, doors, and windows. Then, add screens to your vents and chimneys to prevent squirrels from entering through them. It would help if you also refrain from leaving food out in the open that may attract squirrels, as well as other pests. Please dispose of your garbage regularly and make sure it’s sealed properly. You can also cut tree branches that are hanging near your roofline. Cut them back 6 to 8 feet. As for your garden, mesh or wire fences can help, but squirrels are crafty creatures, and they can make their way around. These apply mainly to tree squirrels.
Ground squirrels, however, are more challenging to deal with. It’s better to ask for professional help if you want to remove them. That’s why Rocklin Pest Control is here! We can exterminate these pests for you so you won’t have to worry about the damages and diseases they may bring. Contact us, and we’ll assess your situation so we can use the best methods of getting your property rid of squirrels!