Squirrels are clever, agile little creatures that you can see jumping from branch to branch in their search for acorns and nuts. Unfortunately, sometimes that search leads them to jump on your roof and find their way into the attic where they quickly cause quite a problem. They can be especially problematic during the winter months. Learning more about winter squirrel activity will help you protect your home and get rid of squirrels if they have entered your home.
Winter Squirrel Activity
Squirrels do not hibernate, but their behavior does change significantly with the change in seasons. During the late fall and winter, squirrels eat nuts and wild tree fruits in abundance. Their favorite foods include walnuts and hickory nuts. Towards the end of winter, they begin to consume tree buds.
Squirrels prefer to live in tree cavities or in small nests they build on branches. They may collect large quantities of food and store them near their nests. If an especially bad winter storm comes through, squirrels will usually take shelter in their nests until the harsh weather passes.
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How Squirrels Damage Your Home
In their constant search for new sources of food and shelter, squirrels can do a lot of damage to your home. If you have heard movement in the attic or otherwise suspect that squirrels have invaded your home you may notice exterior damage, such as:
Scratched siding and soffits
Chewed chimney flashing
Damaged exhaust fans
If squirrels do get into your attic, get rid of them as quickly as possible before they can cause all kinds of serious problems. As they form nests, they will chew at the beams and walls. Their droppings and urine can also create quite an unsanitary mess that is difficult and unpleasant to clean up. Sometimes, squirrels begin chewing at the electrical wires running through the attic and cause shorts that represent a fire hazard and can ruin the appliances and electronics in your home.
Protecting Your Home from Squirrels
Preventing squirrel damage is much easier than cleaning up after the damage has already been done. Protect your home by sealing off any open entry points. Some easy ways to do this are:
Trim trees: Trim branches that extend over the roof so that they are at least six feet away. This will make it more difficult for squirrels to access the roof.
Inspect and repair home exterior: Do a visual inspection for any potential entry points. These could be as small as your fist. Take note of rotting wood that squirrels could break through as well.
Seal all potential entrances: Close all gaps at siding meeting points, overhanging eaves, and pipe or cable openings.
Install hardware cloth: Chimneys, exhaust fans, and other openings to your home should be covered with hardware cloth. Use a staple gun to secure it so that insistent squirrels cannot chew around it.
Another great way to protect your home is to use a natural repellent such as Shake Away Small Critter Granules. This guaranteed product can be applied around your home both inside and out. It contains non-toxic scented oils that send squirrels away and so that your home can remain safe from their damaging antics.