Discover everything you need to know about squirrels in our guide below.
What Are Squirrels?
Squirrels (scientific name Sciuridae) are a type of rodent known for their bushy tails and agile movements.
There are over 200 species of squirrels in the world, and they are native to every continent except Antarctica. They can inhabit a variety of environments, from tropical rainforests to arid deserts.
Squirrels are omnivorous. Their diet consists mainly of nuts and seeds, although they’ll also consume small insects when available. Known for their characteristic behavior of burying food for later consumption, squirrels play a crucial role in seed dispersal, contributing to the health and diversity of ecosystems.
The Behavior, Diet, and Habits of Squirrels
Squirrels are active all year long and are most commonly seen during the day. They use a complex variety of communication mannerisms, including tail flicking, loud warning calls, and chirps. While adult tree squirrels mostly live alone, they may nest in groups during severe weather or prolonged cold spells.
Outdoors squirrels eat fruits, nuts, vegetables, insects, and small animals. In terms of habitat, squirrels live virtually everywhere people do. Outdoors, they tend to nest in tree trunks, under porches, or in outbuildings. In cold climates, they often seek refuge in homes, making nests in attics, sheds, garages, or wall voids.
What Damage Do Squirrels Cause?
Squirrels strip bark off tree branches and trunks, causing extensive harm or even tree death. This is especially problematic for commercial timber operations or orchards, where squirrels can significantly impact profit margins.
In residential areas, squirrels can cause substantial damage to homes. They are notorious for gnawing on a wide variety of materials to both sharpen their teeth and make nests. This can include wooden beams, electrical wiring, insulation, and even plastic and metal pipes, potentially causing power outages, fires, or water damage.
Squirrels can also wreak havoc on gardens by digging up bulbs, eating fruits and vegetables, and destroying plants in the process.
They are often responsible for emptying bird feeders, which can be frustrating for bird watchers and expensive to continually refill.
Additionally, squirrels are known vectors for diseases such as Lyme disease, Rabies, Tularemia, and even the plague.
How to Get Rid of Squirrels
To get rid of tree squirrels near your home, seal entry points they may be using to access nest sites, set traps, and remove sources of food, shelter, and nesting materials.
While there are many sources recommending unproven tactics, like ultrasonic or hazing devices, stick with proven methods and contact a professional pest management company if you need additional assistance.
For more details on how to get rid of squirrels, check out our complete guide.
We never recommend shooting squirrels as a control method. In addition to the fact that shooting squirrels is dangerous and inhumane, it also won’t resolve your squirrel infestation since it won’t treat the underlying factors supporting the squirrel populations.
Squirrels typically reproduce once or twice a year, usually in late winter and mid-summer. After a gestation period that lasts approximately six weeks, a female squirrel gives birth to a litter of two to eight kits. The babies are weaned at around ten weeks of age and become fully independent by twelve weeks. This means that even a minimal squirrel infestation can explode quickly.