Squirrels are a common sight in New York; just look out your window and you will likely see one or more scampering in the trees, burying acorns, or raiding your bird feeder. In New York, we have healthy populations of several species of squirrels including the grey, fox, red, and flying squirrels.
Squirrels will hide food for later retrieval just like humans stocking a cupboard. Where and how a squirrel hides an acorn or other food depends on the landscape, whether or not the food is perishable, and the location of other squirrels. With competitors for the food close by, a squirrel will make false caches to mislead any watching competing animal.
Squirrels usually feed on seeds, berries, nuts, and similar items. However, they are also known to prey on frogs, birds, and other animals. They will gnaw on antlers and bones for minerals.
Why Squirrels Love Your Home
Squirrels enter homes in the colder months to keep warm and to bear their young. They especially like attics where they can get warm, make a nest, and have their babies, which can lead to messes, noise, and the skittering of little feet across the ceiling during the night.
They will leave their droppings close to the walls or in the corners of your attic, basement, or garage accompanied by spots of urine.
Individual squirrels foraging in your yard or raiding your bird feeder are not generally a concern, but when they move into your home they are not docile visitors.
Their taxonomic family name "rodent" comes from the Latin word "rodere," meaning "to gnaw.” And gnaw they do, chewing through materials like thin metal, wood, plastic, paper, wall board, wires, insulation, or wood. Squirrels can damage your property by putting holes in fascia and soffit boards, roof trusses, telephone lines, and electrical wiring, a significant fire hazard, while outdoors they can damage electrical wires and telephone lines.
Diseases Transmitted By Squirrels
Squirrels transmit diseases through bites or other direct contact and indirectly through parasites or pests they host on their body, such as ticks and fleas, which can carry dangerous infectious diseases. Not all ticks and fleas carry disease and not all squirrels will have ticks or fleas, but the consequences of infection can be serious.
Diseases are associated with squirrels include:
Leptospirosis: A disease that causes a range of symptoms including fever, head and muscle aches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting, chills, jaundice, red eyes, and rash.
Lyme disease: Spread to humans by ticks carried by squirrels, this disease can lead to an inflammatory disorder affecting the nervous system, joints, and heart.
Salmonellosis: Feces of many kinds of rodents (including rats, mice, and squirrels) can contain salmonella; humans exposure to the disease comes by touching the waste or indirectly inhaling dust from dried waste.
Prevent Or Address A Squirrel Infestation
There are steps you can take to address squirrel issues. You should:
Squirrel-proof your bird feeder by hanging feeders away from trees; Using a plastic squirrel dome that attaches under or over a feeder, and using lots of pepper because it is a taste and smell that squirrels hate but birds do not object to it.
Seal all points of entry including cracks around doors and windows.
Install screens on vents and chimney openings.
Repair all holes in fascia and soffit boards immediately.
Keep food in tightly-lidded containers.
Dispose of garbage regularly.
Keep tree limbs cut back from the roofline.
Clean roof gutters of squirrel treats like seeds, acorns, and edible detritus of all kinds.
If you suspect that squirrels have moved into your New York home, contact the pest professionals at BHB Pest Elimination today. We've provided New York homeowners with long-term pest elimination solutions since 1969. Call today to request your inspection and protect your home.