By Chris Williams on July 27, 2011.
Q. Help! What can I do to stop squirrels from chewing on my house? We’ve tried chasing them away, covering the opening (they just chewed it open again), even putting hot sauce around the edge of the hole. Nothing stops them!
A. Well, you’re not alone. Many of us who often enjoy the antics of our resident squirrels also eventually pay the price in squirrel damage. Squirrels are notorious for chewing on wood, especially soft and unpainted wood like cedar. They will chew on wood siding, louvers, soffits, wooden stairs, wooden outdoor furniture, fence posts, porch railings, outdoor sheds. If it’s wood and if they can find an edge to start, expect gnawing damage. Gnawing usually results in holes 1-1/2 to 3 inches wide. Even bigger holes can result if a squirrel is trying to create an opening into an attic or other space for nesting.
Their chewing damage is not limited to wood either. Squirrels will chew through plastic bird feeders and garbage can lids. We used to have a deer skull with antlers hanging over the doorway of our outdoor shed…until the squirrels chewed the antlers to nubs. They chew on bones to get the calcium…and because they can!
Sometimes squirrels chew with no special goal in mind. They just have to satisfy the need to gnaw. Squirrel incisors grow continuously so they have to constantly gnaw on hard objects (usually nuts) to keep them well worn and sharp. They will chew on lead lawn ornaments, and on wires entering buildings. Squirrels nesting in attics have started fires by chewing on electrical lines.
Squirrels will check out the highest places on a house, looking for any small hole that they can work on. Weak wood from moisture or insect damage is especially attractive. You can sometimes keep squirrels from getting to the wood on a building by trimming back tree branches that they use for access to the building. Trim all branches 5 to 6 feet away (a squirrel’s jumping distance).
It’s not easy to scare squirrels away from a gnawing site. Odor repellents like mothballs are usually ignored by squirrels. Taste repellents are sometimes successful. Whether or not taste repellents work depends on how badly the squirrels want to chew on that particular wood. If it’s highly desirable or if they see it as an entry to a nesting site, nothing is going to discourage them in the long run. But if the wood is only slightly attractive for chewing, a taste repellent may drive them away.
Usually, if you have a squirrel chewing on your house, the only permanent solution is to trap and remove the offending squirrel or squirrels, then seal openings already begun, and squirrel-proof the rest of the house to make it less attractive as a chew toy! At Colonial Pest Control, we practice humane trapping and our technicians are experts at sealing squirrels out. Give us a call today and learn about our squirrel removal services for New Hampshire and Massachusetts.