Home & Living

What attracts squirrels to my house? Is there any way to keep squirrels away? Are squirrels considered pests? Do they bring any diseases?

Squirrels, with their lively antics and fluffy tails, often add a touch of charm to our surroundings. While many find joy in watching them dart across yards and climb trees, questions arise about whether these bushy-tailed creatures can be considered pests and if they pose any health risks.

In this exploration, we delve into the factors that attract squirrels to our homes, effective ways to keep them at bay, and the considerations surrounding their potential as carriers of diseases.

Understanding how to coexist with these delightful creatures while mitigating potential challenges is key to fostering a harmonious relationship with the wildlife that shares our living spaces.

What attracts squirrels to my house?

Squirrels are charming creatures that often capture our attention with their playful antics and acrobatic manoeuvres. If you’ve noticed these furry friends frequenting your property, you may wonder, “What attracts squirrels to my house?” Let’s explore some common factors that draw these bushy-tailed visitors to your surroundings.

1. Food Sources

Squirrels are natural foragers, and they’re particularly attracted to readily available food. If you have bird feeders or fruit-bearing trees in your yard, chances are squirrels see your place as a buffet. Nuts, seeds, and fruits are irresistible treats for them. Consider using squirrel-proof feeders or placing them strategically to minimize squirrel access.

2. Shelter and Nesting Opportunities

Squirrels are resourceful when it comes to finding shelter. If your property offers cosy nooks or potential nesting spots, such as trees with hollows or attics with accessible entry points, squirrels may be enticed to make your home their own. Regularly inspect your property for any openings that could serve as entry points and seal them to deter unwelcome guests.

Vertical panning of gray squirrel climbs the wall of the building - view from the window.

3. Water Sources

Like any living creature, squirrels need water for survival. If you have a water feature, such as a birdbath or a garden pond, it might be attracting squirrels seeking hydration. Ensuring these water sources are not easily accessible or using squirrel deterrents around them can help minimize squirrel visits.

4. Easy Access

Squirrels are skilled climbers and jumpers, so they can easily navigate their way around obstacles. If your property has overhanging branches or structures close to trees, squirrels may find it inviting to explore. Trimming branches and securing potential access points can discourage them from getting too close to your house.

5. Seasonal Factors

During certain times of the year, such as mating season or when food becomes scarce, squirrels may become more active in their search for resources. Understanding these natural behaviours can help you anticipate and manage their presence.

Is there any way to keep squirrels away?

Absolutely! If you find yourself wanting to keep those playful squirrels at a distance, there are several squirrel-friendly strategies you can employ. Let’s dive into some effective and humane ways to keep squirrels away from places where you’d rather they not be.

Squirrel-Proofing Your Garden

If you have a garden, you might notice squirrels helping themselves to your fruits and veggies. To squirrel-proof your garden, consider using mesh netting to cover plants or investing in squirrel-resistant plant varieties. Raised beds can also create a barrier, making it harder for these furry foragers to access your crops.

Use Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders

Bird feeders are often an open invitation for squirrels. Opt for bird feeders specifically designed to be squirrel-proof, with mechanisms that close off access to the food when a squirrel tries to latch on. This way, you can still feed the birds without unintentionally inviting the squirrels to the feast.

Employ Natural Repellents

Squirrels have a keen sense of smell, and certain scents are downright offensive to them. Consider using natural repellents like peppermint oil, garlic, or cayenne pepper in your garden or near potential squirrel entry points. These scents are harmless to the environment but act as a powerful deterrent for our bushy-tailed friends.

Install Physical Barriers

To protect specific areas, you can use physical barriers like wire mesh or hardware cloth. If you have a bird feeder on a pole, adding a baffle can prevent squirrels from climbing up. Similarly, wrapping tree trunks with metal collars can make it challenging for squirrels to ascend.

Trim Overhanging Branches

Squirrels are agile climbers and jumpers, using branches as highways to explore new territories. By trimming overhanging branches near your home, you make it more difficult for them to access your roof and attic. This simple step can discourage their proximity to your living spaces.

Provide Squirrel-Friendly Distractions

Create a designated space in your yard where you allow squirrels to indulge in their natural behaviours. Set up a feeding station with nuts and seeds away from areas you want to protect. This can help divert their attention and keep them happily occupied without causing mischief in unwanted areas.

Consider Commercial Squirrel Deterrents

Several commercial products are specifically designed to deter squirrels without causing harm. These may include motion-activated devices, ultrasonic repellents, or squirrel-resistant bird feeders. When used correctly, these tools can be effective in keeping squirrels at bay.

Are squirrels considered pests? Do they bring any diseases?

Squirrels, with their bushy tails and playful antics, often charm us with their presence. However, the question of whether squirrels are considered pests and if they bring any diseases is a valid concern for those sharing living spaces with these furry creatures.

Are Squirrels Considered Pests?

While many people enjoy watching squirrels frolic in the yard, there are instances where these cute critters can be deemed pests. Squirrels are natural foragers, and their love for scavenging can lead them to gardens, bird feeders, and even attics. In urban and suburban environments, their nesting habits may cause damage to property, such as chewing on electrical wires or creating openings in roofs and walls.

In gardens, squirrels may become a nuisance by raiding crops and digging up bulbs. Their persistent efforts to access bird feeders can also pose a challenge, especially if you’re trying to attract birds without feeding the local squirrel population.

Diseases Associated with Squirrels

While squirrels are generally healthy animals, there are a few diseases associated with them that warrant attention:

  1. Lyme Disease: Squirrels can carry ticks, which are vectors for Lyme disease. Although squirrels themselves do not transmit the disease, having an abundance of squirrels in an area can increase the likelihood of encountering ticks.
  2. Leptospirosis: Squirrels may carry the bacteria responsible for leptospirosis in their urine. While transmission to humans is rare, it is still a concern, especially in areas with a high squirrel population.
  3. Salmonellosis: Squirrels can be carriers of salmonella bacteria, which can be transmitted to humans through contact with their faeces. This emphasizes the importance of proper hygiene when dealing with areas frequented by squirrels.

Preventing Squirrel-Related Issues

To mitigate the potential problems associated with squirrels and reduce the risk of diseases, consider implementing the following preventive measures:

  1. Secure Trash Bins: Ensure that your trash bins are securely closed to discourage squirrels from rummaging through them. This reduces the likelihood of attracting these critters to your immediate vicinity.
  2. Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders: Invest in bird feeders designed to be squirrel-resistant. These often come with features that make it challenging for squirrels to access the bird feed, preserving the intended avian audience.
  3. Seal Entry Points: Regularly inspect your home for potential entry points, especially in attics or crawl spaces. Seal any openings, gaps, or cracks to prevent squirrels from establishing nests indoors.
  4. Use Squirrel Repellents: Consider using natural repellents or commercially available squirrel deterrents in areas where you want to discourage their presence. These can include scents, sprays, or devices that emit sounds unpleasant to squirrels.
  5. Practice Good Hygiene: If you have a garden or frequently encounter squirrels, practice good hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly after working in areas frequented by squirrels and avoid direct contact with their faeces.

Conclusion

In the tapestry of our natural surroundings, squirrels play a lively role, bringing both joy and occasional concerns. As we unravel the reasons behind their visits, from seeking food and shelter to navigating seasonal behaviours, we find that creating a balance is achievable.

Employing humane strategies such as squirrel-proofing gardens, using natural repellents, and ensuring good hygiene practices can help mitigate potential issues. Additionally, extending our considerations to areas like decks and patios, where squirrels might explore, allows us to create squirrel-friendly zones while preserving the comfort of our outdoor spaces.

Ultimately, the goal is not to cast squirrels as pests but to find ways to peacefully coexist, appreciating their presence without compromising the serenity of our homes, gardens, decks, and patios. With these insights, we can foster a connection with the wildlife around us, recognizing the beauty of nature’s diversity while addressing practical considerations for a shared habitat.

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