I was walking my dog the other day and noticed a squirrel scamper into the eave of a home along the sidewalk. We get calls all year and nearly every day from people in our area who have questions or concerns regarding their wild neighbors and their ability to become uninvited guests. I wondered whether or not the person living in this house would be calling me the following day at the Center regarding this little fellow or if they knew all about him and out of the goodness of their hearts had decided to share, and so I decided to come up with the best answer to their likely questions.
Because is it the middle of February, believe it or not we are into the final countdown for baby season to begin. This means that now might be a good time for certain wild neighbors to suggest they look for other accommodations. If you were to find yourself in a situation such as this these are the steps I would recommend:
- First identify if possible any and all entry and exit points. If there are more than one, try to repair the others, even if it’s only a temporary fix. To test your theory, wad up a piece of newspaper and place it in the entry space. Mr. (or Ms.) squirrel will have to remove it in order to get in and out like they have gotten used to. You can also try flouring the surface outside the opening or any other techniques that will allow you to monitor movement in that area without having to keep a vigil for 12 hours at a time.
- Scout your property and your nearby neighbors. If there are any food sources, especially bird feeders, that can be cleaned-up, moved, or removed even if it’s only temporary, your efforts will be much more successful.
- Purchase some ordinary household ammonia and for small openings soak a small bit of rag in it and place the rag into the opening being sure to keep it to one side so as not to block anyone in. For larger openings place a larger rag soaked in ammonia into an empty yogurt cup or tin can and place it just inside the area. For a squirrel you could do this during the day or night, even if they are awake your presence will further send the message that they should start packing. Continue to replace the newspaper into the hole each day that it gets removed so you can monitor your progress.
- If more convincing is needed try finding a portable radio. See if you can get it near to that area, or if that’s not possible leave it on in the house in a window or directly below that area. For a squirrel you will want it on during the daytime anyhow as that is when they would be awake. Turn it to a talk radio station to give them the idea that there are people around even when you aren’t.
- After a short time you should be able to ascertain that your uninvited guest has decreased or ceased their visits altogether to this area. Your next step is to repair that and all other areas where they previously had access. I recommend installing a 1-way door just to be sure that no-one gets trapped inside. Trapping an animal is not only in-humane, but almost certainly means more destruction, death by starvation and potentially more to repairs to deal with once the body decomposes.
To install a 1-way door:
a. Cut a piece of hardware mesh large enough to cover the opening.
b. Cut a hole in the mesh large enough for our friend to get out.
c. Cut out another piece of mesh slightly larger than the hole and attach it to the larger piece along the top half.
d. The goal is to re-create a 1-way doggy-door style door out of inexpensive materials.
Once your little friend has moved out and no longer has access to the area, permanent repairs can be implemented. These techniques should be used in many cases involving uninvited mammals however, if you are dealing with a wild neighbor during the spring and summer months, be sure to give them enough time during the ammonia and noise phase to relocate any offspring they may have nested in the area. If you have questions always check our website or contact a rehabilitator before taking any actions you may regret.