THE WORLD OF SQUIRRELS - PEST WILDLIFE REMOVAL
Comprehensive Pest Wildlife Removal Information On All Things Squirrels Related
SQUIRRELS - CAUSING 30% OF ATTIC FIRES IN THE U.S. ANNUALLY
Often squirrels will chew on wires in the attic, and this can cause sparks to go flying. Whether you have fireproof insulation or not, squirrels will drag loose nesting material into your attic and this is all it takes for an attic fire to be started. Squirrels are most active during the morning hours and people can often hear them scurrying around when they wake up. Squirrels cause damages such as chewing holes
in the roof, building nests in the attic, and chewing on wires.
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THE UNITED STATES IS HOME TO FIVE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SQUIRRELS
They are fox, gray, red, flying and ground. Some live in the trees, some live in the ground and others appear to fly. Tree squirrels generally have bushy tails, sharp claws and large ears, while ground squirrels have shorter legs and less bushy fur. Flying squirrels have a furred membrane between their wrists and ankles that allow them to glide between trees.
Two species of gray squirrels inhabit the United States, the western gray and the eastern gray. The eastern gray squirrel normally inhabits the northeastern United States, although it has invaded the western United States, as well as Europe. The western gray squirrel lives in three separate locations along the western coast. Both of these large squirrels appear in a variety of colors, which include black, gray, brown, cream and red.
Fox squirrel species live throughout most of the United States, excluding the eastern coast. It is the largest type of squirrel ranging from 17 to 27 inches long. These large squirrels come in two distinct color groups. One has dark fur in variable shades from black to gray and tan or gold undersides. These dark-colored squirrels have black heads with white noses, ears and feet. The other color is reddish, tan or orange. The red fox squirrels have no white markings.
Little red squirrels are about half the size of gray squirrels. These small tree squirrels have fur that is gray-red in the winter and orange-red in the summer with a white belly. During the winter months, red squirrels will grow tufts of fur on their ears. When other animals enter their territory, they tend to chatter or whistle loudly at such invaders. Red squirrels, also known as pine squirrels, live in the colder northern states and prefer living in pine forests.
Many species of ground squirrels inhabit the United States. These small rodents prefer to excavate burrows in open habitats such as prairies. The white-tailed antelope squirrel of southwestern United States is the smallest species, weighing only 3.4 to 4 ounces. Some more common species include the California ground squirrel, the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, and the spotted ground squirrel. Due to destructive burrowing and chewing, these species can sometimes cause great damage to gardens.
The United States is home to two species of flying squirrels, the northern flying squirrel and the southern flying squirrel. The northern flying squirrel is the larger of the two squirrel species. Usually, it lives in the higher elevations of Alaska, California, Arizona, Michigan and the Appalachian and Adirondack mountains. Southern flying squirrels are found in the eastern half of the United States in lower elevations down through Florida (wild). These very small squirrels may outnumber gray squirrels, although their nocturnal living habits make them nearly impossible to find.
WHAT IS A SQUIRREL'S GESTATION PERIOD?
A squirrel's gestation period is between 30 and 44 days. Squirrels typically have one or two litters a year, depending on the type of squirrel.
Fox squirrels and Eastern grey squirrels have two litters a year with their young being born between February and April for the first litter and between August and September for the second. Western grey squirrels have one litter a year, typically with their young being born between February and June. Baby squirrels are born without hair and are mostly helpless for the first months of their lives. A squirrel's nest, typically built of twigs, is called a drey.
DAMAGE SQUIRRELS DO
In residential areas, squirrels cause damage because of their tendency to gnaw on structures. They will chew siding and under eves to make openings for their nests. Because of their small size, flying squirrels are prone to making nests in attics and other areas they can get into. Many mountain cabins have groups of flying squirrels living in the closets and between walls. Once they have made a nest, squirrels will chew on insulation and the insulation around wires. This habit is dangerous because the bare wires may cause a fire. They also travel along powerlines and may short out transformers.
The second most common complaint about squirrels is that they often take food at feeders intended for birds. Squirrels are adept climbers and can reach almost any feeder. In addition, they frequently damage bird feeders when they enlarge openings by chewing on them or when they gnaw on perches.
Other squirrel activities that cause complaints from homeowners are not commonly a significant source of damage. For example, squirrels occasionally damage lawns when they dig to bury or search for nuts. They chew bark and clip twigs on ornamental trees or shrubbery planted in yards and gardens. In addition, squirrels may eat planted seeds, mature fruits, or grains such as corn.
There are many ways to control squirrel damage. Exclusion techniques, such as blocking entrances into buildings, are the most effective way to control damage. Repellents can be used to keep squirrels out of areas where moderate damage is occurring. Trapping is the best way to remove squirrels from buildings. Licensed wildlife pest control operators are available throughout the state and most will trap and remove squirrels for homeowners. Contact one of our professionals in your area.
Trim limbs and trees to 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) away from buildings to prevent squirrels from jumping onto roofs.
In backyards where squirrels are causing problems at bird feeders, consider providing an alternative food source. Wire or nail an ear of corn to a tree or wooden fence post away from where the squirrels are causing problems.
In high-value crop situations, it may pay to remove woods or other trees near orchards to block the “squirrel highway.”
Prevent squirrels from climbing power poles and individual trees by encircling them with a 2-foot-wide collar of metal 6 feet off the ground. To give trees adequate growing space, attach the metal collar using encircling wires held together with springs. Similarly, these squirrel baffles can be placed on poles that support bird feeders or bird houses. Many different squirrel-proof feeders are currently on the market that may deter squirrels. Prevent squirrels from traveling on wires by installing 2-foot sections of lightweight 2- to 3-inch diameter plastic pipe. Slit the pipe lengthwise, spread it open, and place it over the wire. The pipe will rotate on the wire and cause traveling squirrels to tumble.
Close openings to attics and other parts of buildings, but make sure not to lock squirrels inside. Place traps inside as a precaution after openings are closed. A squirrel excluder can be improvised by mounting an 18-inch section of 4-inch plastic pipe over an opening. The pipe should point down at a 45 degree angle. A one-way door can also be used over an opening to let squirrels out and prevent them from returning. Close openings to buildings with heavy 0.5-inch wire mesh or make other suitable repairs. Custom-made wire-mesh fences topped with electrified wires usually will keep squirrels out of gardens, but this method is costly, and squirrels do not often cause much damage to gardens.
CHIPMUNKS - AREN'T THEY SQUIRRELS?
Chipmunks are among the most common wildlife in suburban backyards, and yes they are members of the squirrel family. Chipmunks aid forest growth when they move seeds around, while squirrels are indirectly responsible for great forests, resulting from hiding their acorns. Chipmunks weigh between 2 to 4 ounces at maturity, with an average length of 5 inches. They're brown with tan, black and brown striping.
Chipmunks live underground, digging burrows up to 30 feet long. Their preferred habitat consists of mature woodlands or along their edges, which describes many suburban neighborhoods.
Chipmunks mate twice a year, in early spring and late summer. After a gestation period of 31 days, the female produces a litter of two to five offspring.
Chipmunks gather and store food, often seeds, throughout the year. If you have seen clumps of sunflowers coming up in flower pots or the lawn, or small bulbs blooming far away from where you planted them, you can thank a chipmunk! This is one of their purposes in natural woodlands-- to sow seeds for forest regeneration. Although chipmunks mainly eat seeds, berries, nuts, insects and mushrooms on the ground, they also can climb trees to gather these or to prey on young birds and bird eggs.
Chipmunks do not hibernate during fall and winter as woodchucks do, but remain rather inactive, subsisting on their stored food. You may see them active on warm, sunny days.
In addition to their damage in gardens, chipmunks can cause structural damage from burrowing under stairs, retention walls, or foundations. They may kill flowers from burrowing under them. Chipmunks are less likely to enter your house, causing fewer issues if they do get inside. If you've got a cat in your house, the chipmunk is toast.
Thanks to http://wdfw.wa.gov/ and http://extension.psu.edu/