There are many species of squirrels, two of which are common nuisance animals in Augusta and throughout Georgia. This page is about the Eastern gray squirrel. The other squirrel commonly encountered as a nuisance animal in Georgia is the flying squirrel, which you can read about here.
Squirrels are rodents in the family Sciuridae. Gray squirrels are actually pretty similar in biology and behavior to roof rats, although no self-respecting squirrel would ever admit to that. Most gray squirrels are predominantly gray or brownish-gray in color, but there is considerable variation that literally ranges from jet black to albino.
Gray squirrels in homes are mainly a fall and winter problem. They actually prefer living outside in trees rather than in your attic during the warmer months. It's nothing personal, mind you. It's just their nature. But some time in late summer or early fall, they start looking around for a place to overwinter. They do this while it's still warm, so apparently they use cues like the angle of the sun or the length of days to know when winter's on its way.
Like all rodents, squirrels have sharp teeth and powerful jaws. They also have strong, sharp claws that they use to climb. They can easily scale any vertical surface that they can stick their claws into. So come the end of summer, they start climbing up the sides of houses or leaping onto them from nearby trees, and get to work looking for a way inside.
They don't need much: Pretty much any gap will do as a starting point for squirrel entry. They'll just gnaw and claw away at it until it's just the right size for them to get in and out. Some common entry points include gaps in roof sheathing, gable vents, loose roof flashing, and cheaply-constructed attic fans and vents.
Once they get inside your house, squirrels make a real mess. They gnaw on the structure and and stored possessions, tear at the insulation, use stored clothing as nesting material, and poop and pee all over the place. Their droppings can harbor fungal pathogens and serve as breeding media for insects and bacteria. Squirrels also have ectoparasites like fleas and ticks, some of which are believed to be capable of spreading the causative pathogens of serious diseases.
Squirrels also cause a fire hazard. First of all, like all rodents, they're gnawers; and one of the things they love gnawing on is electrical wiring. We come across wiring that's been gnawed down to the insulation practically every day. Once in a while we also come across dead squirrels that electrocuted themselves in the process. Sometimes the damage to wiring is so severe that we honestly wonder how the house didn't catch fire.
To make matters worse, squirrels pad their nests with ignitable materials like twigs, grass, and shredded-up paper and clothing. These little pockets of tinder are often close enough to the wiring the squirrels have been gnawing on that they're like fires just waiting to happen. They're also hoarders. Aside from acorns and other food items, they also squirrel away things like jewelry and other shiny objects, paper, tin foil and even beer cans. Why? We have no idea. But they really do make a big mess.
Long story short, squirrels in your attic are not a problem that you can ignore. They cause health and safety risks that are too serious to be swept under the carpet. They may be small animals, but they can cause very big problems.
Squirrels may be pesky, but their not pests. They belong to a more socially-respectable group known as "nuisance wildlife." What this means in practical terms is that there is no such thing as a "squirrel exterminator." If anyone tells you that they set poison out for squirrels, that person is telling you that they broke the law. They also created a huge risk of a squirrel dying in your house somewhere and stinking up the place for months.
Legally and practically, squirrels must be removed by trapping them unharmed and releasing them elsewhere. The house must also be sealed up so squirrels can't get back inside. This is known as "squirrel exclusion" or "squirrel-proofing." This is highly-specialized work. It's not just a matter of fining and plugging up squirrel entry points. Proper squirrel-proofing requires that any potential entry points also be located and hardened against squirrel entry. This requires a thorough understanding of the animals' habits and abilities.
Squirrel-proofing is also hazardous work. It requires working up high and working on any part of the house that a squirrel could get to -- which means pretty much anywhere. It also requires specialized equipment that may include ladders, scaffolding, platform lift trucks, safety harnesses, and even repelling gear.
Obviously, this isn't a do-it-yourself kind of job. It's also not the kind of job that carpenters, handymen, and roofers tend to do well. They may have the tools and equipment, but very few of them have sufficient understanding of a squirrel's physical abilities and behavior to properly identify and seal off all the potential squirrel entry points in a home. In fact, a lot of our customers come to us after a squirrel-proofing job by a handyman or roofer failed.
Our squirrel-exclusion services also include work that non-specialists usually won't do. For example, we clean up and sanitize after the squirrels, apply insecticides if needed for control of displaced parasites, and even remove, dispose of, and replace contaminated insulation if needed.
At Rid-A-Critter, all of our technicians undergo an intensive training and apprenticeship program, as well as ongoing training to keep their skills sharp. We also give them all the equipment they need to do their jobs properly, and we don't rush them to get done. We want the work done right. It has to be because we stand behind our work with the best warranty in the business. Our warranties are even transferable to new owners if you sell your home.
If you have a squirrel problem, we're ready to help you solve it. Please call us to set up an inspection. We have the tools and personnel to handle any squirrel control job.
Here are few pictures of squirrel removal work we've done in the Augusta area.
Baby squirrel up past its bedtime
Tim and Faith with squirrel removed from a home
Squirrel damage led to water damage at this house
Squirrel removed alive from a chimney
Squirrel peeking out of a house in Evans, GA
Squirrel entry gap at a house in Martinez
Squirrel damage to the roof of an Augusta home
Big hole found at Augusta squirrel removal job
Squirrel entry hole in a crawl space vent in Evans
We removed squirrels from this house built in 1800
Sealing squirrels out of an attic in Augusta
Young squirrel removed from an Augusta home
Handyman squirrel job in Hephzibah - FAIL
Squirrel removed from a church the old-school way
Sheathing is missing from this roof in Augusta
Temporary squirrel trap in Evans, Georgia
Rid-A-Critter technician feeding a baby squirrel
Squirrel hole in plywood soffit of an Augusta home
Squirrel entry hole in a roof in Augusta
Squirrel chewed hole through flashing in Augusta
Two young squirrels being released to the wild
Baby squirrel at Crawfordville squirrel job
Young squirrel removed from an Augusta home
Tim giving a young squirrel a driving lesson
Squirrel damage to an exhaust fan in Augusta
Squirrels often use vines as ladders to get inside
Rubber-snake DIY squirrel control fail in Augusta
Squirrel recycled a woodpecker hole in Augusta
Damaged gable vent at Augusta squirrel removal job
A friendly baby squirrel we removed from a home
Young squirrel spending too much time online
Squirrels gnawed through the gutter in Augusta
Young squirrel we were babysitting enjoying a meal
Neighborly squirrel stopped by for lunch
Handyman squirrel-proofing job - FAIL