Squirrels

About Squirrels

Red Squirrel on a tree\
  • Squirrels prefer to live in mature trees that produce pine or spruce cones for them to feed on. Food that is stashed in the fall is later dug up for winter and spring time meals.
  • Squirrels are active in the daytime, except when the weather is very cold or stormy. They do not hibernate in the winter.
  • Squirrels have many predators and are vulnerable to a variety of diseases. Because of this, around 50% of the squirrel population dies each year. They rarely live past four years old.
  • Squirrels primarily live in trees and nest in high tree-cavities, but they will also dig burrows in the ground.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can squirrels be a nuisance to people?

  • Squirrels can take up residence in your home and cause substantial damage, such as destruction of insulation and chewing of electrical wires.
  • Squirrels can damage landscaping in your backyard, including fruit trees, flowering bulbs and bird feeders.
  • Squirrels can carry parasites such as ticks, fleas and mange mites, but there is little risk of squirrels transmitting them to humans or pets. However, if you need to handle a dead squirrel, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards.

What can I do about the squirrels on my property?

  • To prevent squirrels from taking up residence in your attic:
    • Cover all openings and vents in the roof with ½ inch, 26-gauge hardware cloth.
    • Take a close look along soffits, behind eavestroughs, along window frames and around utility-pipe openings. Make sure everything is in good repair, holes are filled or covered and rotten or broken pieces are replaced. Squirrels will use their sharp teeth to enlarge existing holes in the structure of your house to get inside.
  • If the squirrel has found its way into your house:
    • Locate the hole it’s using as an entry way.
    • If you suspect it’s using multiple entries, use hardware cloth to cover all holes except one.
    • Be certain the squirrel has vacated your house before covering the final hole. Squirrels trapped in attics can cause substantial damage in their efforts to escape.
  • If you suspect the squirrel is using a telephone or cable wire as a bridge from a tree to your house:
    • Purchase a 24-inch piece of PVC pipe.
    • Cut the pipe lengthwise down the middle and wrap the it around the line. Squirrels will be discouraged from using the line because they are not able to get secure footing on the pipe.
  • Cutting back trees so they do not grow within six feet of the house is also an option. This will prevent the squirrels from jumping from the tree on to your house.
  • Distract the squirrel from its efforts to return to your attic to nest by building a nest box nearby.
  • Ornamental trees and shrubs can be protected from squirrel damage by wrapping them with metal sheeting or collars. Be sure to wrap all your trees with such sheeting, especially if they are close enough together for a squirrel to jump from one tree to the next.
  • Private pest control companies can be called to remove the problem squirrel from your property.
  • Fish and Wildlife Division offices may have live-catch traps to loan in assisting with the capture of problem squirrels. Traps can also be purchased through trapping equipment supply stores.
  • Remember that a damage control licence is required to legally remove squirrels from your property and are issued free of charge from Fish and Wildlife offices.

Contact

Call a Fish and Wildlife officer if you need specific advice on squirrel problems on your property, or to discuss removal techniques.

To find contact information for a Fish and Wildlife office near you, see:

Related Information

For more information on the species in Alberta:

To download in-depth information about squirrel control from The Handbook: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, published by the University of Nebraska, see:

 

Page Information

Updated: Feb 20, 2014