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Squirrels: The Dangers of them Living In or Near a Home

Cute and playful, squirrels aren’t usually known for being dangerous. However, they can cause significant damage to homes and yards, and they do carry diseases that can be fatal to humans. Homeowners who have encountered squirrels that are just a little too close to the home – or that make their way inside – may want to learn more about how to keep them away. If necessary, professional help is available for homeowners who want to keep the squirrels away. 

Diseases Carried by Squirrels

Most squirrels won’t bite unless they feel like it’s their only option. If they feel threatened or are cornered, they are able to bite and can spread diseases this way. They can also spread diseases through their droppings. Squirrels may not look like they are ill but could still be a carrier for the following potentially fatal diseases.

Rabies

Rabies is rarely passed from squirrels to humans, but it can happen. This is fatal in 100% of cases unless proper medical care is sought immediately after someone is bit or scratched by the squirrel. Squirrels can carry rabies without showing symptoms for a period of time after being infected. 

Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis comes from the salmonella bacteria that can be found in animal droppings, including squirrel droppings. Humans who come in contact with the droppings may end up with abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and a fever. 

Lyme Disease

Squirrels can’t spread Lyme disease, but ticks can. Squirrels may have ticks on them that end up spreading to humans, which can lead to Lyme disease. This disease can lead to inflammation in the brain and spine, nerve pain, and more. 

Tularemia

This disease can be spread by squirrels and will end up impacting the eyes, lymph nodes, lungs, and skin. This is caused by a bacterial infection, and there are treatments available, so it is possible to recover. 

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is another bacterial infection that can lead to headaches and fevers, rashes, jaundice, and vomiting. Without treatment, this can be fatal, but antibiotics are available for those who catch this from a squirrel or any other animal. 

Damage to the Yard

Squirrels can end up causing quite a bit of damage to the yard as they dig and look for places to shelter or to store their food for the winter. Smaller shrubs, vines, and trees can be damaged as the squirrels chew on the bark or burrow close to the roots. They can also burrow in the grass, which kills the grass where they dig and leaves holes throughout the yard. Though other animals do this as well, squirrels can end up causing a significant amount of damage, and it will just continue until they are removed from the property. 

Damage to the Gardens

Vegetable gardens are exploding in popularity today thanks to more people wanting to be mindful about what they eat and where it comes from. An extensive garden isn’t needed to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, but it may be necessary to keep the squirrels away. Squirrels will enjoy feasting on the seeds when they’re planted, as well as the fruits and vegetables that grow in the yard. This could lead to a disappointing harvest at the end of the season unless measures are taken to protect the vegetables from squirrels. 

Damage to the Home

 One of the most common causes of house fires result from squirrels chewing on wires. Squirrels are unique because their front teeth continue to grow and need to be ground down to a manageable length, causing them to chew on any and everything, including wires. These exposed wires can cause a spark and fire in your home. Squirrels can break into homes, especially if there are any areas that are already damaged. Rotting wood near the roof, for instance, makes for an easy way for squirrels to get inside the attic. Once there, squirrels can be difficult to remove, and the risk of disease increases due to their proximity to the household. The squirrels will need to be trapped and removed from the attic, with care being taken to ensure there are no babies left behind in the nest. Then repairs will need to be made to make it more difficult for the squirrels to get back into the house.

 

Squirrel Sounds and Mannerisms

Squirrels are unique creatures to watch. They do have various sounds they make when they spot a potential predator, and they use these to warn other squirrels. Beyond the noises they make, though, they also can signal with their tails. A twitch or a flag motion is common with squirrels, though there isn’t enough research yet to understand the differences in various movements within these basic motions or what they mean. Chattering and other noises are common, too, and can be heard when squirrels are nearby. 

How to Keep Squirrels Away

Squirrels are wild animals, so they will often do as they please. However, there are methods that have been proven effective for encouraging squirrels to nest and forage elsewhere. Some of the ways to discourage squirrels in and around the house include the following. 

Use a Fence with Netting 

Around vegetable gardens, install a fence designed to keep squirrels out. Though they can climb, dig and jump, if the fence surrounds the vegetable garden and has netting over it, the squirrels may look for easier food elsewhere. Make sure the fence is buried at least eight inches in the ground to prevent digging.

Construct a Greenhouse

A greenhouse can be a great way to keep squirrels away from vegetable plants. The greenhouse should be kept locked so the squirrels can’t figure out how to get inside. A greenhouse can also help protect plants from other pests, too, which can mean a bigger harvest at the end of the season. 

Get Rid of Food Sources

Along with blocking off any vegetables in the yard, make sure all other potential sources of food are removed. Often, squirrels are attracted to yards because of bird seed. Keep the bird seed in an enclosed container, and make sure the bird feeders are designed to be squirrel-proof to keep any squirrels out. 

Secure the Trash

Outdoor trash bins are convenient for humans and squirrels. Humans find it easy to keep the trash out of the way until it’s picked up, and squirrels use the trash cans as sources of food. All outdoor trash bins should have well-fitting lids and, if necessary, should be locked to keep squirrels out. 

Use Gravel Around Plants

If plants are being dug up by squirrels, gravel could be a good way to discourage this. The gravel is much harder to dig through, so squirrels may give up and search elsewhere for food. Mulching the area can help, too, as can adding larger rocks between the plants to discourage digging. 

Add Motion-Sensor Sprinklers

Sprinklers designed to activate when there’s motion can be used to keep squirrels away. They’ll quickly learn that they will get soaked if they come into the yard, so they’ll end up avoiding it. This can also help keep other pests away from the yard, too, protecting the home further. 

Though squirrels can be cute to watch, it’s much better to watch them frolic around at the park instead of in the yard. If they are too close to the home and have become a nuisance, or they’ve gotten inside the home, professional help may be needed to remove them from the property and keep them away. Call Catawba Wildlife Control LLC today to get help with removing nuisance squirrels near or in your home.