Summary: Got scratching in the attic, or do you just want to be able to tell a fox squirrel and a gray squirrel apart? Learn all about many different squirrels by reading this article and/or visiting our “Squirrel” category.
Got scratching in the attic, or do you just want to be able to tell a fox squirrel and a gray squirrel apart? Learn all about many different squirrels by reading this article and/or visiting our “Squirrel” category.
There are many different kinds of squirrels and it's important to discuss and identify each species separately. This particular article discusses the most boring, er, I mean, common variety; the Fox squirrel. Fox squirrels may seem harmless, but they could end up being a problem in the long run. Let's find out how to tell the difference, then see if they could be causing your problem.
Fox squirrels can reach alarming large sizes, ranging from 1' to over 2', with another foot added on for that big bushy tail with which we are all so familiar. Their tails can reach the same size as their body length, leaving you faced with quite an imposing pest. They are generally an orangish-brown hue and have rounded ears, rather than pointy ones. Their underbelly is one color, usually closest to that orange color, while their back will be speckled with brown.
Fox squirrels are diurnal (think about it... opposite of nocturnal...) and will hang around on the ground just about as much as they will in the trees. Their homes, called dreys, are built in trees. They'll build two different dreys, one for the summer season and one for the winter. The summer drey will be very temporary. Fox squirrels are not considered territorial. The summer drey may consist of a few twigs and leaves thrown together to for more a lookout perch than anything. However, when wintertime rolls around, most Fox squirrels retreat to the warmth of a hollowed-out tree, most commonly found in a nut-bearing tree of some sort. This hollowed out den is often times shared with other squirrel families, especially if the mommies and daddies are mating.
Which brings us to our next section. The birds and the bees, but, still about squirrels. You get what I mean? If kids are reading with you, you might want to have them leave the room. (That's a joke!) This is a family- appropriate website, madam. Fox squirrels will birth two litters during a year, once in the winter months and again in the summer. The litter consists of four or five young, but up to seven and as few as one, depending on survival. The Fox squirrel can be known to live as long as twelve years.
Now, I mentioned that they were a pest. They seem harmless enough, right? Just runnin' around, munchin' on nuts, berries, little bugs and whatever else they can find. “Just let him build his nest. He's not bothering anything.” Well,
what happens when he builds that drey on a branch that reaches over your house? Then the winter months come and instead of a crummy old tree to cozy up in, he sneaks his way into your house through a crack in the attic. Now you've got a terrifying monster the size of a small cat living, breeding, maybe even chewing on cable and wires in your house! Ok, I'm getting carried away, but, truth be told, they are scavengers and really could end up chewing on an electrical wire and starting a fire.
So, knock down that squirrel nest near your house if you have to, and if you hear scratching inside the walls of your house, set a few simple live animal traps ASAP, because the longer you wait, the harder it will be to get rid of them after they have set up house in your house. Don't use poison baits because you don't want have the squirrels dying and rotting in your attic. That presents a whole list of other pest issues.
Live animal traps humanely trap the squirrels and are 100% reusable. I recommend Havahart® Small Raccoon Traps. Bait the traps with a sunflower seed mixture. Check on-line or at the hardware store for these. These traps will keep humans and squirrels separated and are much cheaper to do yourself than calling a pest control professional to come in and use exactly the same product. Be sure you understand your state's trap and release laws. Some states required euthanization of trapped animals. If you don't have the stomach for that job, go back three steps and call a pro.
Watch this short video on trapping squirrels.