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Michael Wheeler: How to keep squirrels out of your attic
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Well it’s a field day for squirrels in the area. This year’s acorn crop seems to be at a high, and this has been well received by them.

However, squirrels around the house can be a good thing or not so good. It all depends on whether or not the squirrel has made it into your attic.

A squirrel trapped in an attic can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Many times squirrels will gnaw through the siding, but they also will chew on wiring, causing a fire hazard. If all of that were not enough, they are considered a health hazard because of fleas, ticks and feces.

Preventative maintenance of your home is the best way to keep squirrels from becoming roommates.

First, remove all branches close to the roofline of the house.

Second, place guards around trees adjacent to the house. But remember, they are ineffective if nearby trees are unguarded.

Third, think about installing 2-foot lengths of plastic pipe on wires coming to the house. When squirrels access the wires and walk on the pipes, they will fall off as the pipe rotates.

Four, create habitat on your property by installing nest boxes. They prefer to nest among the trees, so by creating these nesting places, they will leave your home alone.

Fifth, plug all the holes you can find in the house, even the smallest ones. Squirrels are rodent-like, meaning they can fit through very small holes.

Sixth, if the hole cannot be plugged, then use a welded-wire mesh screen or hardware cloth to prevent entry. A good place for using hardware cloth is at the basement vents along the foundation of the home or at the gable ends of the house where attic vents are located.

Finally, if you already have a squirrel in the house, remove the animal before plugging the entrance and exit holes.

Now, while keeping squirrels out is one thing, what do you do if you already have them?

The best way to trap a squirrel is to use a cage-trap baited with peanut butter or bird seed. And continue trapping after you think all of the visitors have been removed and the holes have been plugged. This will ensure you are rodent-free.

Traps should be placed perpendicular to a wall. Placing bricks around the end of the trap where the bait is located will not only keep the trap from being moved but encourage the squirrel to go through the open end to get to the bait.

Note: Hunting them is not a viable way of eliminating a squirrel problem. Squirrels are territorial, and a relatively squirrel-free area will soon be occupied by opportunistic newcomers to stake a claim again.

Give these tips a try and hopefully you will be free from squirrels from here on out.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.ugaextension.org/county-offices/hall.html. His column appears weekly and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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