Squirrels around the house can be a blessing or a curse. It all depends on whether or not the squirrel has made it into your attic.
A few years ago, my uncle had a squirrel stuck in his house and from there on out he referred to squirrels as "rats with good public relations."
A squirrel trapped in an attic can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time.
Most often, squirrels will gnaw through the siding, but they can also chew on electrical wiring, causing a fire hazard. If all of that were not enough, they also might be 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.
Squirrels are rodents, which means they can fit through very small holes much like mice. Look around the house and plug up all the holes you can find, even the smallest ones. If you already have a squirrel in the house, remove the animal before you plug the entrance and exit holes.
If a 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 your home.
The best way to trap a squirrel is to use a cage trap baited with peanut butter. You might want to continue using a trap after you think all of the visitors have been removed and the holes have been plugged. This will insure that 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 also encourage the squirrel to go through the open end to get to the bait.
Remove all branches that are close to the roof line of the house. Guards can be placed around trees adjacent to the house, but they are ineffective if nearby trees are unguarded.
Also think about installing 2-foot lengths of plastic PVC pipe on the wires coming to the house. When squirrels access the wires and walk on the pipes, they will fall off as the pipe rotates.
Another good idea is to create a habitat for the squirrels on your property by installing nest boxes. They prefer to nest among the trees so by giving them nesting places, they are more likely to leave your home alone.
Give these tips a try, and hopefully you will be free from squirrels becoming unwanted roommates in your home.
Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.