Originally introduced from America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the grey squirrel has spread widely and today is a well-known feature of British parks, gardens and woodland.
Grey Squirrels much like rabbits, foxes and other “pest” species split public opinion and while many people enjoy seeing and feeding them, others view them as nothing more than tree rats. Despite being entertaining they remain a serious forestry pest causing considerable damage each year especially to young trees.
Squirrels can make quite a nuisance of themselves; agile, bold and inquisitive creatures that soon learn how to raid a bird table and dig holes in the lawn to hide the food they have stolen. More seriously they can find their way into roof spaces; either by climbing the walls or leaping across from a nearby tree where they can be very destructive, tearing up insulation to use as nest material and chewing the timbers. They have also been known to strip the insulation off electric cables which is a major potential fire risk.
- They are active during the day, especially around dawn and dusk.
- They forage for a wide range of food, including fruits as well as their traditional diet of nuts.
- They also take eggs or young birds.
- They breed twice a year; in early spring and then again in the summer
- They produce three or four young, although in some cases up to nine may be born.
- They are able to breed at a year old.
Squirrels make nests to shelter in; these are known as dreys, normally located high up in a tree. Each squirrel may make several dreys and they may also try to build one within a roof space which can lead to a number of problems, as above.
Blocking up any holes or gaps will help prevent squirrels from entering a building; but this must be done properly. Remeber these animals are rodents and as rodents their front teet grow continually – gnawing is the only way to keep them at the right length. Any proofing should be rodent proof.
Trees within a garden can be protected by using specialist metal collars or sleeves, but a tight fit is essential.
If prevention does not stop the problem?
Trapping and humane dispatch (i.e. killing them) looks like the only other way. Having said that kill-trapping and poison cannot be used where there is any risk of harm to Red Squirrels (they are a protected species here). Live trapping is possible but it is illegal to release a trapped Grey Squirrel into the wild, so any that are caught must be humanely destroyed; definitely a job best left to the experts here at Pesky Critters.
If you suspect you have squirrels in your loft or have large amounts of them in your garden and/ or they are causing damage then contact us