The native squirrel in this country is the red squirrel, which is protected. They inhabit very few areas of the country, with none living in the South East. The other species in the UK is the Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), a frequently seen inhabitant of parks, gardens and woodland.
Although they can look quite cute, there are times when the grey squirrel can be an incredibly destructive and distressing pest to have in your home or work.
The grey Squirrel is not native to the UK. It was deliberately introduced from North America in the late 1800s and has been responsible for the decline of the red squirrel through competition for habitat and spread of disease.
- Approx 24 -28cm (without the tail)
- 400 - 600g
- Silver-grey coat with a lighter underside, sometimes brownish coat
- Long bushy tail
- Short muzzle with rounded ears
- Big eyes and small ears
Grey squirrels are active during the day, spending much of their time in trees and coming down to search for food on the ground. They are active throughout the year, although less active in very cold, wet or hot conditions. Squirrels are exceptional climbers, whether in trees, along fences or on buildings.
They have two breeding seasons a year, with births in spring and late summer. Litters are usually around three, but can be up to seven kittens. The young are raised in nests, or dreys and each adult can have more than one drey.
Grey squirrels are mainly vegetarian, eating tree seeds such as acorns, hazelnuts, chestnuts and pine cones. They will also eat bark, flowers, fungi, invertebrates, bird's eggs and nestlings; often burying nuts and seeds in food caches for winter.
Why Grey Squirrels Need Controlling
- Squirrels will sometimes see buildings as warm, safe places to make a nest. They will gnaw fascia and soffit boards to gain entry and once inside a loft or roof space they can cause serious damage.
- Squirrels can gnaw away at timbers, ceilings, pipes and often tear up the insulation. Gnawed electrical wiring poses a potential fire risk.
- As with all rodent pests, squirrels can carry and spread diseases, contaminating lofts with urine and droppings.
- Squirrels in lofts make a lot of noise, often first thing in the morning around daybreak. They will also disrupt people's sleep, jumping and scrambling around at night.
- They can also target gardens and allotments, taking fruit and flowers; raiding birds nests and digging lawns.
Signs To Look For
Scratching, scuffling and banging sounds from the loft, mostly around daybreak, but can be anytime.
Droppings in the loft can be an indication of squirrels. They are dark, about 1cm long, round or cylindrical and usually spread out. They can be difficult to distinguish from rat droppings.
Squirrels will tear up loft insulation, pulling it about into nest areas.
Seeing squirrels around your property, especially on fences and roof edges can be a sign they've found a way in.
Methods Of Control
A full internal and external survey will be conducted to confirm the presence of squirrels and the extent of their activity or intrusion. The most humane and effective method of squirrel control is the use of traps. Only traps approved by law for squirrel control are used and all practices comply with the Pests Act 1954 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
A trapping programme can last several days to over a week, with the pest control technician making regular visits.
Once the squirrels are dealt with, consideration is given to repairing or sealing any holes they used to gain access to the building. Any bushes and trees overhanging the roof should be cut back.