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Squirrels in Ohio – Information and Facts

Squirrels of Ohio

It is said that at one time a squirrel could travel across the state of Ohio from tree to tree without touching the ground. Although this feet might not be possible now, we still have an abundance of squirrels in Ohio. Most of our squirrels are grey squirrel species.

In Cleveland, Ohio and other notable areas, like Kent, Orange, and Wooster, Ohio there is a large presence of black squirrels. Black squirrels are a variety of the grey squirrel.

Black Squirrels

There is a story of an employee at Kent State University gathering black squirrels from Canada and releasing them on campus. Because of this reintroduction, black squirrels have repopulated parts of northeast Ohio. The entire population of black squirrels is not due to this Kent State University experiment.

The truth is that before Europeans settled in America, black squirrels were the majority. Their black pigmentation, which is a mutated gene, helped them camouflage themselves into the deep, old growth forests that once existed in America. Nowadays this habitat is pretty non-existant. Black squirrels dominate in the northern regions, where their black fur hold in more heat that the lighter grey varieties of squirrel.

Grey Squirrel

The native grey squirrel is the most dominant species in America. It is prolific and adaptable. The species has even spread to Europe where they are considered an invasive species. Grey squirrels make nests in tree crotches with dry leaves and twigs. They also nest inside attics and wall voids. Grey squirrels are most active early in the morning and at twilight. They are less active during the heat of the day.

Grey squirrels have a lot of interesting qualities about them. They are one of the only mammals capable of descending down trees face first. They store their food in multiple small caches. In one year, one grey squirrel can hide food in over 1000 locations. Obviously, grey squirrels have excellent memory.

Grey squirrels can even be deceptive. If they feel like they are being watched, they will go through the process of making a cache, but they seal it up with the food still in their mouth. Not many people see animals as living, thinking organisms. Grey squirrels prove that animals think.

Red Squirrels

Red squirrels mainly feed on seeds of conifers. They do not bury their food in caches but store conifer seeds in piles in hollow wood. Storage piles can be up to 30 feet wide and 1.5 feet high!

Flying Squirrels

Flying squirrels are nocturnal. Unlike other squirrels, they are omnivores, they hunt insects and even other rodents. They have been known to fall down chimneys if not properly screened.

Fox Squirrels

Fox squirrels are Ohio’s largest squirrel. They are not native to the region but moved into the territory when deforestation became prominent. They do not like thick wooded lots. Fox squirrels spend more time on the ground than any of our other squirrels. They are found primarily in western Ohio where small agricultural lots break up forested land. They are found in older suburbs with tall shade trees and little undergrowth.

How To Get Rid Of Squirrels In Your Attic

Inspection and Identification

In order to get rid of squirrels inside your attic, you must first identify the problem as squirrels. Squirrels are heard scurrying through your walls in the morning. At night they are heard gnawing wood to get further inside. Their baseball sized entry holes are found primarily in soffit returns and behind gutters. Paper towels may be stuffed in potential entry points in order to evaluate which holes are currently being used. Anything larger than a 4″ squared hole are not used by squirrels. This is due to the fact that a raccoon can enter this sized hole. And raccoons, of course, are predators to juvenile squirrels.

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Where Squirrels Enter Homes

  • First look up to the junction where the dormer roof meets the main roof. This is a real soft spot for wildlife entry.
  • Squirrels gnaw their way through fascia board behind gutters to access the attic. There should be a drip edge underneath the bottom row of shingles leading behind the gutter. When drip edge is absent, squirrels gnaw between the plywood and the fascia board.
  • Gable vents are located in attic spaces on the sides opposite the roof. Roof vents are vents cut through the upper portions of a roof. Gable vents allow cool air to enter while roof vents exhaust hot air. Wildlife busts through deteriorated screens of these vents. Attic fans are the same way.
  • Get yourself a chimney cap if you do not already have one. Squirrels are not the only wildlife that will go down there. Everything you do not want in your house can get in through the chimney.
  • Tree squirrels also tight rope walk utility lines. Plastic tubes on non-electrical service wires may block their pathway.

Squirrel Sounds

Squirrels make a variety of sounds:

  • They bark warnings.
  • They squeal when hurt.
  • Churrs express anger.

It is the scampering of their feet on the attic floor that most people hear. Most Lakewood, OH homes have walk up attics. Newer homes don’t usually have an attic floor. This is due to the fact that 2″ x 6″ lumber for joists has been exchanged for 2″ x 4″ lumber. Most newer homes in Rocky River and Westlake, Ohio have 2″ x 4″ construction. What a lot of the newer homes do have though are overhangs for soffit ventilation. Squirrels make noise in the soffits at the time when most people are getting ready in the mornings. It can sound like something is in your walls because the soffits sit lower than the ceiling.

Other Suspect Sounds

Just because you hear noises in the walls or ceiling does not mean that you have a squirrel in your house. It could just be a tree branch rubbing against the home in the wind. It can also just be a mouse. Never under estimate the sound that a mouse can make through drywall. Their nighttime gnawing on your wall studs makes it seem like something much larger is on the other side. Most calls we receive for nighttime noises in walls end up being mice. Other wildlife noises coming from the attic at night could be bats, raccoons, or flying squirrels. Tree squirrels will be most active in the morning. If you hear noises just after sunrise coming from your attic, you most likely have a tree squirrel infestation.

Main Dangers Of A Squirrel Infestation

  • Damage to wires (home and vehicle) through gnawing.
  • Problems with parasites- Secondary infestations of fleas can occur, even if you have no pets!
  • Carriers of disease- Dropping of Flying Squirrel can carry Murine Typhus.

Squirrel Pests of Ohio

Grey squirrels, red squirrels, fox squirrels, and flying squirrels reside in Northeast Ohio. Black squirrels are a color variation of the grey squirrel. While it is the grey squirrel that is notorious for entering homes, any one of the four may do so.

  • Fox squirrels are larger and mainly stay in their tree dreys over winter.
  • Red squirrels are less common due to their diet of conifer seeds. They usually find tree cavities to overwinter in.
  • Flying squirrel activity is not easy for a homeowner to recognize. Their nocturnal habits often go unnoticed. They also enter much smaller gaps than their cousins. Most flying squirrel activity is noticed in late fall.
  • Grey squirrels are territorial, aggressive and adaptable creatures. They are most likely to become the trouble makers out of this group.

Squirrel Trapping Service

  • Start by installing a one-way door, positive set over the entry hole. A trap should be attached to it. That way any squirrel inside will be secured for safe removal.
  • Second, set traps outside, adjacent to the entry hole. By doing so any squirrels blocked out of the nest will be trapped.
  • For prevention, prune tree branches 6-10 feet away from the home.
  • Squirrels blocked out of their nest can cause a lot of damage trying to get back inside. This is especially true when a mother is separated from her young. Red and flying squirrels are less likely to cause any damage trying to chew their way back inside. They are simply not strong enough. Fox and grey squirrels, on the other hand, can chew and claw their way back into a structure. Seal all other potential entry points in conjunction with trapping. For instance, squirrels will go right down the chimney if its not capped. Then they get inside your basement.

How Many Squirrels Can I Expect To Catch?

Squirrel nests inside homes are rare during the summer due to excessive high heat in attics. Depending on the time of year, their may only be one female nesting inside of your home. On average there are 5-6 squirrels nesting inside during the winter months.