The Great Squirrel Invasion: Understanding and Managing Pest Squirrels in the UK
See a grey squirrel on a stroll through the park and you might think they look cute. However adorable you think they are, squirrels have a destructive side they’re an invasive pest in the UK. Left unmanaged, a squirrel infestation can cause huge damage to homes and businesses. Here’s our guide to managing pest squirrels in the UK.
Why Control Squirrels?
Ask anyone in the pest industry and they’ll tell you that grey squirrels are much more than a nuisance. They’re an invasive pest, introduced into the UK from the US in the 1870’s. Since then, they’ve wreaked havoc. Here are the reasons we control squirrels.
They cause damage to homes and businesses
If squirrels get into your property, often through the roof space, they:
· Can cause structural damage by gnawing on wood and ceilings;
· Strip the insulation from electrical wiring and tear up insulation;
· Contaminate water tanks, buildings, and products with their urine and droppings.
· In gardens, they dig up lawns, eat seeds and fruit from trees, and eat eggs from birds’ nests.
They destroy forests
Squirrels make their homes in trees but they can destroy forests and woodlands. Reason being, they strip bark off the trees which leaves them exposed to pests and disease.
They’re killing off red squirrels
Never seen a red squirrel? It’s not surprising. While the grey squirrel population is still in the millions, there are far fewer red squirrels. Only around 140,000 in fact. Grey squirrels have played a huge part in their decline. They usually win the competition for food and they can transmit a virus called squirrelpox to their red cousins. Red squirrels have no immunity to this virus and they usually perish in a couple of weeks once they’re infected.
While red squirrels are protected by law, the grey squirrel’s status as an invasive pest affords it less protection. In fact, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019, it’s illegal to re-release a grey squirrel when it’s been caught. Managing pest squirrels in the UK isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Though we’ll tell you more than that a little bit later.
What Are The Signs Of Squirrels In My Home Or Business?
Squirrels don’t hibernate, so they’re active all year round. However, pest control companies get most callouts in the Spring and the Autumn when squirrels are more active in their hunt for food. Not sure if squirrels have invaded your home or business premises? Here are the signs to look out for.
You can hear a scratching or rustling sound in the loft or inside of walls;
You’ve seen droppings in the loft;
There’s damage to insulation or wiring;
There’s the distinct smell of urine in the loft;
You spot more than one or two squirrels near your home or business premises.
If you’ve spotted any of these signs, you need to call in professional pest control. Once squirrels have set up home in your loft or walls, it can be hard to get rid of them. They usually have two litters each year, of three to seven young (known as kittens). After only 7-10 weeks, the kittens are ready to leave the nest and fend for themselves. With squirrels living for up to 5 years, that’s a lot of babies and a potentially serious infestation you’ll have to deal with.
How Do I Stop Squirrels from Getting into My Home or Business?
When it comes to managing pest squirrels, prevention is better than cure. You can prevent squirrels from getting into your home or business by:
· Cutting back trees or branches that can give them access to your roof;
· Proofing your roof. Check your roof for any gaps where squirrels could be getting in and seal them with mesh or metal plates.
Can I Control Squirrels Myself?
Preventing squirrels from getting into your property is one thing. Controlling them yourself safely and legally is another entirely. Trapping isn’t a good idea because you can’t release a grey squirrel back into the wild. The law says you have to kill it humanely, but if you try to poison it or otherwise harm it, it’s illegal. There are no poisons available to the public to kill squirrels. Only professional pest technicians have access to these products.
Managing Pest Squirrels is Best Left to the Professionals
Because of the legal issues around grey squirrels, the best way to manage them is to call in professional pest control. A technician who is specially trained in wildlife management will be best placed to decide whether lethal control is necessary. They’ll come in and assess the situation, and determine which course of action is most likely to be effective.
Trapping, shooting, drey poking, and in some cases, the use of poisons will be the most appropriate way to manage pest squirrels. Professional pest technicians will always dispose of the target species humanely while making sure that non-target species don’t come to any harm.
Need help with pest squirrels around your home or business?
Call in the professionals.