Toledo Talk

Squirrels!

Need some TTer advice: A family (pack?, herd?) of squirrels has taken up residence in my attic. One actually looked right at me from his perch on the gutter over my kitchen window, turned and squeezed through an impossibly small hole in the fascia. Bastard. My first instinct was that I was going to kill me some rodents.
Can I poison them? If so, what if they die in my attic? Won't that smell like hell for a long time?
Should I just suck it up and call an exterminator? If so, anyone know any good squirrel wranglers?
Any insight would be, as always, much appreciated.

created by Progress22 on Jan 03, 2014 at 05:53:21 pm     Comments: 29

source      versions


Comments ... #

Live trap them and relocate them. Pretty easy to do with some peanut butter spread on a small section of paper plate set on the trip plate. Not that I've ever done this don't ya know??!!

Then, get the fascia repaired pronto before they return or tell their friends about the nice digs they had in your attic.

posted by Foodie on Jan 03, 2014 at 06:15:02 pm     #  

My first instinct was that I was going to kill me some rodents.

Yes. Well, that's a good thought, but like all impulse decisions there may be a few ramifications that a prudent person will consider. Rodenticide method, for instance, is a major factor.

Can I poison them?
Yes, squirrels can be poisoned. However, like all rodents a squirrel will eat a small amount of any given food source, and if they don't get sick they'll return for seconds. So if you use poison, it must be slow acting as well as odorless and tasteless in lethal dosages.

Secondary poisoning is also a factor. For instance, you put out poison that Mister Squirrel eats. Not feeling too well, the rodent seeks other food outside where it succumbs to a single well-placed ball bearing from Hobo Johnny's slingshot. The hobo eats the squirrel and ends up in the ER, break dancing all over the place, sweating blood and other, less mentionable substances. No worries, though. We now have ObongoCare! which pays the million-six in medical treatment and rehab costs that it will take to put Hobo Johnny back on the rails. Nice, huh?

To continue...
If so, what if they die in my attic?
It's very likely that the squirrel will, in fact, expire quietly within the confines of your attic.

Won't that smell like hell for a long time?
No. It'll smell much, much worse than hell and for a lot, lot longer than a long time. Long after the stench is gone, you'll swear you can still smell it.

I speak from experience here. I inadvertently got a nice whiff of carrion once, and it's a stench that I'll never forget. Mainly because people like you bring it up with idiotic questions like this one and remind me of it.

But don't take my word for it. Go right ahead and put out some rat poison then post about your brand new experience on ToledoTalk.

Should I just suck it up and call an exterminator?
Probably, but you can try solving this one yourself. Step one is trapping the squirrels, which you can do with a live animal trap. You can get a decent live animal trap at Tractor Supply. You could also scare the squirrels out of the attic and plug the hole, which you're going to have to do anyway.

Take any live squirrels you catch to the nearest park or wooded area and turn them loose. Throw any dead squirrels onto your neighbor's roof.

posted by madjack on Jan 03, 2014 at 06:17:30 pm     #  

I wound up laughing all the way through these posts!

I love this place!

posted by shamrock44 on Jan 03, 2014 at 06:45:55 pm     #  

Critter control is the name, I believe, of an animal friendly pest removal. I have not used them, but heard good things.

posted by hockeyfan on Jan 03, 2014 at 07:21:05 pm     #  

They will leave during the day to seek food. Buy some peanuts and throw them on the ground away from your house. When you see them eating, close up their entrance to the attic.

posted by OldTimer on Jan 03, 2014 at 07:28:55 pm     #   2 people liked this

So if you use poison, it must be slow acting as well as odorless and tasteless in lethal dosages.

I would recommend iocane powder.

The rest of your post is borderline insane.

posted by slowsol on Jan 03, 2014 at 07:30:30 pm     #   1 person liked this

why on earth are people killing squirrels? granted, i'm one of those crazy people that actually FEEDS my squirrels... but why are they considered pests?

posted by upso on Jan 03, 2014 at 07:36:54 pm     #  

but why are they considered pests?

Because they are in the house? (Just a guess)

posted by justread on Jan 03, 2014 at 07:52:50 pm     #  

There are no approved OTC rodenticides for squirrels, and stuff designed to kill rats and mice is unlikely to kill squirrels unless you to somehow force-feed them the crap. Moreover, only licensed pest control experts are allowed to use chemical methods on wild game in Ohio.

Trap-and-release the squirrels and then fix the entry point into the house. If you try to fix the hole first, they are likely to cause more damage. As madjack pointed out, even if you find a poison that works, chances are Mr. & Mrs. Squirrel and their children will die in your attic or walls, creating a long-lasting stench that will linger for a long time.

In this weather, I would definitely shell out the $100-$200 to get an expert to get rid of them.

posted by historymike on Jan 03, 2014 at 07:52:57 pm     #  

Sounds like a job for Turtle Man!

posted by Molsonator on Jan 03, 2014 at 11:16:27 pm     #  

upso posted at 06:36:54 PM on Jan 03, 2014:

why on earth are people killing squirrels? granted, i'm one of those crazy people that actually FEEDS my squirrels... but why are they considered pests?

Because the the furry little bastards in my neighborhood take a fancy to the roofing shingles (standard asphalt composition type) on my garage. They gnaw on them. And they gnaw on my expensive, not so common ornamental plantings that I've carefully planted and nurtured over the years. And they gnaw on anything else that isn't cast iron. And they dig holes in the yard to bury the peanuts you've fed them for winter food - which they never remember to retrieve or it gets buried under the snow - much like today - then sprouts in the spring as a lovely peanut bush which I must remove from my lovingly cared for lawn leaving a gaping hole. And, they sit on the neighbor's fence and torment my dog.

IMHO, they are rats with bushy tails and malicious intent. Likely the devil's spawn. Can't stand the little SOB's. When they cross the street in front of me while driving, I speed up and aim for them.

posted by Foodie on Jan 04, 2014 at 06:35:15 am     #  

The way I understand it you can't trap and release but you can only release them on your own property.

posted by SherryET on Jan 04, 2014 at 07:51:31 am     #  

Why not just invite them down into the house and feed them bird food for the winter. I know they like that because of their effort to clean out my bird feeders. It will give you a chance to plug the holes and they can leave in the Spring when it gets warm out.... Then we can recommend you for the Lucas County Animal Protection Award. "Squirrel Family of the Year."

posted by rch101 on Jan 04, 2014 at 11:48:15 am     #   1 person liked this

I agree with luring them out and fixing the hole. If you can get into that section of the attic, go up there and scare them out then plug it up, what's with all this poison/trapping talk? Man up and get it done, they're just squirrels!!!! jeez.

Foodie, dunno what you plant that attracts them but I have never had any damage to anything in my yard by squirrels, they don't dig the lillies, they don't even touch the food garden! I wish I could get the peanuts to sprout, I'd transplant them! :)

posted by nana on Jan 04, 2014 at 12:29:07 pm     #  

slowsol posted at 06:30:30 PM on Jan 03, 2014:

So if you use poison, it must be slow acting as well as odorless and tasteless in lethal dosages.

I would recommend iocane powder.

The rest of your post is borderline insane.

So is using iocane powder unless you've built up a resistance to it.

posted by madjack on Jan 04, 2014 at 01:20:13 pm     #   1 person liked this

SherryET posted at 06:51:31 AM on Jan 04, 2014:

The way I understand it you can't trap and release but you can only release them on your own property.

Why is that? Although I haven't done this myself, I'm told by a reliable source that once you open the trap, the squirrel comes right out and gets with the program.

posted by madjack on Jan 04, 2014 at 01:22:04 pm     #  

Hockeyfan mentioned Critter Control above -- they are easily Googled. I used them several years back to remove a bird from an oven vent in the apartment complex I managed, and then the guy did an assessment of our property and fixed all possible critter entry points, from the ground level to the roof.

I recall that the guy wasn't especially friendly, and it was expensive -- like $400-ish, although again this was for a two-building complex, both three stories -- but he got the job done and I was satisfied. He did seem to know exactly what he was doing. YMMV. Good luck!

posted by jmleong on Jan 04, 2014 at 01:34:42 pm     #  

From HistoryMike: There are no approved OTC rodenticides for squirrels, and stuff designed to kill rats and mice is unlikely to kill squirrels unless you to somehow force-feed them the crap. Emphasis mine.

Au contraire, my erudite pedagogue. While it's true that there are no officially approved poisons for squirrels, that's only because rat poison hasn't been scientifically tested for squirrel use.

All modern rodenticides will work equally well on mammals of all kinds and sizes. The dosage isn't all that critical; what works for a rat will easily be the death of any mammal of similar size. You may need a little more to kill a larger animal with surety, but only a little. We're talking grams here, not ounces or pounds.

My source is the science team at Bell Labs in Madison, WI, who gave me an informal education on poison efficacy, rodenticide and relay toxicosis (secondary poisoning, or being poisoned by eating a poisoned animal).

The key to selective poisoning is the bait and the bait station. Make the bait attractive to rats but repellent to other critters, and you have discovered the holy grail of the rodenticide industry. At the same time, bait stations make a huge difference. Put the poison into a bait station that is accessible by rats and smaller critters, and it's considered proof against poisoning the neighbor's dog by mistake.

And, by the way, the rodenticide industry is a long, long way from finding the grail. But that doesn't keep them from trying.

posted by madjack on Jan 04, 2014 at 01:52:59 pm     #  

SherryET posted at 06:51:31 AM on Jan 04, 2014:

The way I understand it you can't trap and release but you can only release them on your own property.

That should have read CAN trap and release. When we had the raccoon in the attic we called someone from the state and they told us you get fined for releasing it elsewhere. If you get caught.There is a thread on here somewhere about our raccoon incident.

posted by SherryET on Jan 04, 2014 at 07:05:05 pm     #  

I'm laughing so hard right now I almost can't see to type. We have two huge grandfather live oaks in our front yard and our property is surrounded by a literal forest of more of the same. So we have hoards (or herds) of squirrels. My wife, who I have re named "mother nature" actually comes home from the grocery store at least once a week with two huge bags of whole peanuts in the shell. They used to be for me. Not anymore. She has every squirrel in the area trained. When I get home from work about 5pm as soon as my car hits the driveway they come running from all directions. Is momma coming out to greet me? Nope. It's squirrel feeding time. And if for some reason she is late they will actually come up and knock on the front screen door or climb up on the front widow sill and make their presence known. The nice thing is that since she started feeding them they have stopped damaging property. I'm a ham radio operator and they used to piss me off regularly by chewing up my expensive coaxial cable and even my antenna wires. Now they are as tame as kittens and just hang out to be pampered. But it's hard for the old man to get a bowl of peanuts to munch on any more.

posted by Wydowmaker on Jan 04, 2014 at 07:14:40 pm     #   1 person liked this

I'm not sure if you have the time and patience, but I've trained the squirrels near me to shovel snow and cut the grass. It was hard building little shovels and a working lawn mower, but once I did, those little buggers get the job done. And bonus, they work for peanuts.

posted by hockeyfan on Jan 04, 2014 at 07:41:32 pm     #   5 people liked this

Used to have a couple of squirrels that would scratch on the patio door till you fed them. They only ate white or whole wheat bread, wouldn't touch the marble rye.

As for squirrels in the house? I suggest live capturing them.

As for getting rid of them? Stop over someone's house you don't like in the evening and carefully let the squirrels go between his storm door and front door. Ring his doorbell like crazy for a good 9-10 seconds and run like hell. :)

The pic is from a couple of years ago.

posted by SensorG on Jan 04, 2014 at 09:59:34 pm     #   1 person liked this

I remember having a squirrel that would run down our chimney and all the way into the vent of the hot water heater. Sounded as scary as imaginable until we found out what it was. The screen on top of the chimney rusted so bad it just fell apart.

I don't mind squirrels. If you catch them and can't find them a home, I'll relocate them in my neighborhood. With any luck they'll make their way into this house and cause trouble for the owner long after I move out.

posted by hockeyfan on Jan 04, 2014 at 11:39:04 pm     #  

Madjack:

A few years ago I spent some time reading about rat poison and unintended biological targets when the city tore up Secor Road. The destruction of the old sewer lines sent lots of rats into the neighborhood seeking new homes, and after my dogs brought me a few presents of freshly killed rats, I decided to set out some D-CON to reduce the rampaging rat hordes (hyperbole alert).

Anyway, I was concerned that I might be poisoning other animals, and I read in a few places that squirrels usually avoid rat poison because it is not part of their preferred diet. Here is an example of the kind of information I perused (it also has some step-by-step instructions on trapping/relocating squirrels).

In my own experiences the squirrels did not seem to show any interest in the rat bait I put in the garage. However, the scheming squirrels would detect a bag of unopened bird seed or grass seed in about 12 nanoseconds, shredding any unattended bagged seeds faster than you could say "Dang, them squirrels done ate all mah seeds."

posted by historymike on Jan 05, 2014 at 10:35:16 am     #   1 person liked this

Oh, and I am not sure how this thread managed to last this long without a public service message of the horrors of squirrels in the home:

posted by historymike on Jan 05, 2014 at 10:37:41 am     #  

Where I used to live groundhogs were a problem. A neighbor decided to go after them with a block form of D Con. He'd spread some peanut butter on the bait and toss it around the groundhog's hole as well as frequently traveled areas. I still saw the groundhog daily, so, if it ate the poison bait it never ate enough to suffer injury from it. However, I did once see a squirrel weaving around like a drunken sailor and since I heard that this was a sign of poisoning with D Con-like products I assumed he had eaten a lethal dose.

posted by OnePlainPerson on Jan 05, 2014 at 11:09:32 am     #  

historymike, that clip is hilarious. Loved that movie. I know, guilty pleasure, but still, hilarious. Made my morning.

posted by hockeyfan on Jan 05, 2014 at 01:52:03 pm     #  

Stop over someone's house you don't like in the evening and carefully let the squirrels go between his storm door and front door. Ring his doorbell like crazy for a good 9-10 seconds and run like hell. :)

You know SensorG, there's a side of you that I'm just beginning to appreciate.

posted by madjack on Jan 06, 2014 at 12:45:25 am     #   1 person liked this

Who needs to go to Krogers to stock up for the storm when you have an attic well stocked with squirrel.

posted by In_vin_veritas on Jan 06, 2014 at 04:14:26 pm     #