Squirrels in the Attic

There are many reasons to be grateful that spring has finally come to the mountains of North Carolina.  This year our number one reason is squirrels.  That's right - squirrels.

Have you ever had squirrels move into your attic in the winter?  Most people can ignore them while devising a plan to get rid of them.  However, when your home is also a bed and breakfast you don't have that luxury.

Several years ago a family of squirrels moved into the attic space directly above our largest and most expensive suite.  After researching the internet, we learned that you have to get them out before you patch up the holes - not exactly rocket science, but it sounded ingenious to us.

We bought a humane trap to avoid injuring them.  The hard part was finding adequate bait - squirrels are picky eaters.  Cheap peanut butter proved to be the best at catching them.  We trapped about five squirrels on as many days, drove each about a mile from the house, then released them.  Next we began to wonder if it was the same squirrel finding his way back for more peanut butter. 

A friend accused us of breaking up the family and, upon further research, we learned that if taken to a different area, a squirrel will rarely survive. Talk about a guilt trip!

At least the attic was finally empty, but not until one of the bigger ones had chewed a hole through an electrical wire (apparently something they are fond of doing) creating quite a repair bill.  When the electrician opened up the overhead fixture, bushels of squirrel nesting material and nut shells fell onto the floor.  After several days of clean up, our handyman was able to find the holes and secure them from future invaders.  For a few years everything was quiet.

But they got back in this winter!  And, they were much sneakier about their access routes - making holes in out of the way places of the soffit at the top of the third story in an area accessible only by rappelling off the roof.  So this time we had to call in a professional:  Asheville Wildlife Removal.  They guaranteed humane practices, and after several visits from these trappers, all the squirrels were gone.

However, their treatment of us was not as humane.  Due to the difficulty in accessing the three holes needing a patch, they charged us $250 per hole!

In the process of conquering (temporarily) these furry little guys, we learned a lot of interesting squirrel facts - here are just a few:

  • a squirrel can climb a brick or stucco wall of a four story building in seconds
  • they can pull apart terra cotta and slate roofs
  • they can chew through good quality shingles, wood, and aluminum
  • they have the biting power of 22,000 pounds per square inch
  • squirrels are very territorial, your attic becomes their home - that's why they keep trying to get back into the same space...what would you do if you were locked out of your home?
  • squirrels warn each other of impending danger in an ultrasonic voice above our hearing range - that's why you never see them chewing into your house from the outside

So beware!  They're not as cute as they look.