Squirrel (Sciuridae) is a common pest in our northeastern Florida homes. The most common squirrel found in our Jacksonville metro area homes is the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).
Identifying The Problem
Eastern gray squirrels have a body about 18″ long with a bushy tail. Their color varies from silver-gray to brown to black and they have a white belly. They weigh between 1-1.5 pounds and breed twice a year producing 1-4 pups per brood. Juveniles leave the birth nest about 42 days after birth.
These squirrels need 1-2 pounds of food per week with a diet mainly consisting of seed, acorns, berries, and bark. Squirrels love oak trees due to the annual production of acorns. They especially like live oak trees due to the thick branches providing spacious runs.
An Athletic Rodent
The eastern gray squirrel is remarkably athletic with a vertical jump of 4′, and they can jump about 9′ with a running start. They have good eyesight and can see what’s above and beside them at the same time. They can rotate their hind feet allowing them to descend a tree headfirst! They have a strong sense of smell which is how they typically first locate a food source.
They are most active during the day, and are active year-round. In colder climates, these squirrels will stockpile enough food to last 3-4 months in different locations and they can be seen digging up the ground to retrieve nuts they buried in the Fall. In northeastern Florida, they stockpile food but not as much as their northern cousins, as food is more abundant year-round.
These squirrels naturally nest in trees, but they enjoy nesting in attics during cooler months. They sharpen their teeth on plumbing vents on roofs, electrical wires, and plumbing pipes which creates a real problem for homeowners when these squirrels infest the attic.
The Dangers To Humans
The eastern gray squirrel is a known disease vector of tularemia and salmonella.
The eastern gray squirrel is a significant nuisance pest in our Jacksonville area homes. They can be especially disruptive to urban or subdivision homeowners who may be restricted by homeowner association bylaws or deed restrictions regarding tree removal/trimming. If you live in an area with many oak trees or other nut/berry-producing trees, you will most likely have an ongoing squirrel problem. You should understand trapping is not a viable option overall.
Eastern gray squirrels chew through fascia boards, pull soffits away from the walls, and use gable end vents or any other gap/crack they find to gain entry to our homes. Excluding any possible entry point is the best defense against squirrels but even that will not guarantee they won’t find another way into your attic.
If you have an ongoing squirrel issue, the first thing you should do is trim tree branches back as far as possible from your roof. If you have vines, trellises, or other vegetation which they can use to reach your roof, remove them. Your first goal should be to remove any access point they can use to gain entry to the roof and remember, they can easily jump up to 10′! If you have a pool cage attached to your home, I’m afraid you are out of luck with this strategy. You will need to move straight to the exclusion of the home.
What Is Pest/Rodent Exclusion?
Simply, it is a process of sealing off gaps and large cracks found in most homes. Homes are not water-tight, even though we assume they are. An adult rat can squeeze through a gap ¼” wide and squirrels only need about 1.5”. Both rodents are also known to enlarge gaps if needed to gain entry; all they need is enough room to grasp the material and they will gnaw an opening to the size they need.
Our homes have gaps at soffit ends, gable vents, floor penetrations, dryer vents, gaps at doorways, and roof-to-wall attachments (the most common area used by rodents). A pest control operator will seal these areas off using copper mesh, steel wire, door sweeps, metal trim, tar, mortar, or other materials that rodents either can’t or don’t like to chew on.
There are many areas rodents can enter our homes. Rodents cause millions of dollars in damage to our Florida homes each year and are known to cause electrical fires when they chew through wiring. It is estimated rodents cause 20% of undetermined house fires each year.
If you have a rodent infestation, you need help now. The safety of your family is at risk. You should also know, damage caused by rodents may not be covered by homeowners insurance unless you have a separate comprehensive addendum (which most owners do not). This means if a rodent causes a fire or flooding from chewing on wires/piping, you most likely are not covered for the damages. For many people, this could mean financial devastation.
Your best option is to have exclusion work done before you are infested with rats or squirrels. It’s just a matter of time before your home is targeted.
Your Florida Rodent Experts
360PestControl provides rodent trapping, prevention, and exclusion services throughout northeastern Florida. We also offer residential pest control, termite treatment, and WDO inspections. Our work is 100% guaranteed! We serve a variety of areas including Jacksonville, Callahan, Macclenny, Fleming Island, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Orange Park, and more. Contact us at (904) 637-1109 or request service online today!