Asked on Jul 08, 2013

How do you get rid of squirrels in your home?

As I chronicled in my recent blog post on squirrel eradication, our family has had the recurring problem of furry vermin taking up residence in our attic and chewing on our wires! I've received some tips from my readers on how to send the "limb rats" packing for good, including using mothballs or oil of peppermint. I've tried the mothball method but would not recommend it (read why here: However, I have yet to try the oil of peppermint. I was wondering if anyone else struggles with squirrels wreaking havoc in their homes and what methods have worked to get rid of them. Sound off ...
Ever felt like you're the subject of an Alfred Hitchcock film? I did after I caught this guy eyeing me up from the other side of our master bedroom window.
  39 answers
  • Thanks, Mike. I'll check that out.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Jul 08, 2013
    Squirrels do SERIOUS damage in attics (chew wires/start fires/have babies there etc.). I'd call a "critter control" company and have them remove the squirrels and seal up the hole or the way they are getting into your home. You really want this done right and ASAP!
  • Bob H Bob H on Jul 08, 2013
    I find a .22 works wonders...god, I love living in the country!
  • Sue O'Mullan Sue O'Mullan on Jul 10, 2013
    agree with extremely dangerous in ur home...they will eat your wiring!!! if they get into ur living quarters they will eat every window sill to get out and most homeowners policies will not cover this damage... Call a critter control co. and cut back any trees near your roofline; if any babies inside... they will chew right thru the wood alongside any holes that were sealed; squirrels will also chew right thru ur wood trim fascia and soffit; set up on-way trap in order to remove squirrels from property (you need to take squirrels so far away once caught-across a water base or they will come right back) ; get chimney caps installed; if u r local I can have my husband take a look for free and tell u if any damage (O'Mullan Contracting in Bucks & Montgomery Counties, PA); Raccoons are just as bad, if not worse
  • Pajunka Pajunka on Jul 10, 2013
    I hear cayenne pepper sprinkled around the areas where they get in about works nicely too.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jul 10, 2013
    I did some work on my brother's place a couple years ago. He heard noises in the ceiling. We were able to find out where the little buggers were getting in and installed hardware cloth over the opening and then used spray foam to seal it up. He had some faulty lighting in his bath ceiling. After removing a number of panels of drywall we found multiple locations where the wires had been chewed down to bare wire. We also found a nest with baby squirrels in it. It was a long process but we finally got wiring fixed, holes patched etc. It has been about 2 years now and every thing is holding up well. @Bob H I would have loved to go the .22 route (or 5.56mm or even the .45) but he is a city dweller.
  • Cher D Cher D on Jul 10, 2013
    i had a squirrel in my attic..i had to find the source where they were getting in.. used rabbit wire .. they got in where a fan/vent tore the screen....also i had the repair man spray coyote urine ..there...and also watching the path going up on my roof.. so again spraying the urine on the fence...stinks but works
  • Susan Hewitt Susan Hewitt on Jul 10, 2013
    Squirrels have chewed through the corner of my house. I would hear them and go outside with a bb gun to chase them away. They kept coming back so I looked online for a cheap solution! I took Red hot sauce, water and a little dish detergent and combined it in a spray bottle. I sprayed around the area they were chewing and even on the tree that they keep jumping from to get there. I seems to have worked. I have to keep applying after heavy rain. Note: wear goggles so it doesn't spray back into your eyes.
  • Jewel W Jewel W on Jul 10, 2013
    I put the cat in the attic
  • Sharon Hopper Sharon Hopper on Jul 10, 2013
    After trying everything I could find on the internet and contacting the wildlife division of my pest control company, I had my cedar sided house wrapped in wire to keep these pesky animals from chewing through the siding and the sheet rock and entering my home. These animals had chewed through my HVAC duct work and some wiring and their urine had soaked my ceiling. I found urine stains on my decorative pillows and bedspreads so I had do something drastic. The wildlife expert stated that squirrels born in my attic would return to bear young through out their lifetime which can be two to seven years. Drastic measures but It has worked for years now. Most people don't see the wire when they look at my house. I do but will live with it!
  • Marie S Marie S on Jul 10, 2013
    ferret poo. A friend had squrriels in his attic. He asked us what he should use, I told him ferret poop and I will be glad to bring him some. The following week when I saw him, no squirrels.
  • Candice Harris Candice Harris on Jul 10, 2013
    Mothballs work really well, but you only need a couple not an entire box. I put six mothballs and it solved my problem. As a bonus they also keep mice and rats away, as well as snakes.
  • Mary Mary on Jul 10, 2013
    Mothballs work great but you need to find out HOW ARE THEY GETTING IN???? Once you can rectify that problem, you can put a few moth balls or just a few of those moth ball hangers throughout the attic. No matter what - you have got to figure out how they are getting in. My sister had flying bats in her attac and had to get an exterminator. This happened several times until she was able to get someone to figure out just how they were getting in.
  • Loralee Bowman Loralee Bowman on Jul 10, 2013
    Moth balls did nothing for us. They just moved them out of their hole.
  • Nancy C Nancy C on Jul 10, 2013
    I trap at least 4 of these critters in my attic each year...rather than paying such high prices for a "professional" company to come in (because I couldn't afford it), I bought a trap, put a slab of peanut butter with one shelled peanut in the pb on the lever that sets off the trap...I typically use some peanuts towards the opening which brings them closer and closer! It works every time...and I've found over the many, many years I've been doing this that they always seem to be in want to do this in the early spring/fall before they find a place to give birth to little ones. You typically trap the 2nd faster (or at least that's what happens to me). I usually take the trap out to another wooded area (with gloves on) and let it out! Good luck!
  • PatriciaV PatriciaV on Jul 10, 2013
    Tried for years but could not get rid of them so we got a trap and and I kept checking out the window, when there was one in the cage, took it to the city park and caught 3 to 4 a day. I haven't seen one this year.. I think that a cage is the only to get rid of them!!!
  • Jackie Prim Jackie Prim on Jul 10, 2013
    You must get a Pro. to cover all entrance to your attic.They will not stay away unless you cover the holes. Good Luck!
  • Marilyn Julsrud Little Marilyn Julsrud Little on Jul 10, 2013
    D-con in the big blocks................
    • See 1 previous
    • Janet Janet on Mar 24, 2017

      I agree! We had mice in our attic and we called in an exterminator who used those bait traps. Never having this problem I was not aware of what could happen until it did. We live in NJ and this was in late September. Well the mice ate the bait and died in the wall somewhere. In fact it must have been more than one because the stench was so bad that we had to close off that room and keep the windows open with an exhaust fan in the window from late Sept to end of November. It was awful. The exterminator swore that wouldn't happen but it did. He also swore the smell would only last about a week! The next time he came he refilled the bait traps (I was not home and my hubby allowed it against my protests). It happened again and I was beyond angry at this point. I told hubby under no circumstances are those bait traps to be refilled anymore. We were able to determine that they were getting in through the screening over the attic fan. We assume a squirrel had to have bent the screen - which means they were probably getting in also although exterminator swears not squirrels. The bent screen caused the motor on my attic fan to stop and burn out the motor so we had to have that replaced as well as the screening. I had all trees trimmed away from the roof. I went around and found some small holes near where the A/C pipe went into the cinderblock into the basement to the furnace. I plugged that up with steel wool as well as putting steel wool all around the fire place ash hatch. Why the exterminator never saw these holes I will never know. I finally relented and put out regular wooden spring traps with peanut butter and caught 2 in two days. I caught another about a month later and none since. So I think I could have saved all this money on an exterminator - not to mention the anguish of the stink (I swear I thought I would lose my mind, it was so awful) had I not been such a whimp about using those spring traps in the first place. I hate killing them but I don't want them in my house. I also hate the thought of the poison torturing them. Yeah I am a bleeding heart. Oh interestingly, we moved into out house in 1984 and we found empty mouse traps in the basement. We threw them all out because we had cats and didn't want them to get hurt. Up until the year before we started getting mic (about 5 yrs ago) we never had mice - probably because we had cats all that time and there were a load of strays in the neighborhood. The township got rid of all the strays and that's when we all (my neighbors complained too) started getting mice in the houses.

  • Rachelle D Rachelle D on Jul 10, 2013
    We had a chipmunk infestation and could not figure out how they were getting in. A pest exterminator suggested a Black and Decker electronic rodent repeller unit that plugs into an outlet and sends a pulse through the ground wire in the house. I was concerned that it would bother my dog and cats, but we tried it anyway. Worked like a charm and didn't bother our pets. I heard scurrying the minute we plugged it in and the little devils were in the backyard squealing their heads off and they haven't been back in the 2 years since we got it. :-) Very relieved.
  • Z Z on Jul 10, 2013
    I didn't realize that the Oil of Peppermint worked on squirrels, but boy does it work for mice. We've not had any inside at all since we started using the cotton drops of oil on the cotton balls around basement. We even put them in our vehicles during the colder months because the little critters were getting inside them too. My hubby thought I was nuts when I told him I found some of their bodily "discharge" in my car. Our son even picked some up because he didn't believe me. Ofcourse I got a big laugh out of that one. Good Luck!
  • Col197658 Col197658 on Jul 11, 2013
    Mix peanutbutter and tylenol I had them in my attic and it took care of them. No more. grind up 3 tylenol tablets mix with a tablespoon of peanutbutter put it on a piece of paper put it in the attic. Gone for sure. Try it.
    • Janet Janet on Mar 24, 2017

      I assume Tylenol kills them - but you don't want to have the situation that they die in the walls.

  • I'm definitely planning on trying the oil of peppermint thing, Becky. It seems like a great, non-toxic solution.
  • Z Z on Jul 11, 2013
    That's why I like it Susan. While we were under construction we used a trap and release method, but the winter after we moved in a whole clan had moved in the basement. Or more likely just the two we got out via the trap got back inside and were quite prolific. 8^} Though I'm not one to kill we did so then, but since I lean heavily towards being a naturalist my dear hubby searched the internet for a way to keep them out without harming them. The reason it works, at least with mice, is because they are allergic to it. Hopefully that will be the case with squirrels too. Do make sure you get 100% PURE Peppermint Oil. We got ours at a health food store. They'll most likely know exactly what you are looking for.
  • Joanne Pollard Corcoran Joanne Pollard Corcoran on Jul 11, 2013
    Mole Max gets rid of all the critters, it is Castor Oil and they don't like it.
  • Patty A Patty A on Jul 11, 2013
    had numerous families birthing squirrels up there over several years of me trying everything to get rid of them. The only way is to trap them and move them more than 7 miles away. I paid a professional 650.00 dollars to check the traps every day and remove. The mother actually charged him and me to protect her babies. Very tenacious . Afterwards, you need to seal any opening, however small, with wire. Been 3 years squirrel free...they had been imprinted to continue getting in so nothing worked but removing entire family.
  • Nita Johnson Nita Johnson on Jul 13, 2013
    I see posts here that the major part of the solution is to find the source of entry first. WRONG! If you do find it first - cover it with saran wrap or something they can get through. You will be able to determine if they are still coming in or out by checking the wrap until you can make sure they are eradicated. Figure out what method you will use to get rid of them. There are several good options posted here. Be prepared to try more than one method. I personally, have had success with the sonar plug-ins strategically placed. Sometimes this required running extension cords up to the attic to get them in the right locations to do the trick. If you plug up their entry, first; they have no way to get out - regardless of what outside pest it is. If they are trapped inside they will continue to do damage where they are until they die. Then you have them getting between walls and other bad spots. You can't get to them to get rid of the dead smelly carcasses without some MAJOR sheetrock and structural repair. After eradication, you will need to get wiring inspected to make sure there are no future fire hazzards. I would recommend this is where you get the professional expenditure. If they don't die from being trapped inside; they can continue to populate for a long time. They can find water and food inside an attic easily from hvac water pans, etc.. Flush them out first......THEN fix the hole. Also, stuff the found entry with SOS pads before sealing it off from the outside.. They won't chew through that again if they decide to re-open the entry by chewing through where they know. Have a secondary backup elimination method for any that were reluctant to relocate after the hole is fixed. I don't know if the glue traps would work on squirrels. They come in assorted sizes and the larger ones would be worth a try. They are a good method to keep smaller pests from getting somewhere and dying in obscure places as a backup method. It is gruesome to check those traps, but a lot easier than crawling around everywhere up there trying to find where they died. Good luck.
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Jul 17, 2013
    I can emphasize with you after living on 10 acres in the country and having these little 'darlings' take up in our attic. I am all for natural, human remedies ( my nearest neighbour even suggested that HE come over to 'trap them' so he could eat them!), however with squirrels, and rats all gloves are OFF. Call in a PRO. They will survey and find any and all entry problems and FIX them. It isn't cheap, but for me? It was worth it. The best of luck to you in whatever decision you choose.
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Jul 20, 2013
    @Z You can also plant Peppermint around any 'vents' you have around the foundation, OR if on a raised foundation, then around the raised part. I did this for over a decade when I was in the Country and the mice didn't enter (though the places the peppermint was planted). Squirrels Raccoon's, Rats, Bats, Snakes, Black Widows, Brown Recluse....Peppermint won't keep them away. LOL!!!!
  • Z Z on Jul 20, 2013
    @Sia, that's too much trouble. LOL Besides we promised each other this year there will be NO plantings what so ever. Besides the cotton balls work perfectly. The only mouse that has gotten in our house since we started using them was accidentally brought inside in something I brought in from the garage. We are now using the cotton balls in the garage too.
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Jul 20, 2013
    @Z I completely understand!!! Shhhh, don't tell anyone but I use the cotton balls in ALL of my drawers, pantry, closets and anywhere else I can find to stuff them into. I made a list of the areas, with the dates they were put in, so I could 'refresh' them. hehehe Plus? I only use top of the line Peppermint Essential Oil. That seems to be the best for the horrible creepy mice. The cheap stuff didn't work for me at least. ;) And? I know I'm strange, but I wrap soaked and dried cotton on a stick, then light it, like a "Smudge" and let the smoke permeate areas of 'interest'. I also DIY Incense sticks and cones and burn those. (the cones work fab in the truck). Tells you how I hate MICE. LOL!!!
  • Z Z on Jul 21, 2013
    Hey no worries here. I'm good at keeping secrets. When hubby first read about this it said to only use 100% Pure Peppermint Oil that you find in a health food store and that's all we've ever used. It makes the house smell great too. As for scheduling it, we usually did it each October. I'm now working on my file card system again and it will have a reminder of when to do it.
  • Trina Moers Trina Moers on Jun 21, 2014
    Also if you are using only in the attic or in a storage area where you are sure that family pets won't get a hold of it, the amazing solution to not only squirrels but almost every bug in the Houston, Tx region to my knowledge so far ... Is Bay Leaves. Yes the bay leaves that you find in the spice section of your grocery store! In fact if you read the back label of the container it says very clearly "REMOVE BAY LEAVES BEFORE SERVING FOOD FOR CONSUMPTION"! It is crazy but it works! Although I am now going to try the peppermint method in addition to the Bay Leaves. Just one warning - BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO TRACK IT INTO HOUSE IF YOU HAVE CATS! My husband is deathly - and I mean carry an epi-pen throat closing deathly allergic to Flea & Tick treatments. And I have always used Bay Leaves in my storage units & my outdoor shed bc the Bay Leaves are toxic to the squirrels & other mammals. So yes you do have to do a daily check to make sure if there are any stupid enough to eat the leaves & not flee the area like ALMOST ALL IF THE SMARTER SQUIRRELS DO - momma's do not like setting up shop where their babies could eat toxic food - bc yes if you let an animal rot in the attic or WORSE IF A BABY FALLS OFF MOMMA & DIES IN WALLS - that is awful but just temporary as opposed to those demon critters burning your house down by chewing through wiring like mine had already done. The other VERY IMPORTANT step is to make sure if you have dogs or cats - do not accidentally track the Bay Leaves in the house with you. My 13 yr old cat got a hold of a leaf & did a little light munch b4 she spit it out & came to tell me that she had made an almost grave error. $2500 dollars later to flush her system, admit her to Emergency Animal hospital for 3 days, non stop IV fluids, & lots of prayers I had not killed my cat & she is fine. And that is why we call her "The Tank", she has survived more trauma that should've killed her, way more than 9 times but she is The Tank. But it is amazing to think we cook with something "natural" that warns you to remove it and no one knows it is actually very toxic!! Good luck w/ the squirrels bc anyone who has ever had to deal with them has all said the same "OHHHH NO! They are almost impossible to get rid of once they have moved into your home!!!
  • Mandy Loriot Mandy Loriot on Jan 10, 2016
    I am about to have our pest control company do an exclusion on our attic because we've heard what apparently are flying squirrels. They look kind of like chipmunks, and because our house was built in 1995 the roof edging was done in a way that has a gap under the roof edge that the flexible skeletal system of flying squirrels can snake through. With the exclusion letter they put galvanized steel on all of the open areas those pests get through, leave traps, an monitor them for several weeks to make sure none are trapped and left behind. It costs about 2K for our attic (house is huge) but it fixes the problem for good. I love the idea of mint, though, and it sounds like a wonderful plant to put in a few places (potted since it grows out of control otherwise) around in the landscaping.
  • Sue Sanders Sue Sanders on Jul 11, 2016
    To keep the pests from getting under the hood of your vehicles I was told to spay the wheel covers underneath with the Deer Begone spray at least twice a year. Had to have wiring replaced in my truck as it sits a lot as only use to haul off downed limbs and to take gas cans to station to get gas for my riding I spray. Almost need a list to keep up with all the things one needs to do.....keep dates on my calander to know when to change my filters every 3 months. Its a good idea to keep limbs trimmed away from your house to stop the pathway of other pests.
  • Sta28143102 Sta28143102 on Jul 31, 2017

    Squirrels have a habit of always chewing on trees. Constant chewing is not good for trees. Though big ones might be able to handle it but small ones will eventually die. Chewed barks and branches also aren’t very good to look at either. They are also responsible for complete destruction of plants. As the squirrels have a bit of constantly chewing and digging searching for food, they can rip the plant from roots. There goes your dream of seeing a plant grow in front of your eyes in your yard. We know how to get rid of squirrels in the trees!

  • Mogie Mogie on Jul 09, 2023

    After getting them outside you need to plug every hole they use to get inside. If not they will just be back.