December Pest of the Month: Grey Squirrel

December Pest of the Month: Grey Squirrel

There are 278 species of squirrels globally, with an estimated 2.5 million Sciurus Carolinensis, commonly known as grey squirrels, in the UK. These were introduced from North America in 1870. Since then, there has been a rapid decline in red squirrels due to the squirrel pox disease carried by grey squirrels, coupled with their aggressive behaviour towards the red squirrels, leading to the latter’s endangered status. In contrast, the grey squirrel population continued to grow. Despite being known as woodland creatures, grey squirrels have also become a common sight in urban areas.

We’ve all encountered grey squirrels in various settings, laughing at their antics or admiring their cuteness with fluffy tails. However, when grey squirrels enter properties, their amusing behaviours can quickly become a nuisance, causing a host of problems. In such situations, Urban Pest Control is ready to provide advice and address the issue.

Interesting facts about grey squirrels:

  • Squirrels communicate through various calls, including territorial barks and quacking noises, but their primary communication is through their tails, which they use as a signal device.
  • The word ‘squirrel’ is of Greek origin, meaning ‘shadow tail.’
  • Every continent of the world has a species of squirrel except Australia and Antarctica.
  • Squirrels are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the daytime.
  • They have double-jointed hind legs, enabling them to jump up to 20 ft high and run as fast as 20mph.
  • Their padded feet cushion jumps, and their tails act as a parachute, aiding in balance.
  • Squirrels reach maturity at around 10-12 months, mate between February and May, and have 2-4 hairless and blind kits/kittens per litter. Females have a 44-day gestation period and usually have 2 litters per year, with the young dependent on their mother for 10 weeks.
  • Squirrels’ eyes are positioned to allow them to see behind them.
  • They have 4 toes on their front paws and 5 on the back, aiding in gripping bark while climbing.
  • Their ankles can rotate 180°, which allows them to turn quickly.

How to recognise you have a grey squirrel issue:

Squirrels enter homes during winter months for warmth, shelter, and food. Noises during the night, dreys (spherical nests, usually made from twigs, leaves, bark and grass) in gardens, disturbed soil, and holes in lawns (where they’ve buried seeds, nuts, fungi and flowers to store for the winter) may indicate their presence. Scratch marks on furniture, wood and cable gnawing (due to their continuously growing front teeth – up to 5cm per year!), and damage to ceilings, water pipes, guttering, roof felt, wire insulation, and fibreglass insulation are common issues. Grey squirrels may also contaminate cold water tanks and other areas with urine and droppings.

How to prevent grey squirrels:

Apart from DIY measures like trimming branches and relocating cables, the most effective way to rid your property of grey squirrels is to consult a professional pest controller. Professionals can identify entry points, check air bricks and doors, fill holes, and offer recommendations to prevent future infestations. Squirrels can transmit diseases like salmonellosis and parasites such as ticks, fleas, mites, ringworm, and Borrelia Bacteria, which can cause Lyme disease.

Professional pest controllers adhere to legal requirements, trapping squirrels in accordance with the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement & Permitting) Order 2009, Wild Mammals Act 1996, and the Animal Welfare Act 2006. These laws mandate the humane dispatch of grey squirrels, making it a criminal offence to release them back into the wild if caught alive, although all non-target species must be released unharmed. Traps must be checked regularly, so we typically recommend more than one visit.

Grey Squirrel - pest control

Urban Pest Control’s friendly, qualified technicians are always ready to offer advice and recommendations to keep your property squirrel-free. For squirrel removal or assistance with a squirrel issue or any other pest problem in Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Dorchester, Weymouth, and surrounding areas, please don’t hesitate to contact the Urban Pest Control team.