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How To Get Rid of Squirrels in the Attic

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Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 05/14/2024

Although squirrels seem harmless, they can wreak havoc if they make their way into your attic. They can chew electrical wiring, insulation, and drywall, and they may build nests, which attract other wildlife. If you suspect you have squirrels in your attic, you’ll want to remove them quickly to limit the damage they can cause. In this article, we’ll help you determine whether you have a squirrel infestation, share ways to get rid of squirrels in the attic, and explain how to deter squirrels so they don’t come back. We’ll also recommend two of the top-rated pest control companies for wildlife removal.

Signs of a Squirrel Infestation

Before starting a treatment, confirm that the animal you’re hearing in your attic is a squirrel. You’ll rarely see live squirrels in your home because they tend to hide when they hear you coming. You’re more likely to hear sounds, smell unpleasant odors, or see damage. Here are a few signs that these fluffy-tailed animals are present in your home:

  • You hear scurrying, scratching, or chewing sounds coming from your attic, crawl spaces, or ceiling during the daytime.
  • You notice teeth marks in wires or wood, air vent damage, or chewed electrical wires.
  • You notice squirrel footprints—the front paws have four toes, while the back paws have five.
  • There’s water damage on your walls and ceilings.
  • You smell a foul odor coming from your vents. This could be from droppings or from decaying squirrels that failed to escape your home.
Squirrels are often mistaken for other rodents, such as mice and rats. You can tell the difference by the size of their footprints, which are larger than those of mice or rats. Additionally, squirrels are more likely to be active in the daytime while rats and mice are active at night. However, the best way to confirm the infestation type is to schedule an inspection with a professional pest control company.

Steps To Take When There Are Squirrels in the Attic

Once you determine there are squirrels in your attic, take the steps below to remove them from your home:

Locate the Squirrel Nest

Squirrels living in your attic will construct nests with materials such as cardboard, leaves, and tufts of insulation. You can remove the nests to encourage squirrels to move elsewhere, but keep in mind that squirrels bear young in the spring and autumn. If you confirm an infestation that includes nests of young squirrels, the Humane Society recommends waiting a few weeks until the babies grow old enough to leave their mothers before removing the nests. 

Seal Openings in Your Attic

Squirrels, like other rodents, can fit through small holes and cracks. Take a walk around your home and examine your walls and roof for these common entry points:

  • Loose, cracked, or rotting fascia boards
  • Missing mortar between chimney bricks
  • Holes in shingles or roofing tiles
  • Damaged siding

When you find potential entry points, seal the holes shut with caulk or another structural sealant. Cover large holes with wire mesh before sealing. Leave one opening unsealed to allow the squirrels an exit path. 

Use a One-Way Excluder Door

Although you can use live traps to catch squirrels, you’ll need to check these at least twice a day and make sure to release any trapped animals at least 3 miles from your home. An easier way to get rid of a squirrel infestation is to install a one-way excluder door over the remaining unsealed entry point. When a squirrel exits your attic, the door will shut behind it, preventing reentry without trapping or harming the animal. This method is best used in winter months when squirrels aren’t breeding

Repel the Squirrels from the Attic

With the excluder door in place, take steps to drive the squirrels outside. Squirrels dislike bright lights and strong smells like ammonia or vinegar. Loud noises will also drive them away, so you can place a loud radio or speaker in the attic or simply stomp around for a while. This will scare the squirrels, hopefully sending them to the entry point and through the excluder door.

Some hardware stores sell commercial squirrel repellent spray, which usually contains capsaicin and makes objects unpleasant to chew on. Always use these sprays as directed by the packaging, and don’t use products designed for outdoor environments indoors. Additionally, don’t waste money on “ultrasonic” repellent devices—there’s little to no evidence they work.

Hire a Professional Pest Control Company

The easiest way to deal with squirrels in your attic is to hire a professional pest control company. Pest management experts are trained to get rid of squirrels and other wildlife by using live traps. They’ll also find and seal entry points to prevent these small animals from coming back. Keep in mind that many pest control companies will need to inspect your home to determine the infestation level before providing a quote.

Steps to follow

How To Prevent Squirrels from Returning

Once you have successfully removed squirrels from your attic, you can prevent them from returning with a few simple home modifications.
  1. Trim trees near your roofline: Trimming trees near your roofline helps prevent squirrels from getting on your roof and into your attic.
  2. Change food in your bird feeder: If your bird feeder contains sunflower seeds, corn, or nuts, consider changing the type of food, as these ingredients attract squirrels. You may also want to invest in a squirrel-proof bird feeder that prevents these critters from gaining easy access to food.
  3. Install a predator decoy: Placing a plastic owl on your fence post or the roof may help scare squirrels away from your yard.
  4. Use a taste repellent: Spraying a commercial squirrel repellent around the perimeter of your home can discourage squirrels from entering. There are also DIY recipes using vinegar, garlic, and other substances, but their effectiveness is unproven.
  5. Cover vents and chimneys with wire mesh: This won’t affect the operation of the vents, but it will keep squirrels out.
  6. Repair damaged roof or siding materials: Seal gaps and holes that aren’t intentional components of your home’s structural design. Squirrels and other pests can squeeze into much smaller cracks than you may realize.
  7. Consult a pest control specialist: Pest control specialists train to both eliminate and prevent pest infestations. They can help you enact a plan that will keep squirrels from reentering your home.

Compare the Top Pest Control Companies

We’ve researched and compared major pest control companies based on their plans, customer service, pricing, and other factors. Based on our analysis, we concluded that Terminix and Orkin are the best pest control companies in the industry. We recommend contacting these companies to help assist you with squirrel removal.




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Terminix offers general pest control plans and pest-specific services that eliminate and prevent infestations. This includes rodent and wildlife control to help you remove squirrels in your attic. One of the more established names in pest control, Terminix has competitive pricing and offers 24/7 customer support, including an online chat function. For annual plan subscribers, Terminix provides as-needed service between scheduled treatments.


Orkin has more than a century of pest control experience and serves every U.S. state except Alaska. It offers many of the same services and guarantees as Terminix and hosts educational resources on its website detailing pest behaviors and control strategies. Orkin is typically more expensive than Terminix, but many Orkin branches offer same- or next-day service to accommodate urgent pest control needs.

Our Conclusion

Squirrels can cause significant damage if they enter your home. Once you’ve confirmed an infestation, move fast to get rid of squirrels. Seal holes and use squirrel repellents, but avoid trapping or catching squirrels by yourself because they can bite and spread diseases. The best way to get rid of squirrels in the attic is by hiring a professional pest control company, such as Orkin or Terminix, to remove them.

FAQ About Squirrels in Your Attic

Is it normal to have squirrels in your attic?

It is not unusual to have squirrels in your attic. Squirrels, like many rodents, seek secure shelters and are fairly common household intruders. However, they should be removed to protect the integrity and value of your home.

Will squirrels eventually leave your attic?

It’s possible that squirrels will leave your attic on their own. However, don’t depend on this. If you hear persistent scratching and rustling, it may be time to call a pest control specialist. 

How many squirrels are usually in an attic?

You may have more than one squirrel in your attic, especially during early spring and late summer when squirrels give birth to new litters.

Our Rating Methodology

We back up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plans and services, reputation and customer responses, customer service offerings, workmanship guarantees, financing, and availability to arrive at a final score on a 5-point rating scale.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.