How to get rid of squirrels in the attic

Find out how to get rid of squirrels in the attic to prevent damage and mess

Squirrel
(Image credit: Alamy)

If you’ve heard them rustling about up there, you’ll want to know how to get rid of squirrels in the attic. 

It’s not just the noise that’s the problem, of course. Squirrels can damage wood, shingles, ceilings, electric wires and insulation. They can also cause contamination with their poop and urine.

It's one thing to get rid of squirrels in the garden, but to prevent harm to your attic and stay undisturbed by unwanted house guests, it’s vital to remove these pesky critters from your home quickly. This is how to get rid of squirrels from the attic.

How to get rid of squirrels in the attic

Squirrel

(Image credit: Yuriy Mayatnikov/Unsplash)

Getting rid of fruit flies might feel a little easier than doing the same with squirrels since they don’t look cute. However, despite their fur and fluffy tails, squirrels definitely shouldn’t be allowed to make a home in your attic as they can cause serious problems. 

This is the lowdown on how to get rid of squirrels if they’ve taken up residence, and we’ve also got tips on stopping them returning – or moving in the first place.

How to get rid of squirrels in the attic with noise and light

You don’t like the commotion the squirrels are creating in your attic, but you can be sure that the noise you make isn’t appreciated by squirrels either. In other words, you can turn the tables and make a commotion in order to get rid of squirrels.

Put a radio in the attic and keep it turned on and the squirrels might decide to quit their current digs to get away from the noise. ‘The volume doesn’t need to be abnormally high, but do keep it switched on to speech or music,’ says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens.

It’s worth using lights in the attic, too, to deter them. If your attic has lights, keep them on or use a flashlight or other temporary light.

Found the nest (drey) the squirrels have made using materials like cardboard and insulation? Then angle the light towards it. 

How to get rid of squirrels in the attic by trapping

If the lights and music don’t encourage the squirrels to move on, it is possible to get rid of squirrels by trapping them using a one-way cage and bait. Be mindful that you should check local wildlife laws to be sure of the rules that apply to trapping squirrels where you live. If you can trap and release, make sure to take any squirrel several miles away from your home. A professional pest control company can, of course, do the job for you.

If you live in the UK, be aware that it is against the law to trap and release a gray squirrel, and if you catch one it must be humanely destroyed, so call in a professional pest control company.

How to get stop squirrels returning to an attic

There are measures you need to take once squirrels have moved on to stop them returning.

Trim trees back near your house. Squirrels may be gaining easy access to the roof, and from there to the attic, so cut back to remove their highway.

Prevent entry through the chimney. Check the chimney cap is in good condition, or fit one if necessary.

Check the condition of the house, blocking any gaps or cracks and repairing the fascia as necessary. Squirrels can fit through very small entry points, so inspect closely. Call in a professional if required to do the remedial work.

Move bird feeders away from the house and swap any that aren’t for squirrel-proof versions.

Make sure garbage cans aren’t providing food for squirrels. They should close fully.

Use squirrel repellents to get rid of squirrels

To stop squirrels coming back – and to prevent them from ever setting up home in the attic – you could try squirrel repellents around the perimeter of your home. These are often made with scent from their natural predators – foxes and cats, for example – but note that reviewers report mixed results with these sort of products.

Will mothballs help repel squirrels?

Mothballs should not be used to repel squirrels – nor should they be used to control anything other than clothes moths.

 ‘A relatively common mistake is placing mothballs in an attic to repel squirrels,’ says pest management expert Tim Stock, who, with Dave Stone, assistant professor in the environmental and molecular toxicology department at Oregon State University, have written about the proper use of mothballs. ‘This will almost always result in a persistent and noxious odor throughout the home.’

Bear in mind that mothballs are correctly used in in airtight space like a garment bag or sealed container, the experts say. ‘Once vapors enter the home, their odor can be detected at a few parts per billion in the air,’ says Dave Stone.

What is the best squirrel repellent for the attic?

The best squirrel repellent for the attic is barring their entry by repairing all possible points of ingress and egress. ‘Repairs need to be resistant to the squirrels’ chewing,’ says Lucy Searle, editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. ‘Think steel mesh and screens. You may need to call in a professional to do the work – particularly because it’s at height.’

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.