How Squirrels and Chipmunks Break Into Homes in Winter

12/21/2018


Winter Pests   
a squirrel in snow in the dc area

In the fall, when temperatures drop, we humans notice it. It prompts us to keep our windows closed more often and turn the heat up. And, if we notice the dropping temperatures, you can be sure wild animals notice it too. They have to live outside in that cold. But, if they figure out that it isn't cold inside your home, they may choose to invade your space. It is very important to understand the signs of invasion and what to do as soon as you find them.

When it comes to home-invading rodents, squirrels and chipmunks aren't nearly as bad as mice and rats. That is why the term "rodent" is nearly synonymous with mice and rats. But we shouldn't neglect to consider the issues squirrels and chipmunks can pose. Both of these rodents can bring ticks, fleas, mites, and other parasites in with them. And, while squirrels and chipmunks aren't likely to expose you to sickness, ticks and fleas will.

Invading squirrels can also damage your property by chewing on insulation and other building materials, and by leaving their droppings and urine everywhere. So, the thumping and bumping you'll hear in attic spaces is the least of your problems.

How do chipmunks get into a home?

Chipmunks are burrowing animals that prefer to live underground. A chipmunk burrow can be quite elaborate with several food-storage chambers, a nesting chamber, and escape tunnels. For this reason, they will usually enter a home by way of ground-level entry points, such as the compromised wood of a sill, just above the foundation wall, underneath a deck, stairs, or patio. They may also take advantage of a broken window or some other easy entrance.

If your home has a crawl space underneath, a chipmunk may create a burrow in this location to take advantage of the slightly warmer ground. But, for the most part, chipmunks can do just fine in burrows created in nature.

Chipmunks don't typically enter a home for harborage. And, if you're hearing sounds in your attic, it probably isn't chipmunks. It is more likely to be squirrels.

How do squirrels get into a home?

Squirrels are much more inclined to target high locations of vulnerability on your home. They will most likely get onto your home by leaping from a branch that hangs near or over your roofline. When they do, they may:

  • Use their powerful teeth to chew through flimsy plastic and aluminum vent covers on your roof. As strong as their teeth are, it will take very little effort to destroy the vent cover and make their way inside.
  • Gnaw a hole in your eaves or soffits and slip in that way. This is another common area where heat leaks out of a home. A curious squirrel is going to want to know where that heat is coming from.
  • Get in through a roof-soffit intersection (RSI). This a spot on your roofline where it crosses over another roof. Squirrels tuck themselves in the alcove provided by the intersection and chew a hole into your eavestrough. From there, it is easy access to your attic spaces.
  • Chew on sewer exhaust pipe gaskets. When sewer exhaust pipes are run up through a roof, the hole that is created is larger than the pipes to allow the install a little wiggle room with their calculations. The gap around the installed pipe is covered by a gasket. Once a squirrel chews through this gasket, they have a nice big gap beneath to get into the attic.

If you discover a chipmunk in your home, you don't have a lot to worry about. That chipmunk doesn't want to be in your home any more than you want it to there. Open some doors to give that little guy a way out. He may take you up on your offer.

If you discover squirrels in your home, you may have a larger problem on your hands. A cornered squirrel can be a dangerous animal. Their response to being cornered can range from sheer panic to full-on aggression. It is best to have a wildlife management professional take care of a squirrel problem. A professional will also help you deal with secondary issues that a squirrel infestation can create, such as a tick or flea infestation, and contaminants.
 
For wildlife problems of all shapes and sizes, reach out to American Pest. We service Maryland, DC, North Virginia, and portions of the surrounding states






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