The last thing a homeowner needs is a colony of flying squirrels living in their walls or attics, but should that happen, there are ways to get flying squirrels out of your house.
How do you know if you have flying squirrels in the house?
“If you hear something in your attic or walls making a lot of noise at night, it’s a good chance you are hearing flying squirrels,” said Randy Canarr of Maine Wildlife Management. “And if it is flying squirrels, you won’t have just one. They live in colonies, and you can have 20 or 30 at a time.”
That many rodents living inside a home’s wall or in an attic can cause some serious damage, not to mention the annoyance factor of the nocturnal animals’ nighttime activity, Canarr said.
“They are going to make a lot of noise at night,” Canarr said. “They could be using your [roof] soffits as a latrine, and they will get full of feces and urine and that can cause mold and they can chew on wires or make holes in your walls.”
All in all, he said, while the wide-eyed, fuzzy squirrels are cute, they are not the best roommates.
Canarr said he’s been fielding more than a half-dozen calls a day from residents dealing with flying squirrels. According to him, the best plan is simple eviction. No advance notice to the furry tenants required.
What is the best way to get rid of flying squirrels?
“The best thing is to seal up the entire house and block any holes or cracks where they may be getting in,” he said. “Animals like squirrels, rats, mice or other rodents inside a home are signs of a faulty and porous house that is open enough to let them in.”
Trapping and removing rodents without taking the time to seal up any entry points is, at best, a short-term solution, Canarr said.
“They will just find their way back in,” he said. “Or other rodents will move in.”
Trapping and then relocating the rodents far away from your house is an option, according to Canarr, but it’s not one he prefers.
“You are basically taking the animal out of its home range, putting it in a ‘foreign land,’ where it does not know the location of food and water and setting it up for failure,” he said. “They are going suffer and starve.”
Rather than do that, Canarr said it is more humane to actually use a wire rat trap that will quickly kill the squirrel.
Canarr’s preferred method of dealing with in-home flying squirrel infestations is a two-front offensive.
First, he recommends the homeowner inspect their home and seal up any holes or cracks through which the squirrels are gaining entrance.
Once that is done, have an expert like Canarr come in and install a special one-way-door which allows flying squirrels — or any other rodent — to exit the home, but not get back in.
“This way they will remain in their home range where they know the location of the bird feeders and other food sources,” he said. “And they will find other places to live [and] it is the most humane way to go.”
Do flying squirrels really fly?
They may not technically fly, but thanks to specialized adaptations on their legs, flying squirrels can catch some serious air.
The foldable membrane between their bodies and front legs and back legs acts a bit like a parachute, so when the squirrel wants to travel by air, it simply launches itself off a tall object like a tree or house, spreads all four legs and lets gravity do the rest, according to information from The National Wildlife Federation.
As such, calling them “gliding squirrels” would be a more appropriate name because under optimal conditions, a flying squirrel can glide up to 150 feet in a single leap.
They use their legs to steer and adjust their trajectory and their tail as a brake when they land.
Flying squirrels are found throughout the eastern United States. They usually live in forests, prefering to make their homes in old woodpecker holes, abandoned bird nests or vacant nests of other squirrel species.
Are flying squirrels dangerous?
Given their nocturnal behavior and basic shyness, human-flying squirrel encounters are rare, but the animals can carry rabies, so they should never be approached in the wild or cornered in a building where it may feel threatened and bite.
Flying squirrels also carry the disease Leptospirosis, which can jump the species barrier from rodent to human if a person comes into contact with the squirrel’s urine. The squirrels’ feces can also contain the salmonella bacteria that can infect humans.
“They are part of our wildlife and belong here,” Canarr said. “But it’s always better to keep wildlife outside.”