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There Is A Squirrel In The Attic
It is important to properly schedule proper pest control or exterminators in your home. If there are holes or openings in the attic that critters can enter in, be sure you hire a professional to properly seal any openings.
Here is my own personal story about a run in with a critter in Grant Park, an intown Atlanta neighborhood. Several names have been changed in this story.
I waited outside for my clients, Isaac and Staci, to meet with me and the Champia General Inspector, Andrew, on a property Isaac was under contract to purchase. Once formalities were in place, we entered the residence and started the overall inspection (Note: An experienced general inspector pays extreme attention to detail. Inspectors frequently find areas of needed improvement on a brand new house). I followed Andrew around, asking questions in order to have a better idea of areas that needed improvement throughout the home while also obtaining additional knowledge for house inspections with future clients. There were small issues on the first floor. For example, all wood in contact with the ground and that supports permanent structures intended for human occupancy must be constructed using approved pressure preservative treated wood suitable for ground contact use, and the wood on the deck that was touching ground was not pressure preservative treated. We made our way to the second floor, gaining more knowledge as we navigated the interior of the house. At that point, Isaac and staci realized they were late for another appointment.
Since we had already finished all the rooms, it was now time to inspect the attic. Andrew pulled down the folding attic stairs and carefully maneuvered up the stairs while I followed. As I reached the top of the stairs of the attic, he pointed out a squirrel’s nest in the corner, fortunately void of inhabitants.
Staying near the entrance, I watched as Andrew walked throughout the attic for some time checking the insulation, electrical equipment, framing, sheathing, and for any other possible pest/insect activity. As Andrew walked towards me to leave the attic, there was a flurry of movement in the corner of my eye. In a split second, a squirrel had run out of the nest through a hole and onto the roof of the house. Since I had thought the nest was empty, I was very on edge. Andrew slowly inched closer to the nest, checking for additional inhabitants. I said to him, “Be careful,” while inside I thought to myself, “This guy is about to get attacked if another squirrel is in there.” As he moved closer, a second squirrel leaped out of the nest directly at me. Being the strong, fearless man that I am, I start screaming….like this guy.
Well, not like that guy, but I was visibly and vocally alarmed.
The squirrel ran right about 4 feet to me before taking a hard right and running through another opening in the roof. From that point, I decided it would be smarter for me to leave the attic. That was the first time the general inspector had seen active squirrel activity in an attic, and I am hoping it will definitely be my last attic squirrel encounter.
Squirrels living in attics are a concern because they may gnaw on boards and electrical wires. They were, at one point, the number one cause of house fires in Ireland. When the season starts to get cold, they look for a warm place to nest as the breeding season starts. In a year of abundant mast crop, 36% of females will bear two litters, but none will do so in a year of poor mast crop. Their breeding seasons are December to February and May to June, though this is slightly delayed in more northern latitudes. Many times they are able to build nests in the attic as we saw in our home inspection together (see picture of nest) and stay there for the winter. But when winter is really cold, the squirrels will find a way to get into the walls, as the contractor told me has happened in his house. Andrew said, “They moved into the wall behind my kitchen stove! They were able to go from the attic through the second floor walls, and down into my first floor wall. It was a nightmare to get them out and the scratching noise they make is really annoying.”
Once the family of squirrels are living in your house or attic, the whole family will forever remember your house as their permanent home to go to during the winter, just like the way they remember where they bury their acorns in the grounds at numerous locations. They have awesome memories and instincts.
The first sign of squirrels in the attic is usually the sound of scampering during the day and early morning as they come and go on foraging trips. Juvenile squirrels may fall into wall cavities and be unable to climb out, making persistent scratching noises as they try to escape and eventually dying if they can’t. You do not want dead rodents in your wall; the stench will be there for a long time.
But there is hope. In the hot summer in Atlanta, they do not like to stay in the attic. That is your chance to keep them out permanently by having a pest control professional seal all gaps along the fascia boards behind the gutters. If they can find even the smallest gaps, they'll find a way to go through it. Make sure to trim all tree branches that are too close to the house roofs in order to make it difficult for squirrels to get to your roof.
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Happy House Hunting!