Will squirrels enter a house through a partly-open skylight?
May 6, 2013 12:55 PM   Subscribe

We live in Seattle in a house with lots of windows and no air conditioning. There are three skylights that crank open about 2-3 inches each to allow for ventilation. As I was opening them today (first time since we moved in), I thought, "Hmmm. If I were a squirrel, would I crawl in to the house?"

For two of the skylights it's a 10-12 foot drop to the floor. The third is above my daughter's bed. All of the skylights open to the roof. We have a dog and two cats, and while I'm sure they'd chase the squirrel, I doubt that any them would catch it.

Am I just worrying for nothing here? Does anyone have any squirrel-entry-through-skylight experience? We've had squirrels in our previous house and it was giant pain in the neck.
posted by scblackman to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Unlike mice, my experience with squirrels has been that they don't really try to get into the house as much. If you had a skylight in the kitchen over some plate of acorns, maybe, but while they love to screw up an attic or muck about in the eaves, I've seen them pass up a lot of opportunities to get into houses. This group of folks (who is not trying to sell you pest removal services) says they they only enter homes by accident.
posted by jessamyn at 1:00 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not sure about squirrels, but bugs and the like can sure get through skylights (though maybe that's not much of a problem in Seattle). Consider screens.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:02 PM on May 6, 2013

Squirrels and Raccoons will come in, they get in the attic, but they're looking for warm and would prefer not to interact with humans, dogs and cats. (although Raccoons will EAT dog and cat food, so you might want to check your cat flap/doggie door).
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:02 PM on May 6, 2013

Anecdotally--probably not. We had squirrels move into our attic every winter while I was growing up, but none of them ever tried to actually move on into the house (though it would have been an easy task).
posted by phunniemee at 1:03 PM on May 6, 2013

I'd have to disagree with Jessamyn, when my roof sprung a leak, I had a tarp funnel water out an open window without a screen. On the very first day of this setup, a squirrel came in and destroyed a box of Rice Krispies. It fled the scene when I came home.
posted by advicepig at 1:03 PM on May 6, 2013

My friendly local exterminator agrees with jessamyn -- squirrels don't like houses, so you don't necessarily have to seal up everything they can get into. However, given that any accidental entry would be via skylight and might be difficult-to-impossible for the squirrel to retreat through, I'd suggest screens.
posted by Etrigan at 1:03 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would also suggest screens. That will keep out bugs too. I don't think you want a bee hanging around by your daughters bed. However I had a bad experience with a rental house that had a squirrel infested attic. They would claw and scratch at the trap door above my room. Terrifying. So I would do whatever I could to keep anything from coming in. You should be able to buy screening at any home improvement store and staple it up.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:19 PM on May 6, 2013

It's our local Norwegian rats in Seattle I'd be more concerned about.

We finally got rid of our rat infestation in our ceilings (they got in via our garage) with a professional exterminator. Ick, ick, ick.
posted by bearwife at 1:20 PM on May 6, 2013

I had a squirrel get into my house, through the chimney, judging from the sooty footprints it left around. It found fruit in a bowl in the kitchen, so it came back, but I was ready for it the second time.

I wouldn't worry much about the skylights if there's no obvious way to climb down.
posted by Bruce H. at 1:45 PM on May 6, 2013

The key, in my experience, is in not having anything that smells of food which can be scented through the opening. I've had squirrels literally chew through a screen (and a tupperware box!) to get at some fresh cookies, so they can be very determined if they get their nose on something they would like. I would not leave your skylights open if you had, for example, just baked something, and then were leaving the house. Screens aren't a bad idea, either.
posted by marginaliana at 2:02 PM on May 6, 2013

We have had squirrels climb in open windows into offices at work. So I would bet if they wanted to come in a skylight they would. But usually when they came in a window it was because someone had food right by it.
posted by interplanetjanet at 2:11 PM on May 6, 2013

Yeah squirrels generally don't really like us human-folk. And it's usually not worth their while to invade the parts of our homes where we actually hang out. Attics, sure, but I don't think they're going to dive through your skylights and attack your daughter.
posted by trip and a half at 2:15 PM on May 6, 2013

While I was away for the weekend last year, my roommate opened up the crank window in the attic, which also happens to be my yarn room. A squirrel came inside, helped himself to a ball of yarn and fled the scene.

I would not do that without screens.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 2:17 PM on May 6, 2013

I have a squirrel story to support the fact that squirrels will go though enormous trouble to enter houses. I came back from a holiday weekend vacation to find a squirrel having a party on my kitchen counter. It had gotten into the attic and then chewed through the kitchen drywall to get into my kitchen while I was gone. I had a closed bag of shelled holiday nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc) on the counter - that was the tree rat's party snacks. After we blocked up the hole and got rid of the nuts, it chewed through/around our patches several times to get back in, because it now treated our kitchen like a food source. I've also witnessed squirrels be very acrobatic about hurling themselves through the air, just cannonballing off of roofs to access birdfeeders from above, that are on poles with squirrel baffles. Jumping into your house through an open skylight is totally within their capability, if they think you may have food.
posted by molasses at 2:51 PM on May 6, 2013

Thanks, everyone. Sounds like screens are a good idea. Since I have a pathological fear of heights, I'll have to hire someone to come and rig something. My wife is a knitter, so there are balls of yarn around.

With regard to the nutria (the scary-ass giant rats in Seattle), I'm hoping to god they can't climb houses.
posted by scblackman at 3:02 PM on May 6, 2013

Screens are a good idea.

But yeah, I've had the occasional terrified squirrel wander into my house via an open door. So I can imagine that a skylight might attract a particularly young/curious squirrel and you might find one.

But they don't really like being where the people are. The trouble with squirrels is them getting into unoccupied areas (inside ceilings and walls). Through some magic of nature, they seem to be imbued with an innate knowledge of architecture and can figure out where to get in. Once they are in, and especially if a litter is born there, they will want to keep going back in forever.

So if you've got squirrels running around on the house, make sure they aren't getting inside the house some other more clandestine way.
posted by gjc at 4:33 PM on May 6, 2013

I have had 1000 chances for the noble squirrel to pay me a visit inside in my 6 decades. Nada. The closest i ever got was one that had been trained to knock on the window of my deck for a daily peanut. Even though they have nothing better to do with their time, house invasion in populated regions seems to be off the list. My cats may have historically played a part in that,and they often brought in live chipmonks, but never the noble squirrel. (Second favorite critter after the cat! Love 'em. )
posted by FauxScot at 5:56 PM on May 6, 2013

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