help me get rid of flying squirrels
January 13, 2007 8:49 AM   Subscribe

how do i get rid of flying squirrels?

they were living in the eaves of the house and somehow got into the attic and thence into the main living space. i have set two traps (one upstairs, one in the kitchen where they seem to hang out) and sprayed some really awful-smelling rodent repellent all over the attic and eaves.

does anyone have any other ideas until i can convince my landlord to call an exterminator? (and believe me, if he doesn't, i'm moving.)
posted by thinkingwoman to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call your local humane society. They (probably) have a wildlife rescue department who can help you remove them safely and humanely, and then release them into the wild elsewhere.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:02 AM on January 13, 2007

Yes, please call the humane society.
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:56 AM on January 13, 2007

We had flying squirrels in the attic this past summer. We used humane traps set with peanut butter and sunflower seeds and caught 8 of them, one at a time, of course. We then set them free at a local park several miles away. If you catch them, don't set them free anywhere near your home. We got lots of good advice from Bugspray.Com .
posted by tzuzie at 11:02 AM on January 13, 2007

Been there, killed that, happy to have done it, and that's coming from a 15-year ethical vegetarian. Your peace of mind and your quality of sleep is more important than dozens of their lives.

We bought a house, and flying squirrels conveyed. Ours stayed in the attic, but it was still a pain to get them out.

We started off by working with a fantastic exterminator (Ward Pest Control in the Northern Virginia / DC area, love 'em), sealing things up and setting traps. We actually saw a live one during an exterminator inspection and misjudged its size to be that of a standard squirrel, due to the crazy attic/roofline angles distorting the sense of perspective. So we put out several have-a-heart (catch-and-release) traps which were completely ineffective, except at feeding the flying squirrels, apparently because our flying squirrels were too light to trigger those traps.

We made no progress until we switched to rat snap traps baited with peanut butter. That finally started thinning the herd. In fact, the first kill came before the exterminator even managed to leave our house.

Five dead flying squirrels later, we are critter-free and our attic has been quiet for most of a year.

We were ignorant and therefore lucky to have an honest and competent exterminator guide us, but if the flying squirrels came back, we'd be fine on our own with a handful of rat snap traps (standard wooden-base Victors), peanut butter, and plastic grocery bags to transport the dead. Your landlord, not you, should be the one to deal with those surprisingly noisy bastards, but if you don't want to wait, don't be the least bit intimidated because it's really pretty easy. Just put traps in their likely traffic areas, use fresh peanut butter, and check every day or every other day. The results will come quickly, and even when you're still in the process you'll feel a lot better just for taking action.
posted by NortonDC at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2007

Thirding the humane society.
posted by lemuria at 12:51 PM on January 13, 2007

In case this wasn't obvious, you really need to get an inspector and a contractor in to fix up the entry points in the roof/walls. Just getting rid of the ones that are there won't do anything to stop them from coming in again.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:12 PM on January 13, 2007

LOL... good luck with the humane society. When my parents had a single flying squirrel in the house (which one of the cats had brought in unharmed), it attached itself to the ceiling and wouldn't come down for anything. My mom finally called the SPCA, and they laughed and said flying squirrels didn't exist. My grandpa finally caught the thing in a fishing net he had, and called the SPCA back and asked if they'd like to deal with this imaginary beast. They finally did come (and took the flying squirrel away), but admittedly only because they were curious.

Sorry I don't have any advice, except to maybe get a cat?
posted by cgg at 2:21 PM on January 13, 2007

Here's how my family got rid of our flying-squirrel infestations (following expert advice):

Check carefully for any small holes in your house/attic/roof, and board them up. This will keep any new ones from coming in, and will force the ones already in, once they start getting hungry, to go for the food in the trap

If the traps aren't working (and I'm assuming you're using live-traps), try using smaller-sized traps. When you catch a squirrel, drive a good distance away, and release it across a body of water like a river.

Don't put out poison or anything nasty like that or use an exterminator that will kill them--flying squirrels are the cutest wild animals I've ever seen--seriously--and dead animals stink really, really bad if they manage to die in an inaccessible space like a wall cavity.
posted by J-Train at 2:38 PM on January 13, 2007

I dealt with a couple of red squirrels in a similar situation. You have to decide for yourself what to do to make them go away, but the following was my approach.

Lame-o Disclaimer: I am not a pest removal specialist, and you should get a professional to remove these animals.

First step, get a humane live trap and bait it with bread spread with peanut butter. You will need to figure out where to place the thing, with the squirrel's travel paths being best.

Next, hopefully you've caught one. Here's the tough decision... you can catch and release, but the buggers WILL come back. They have become used to living in a people house instead of a squirrel house. They can also, very easily, travel great distances (for a squirrel) to get back to their home. Releasing them even 30 miles away isn't necessarily far enough. Remember, too, that releasing them far away may transport diseases that squirrels and other animals at that location aren't used to.

Whatever you do, do NOT handle the animal you catch. Use thick leather gloves, and cover the trap with a tarp or blanket to transport the animal.

Taking all the above into account, you may decide to dispose of the buggers. I know it sounds awful, but that's what a pest removal expert will do. You're on your own if you decide to take this route. Note that is is likely illegal to kill the animals as most squirrels either have a hunting season, or are rare enough they are not allowed to be killed (flying squirrels are among that group in many states).

Once you rid yourself of the squirrels (either way you choose), find their point(s) of entry and block them. Squirrels HATE steel wool, so that makes a good secondary barrier. Be thorough in your search for these points of entry.

Also, go to your local hardware and get some large rodent poison pellets. Place a number of these in your eaves and in locations where a curious person, child, or pet cannot reach them.

One more thing. Once you catch a squirrel, check to see if it has enlarged teats. That sounds weird, but the reproductive cycle of many squirrels is not well known, and many (especially smaller squirrels) have young in the late fall in addition to the spring. You don't want to kill mommy squirrel only to have the babies die in your ceiling. If the squirrel(s) you catch have young, let them be for a few weeks and deal with the fact you have critters in your walls...
posted by sablazo at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2007

Response by poster: thanks, guys. sounds like the solution is more involved than i'm really interested in pursuing--this is a temporary situation for me, and the attic is full of junk and the owner won't spring for an exterminator, so i'll probably just move out and let him deal with it. i'll remove the traps before i go so nothing gets caught and starves to death. i'll let him know what you guys have told me and let him decide what he wants to do.

(i was going to move anyway, just later rather than sooner. oh well!)
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:56 AM on January 14, 2007

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