In this podcast, the team from Safer Nature talks about squirrel infestations in Massachusetts. They talk about gray and flying squirrels, and the different noises, nesting preferences, and entry methods used by these types of squirrels.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Ryan Potts, founder and owner of Safer Nature Pest Control, and Matt Raftery, Manager of Operations, specializing in traditional and organic pest control services in Massachusetts. Today our topic is squirrel removal in Massachusetts. Welcome, Ryan and Matt.
Ryan Potts: Thank you, John. Thank you for having us.
Matt Raftery: Thank you. Good morning. Good to be here.
Types of Squirrels in Massachusetts
John: Yeah. Ryan, what types of squirrels do we have here in Massachusetts?
Ryan: Primarily, what we see with the squirrels entering structures in Massachusetts are the flying squirrel and the gray squirrel. Very different. Basically, the behavior in these two is very destructive, but at the same time, what you find the difference here is flying squirrels are nocturnal, and then gray squirrels that you see just running around throughout the day.
Gray Vs. Flying Squirrel Infestations
Ryan: Typically, you find with gray squirrels, people call and they say, “Oh man, it’s waking me up,” basically from sometimes 5:00 AM until 8:00 AM. That’s when they’re real, real busy coming and going, foraging for food, leaving the structure. With a gray squirrel, typically the size of the hole, it’s just very apparent. It looks the size of sometimes a baseball, sometimes as big as a golf or a softball I should say. You’re going to typically find those holes on soffits. They will use roof junctures as well.
Again, we’ll go around that whole entire roof line, inspect those areas, and we can identify just what species it is. Sure, we’ll go in the attic and confirm it. A lot of times you can just really tell exactly what species it is, again.
The flying squirrels, they’re going to have what we call a half moon chew, very distinct chew mark. Those guys, they’ll use a lot of the same spots as say, bats. They love drip edges around the exterior of the home. They love roof junctures. They get in much, much smaller spaces. If there’s enough gap, they’re not even enough… You won’t even find a chew mark, but we can see. You can actually see the trail and you can see remnants of the hair squeezing through certain areas of the exterior of the home. The droppings are definitely different than a gray squirrel’s. Again, it’s real easy for us to identify as professionals going around that structure. We’ll have our binoculars or we’ll be up on the ladders and inspecting the roof line and we can see exactly what species it is, squirrel species, by just the way the chew marks are.
Where Do Squirrels Get Into Homes?
John: Okay. Are they typically getting into attics or do you find them in basements as well, or just in the walls?
Ryan: Yeah, so a lot of times you find these guys, they’re going up high, especially with flyers. Flyers, what you find… People say, “Oh, a flying squirrel, what are you talking about? Never see those.” It’s because they’re nocturnal. They have these big beady eyes. They’re actually pretty cute.
Matt: Yeah, they’re cute until they’re in your house.
Noises That Indicate Squirrel Infestations
Matt: That’s one of the first questions when people are hearing noises. I ask, “Is it daytime or nighttime?” If it’s exclusively one or the other, that’s usually half the mystery solved right there. Gray, you’re not going to hear much activity at night.
Ryan: Probably ever.
Matt: For flyers, you’re not going to hear activity during the day.
Ryan: Yeah, flyers are funny. We call them party animals, because at nighttime, man, you know there’s something seriously wrong upstairs. Even if it’s just a few of them, my goodness, they make a racket and they’re basically bouncing off the walls. They’ll start to tunnel through insulation, but they most certainly are very destructive in the sense that they will chew on wires. That’s clearly problematic with fires and stuff like that, but they’re coming and going and they move fast.
We go up in an attic space and you’re moving around the insulation, you see those guys. They’re so fast. A lot of times with gray squirrels, they actually like to be… It’s not all the time, but a lot of times we encounter them, they like to be just in that soffit space. There’s enough space in certain structures, depending on the year and style of the home. They’re happy as can be. They’ll get inside that wall void through that soffit, the exterior soffit, and they’ll just run the gamut of that whole entire structure, the whole length of the house, back and forth, back and forth. As opposed to a flying squirrel, those guys, they like to… They have latrines, so that’s where they’re nesting. They’re defecating, urinating. It’s a big problem, again, with any asthmatic. People that have asthmatic conditions, they often wonder why.
Squirrel Infestations Can Exacerbate Asthmatic Symptoms
Matt: If you’re sensitive, it could be part of the problem is that there’s-
Ryan: All of a sudden it’s why do I have this problem? I’m super sensitive in this one particular area. That’s usually where the latrine is. Say, in an upstairs, a guest room, a lot of times people… Sometimes they have multiple rooms that they don’t use in a house and they’ll have a guest over and next thing you know, I’m like, “What is that?” When it’s really bad, you’ll start to see staining on the ceiling, but a lot of times it doesn’t even get to that point. You’ll know right away just by the noises that you’re hearing. We get the calls, scratching my walls and a lot of racket. It’s typically at nighttime. That’s the flyers.
Grays, again, like I said, early morning, and they make quite a racket as well, but all you have to do is just go outside and you can see them. People usually say, “Oh, we’ve been wondering about that tree in front of our house.” That’s all it is. It’s a bridge for gray squirrels, as opposed to flyers. They glide in, they have the little membranes underneath their arms and attach to their legs and they glide in. They can glide in through… We’re talking like 300, 500 feet plus, easy. Those trees don’t have to necessarily be right over your roof. They glide in quite far, very, very far.
How Flying Squirrels Guide Through the Air
Matt: That’s why they get the name flying squirrel. Technically, they can’t take off from the ground like a bird. They don’t have actual wings, but they stretch, if you would call it, from their wrists to their feet. The membrane acts like a gliding device, as if like a hang glider. These little guys, they’re about the ballpark size of a chipmunk. A lot of people think squirrel size or something. They’re much smaller, but they’re very feisty and they’re not really that timid. When they’re awake, they’re going to make a lot of noise.
Exclusion Services to Keep Squirrels Out
Ryan: What we do, again, the exclusion is everything, identifying those main points of entry, putting on the one-way door devices. A lot of times with squirrels in general, we’ll put on multiple one-way door devices because with flyers, again, they love those roof junctures, they love the drip edges. They can get through the smallest spaces. That’s the only way to do it, is to really do the whole entire structure. A lot of times, we’ll have condo association. We get calls about it all the time, or a house that one person owns one half. It’s a duplex.
Matt: A duplex, yeah.
Ryan: You have to do the whole structure. We wouldn’t warranty that service without doing that whole structure. You have to do it one way and one way only, because they most certainly… Even though people think they’re told they have a firewall, unless you get in into that attic space and know that you have an actual firewall that goes all the way up and there is no break, which is very rare, honestly-
John: No gap at all for them to get between.
Ryan: We’re talking small, small spaces, so we have to do that whole structure. A lot of times it’s getting everybody on board to do that exclusion service effectively and warranty it.
Where Squirrels Enter the Home
Matt: One common thing I would say, if you don’t necessarily see half moon chews, what we see all the time, a common theme with a certain type of building, houses that have dormer windows, which are where there’s a little piece of the window that has pops up out of the roof line, if you understand what a dormer window is, a lot of times there’s soffits-
John: Cape houses have those on the second floor.
Ryan: Oh, yeah.
Matt: Correct, and where those soffits run back to the actual roof, it’s very rare that those are sealed well enough. Really, these guys don’t need much to slip under there. That’s usually a good entry point where it’s very common. We see it all the time, and if there’s enough of a gap there, they won’t bother to chew because they can just make the gap so that when people say they’re hearing noises and we notice dormer windows right away, that’s a primary inspection spot when we get there. It’s a very-
Where Squirrels Nest in Homes
John: When they get into that dormer window, are they going into the inside of the house at that point, or are they staying inside the wall?
Ryan: No, they’ll most certainly… They can make the void of the wall and then they work their way into the attic space. They’ll be happy as can be inside that wall void, right around that dormer window. Again, the same. With flying squirrels, again, they’re going to be chewing in spots, points of weakness. They feel that airflow, they feel that warm air. If there’s been prior activity on that house, again with the pheromones, they’re going to be attracted to that.
A lot of times what you find with flying squirrels that they’re going to most certainly go for those roof junctures, the drip edges, and then the gable fence is a hotspot. Again, bathroom fans, emitting that heat, they’re all about it. Clearly, it’s wintertime. They’re trying to get into that structure and burrow down into that insulation in the attic. They love to be there and then set up shop and start breeding. It’s the last thing you need.
How to Prevent Squirrels From Coming Back Once You Get Rid of Them
John: How do you prevent the squirrels from returning once you get them out of the house? You have those one way doors, like you said, and then you just have to make sure that you’ve sealed everything up so that they can’t get back in. Is that right?
Ryan: Yes, exactly. Yeah, we’re using wildlife exclusion materials. Steel weather resistant materials hold up for many, many years. All of our services come with warranties, but we’re using premium wildlife exclusion materials and cutting them in such a way that it’s very aesthetically pleasing, and then also ensuring that if a squirrel tries to chew back in, they’re not going to be able to get in. The way we manipulate the exclusion material, really just we’re making sure that they can’t chew back in. We’re going around that entire roof line. That’s what you have to do.
Absolutely, 100%, using the right premium, weather-resistant materials, taking the time to be meticulous going around that entire structure. Tooth and nail, you’re going around with a fine tooth comb, just everything, and that’s what we do. We really take pride in our work and we specialize in this. We’ve been doing it a long time, and again, we want to give that customer no reason to really have to call us back. Clearly, if they do, they have a warranty, but we do the job right the first time and we’ll see it through to the very end and hopefully develop a very good working relationship with that customer, and they’ll call us back for other services down the line if needed.
Contact Safer Nature to Get Help With Squirrel Infestations
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information. Brian and Matt, thanks again for speaking with me today.
Ryan: Thank you, John.
Matt: Thank you.
John: For more information, visit the Safer Nature website at SaferNature.com or call (978) 325-1325.